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Charge Filed Against Mike Richards

via Rick Westhead of TSN,

Former Los Angles Kings forward Mike Richards has been charged with illegal possession of a controlled substance, the RCMP announced Thursday morning.

Richards was charged on Aug. 25 and has not yet entered a plea. Richards has a court hearing on Sept. 10.

Richards was arrested on June 17 in Emerson, MB at about 2pm, RCMP constable Paul Human told TSN.

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.

added 10:42am, Westhead has added more to the original story including this...

Previously published reports have said the pills were OxyContin. A source close to Richards declined to say whether he has had a prescription for the narcotic pain reliever.

It's likely that at the Sept. 10 court hearing, the case will be adjourned for at least several weeks because Richards' legal team has not yet obtained through discovery police documents related to the case.

Under Canada's controlled drug and substances act, prosecutors will be able to choose whether to proceed with the case summarily, which is typically the case for first-time offenders, or through an indictment, which is used for repeat and serious offenders.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: mike+richards

Comments

Canucklehead's avatar

Really makes me wonder what “material breach” that Richards committed to get his contract terminated.  That amount of drugs has never been enough.  What else does Lombardi have up his sleeve that will help him win a grievance?

My gut says it has to do with Richards not notifying them of an arrest.  Could that be specified in a standard players contract?

Posted by Canucklehead from Ottawa, Ontario on 08/27/15 at 10:08 AM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

A couple of questions:

* What, precisely, was the, “controlled substance?”
* Why was Richards car searched, was it a road block or something?

I find the Kings’ termination of the contract suspicious… this certainly isn’t 1/10th as serious as Voynov’s crime & they didn’t even wait for charges to be filed against Richards.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 08/27/15 at 10:45 AM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

Just saw that it was Vicodin.

Thanks, Paul.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 08/27/15 at 10:46 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by Canucklehead from Ottawa, Ontario on 08/27/15 at 10:08 AM ET

Eric Macramalla, who is a sports lawyer and has appeared on TSN and other places to talk about the case does say that the Kings’ argument is almost certainly going to be based on Richards not notifying them of an arrest.

His argument is based on the fact that Richards’ contract was terminated
1. Before he was actually charged with a crime
2. Despite the Kings knowing it was related to a controlled substance, in which case they would be bound to honor the CBA’s prescribed Substance Abuse Program instead of simply being able to cut ties with him.

Here’s Macramalla on Forbes laying out the arguments.

I personally don’t think the termination will stand, but I do see that there is an argument to be made that the contract of an NHL player does give that player a duty to advise the team immediately if he is arrested.

The Standard Player’s Contract is available as an attachment to the CBA and is on the NHLPA’s website. There is no specific language in there that says a player HAS to notify his team of an arrest, so the argument would have to be inferred from the morality clause part of the contract that says the player must uphold the highest standard in representing them.

What I’m most interested in seeing is what’s going to be allowed to happen if the termination is overturned?  Will they allow a special buyout period to open up for the Kings to eliminate Richards that way?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/27/15 at 12:02 PM ET

Avatar

What I’m most interested in seeing is what’s going to be allowed to happen if the termination is overturned?  Will they allow a special buyout period to open up for the Kings to eliminate Richards that way?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/27/15 at 12:02 PM ET

I agree with you that, Kings will lose this case. And I hope if they lose, the league does not allow them some kind of a special buy out period.
This whole situation looks to me and most people, it seems, a try by the Kings to get out of a bad contract.

Posted by George0211 on 08/27/15 at 12:36 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

I agree with you that, Kings will lose this case. And I hope if they lose, the league does not allow them some kind of a special buy out period.
This whole situation looks to me and most people, it seems, a try by the Kings to get out of a bad contract.

It most certainly is.

But here’s where I kind of sympathize with Dean Lombardi.
He had a chance to activated the buyout on Richards last Summer when it wouldn’t have affected the Kings cap very much.
Instead, he flew out to visit Richards personally and asked him if he’d put in a commitment to training and come to camp in shape.
Richards gave him his word that he’d do that.

Instead, Richards came to camp out of shape (AGAIN!) and was quickly demoted to the AHL.
The only time Richards has ever used a personal trainer was during his draft year and his first contract year with the Flyers.

So I think this is a case of a Lover Scorned. Lombardi did what very few GM’s today would have done and sided with his heart instead of his head, hoping to get the most out of a player he held in high regards.
And how did Richards repay him? By falling back on his word AND get arrested for smuggling drugs across the border – which also prevented him from dealing Richards to Edmonton.

