In a move that will certainly raise eyebrows around the NHL, the Capitals have signed center Mike Richards to a one-year, $1 million contract.
Richards, 30, met with the NHL earlier today and has been given clearance to immediately resume his NHL career.
His contract was terminated by the Los Angeles Kings over the summer and a settlement between the team and the NHL Players’ Association was reached in September.
Richards won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Kings in 2012 and 2014 and was teammates with current Capitals right wing Justin Williams, who told CSN Mid-Atlantic he has spoken recently with Richards.
“We didn’t talk very much about hockey,” Williams told CSN Mid-Atlantic, “but it would be a great redemption story. Any time your ego takes a hit, which his did, as a proud guy you want to shove it up somebody’s (expletive deleted) and prove something to somebody, even if it’s just yourself.
“He’s not old and I’m sure he’s still capable of playing,” Williams said. “It all depends on his mental fortitude and where he is.”
Richards has registered 482 points (179 goals, 303 assists) and 577 penalty minutes in 710 career NHL games with Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
The 5-foot-11, 196-pound center ranks second in the NHL among active skaters in career shorthanded goals (28), trailing Marian Hossa (30). Richards played in 53 games with the Kings last season, earning 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) and 30 penalty minutes. He earned his 300th NHL assist on Dec. 12, 2014 at Montreal and played in his 700th NHL games on Jan. 12, 2015 against Toronto.
Richards has recorded 87 points (26 goals, 61 assists) and 91 penalty minutes in 124 career playoff games. He ranks 16th in the NHL among active skaters in playoff games played, points and assists. Richards played in his 100th career postseason game on April 20, 2014 at San Jose and led the Kings in assists (9) during the 2013 playoffs. During the 2012 postseason, he ranked fourth in the NHL in assists (11) and captured his first of two Stanley Cups. Richards scored his first career playoff goal on a penalty shot on April 15, 2008 against Washington, becoming the second player in NHL history to score his first playoff goal on a penalty shot (Wayne Connelly, 1968).
Richards ranked tied for first in the NHL in shorthanded goals (4) during the 2011-12 season and registered a career-long five-game goal streak from Nov. 16, 2011 to Nov. 23, 2011. In 2009-10, Richards led Philadelphia in points (62), set career highs in goals (31) and power-play goals (13) and recorded his second-career hat trick on Oct. 6, 2009 against Washington. During the 2008-09 season, Richards was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy and set career highs in points (80) and assists (50). He led the NHL in shorthanded goals (7) and recorded a shorthanded goal in three straight games (2/15/09-2/21/09), becoming the first player to do so since Joe Sakic in 1998. Richards was named the 17th captain in Flyers history on Sept. 17, 2008 and represented the Eastern Conference at the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta. He registered his first career hat trick on Feb. 8, 2006 against the NY Islanders and scored his first NHL goal in his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 2005 against the NY Rangers. Richards was drafted by Philadelphia in the first round, 24th overall, in the 2003 NHL Draft.
The Kenora, Ont., native has represented Canada at the Olympics (2010), the IIHF World Championship (2006) and the IIHF World Junior Championship (2004, 2005). Richards captured a gold medal with Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and captained Team Canada to the gold medal at the 2005 IIHF World Junior Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota. In addition, Richards won the Calder Cup with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 2005 and the Memorial Cup with the Kitchener Rangers in 2003.