Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

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

08/13/2015 at 3:08pm EDT

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).


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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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