(Photo: Alan Sullivan)
The Los Angeles Kings have terminated Mike Richards’ contract citing a “material breach of the requirements of his Standard Player’s Contract.”
After yet another disappointing season, the Kings were all set to buyout Mike Richards. Or so that seemed to be the plan.
According to Elliotte Friedman, General Manager Dean Lombardi was in discussions with GMs Brad Treliving of the Calgary Flames and Peter Chiarelli of the Edmonton Oilers as a possible trade solution when he learned of the incident. A trade would, of course, be far more ideal than having to use a regular buyout after letting the window for the compliance buyout close last year.
Last month Lombardi told ESPN.com that not using the CBO “could be the worst decision I’ve ever made. But for all the right reasons.”
Lombardi’s loyalty to Richards made him pass on the get-out-of-jail-free card and give the center one more shot to raise his level of play. It never happened and Richards was eventually sent to the team’s AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. He was recalled later in the season, though nothing appeared to have changed with his game and he ended up becoming a healthy scratch after only a few games back in the NHL.
As of right now, nothing official has been disclosed as to what led to management’s decision on the termination. Some speculation on Twitter suggested that the alleged incident had something to do with a border crossing, which has been mentioned by Howie Kussoy of the New York Post, indicating an incident that took place on June 17.
Katie Strang of ESPN reports that Richards is being investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for an off-ice incident, but has no further details to add.
For the moment, Richards’ $5.75 million cap hit comes off the books, though the Kings are on the hook for a $1.32 million cap recapture penalty for the next five years, per Bob McKenzie.
Jonathan Weatherdon, spokesman for the NHL Players Association, released a statement stating, “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.”
Richards, the NHLPA and his agent will have 60 days to appeal to a neutral arbitrator (which would end up being Gary Bettman). That is most likely the next course of action.
As Bob McKenzie noted on Twitter, grievances can take months or even years to be heard, although a request can be made for an expedited hearing that sometimes takes only days or weeks. However, he believes that the likelihood of a grievance being heard this week is virtually nonexistent (possibly due to the opening of free agency on July 1 and any impending trades that may happen after that).