Mike Richards’ contract with the Los Angeles Kings was terminated more than three months ago, yet a grievance filed by the NHLPA on Richards’ behalf in August has left the two-time Cup-winning center’s status up in the air. The two sides could be nearing a resolution, however.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported the Kings and Richards have been working towards a settlement that would allow the Kings to follow through with the termination of the deal and Richards, who was owed $22 million over the next five seasons, to recoup a potentially larger sum of what he was set to be owed before the termination of his contract.
The saga between the Kings and Richards has been dragging on for months now but McKenzie reported, “the two parties have been working hard to get it done. It appears it's getting closer again.” Of course, McKenzie adds, in a deal such as this with so many things in play, nothing is final until the paperwork is signed and filed.
Richards’ deal with the Kings, which was to run through to the end of the 2020 season, was terminated June 29 for a, “material breach of the requirements of his Standard Player’s Contract,” stemming from a June 17 incident at the Emerson, Man., U.S.-Canada border crossing. The incident at the border resulted in Richards being charged in late August with illegal possession of a controlled substance.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding Richards’ status with the Kings, the 30-year-old center has remained unsigned throughout the off-season. It’s uncertain whether he’ll be able to latch on anywhere now that the season has begun, but he could be an early-season signing for a number of teams looking for a veteran depth center.
Once considered one of the best centers in the league, Richards is coming off one of the worst campaigns of his career. In 2014-15 with the Kings, Richards scored five goals and 16 points in 53 games while averaging little more than 13 minutes per game. He was also demoted to the AHL for 16 games.
In his 10-year career, Richards has scored 179 goals and 482 points in 710 game. His best year came in 2008-09 as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, when he scored 30 goals, including eight on the power play and seven shorthanded, and 80 points in 79 games.