NHL Notebook: Penguins' GM hires minor-league coach

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Todd Richards

, an assistant coach with the American Hockey League Milwaukee Admirals the past four seasons, was named head coach of the Penguins' AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton yesterday.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero worked with Richards as assistant general manager of the Nashville Predators.

Richards, 39, was a defenseman for the University of Minnesota and with several pro organizations, mostly in the minor leagues. He played in eight NHL games.

He replaces Joe Mullen, who coached the Baby Penguins for the second half of the 2005-06 season after Michel Therrien was promoted to take the Penguins coaching job.

Sabres

Buffalo agreed to accept the $5 million contract Daniel Briere was awarded in salary arbitration.

General manager Darcy Regier said that in accepting the contract, the team has no intention of trading Briere, who becomes the Sabres' highest-paid player after getting a $3 million raise.

Under NHL rules, the Sabres had an option to walk away from the award, a move that would have allowed Briere to become an unrestricted free agent.

Elsewhere

Former New Jersey state trooper James Harney pleaded guilty to conspiracy, promoting gambling and official misconduct in a gambling case that also involves longtime NHL star and former Penguin Rick Tocchet and Janet Jones, wife of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

Tocchet was charged with running the ring and Jones was implicated as a bettor, but "this case was to us about taking down a corrupt police officer," state Attorney General Zulima Farber said.

Harney's plea was months in the making. He will be sentenced to no more than seven years in state prison -- much less than the more than 25 years he could have faced had he been convicted of all counts by a jury. Prosecutors also dropped money-laundering charges.

In return, Harney will forfeit some $700,000 in money and property, give up his right to work again in a government job and cooperate with investigators and prosecutors in their case against Tocchet and a third man, James Ulmer.

Harney's sentence could depend on how much he helps investigators. Yesterday, he showed a willingness to cooperate, laying out details of how the alleged sports book worked.



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