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Mike Richards taking the high road against Kings


Mike Richards taking the high road against Kings

Back in 2009, when he was the 24-year-old captain of the Flyers, Mike Richards boycotted the Philadelphia media, refusing to provide more than one- or two-word answers to post-game questions.

Apparently, it was a stance against reporters who questioned the off-ice habits of Richards and teammate Jeff Carter, who will face each other for just the third time in their careers tonight at Verizon Center when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Capitals.

Today, at the age of 31, Richards has gone out of his way to bob and weave questions about Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who four months ago compared his relationship with Richards to a husband whose wife had cheated on him in a written summation provided to the Los Angeles Times.

“I didn’t make anything of it,” Richards said. “People that know me know I'm not out to make headlines or anything. I couldn’t care less.

“No offense, but if I never get interviewed again… I don’t go looking for interviews like some people might. I think he obviously wanted to get his … whatever out there, and he went and sought that. I'm the type of guy that kind of shies away from that stuff and I don’t have any need to comment on it.

“You’d have to ask him. I’m the wrong guy to ask.”

Richards said he experienced “way more highs than lows” in his four seasons with the Kings and is happy with his decision to sign with the Capitals, saying the scouting report Justin Williams gave him was completely accurate.

“He was pretty bang-on with everything,” Richards said. “Obviously, a good team, their record (40-10-4) kind of stands for itself. But just the group of guys … he was bang-on with the atmosphere, the dressing room, how everyone enjoys to be around each other and just how much fun it is to come to the rink every morning.

“He told me it was one of his most enjoyable years as a pro and that says a lot for him, he’s been in the league for 15 years now. It’s lived up to everything and more. It’s been great.”

Richards says these 2015-16 Capitals have many of the same qualities as the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup champion Kings.

“It’s a fun group,” he said. “When we’re in the gym working out or on the plane I think everyone enjoys being at the rink and around each other. When you have a group like that it’s easy to come to the rink and play hard for each other.

“I think that might get overlooked when you’re putting together a team, but you see championship teams, you can talk to anybody and that’s what they have. Guys who love going to the rink and being together. When you do that you play so much harder for each other.

Statistically, Richards’ first 11 games as a Capital have been underwhelming. Still looking for his first point, he has just six shots, is a minus-1 and has won 55 percent of his faceoffs while averaging 12 minutes a game.

“It’d be nice to contribute offensively,” he said. “I didn’t expect to come in here and just light the lamp every game but I also expected to probably contribute a little bit more. It’s frustrating not getting the success but I think in the last three or four games I’ve been getting a lot more chances and making a lot more plays, so it’ll come eventually. Hopefully sooner than later, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little frustrating.”

Williams, 34, said he’ll be excited to face the Kings for the first time in seven years but maybe not as much as Richards.

“I think maybe Richie will have a few different feelings,” Williams said. “Obviously, we had a lot of success there, but his falling out was a lot different than mine. I’m sure he’ll have a big growl and big will to win that game as well.”

MORE CAPITALS: Mr. Game 7 jacked to play against former team

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Term, not money, was the main sticking point in Brian MacLellan's negotiations with Barry Trotz


Term, not money, was the main sticking point in Brian MacLellan's negotiations with Barry Trotz

Despite winning a Stanley Cup less than two weeks ago, the Capitals found themselves without a head coach on Monday with the stunning news of Barry Trotz’s resignation.

At Wednesday’s breakdown day, Trotz told the media he wanted to be back in Washington. General manager Brian MacLellan said he wanted Trotz back. But both alluded to possible issues that had to be sorted out in any contract negotiations.

Obviously, those issues were not resolved.

“[Trotz’s] representative wants to take advantage of Barry’s experience and Stanley Cup win and is trying to negotiate a deal that compensates him as one of the better coaches in the league, a top four or five coach,” MacLellan said in a press conference with the media on Monday. “He’s looking for that kind of contract.”

But if you think money was the main sticking point between the two sides, that’s not the case. Money was a factor, but there was a bigger factor that held up negotiations, according to MacLellan.

“I think the five-year term is probably a sticking point,” he said. “We have a coach that's been here four years. You do another five, that's nine years. There's not many coaches that have that lasting ability. It's a long time and it's a lot of money to be committing to that, to a coach.”

Of the head coaches currently employed in the NHL, only Joel Quenneville has been the head coach of his current team, the Chicago Blackhawks, for over nine years.

Trotz’s contract included a clause that would extend his deal a further two years if the team won the Stanley Cup. While the team was comfortable with that clause and did engage in talks on renegotiating the contract after the season, they were not willing to sign him to a deal as expensive or, more critically, for as long as Trotz sought.

“I don’t think all teams pay that type of money and years," MacLellan said. "Certain teams are open to it and the rest of the league isn’t.”


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Before Capitals' Barry Trotz, here are other coaches who didn't return after a championship victory


Before Capitals' Barry Trotz, here are other coaches who didn't return after a championship victory

 Barry Trotz resigned as the coach of the Washington Capitals, the team announced Monday, less than a week after the team's Stanley Cup championship parade. 

In part of a statement via Trotz's agent, the departing coach said:

After careful consideration and consultation with my family, I am officially announcing my resignation as Head Coach of the Washington Capitals. When I came to Washington four years ago we had one goal in mind and that was to bring the Stanley Cup to the nation’s capital.

As shocking as the news may be to fans who are still celebrating the team’s first Stanley Cup championship, Trotz isn’t the first coach to not return to a team following a title.

He joins a handful of hockey coaches who have made similar moves for differing reasons, including:

— Scotty Bowman (1978-79 Montreal Canadiens)

— Bob Johnson (1990-91 Pittsburgh Penguins)

— Mike Keenan (1993-94 New York Rangers)

— Scotty Bowman (2001-02 Detroit Red Wings)

But this isn’t exclusive to hockey.

Multiple coaches in other sports have also called it quits after raising their respective trophies, and here are some of the notable ones.

Most recently, Zinedine Zidane caught everyone by surprise when he resigned as Real Madrid’s manager five days after leading the team to a third straight UEFA Champions League title.

After the Chicago Bulls’ 1998 NBA championship — also Michael Jordan’s final season in the Windy City — Phil Jackson resigned and took a year off before returning to coaching.

In 1990, Bill Parcells won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants and didn’t return, while Dick Vermeil did the same thing with the then-St. Louis Rams in 1999.

Jimmy Johnson led the Dallas Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl titles during the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons before parting ways with the team.