MINNEAPOLIS -- Just like all of us, Mike Richards found out that he'd been traded by the Philadelphia Flyers to the Los Angeles Kings via the Internet, not long before his agent confirmed the news to him.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call on Thursday, Richards said that while he's excited about the new opportunity out west, he was shocked when he learned about the deal.
He wanted to end his career as a Flyer after inking a 12-year extension in 2007.
Had he known he'd be traded, Richards said he would have never signed that deal.
The Flyers approached Kings GM Dean Lombardi about Richards' availability four weeks ago and once Ilya Bryzgalov's rights were dealt to Philadelphia on June 7, the talks between the two clubs picked up.
Lombardi cited his philosophy of building a team from the back and down the middle. Strengthening the center position was something he wanted to do at the deadline, but the opportunity to do so wasn't there.
"It has to be two things: the timing has to be right and it has to be the right player," said Lombardi.
"Obviously the thought of having him and [Anze] Kopitar down the middle, that allows us, I think, essentially to match up to any team in the Western Conference," said Lombardi.
"And I think that was a big hole."
Now that Lombardi's found that "right" player, the Kings have bettered themselves heading into next season and given Kopitar not only some offensive support, but also a teammate who can play at both ends of the ice.
The Trade Deadline in February brought rumors that had the Kings dangling top prospect Braydon Schenn. Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers was a name mentioned to be possibly part of a deal, but Lombardi said that a player of Richards' caliber was not out there and that was the only way that Schenn would be included. The fact that Richards is signed for another nine years and has an cap hit at $5.75 million made the deal more enticing for Lombardi to part with Schenn.
Lombardi isn't finished molding the 2011-12 Kings roster. Ryan Smyth looks to be on his way out after Lombardi acknowledged that the forward did ask to be traded closer to home.
Dumping Smyth's contract would give Los Angeles around $16 million, according to CapGeek, to spend on a new deal for Drew Doughty and to strength their forward depth which at the moment is very top heavy.
- Mike Richards
- Los Angeles Kings