Former Los Angeles Kings center and unrestricted free agent Mike Richards could be drawing interest from San Jose, according to report.
On Tuesday, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman wrote that the Sharks are “eyeing” Richards, who played junior hockey for Pete DeBoer and Steve Spott at OHL Kitchener.
Richards played junior hockey for Kitchener for four years under DeBoer from 2001-05, including a 2003 Memorial Cup win. In 2005, DeBoer was a part of Canada's coaching staff for the World Junior Championships that resulted in a gold medal. Richards was the captain of that club.
"I’ve always been a fan, but also he’s a guy that I’ve tried to stay in contact with over the years," DeBoer said on Tuesday. "I’ve always followed his career. Glad to see that he’s back and training and might come back, but beyond that, no other relationship.”
A 30-year-old center, Richards had his 12-year, $69 million contract terminated by the Kings in the offseason due to a “material breach” after he was detained at the Canadian border. He is awaiting trial in January for allegedly trying to enter Canada with the painkiller oxycodone, so he's likely to remain a free agent until his legal issues get straightened out.
DeBoer admitted that he's been in contact with Richards since his off-ice troubles came to light, but it was strictly on a personal basis. Still, he believes Richards can return to the NHL and become an effective player again.
“I think he can. I think he can," DeBoer said. "I have had a conversation with him in the last few months just to check in on how he’s doing, and it seems like he’s in a really good place. Just from a personal standpoint, I had the conversation, not reaching out for any other reason other than just checking in on a guy I have a lot of respect for. I believe he will come back and play in the league again, I really do, based on what I know about him.”
Richards was originally drafted in the first round (24th overall) of the 2003 draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, where he was a two-time 30-goal scorer in 2008-09 and 2009-10. He served as the Flyers captain from the start of the 2008-09 season until he was traded to Los Angeles on June 23, 2011.
There, Richards was part of both of the Kings’ Stanley Cup teams in 2012 and 2014, but his play sharply declined throughout his tenure in Los Angeles. He was eventually waived by the Kings last season and spent time in AHL Manchester. In 53 games with Los Angeles in 2014-15, Richards had five goals and 11 assists.
In 710 career NHL games, Richards has 179 goals and 303 assists for 482 points and 577 penalty minutes.