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Reviewing the NHLPA’s possible options in grieving Mike Richards’ contract termination

From Forbes' Eric Macramalla:

It’s been about a month since the Los Angeles Kings terminated the contract of forward Richards in connection with Richards being taken into custody at the Canadian/U.S. border for the alleged unlawful possession of OxyContin pills. Richards had five years and $22 million remaining on his deal, which translates to a $5.75 million cap hit over each of the next five years.

Initially, the Kings had decided to buy out Richards. That would have resulted in a fluctuating cap hit until 2024-25, peaking in 2018 and 2019 at $4.2 million. However, by terminating his deal, the Kings would enjoy substantial cap relief as the team would only be on the hook for a cap recapture penalty of $1.32 million over each of the next five years. And of course, the team won’t have to pay Richards two-thirds of his salary, which amounts to $14.5 million.

The Kings will have a difficult time upholding the termination of Richards’ contract. Based upon the available information, the team may advance two arguments.

Terminated: Argument One

Beyond his possible border arrest, not much is known regarding the RCMP’s investigation into Richards. So at this point, the precise reasons for termination are not known. Further, whatever transpired at the border constitutes nothing more than allegations against Richards. However, let’s assume the Kings terminated the Richards contract after learning he was taken into custody in connection with the possession of OxyContin.

If that’s the case, expect the Kings to have a tough time upholding the termination of the Richards contract should the NHLPA file a grievance.

Why the uphill battle for the Kings? The reason is the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse And Behavioral Program Policy (or the Drug Policy).


Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: los+angeles+kings, mike+richards, nhlpa


d ca's avatar

Red Wings management conversation next off-season: It’s okay Pavs we totally understand how you wanted to go to the KHL a year early and we wish you well in leaving. Don’t worry about us…we’ll be fine. (Shout from the secretary: Anze Kopitar’s agent is on line 1.)

The Kings are in some Blackhawk-type cap trouble. The NHLPA won’t allow what they are trying to pull for the issues surrounding precedence it would establish. And that should help all the other clubs in the form of talent getting to trading and free agency markets.

Posted by d ca on 08/13/15 at 03:37 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

And that should help all the other clubs in the form of talent getting to trading and free agency markets.

Like previous years though, I’d imagine most players who move with big cap hits will be ones who aren’t wanted by their teams anymore - and can be moved to teams needing to reach the floor.  Phoenix seems to always be in a position to take on a few bad contracts just to spend money.

Anyone who gets moved will not be worth whatever it takes to get them.

Posted by TreKronor on 08/13/15 at 04:34 PM ET

d ca's avatar

@ TreKronor

You’re not getting it. You are focusing on the short term—not next off-season.

By forcing Mike Richard and his high cap hit back on the Kings—it hits the Kings in 2 ways:

1) They go over the cap and must trim money off the roster this year. And they won’t be able to buy out Richard’s as he will be in the drug treatment program.

2) the Kings will be in a tougher position to keep their team intact after the season. This is a salary cap sport so there is only so much cap room to go around. With Richard’s cap hit back on the Kings cap—-they won’t have the cap room to re-sign all their RFA & UFA but especially Lucic and Kopitar. If they wanted to get rid of Richards at this point it will be through a regular buyout—not a termination which is more costly and would mean less money to re-sign these free agents thereby benefiting the rest of the league.

As a UFA next off-season all it will take to get Kopitar is money. So giving up equivalent value does not apply.

Posted by d ca on 08/14/15 at 04:12 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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