What’s next for Mike Richards and the Kings?
The Los Angeles Kings’ decision to terminate - rather than buy out - Mike Richards’ contract is startling. It’s also a lot to wrap your head around, even without knowing how Richards allegedly “breached” his contract.
The situation generated a lot of interesting observations and speculation on Twitter, so consider this post an early look at what might happen next.
Considering the lack of specifics at hand, let’s focus more on the hockey implications rather than pondering legalities in too much depth.
Los Angeles’ cap situation
Richards’ $5.75 million cap hit is a huge concern, and one wonders about the sort of loopholes that might be exposed here. TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston report that the Kings may operate as if the cap restriction has been lifted:
It is a given the Kings believe this move frees them of their contractual obligation to Richards and his $5.75M cap hit.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 29, 2015
As far as NHL and LAK concerned, Kings are free of obligation to Richards and he's off LA cap, player eligible to sign anywhere.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 29, 2015
Simon Feenix brings up an interesting question on Twitter, too: what about the Kings’ attempts to trade Richards? Could that get into a fuzzy area, too?
Richards is a free agent, though a grievance may come
Obviously, the 30-year-old forward is likely to file a grievance through the NHLPA, though McKenzie rightly notes that it would be tough to get a resolution before free agency kicks off on Wednesday:
It is likely player, his reps/NHLPA will dispute NHL/LAK interpretation tho low likelihood of anticipated grievance resolution before July 1— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 29, 2015
Because teams can have a payroll up to 10% higher than the cap in offseason... The Richards issue doesn't have to be resolved until mid-Sep— David Alter (@dalter) June 29, 2015
Richards can sign a free agent deal elsewhere, yet this situation is far from over. It might not go well for him in the long run, though.
There have been some interesting questions surfacing regarding how this situation may set a precedent or two - maybe an ugly one, too - for future buyout and cap situations.
Time will tell on a number of these issues, whether we find out the particulars of the contract breach or not. Regardless, hockey fans might have their eyes on the screen if Richards plays against the Kings in 2015-16.