Pregame reading: Los Angeles Kings at New Jersey Devils

KINGS AT DEVILS

Faceoff: 4 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM

The Kings on Sunday recalled center Mike Richards from their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., in an attempt to bolster their roster for the final 11 regular-season games. The Kings (34-23-14) practiced Sunday and Richards joined his teammates for the workout. He is expected to play against the Devils (31-30-11), two months after he cleared waivers and was assigned to the minors after recording five goals and 15 points in 47 games with the Kings. He had 14 points in 16 games for Manchester. The Kings desperately need depth at center, with Jarret Stoll sidelined by a concussion and Nick Shore failing to record a goal in 25 games and Andy Andreoff scoring only once in 17 contests. The Kings play their next five games on the road and finish with only three of their final 11 at Staples Center.  The Devils are 10-4-2 in their last 16 games. They also are 10-4-1 in their last 15 home games. They lost 3-0 to the New York Islanders on Saturday, however.

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L.A. Kings recall center Mike Richards from Manchester of the AHL

The Kings on Sunday recalled center Mike Richards from their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., in an attempt to bolster their roster for the final 11 regular-season games. The Kings (34-23-14) practiced the day before starting a five-game trip in Newark, N.J., and Richards joined his teammates for the workout.

He is expected to play Monday against the Devils (31-30-11), two months after he cleared waivers and was assigned to the minors after recording five goals and 15 points in 47 games with the Kings. He had 14 points in 16 games for Manchester. The Kings desperately need depth at center, with Jarret Stoll sidelined by a concussion and Nick Shore failing to record a goal in 25 games and Andy Andreoff scoring only once in 17 contests. Stoll had only six goals in 67 games before he was hurt March 12 He hasn’t scored a goal since Feb. 14 against the Capitals.

“You’ve got to produce,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of his centers after Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the team’s third defeat in four games. “At the end of the day, the guys (Shore and Andreoff) have played 20-some games and we’re into the stretch part and they have one or no goals. We’re having trouble scoring. The guys have to produce. That’s just being honest.”

The Kings have scored only six goals in their last four games.

 

 

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L.A. Kings forward Jeff Carter talks about teammate and friend Mike Richards

Here’s some of what Kings forward Jeff Carter had to say about teammate and friend Mike Richards clearing waivers and being assigned to Manchester of the AHL on Tuesday: “It’s tough, obviously. We’ve got a pretty close team here. Any time anybody leaves it’s always tough. We understand those things happen.

“He brought a lot to this room and a lot of stuff, unless you’re in this room, you don’t see. It was tough on him, too. It’s an opportunity for others to step up. It’s an opportunity for some of the young guys to become leaders. …

“I saw him last night. … I think he’s all right. Nobody wants to get sent down. It’s a (lousy) part of the game. I think he’s handled it well. He’s been around a long time. He knows how it works. I’m sure he’ll work hard and we’ll see him here again soon.”

 

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It’s official: L.A. Kings assign Mike Richards to Manchester of the AHL

The Kings assigned forward Mike Richards to their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., after he cleared waivers earlier Tuesday. None of the NHL’s other 29 teams claimed Richards, so the Kings held onto his rights. They can recall him in the playoffs, if they believe he can help them. Richards had only five goals and 10 assists in 47 games with the Kings. He last played in the minors in 2004-05, when he played in the AHL playoffs for the Philadelphia Phantoms, the Flyers’ top affiliate. He joined the Kings in a June 23, 2011 trade from the Flyers.

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L.A. Kings forward Mike Richards clears waivers, expected to report to Manchester

Struggling forward Mike Richards cleared waivers Tuesday morning, as expected, and the Kings will assign him to their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H. They expect him to report later this week and to improve his game with the idea that he could return to the Kings for the playoffs in April. Richards had five goals and 10 assists 47 games before the Kings put him on waivers Monday. The 29 other teams in the NHL had 24 hours to claim him, but none did.

“The way the schedule is in Manchester, you’re able to probably work on some things you don’t have the time to up here,” Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said. “So, if he goes down there and attacks this, there’s no reason he can’t come back, because our cap is the same in terms of the numbers right now. … There’s time for him to easily clean some of this up and be what he usually is in the playoffs. But if he says he doesn’t want to report, then that’s not an option.We’re not going that route.”

 

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L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter says Mike Richards still has ‘lots of game left’

Coach Darryl Sutter had this to say about the Kings’ move to place struggling forward Mike Richards on waivers Monday morning:

“From a personal standpoint, from a coaching standpoint, Mike’s been a really good player for us, obviously. He’s had a really tough year. It’s natural for people on the outside to want to have all the answers. Mike’s still got lots of game left. He’s been frustrated with it, too. I think he’s got lots of game left. That’s how I feel. …

“This is hockey and some of you guys don’t get it, period. In terms of lots of players go on waivers and lots of players clear waivers and still have great years in front of them. It’s just people in media who want to continue to beat people up because they can’t do it themselves. … I think Mike’s still go lots of hockey left.”

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Kings GM Dean Lombardi talks about placing Mike Richards on waivers

Here’s part of a question-and-answer session between Kings beat writers and general manager Dean Lombardi on Monday afternoon …

Question: How did it get to this point?

Lombardi: “It’s a process you work through. It’s not like all of a sudden it dawns on you. You’re starting to think about and you work through the process. I think it’s fair to say we made a final decision that we were one way our another deal with it after the All-Star break.”

Question: How did he take it?

Lombardi: “You can ask him. The process isn’t done because he’s still got to clear. I’ll probably talk to him a little more tomorrow. I’m sure it’s not easy on anybody. These are the tough decisions you’ve got to make.”

Question: You could have bought him out last spring, did you hope that would get him going?

