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Mike Richards had his contract with the Los Angeles Kings terminated on June 29, with the team claiming that there was a “material breach of the requirements” of his 12-year deal, which ran through 2020.
What was the breach? NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire indicated there was an incident at the Canadian/U.S. border that prompted the Kings to take action. Then TMZ Sports reported that Richards had been stopped at the border and questioned about oxycodone pills in his possession on June 17.
It’s taken nearly two months, but Richards has finally been charged by the Manitoba RCMP: Possession of Controlled Substance while entering Canada.
Canadian border guards found “some pills in a single bottle” during a random search of Richards’ car and he was arrested by RCMP, a source told TSN. “It was clearly a small quantity intended for his personal use,” the source told TSN.
Does this formal charge change anything with regard to the NHLPA’s grievance against the Kings and the NHL? Not likely. One assumes the NHLPA was aware of Richards’ circumstances when it filed, and this case is more about the precedent being set than Richards' guilt or innocence.
It’s plain as day that the Kings are picking their spot with this termination, being that Richards is a player in steep decline and they’re trying to void his deal instead of buying it out to get around the cap implications. This is less about Mike Richards getting charged with drug possession and more about how NHL teams will react to such charges going forward.
This is your reminder that Kings GM Dean Lombardi could have avoided all of this had he acted with his brain instead of with his heart on Richards last year.
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