Monday, 29 June 2015

Apparently There Was Some Risk

When Dean Lombardi decided to give Mike Richards another chance after he found himself at on the fourth line at the end of the 2013-14 season, there were some eyebrows raised at that decision. Richards, it seemed, had lost a step, lost passion for the game, and lost his nose for the net. He was no longer the solid two-way force that was seen at the Olympics and in the first Stanley Cup run for the Kings. He appeared to be a shell of the former player known as Mike Richards, and Lombardi was stuck with an albatross contract.

Today, we find ourselves on completely new ground as Richards was waived yesterday for what was expected to be a buyout to save the Kings a pile of money and headaches over the next decade. Instead, we found out that the Los Angeles Kings would be excusing themselves of any further payment to Mike Richards by terminating his contract.
"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. We are not prepared to provide any more detail or to discuss the underlying grounds for the contract termination at this time."
Since the Kings were making no further comments on this, the speculation on why they were terminating Richards' contract and what caused the Kings to turn to that decision began to run wild. Combined with the recent legal trouble that Jarret Stoll has been experiencing, a lot of people figured that Mike Richards was somehow involved.

Let me say this: HBIC will not speculate on this. We're talking about a man's life and livelihood hanging in the balance where he may have to take legal action to not only save his reputation, but to save his career. It's entirely unfair for me to speculate whatsoever, but I will say that the Kings had to have felt that whatever Richards did or was involved in was beyond excusable, and his actions forced their hand into this decision.

I will, however, make this claim: it's not over. Expect that in the next 60 days, as per the CBA rules, that the NHLPA and Mike Richards will file a grievance. "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," NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said in a statement. Translate that to read, "We're talking to Mike and figuring out what happened. Once we do, we'll be filing a grievance."

$22 million of Richards' contract hang in the balance. If his NHL career is over for whatever reason, that's a lot of money that was left sitting on the table if he was indeed in breach of his contract. Details will emerge as this story develops over the next days and weeks, but this is going to be one of those legal matters that, like the situation in Glendale, may drag on through the summer with allegations and speculation running rampant.

Seems like an NHL summer, doesn't it?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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