The NHLPA and Mike Richards aren’t going to go quietly when it comes to the veteran center’s terminated contract.
The Players Association announced Monday that they have filed a grievance on behalf of Richards regarding his contract with the Los Angeles Kings, which was terminated June 29. The terminated deal was a 12-year, $69 million contract Richards had signed in December 2007 as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Entering the off-season, it was expected that Richards, 30, would receive a buyout on the remaining five years and $22 million he was owed by the Kings. However, the termination saw it possible for Los Angeles to get out from under the $5.75 million cap hit and be subject to only a $1.32 million recapture penalty for the next five seasons.
The shocking contract termination came as the result of an alleged incident at the U.S.-Canada border. At the time, the Kings cited the deal being terminated on the grounds of a “material breach” by Richards.
“We are in the process of reviewing the facts and circumstances of this matter, and will discuss the situation with the player in order to determine the appropriate course of action,” Jonathan Weatherdon, a spokesman for the NHLPA, said in a statement at the time of the termination.
As per the CBA, Richards and the NHLPA were given a 60-day window in which they could file a grievance and Monday’s announcement comes roughly three weeks before that window was expected to close.
According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the NHLPA has requested that Richards’ hearing be expedited, but when exactly Richards will have his hearing has yet to be determined.
Richards had a trying campaign in 2014-15 and was demoted to the AHL for the first time in his career. In 53 NHL games this past season, he scored five goals and 16 points, far and away the worst performance of his career. The Kenora, Ont., native had spent the past four seasons with the Kings and was a contributor to the franchise’s Stanley Cup victories in 2011-12 and 2013-14.
The Kings were reportedly working on trading Richards before news came that his contract had been terminated.
Following the termination, Richards became an unrestricted free agent. In 710 games, Richards has scored 179 goals and 482 points. His best season came in 2008-09, when he scored 30 goals and 80 points as the captain of the Flyers. Richards was acquired by the Kings in June 2011 in exchange for Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and a second-round pick.