LOS ANGELES — On June 29, the Los Angeles Kings terminated the contract of veteran center Mike Richards, citing a “material breach” of his contract.
The team issued the following statement.
“The Los Angeles Kings today have exercised the team’s right to terminate the contract of Mike Richards for a material breach of the requirements of his Standard Player’s Contract.”
The Kings also stated that there would be no further comment or details provided, at least, not in the immediate future.
“We are not prepared to provide any more detail or to discuss the underlying grounds for the contract termination at this time.”
This action makes the 30-year-old native of Kenora, Ontario an unrestricted free agent, and it removes Richards’ $5.75 million/year salary from the team’s salary cap, although there will be a $1.32 million/year recapture penalty against the team’s cap for five years, per the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
If the Kings had gone through with the expected buyout of Richards’ contract, there would have been salary cap hits ranging from $1.22 million to $4.22 million (in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons only) over ten years.
SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that in their filing with the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association, the Kings “…referenced Section 2(e) of the [Standard Players Contract], which states a player agrees ‘to conduct himself on and off the rink according to the highest standards of honesty, morality, fair play and sportsmanship, and to refrain from conduct detrimental to the best interest of the Club, the League or professional hockey generally.’”
ESPN.com’s Katie Strang reported that the contract termination is the result of an “off-the-ice incident.”
Strang reported on June 30 that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Border Services are involved in an ongoing investgation of an off-ice incident involving Richards.
On June 30, Paul Friesen reported in the Winnipeg Sun that sources indicated that Richards is being investigated for allegedly trying cross the border into Canada at the Emerson, Manitoba border on June 17 with Oxycontin (also known by its generic name, oxycodone) tablets, a strong narcotic used for the relief of moderate to severe pain, available by prescription only.
Oxycontin/oxycodone is classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule II controlled substance.
No charges have been filed against Richards as of this writing.
This story is likely not over, not by a long shot. Should Richards emerge from potential legal entanglements mostly unscathed, he could file a grievance and already, the NHLPA is weighing its options on his behalf.
“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,” said NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon.
Richards, who was placed on unconditional waivers on June 28, cleared waivers on June 29.
Under the circumstances, Richards leaves the Kings under a shroud of controversy. However, his legacy with the Kings will be largely defined by his leadership role, most notably, being a major contributor in the Kings winning two Stanley Cup Championships.
Late on June 28, before this latest news broke in the late morning hours of June 29, Frozen Royalty published a story on the Kings being on the verge of buying out Richards’ contract, looking at the situation, one in which the Kings could have bought out his contract a year earlier, but chose not to.
Was it a case of loyalty blinding Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi to the reality of the situation, or not?
The answer might not be as clear-cut as you think, and you can read all about that in, When It Comes To Mike Richards, Loyalty Becomes A Double-Edged Sword For LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi.
- 11:31 PM. 6/30/15 – Updated with additional information.
- 8:51 AM. 6/30/15 – Updated with additional information.
- 11:12 PM, 6/29/15 – Updated with additional information.
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