I guess I’m one of the few that would like to see Richards crash and burn on this.
He seems like a typical modern day athlete who will only work hard when a contract is on the line. Ever since he got that cash, he’s been involved with one scandal after another (Dry Island) and produced way below what he’s being paid.

He’s basically the Jamarcus Russell of the NHL.
Good riddance.

 

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/27/15 at 01:19 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

My gut says it has to do with Richards not notifying them of an arrest.  Could that be specified in a standard players contract?

Posted by Canucklehead from Ottawa, Ontario on 08/27/15 at 10:08 AM ET

It’s worded quite poorly imo, but paragraph 19 of the SPC comes out against side agreements…generally. Now there could be room for interpretation wrt that provision though, but even so, I can’t imagine any scenario under which one might exist.

The Club and the Player represent and warrant that there are no undisclosed agreements
of any kind, express or implied, oral or written and that there are no promises, undertakings,
representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent, supplements or understandings
of any kind between the Player or his Certified Agent and the Club that have not been disclosed
to the NHL, with regard to: (i) any consideration of any kind to be paid, furnished or made
available during the term of the SPC or thereafter; and/or (ii) and future renegotiation, extension,
amendment or termination of this SPC.

Any thoughts, JJ?

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 08/27/15 at 01:25 PM ET

Avatar

[quotePosted by Hank1974 on 08/27/15 at 01:19 PM ET]

I take huge issue with the idea that Lombardi gave Richards out of the goodness of his heart.  He gave Richards a second chance because a healthy and producing Richards would be good for the Los Angeles Kings.  Period.  Not to mention that while a compliance buyout would not have counted against the cap, they would still be paying him for a long time to potentially be an opponent, should anyone else have signed him.

If he’s such a swell guy with a big, soft heart he would not have used a substance abuse arrest to try and get out of a contract.

Posted by Garth on 08/27/15 at 02:31 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Any thoughts, JJ?

yeah I guess the Kings could argue that this part of Paragraph 19 is intended only to deal with manners of player compensation and not with an assumptive requirement that a player is failing to live up to the other part of the SPC that works as the Morality Clause, but I think the NHLPA is on stronger ground in regards to this paragraph and the way the rest of the SPC is worded.

Basically the SPC in the CBA is the actual player’s contract. Other than no-trade and no-movement clauses which can be added, there’s not a way to put in any other sort of clause. Every single player signs exactly the contract you see as Exhibit 1 attached to the CBA and the CBA has an entire article dedicated to saying that the SPC is the only way (Article 11).

So the Kings are arguing that they’re terminating the contract based on Paragraph 14(a):

The Club may also terminate this SPC upon written notice to the Player (but only after obtaining Waivers from all other Clubs) if the Player shall at any time:

(a) fail, refuse, or neglect to obey the Club’s rules governing training and conduct of Players, if such failure, refusal or neglect should constitute a material breach of this SPC.

Based on Richards’ breach of Paragraph 2(e):

[The Player further agrees] to conduct himself on and off the rink according to the highest standards of honesty, morality, fair play and sportsmanship, and to refrain from conduct detrimental to the best interest of the Club, the League or professional hockey generally.

The word “material” in paragraph 14 is key because Paragraph 4 of the SPC specifically lays out that they can set reasonable rules for player conduct and fine or suspend a player… meaning if Richards were just misbehaving, he’d have to be punished based on a prescribed and defensible set of rules that he broke and which can be discussed. 

So the Kings are arguing that what Richards did went so far beyond acting naughty that he entirely failed to live up to his contract, perhaps in that
1. Not notifying the Kings was dishonest
2. Not notifying the Kings was immoral
3. Not notifying the Kings was neither fair play nor good sportsmanship
4. Not notifying the team was detrimental to the best interest of the Kings, the NHL, or all of hockey

For the first argument, I find it hard to say you can call simply dishonesty a material breach and get away with it without going through a documented discipline process first. For the second argument, you have to tie it back to the 4th and it’s extremely hard to say that just being arrested and keeping it to yourself is an immoral act (since Richards was terminated before even being charged with a crime). For the third part, I don’t know that offseason fair play or good sportsmanship counts here.  The fourth argument is the only one with any real legs, but I don’t think that an arbitrator is going to allow such a liberal definition of the best interests of the Club here, since such a view says that the Kings’ best interests essentially supercede Richards’ right to privacy in certain matters.

tl;dr version - Yeah I think it’s very hard to argue that you’re allowed to write in a clause that forces a player to notify his team of an arrest and without such direct wording, the interpretation of the rest of the contract probably leans more in favor of the player (especially since it’s so obvious that what the Kings are doing is a matter of convenience rather than a stand on morals).

