Former Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards was an intricate piece during their Stanley Cup runs in 2012 and 2014, when it all came to a halt last summer. After an arrest for possession of a controlled substance on June 17th at a North Dakota-Manitoba border crossing, the Kings decided two weeks later to release Richards.
After playing extremely well, his game fell off tremendously to the point he was sent down to the AHL minor league team, and his arrest was the final straw. After settling his grievance with the Kings, he was no longer playing in the NHL until the Washington Capitals called him up in January. Richards let the past be the past and looks forward to making the best of his opportunity in Washington.
“He had to do things that he probably didn’t want to do at the end of the day, but I didn’t make it easy on him, either, to keep me around,” Richards said. “I want to say fault on both parts, but it’s probably more so on me, and he had to do what he had to do [for] what he thought benefited the L.A. Kings.”
Kings GM Dean Lombardi is still very fond of Richards and speaks highly of his work ethic in the first two seasons with Los Angeles. After being acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2011 draft, Richards had 15 points in 20 games during 2012 Cup run and was his defensive-minded self for the first two seasons, before he became a fourth-liner and was a small part of the 2014 championship. His specialty was penalty kills and made his presence felt for Los Angeles during the first two Cup runs.
Richards realized the error of his ways and takes full responsibility for his actions. As he settles in with the Capitals, he understands that nothing is given in this league.
“I’m happy to be here now, and I’m a true believer that everything happens for a reason. We’ll see how this plays out,” Richards said.
Even though he has 0 points in 11 games with Washington, Richards signed a prorated $1 million deal for the rest of the season. He signed with the Capitals for one reason — to win his third Stanley Cup. Richards is not alone, he has former Kings 2014 Stanley Cup MVP Justin Williams on the team.
The Kings were defeated by the Capitals 3-1 on Tuesday, but for Richards it was never about getting even, just getting on board with a franchise that is serious about winning like the Kings are. While maximizing his talents as a complimentary piece the Caps will need down the stretch towards the playoffs.