Lombardi: “It was a combination of that and I think it’s … we expect loyalty from our players and it’s a two-way street. I think under the circumstance and what he’d done for us, I thought he deserved a chance to get back to what he’s capable of. That’s a hard balance. Obviously, I’ve thought about that a lot. There’s a new wave thing out there that players are commodities and passion and loyalty, those values made sports so special, the commodities guys will tell you that don’t matter. Well, that’s been a big part of the success of this team, I believe. And that’s how I came down on it. If you’re going to expect loyalty from your players, you have to at times show loyalty to them. Then the issue becomes, where’s that line.

“So, when I step back now, I’m never going to lose my belief in those values being critical, but as we see in the cap area … the cap is designed to eliminate those types of emotions. Fortunately, I still believe they’re a critical part of a good team. In retrospect, if you the commodities angle, you say, well, it should have been easy. If you use the belief in the intangibles it’s not. It is what it is. In the end, I felt he deserved that chance for all he’d done for us. I mean, I don’t think there’s any question that we don’t win that first Cup without what he did for this team. Obviously, you don’t win the second one. But you’ve still got to be at a certain level here that has to get done.”

Question: What about the financial standpoint  …

Lombardi: “That’s what we’ve got to work through. Mike in his career, he’s shown he can be a .300 hitter and get you 80 RBIs and be an All-Star player. So, maybe at this stage, it’s not there. I still think he’s capable of being a .280 hitter and do a lot of those things for you that only he can do. Let’s face it, right now, he’s batting .200. But I don’t see any reason why he can’t get back to that. He’s got to do what he’s got to do. There’s a lot of things that remind me of where Teemu Selanne was at this stage. Remember when he had fallen off the map in Colorado and it looked like he was done? Then he started changing some things and went on to have 10 great years, for crying out loud. It’s up to Mike. In my mind, I believe if he wants to, he can get back to that. I see no reason why not. But it’s going to be up to him.”

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L.A. Kings make a bold move by placing Mike Richards on waivers

The Kings placed under-performing forward Mike Richards on waivers Monday, marking their return to business after the All-Star break with a bold move that probably won’t work out as hoped.

Richards’ high salary and low production make it unlikely another team will claim him. Richards has a $5.75 million salary cap hit for the next five seasons after this one. He will make $7 million for 2014-15, $6 million for 2015-16, followed by $5.5 million, $4.5 million, $3 million and $3 million. He has only five goals and 10 assists in 47 games this season.

Richards, who turns 30 on Feb. 11, had 18 goals and 26 assists in 2011-12, helping to lead the Kings to their first Stanley Cup championship. He had 12 goals and 20 assists during the lockout-shortened 2013-14 season. Last season he had 11 goals and 30 assists as the Kings won the Cup again.

If he clears waivers, a likely scenario, he could be sent to the Kings’ American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., which would give the salary-cap burdened team a relief of only $925,000. The other 29 teams in the NHL have until 9 a.m., Tuesday to claim him.

Richards joined the Kings in a June 23, 2011 trade that sent Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a second-round draft pick in 2012 to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Kings also received the draft rights to Rob Bordson in the deal.

The Kings were set to resume practice after the break at 2 p.m. Monday.

Check back for updates.

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Will the L.A. Kings bench ineffective forward Mike Richards?

Kings forward Mike Richards played only 9 minutes, 7 seconds in Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers, a season low. He was scoreless and has five goals and nine assists this season. His plus/minus defensive rating is minus-8. He and frequently-scratched forward Jordan Nolan skated Friday in yellow jerseys while the rest of the Kings’ forwards were grouped in threes in like-colored sweaters.

It led to speculation Friday that Richards could be scratched for Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, the first time he would miss a game for any reason since the 2011-12 season, after an off-season trade from the Philadelphia Flyers. Richards played all 41 games so far this season, after playing in all 82 last season and all 48 during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

“I still, obviously, think I can play a lot more minutes,” Richards said after Friday’s practice. “But at the same time, you play what you’re put in a position of. I’m not going to cause a scene or doing anything to take the focus away from everything. I’m just going to come to the rink every day and play hockey. It is what it is, to be honest. You come here every day, you work, you get ready for a hockey game just like any other year or any other time, and that’s about all you can do.”

 

 

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Mike Richards breaks down all that makes Anze Kopitar such a standout player

Mike Richards had plenty to say when asked Tuesday how difficult it is to play the sort of exceptional two-way game fellow Kings forward Anze Kopitar has played during a season in which he was named a Selke Trophy finalist.

“To play like ‘Kopi’, there’s maybe two, three guys in the world that can,” Richards said. “I’d say it’s pretty hard. But it just seems like every time he’s on the ice, he calms everything down, whether it’s just a point in the game where it’s hectic out there, we’re running around. He steps on the ice, he seems to have that calming influence on everybody, just the way he plays.

“He’s a big, strong guy. He has skill. He’s really got it all. Then you put the emphasis that he does on playing on the defensive side on the puck, that really makes a special player. What he can do on the ice, take over games. …

“After a couple of games ago, where Johnny (Chicago captain Jonathan Toews) had his game, played really well, ‘Kopi’ was right there with him, too. He can elevate. It’s really fun to watch those two go at it against each other. To see the skill level that he has. …

“I think Darryl (Sutter, Kings coach,) has helped him a lot, putting a little more emphasis on that defensive side. If he played in the Eastern Conference on a team that didn’t stress defense as much as us, he could easily be a 100-point guy. He sacrifices that to be a two-way player and play on both sides of the puck.

“We see it every day, so we kind of get spoiled. But I think a couple years ago when we won the Cup, it was kind of his coming out party, and everybody now realizes how good he is.”

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