I’ve been wrong before though. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens here.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/27/15 at 02:42 PM ET

gowings's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/27/15 at 02:42 PM ET

Wow. Well detailed!!!! Love reading your explanations. Makes a lot of sense

Posted by gowings from MTL on 08/27/15 at 02:50 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

Thanks, JJ.

A couple of things that we may disagree on a bit. Para 14 (b), as opposed to 14 (a), seems to use far vaguer and broader language wrt materiality.

(b) fail, refuse or neglect to render his services hereunder or in any other manner materially breach this SPC.

Notably, it omits the “if such breach should constitute a material breach” language, which seems to leave a fairly wide target for the teams. Obviously that would be vigorously argued by the NHLPA but it could be a sticking point that weakens its position.

Parsing paragraph 19, I take it as prohibiting attempts at circumventing the SPC through the use of side agreements. Reps and warranties that there are “no undisclosed agreements” and “no promises, undertakings, representations, commitments…between the Player…and the Club that have not been disclosed to the NHL.”

That language doesn’t seem to indicate that there is a strict prohibition against side agreements. It may well be that such side agreements are not common practice, or that the intention was to ban them, but the language seems open to broader interpretation.

That said, I can’t imagine that Richards would actually have entered into a side agreement. I suppose there could have been a scenario last summer when he met with DL and they reached a side agreement (that hadn’t been contemplated when he originally signed his SPC, obviously) and it was disclosed to the NHL. But still.

 

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 08/27/15 at 03:14 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The thing about 14(b) there is that the only break from a material breach it offers is in the event that Richards failed, refused, or neglected to render his services.  This would require an argument that his contractually obligated services to the team include notifying them of the arrest. I don’t think that argument would fly, but the Kings may as well give it a shot I guess.  Outside of the requirement that Richards render his services, 14(b) doubles down on the requirement for a material breach.

I do agree that Paragraph 19 is more strongly intended to keep players and teams from finding ways of circumventing the CBA, but even then I don’t think it really matters. Outside of the agreement we share that it doesn’t make sense Richards would have agreed to such a thing, the problem with the existence of such a side agreement is that it would be unenforceable thanks to Article 11.1(a):

Standard Player’s Contract. The standard form SPC annexed hereto as Exhibit 1 will be the sole form of employment contract used for all Player signings after the execution of this Agreement. The standard form SPC may not be amended or modified in any manner whatsoever. [...]

If there is a side agreement that ties back and gives the Kings the authority to cancel Richards’ contract based on the wording in that very contract, the problem is that such a side agreement is an amendment/modification to the Standard Player’s Contract, which is forbidden by the CBA.

You really can’t say that you have a side agreement that lets you terminate a contract based on the wording in that contract without either saying you have a separate form of employment contract (which is not allowed) or you have amended or modified the contract you are now trying to terminate (also not allowed).

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/27/15 at 03:30 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

He seems like a typical modern day athlete who will only work hard when a contract is on the line.

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/27/15 at 01:19 PM ET

I don’t buy this at all.

Now more than ever, being a pro in the NHL, NBA, NFL, or MLB is truly a full-time job in every respect. There is no such thing as an offseason. Richards is by far the exception, not the rule. The vast majority of the athletes in those leagues are either mid-season and playing, or off-season and training. I would bet that the “vacation” time work-outs that most of these guys do in the off-season is more rigorous of what old-timers like Gordie Howe, Jerry West, Mickey Mantle, or Jim Brown ever did.

There’s so much more money in the game now that the stakes are so much higher. It’s financially smarter for the 90% of players that are not elite to spend their “free” time training and busting their asses to get better, as opposed to working the farm, because the money is there. And even for those top 10% of talents, there’s a ton of incentive to put that work in—it’s the difference between being a max contract player and a second-tier signing, a Gatorade/Nike/whatever endorsee or a local used car commercial personality, etc.

For every Mike Richards or Patrick Kane “drunk and sloppy” offseason, how many quiet Nick Lidstrom offseasons are there, where guys are relaxing, certainly having a few pops and a good time, but probably busting their ass four or five days per week with trainers and fellow players getting ready for the next season’s grind?

I think the talent and physical attribute gap between top-tier and fringe players is smaller than ever, so there’s more incentive than ever to spend off-nights and off-seasons doing everything you can to retain, let alone improve, your standing in the league.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 08/27/15 at 03:37 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

Outside of the agreement we share that it doesn’t make sense Richards would have agreed to such a thing, the problem with the existence of such a side agreement is that it would be unenforceable thanks to Article 11.1(a)

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/27/15 at 03:30 PM ET

Hey, well done. 11.1 would indeed seal the deal wrt any wiggle room that might otherwise have existed in 19.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 08/27/15 at 03:46 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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