LOS ANGELES—It’s done. On June 29, the Los Angeles Kings announced that they have parted ways with Mike Richards, officially terminating his contract. In a statement by the organization, they cited Richards’ “material breach of the requirements of his Standard Player’s Contract.” The move is seen as a possible effort to avoid buyout penalties.
Tt was reported that the Kings placed the 30-year-old Richards on waivers for the second time this year, hoping to attract last-minute takers for the player’s contract. After Richards cleared waivers, following the required 24-hour period, his termination was finalized and announced.
The decline of Mike Richards has been well documented over the past two seasons of his tenure in Los Angeles. This season saw him post only 5 goals and 11 assists, results that sent him to the AHL in January. Richards returned to the team in March during the Kings’ push for the playoffs, but neither their campaign nor Richards’ return was successful.
Richards won two Stanley Cups with Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014. He was first brought to LA in 2011, as part of a trade deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Kings acquired his 12-year, $69 million contract, with an annual salary of $7.6 million and cap hit of $5.75 million. With this contract, Richards was the highest paid Kings player, among the most costly team of the entire league.
The Kings opted out of a compliance buyout on Richards after the 2014 season ended, with General Manager Dean Lombardi expressing his desire to give the center a second chance to find his form once again, a decision he ultimately regretted.
The organization declined to comment any further on the specifics of the matter of Richards’ termination, stating, “we are not prepared to provide any more detail or to discuss the underlying grounds for the contract termination at this time.”
Richards, now a free agent, has not expressed any plans regarding his future in the NHL or any other professional league.