(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHL)
Mike Richards’ contract with the Los Angeles Kings has been terminated, according to the team. The termination – which is not the same as the buyout, which was expected to occur today – comes as a result of what the Kings called a “material breach” of contract by Richards.
The Mike Richards buyout saga has taken a strange turn and become the Mike Richards termination saga as the Los Angeles Kings announced Monday they have terminated the contract of the veteran center following a “material breach” of the deal.
The full statement from the Kings reads as follows:
“The Los Angeles Kings today have exercised the team's right to terminate the contract of Mike Richards for a material breach of the requirements of his Standard Player's Contract. We are not prepared to provide any more detail or to discuss the underlying grounds for the contract termination at this time.”
The contract termination came as a shock, as it was believed the Kings were instead planning to buyout Richards’ deal, making him an unrestricted free agent.
According to the CBA, a club is eligible to terminate the contract of one of its players for a material breach for one of two reasons: if a player should, “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,” or should the player, “fail, refuse or neglect to render his services hereunder or in any other manner materially breach this SPC.” However, it’s uncertain whether those reasons apply in Richards’ case.
Further information about what, exactly, the Kings are claiming caused Richards to breach the contract has not been released. It’s possible the termination of his contract could lead Richards to fight the Kings’ decision.
The news comes just one day after ESPN’s Katie Strang revealed that Dean Lombardi had told her that choosing not to buyout Richards last off-season may be, “the worst decision (he had) ever made.”
Following the termination, Richards does become an unrestricted free agent and is eligible to sign with any team.