The Kings terminated the contract of forward Mike Richards on Monday morning, saying in a rather terse statement posted on the club’s website: “The Los Angeles Kings today have exercised the team’s right to terminate the contract of Mike Richards for material breach of the requirements of his Standard Player’s Contract. We are not prepared to provide any more detail or to discuss the underlying grounds for the contract termination at this time.”
That could cover a good deal of ground, but it means the Kings did not buy out Richards of his contract as previously speculated would happen. This isn’t likely to be sorted out until the lawyers have their say and that could take a while.
It’s a stunning move, to say the least.
Here’s what the AP reported Sunday about Richards:
“The Kings placed Richards on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out the remaining five years of his contract, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Sunday. The source added that Ducks defenseman Mark Fistric and Montreal forward P.A. Parenteau have also been placed on unconditional waivers.
“The players will spend 24 hours on waivers. If unclaimed, they will have their contracts bought out and become unrestricted free agents.
“Richards is the most high-profile and priciest of the players hitting the market.
“He is in the midst of a $69 million, 12-year contract which runs out in 2020. By buying out Richards, the Kings partially alleviate the $5.75 million annual salary-cap hit, though part of his salary will still count against the team’s payroll through 2024-25.
“The move does not come as a surprise, even for someone who played a key role in helping the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014.
“Richards’ declining production led to the Kings demoting the 10-year NHL veteran to Manchester, their American Hockey League affiliate, in January.
“The four-time 20-goal scorer finished last season with a career-low five goals and 16 points in 53 NHL games.”