Mike Richards returns to NHL, agrees to terms with Capitals
2-time Stanley Cup champion arrested last June
The Washington Capitals undoubtedly are hoping Mike Richards can play an important role on a Stanley Cup playoff run the way he did for Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014.
The Metropolitan Division leaders on Wednesday agreed to terms with the NHL free agent on a one-year, $1 million US pro-rated contract.
Earlier in the day, Richards met with the league and was cleared to resume his NHL career.
The 30-year-old centre from Kenora, Ont., was arrested in June 2015 with possession of a controlled substance in Manitoba after he was stopped by Canadian border authorities.
After the Kings terminated his contract on June 29 for a "material breach of the requirements" and the NHL Players' Association later filed a grievance on his behalf, the players' union announced a settlement. Richards had five years and $22 million US left on his contract.
Richards lost his job entirely in Los Angeles last season, getting sent to the AHL after his massive contract cleared NHL waivers. He returned late in the season, but did little while the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings missed the playoffs, finishing with a career-worst five goals and 16 points in 53 regular-season games.
His arrival in Washington probably means Zach Sill will lose his hold on the fourth-line centre's role. The 27-year-old native of Truro, N.S., was suspended two games without pay by the NHL on Wednesday for a boarding call against Boston defenceman Adam McQuaid in Tuesday night's 3-2 victory.
Sill hasn't recorded a point in four games since Washington recalled him from Hershey of the American Hockey League, where the tough guy had nine points in 30 outings.
The Capitals, who were 29-7-3 through Tuesday, also have centre Michael Latta on the roster but the third-year NHLer has been marginally effective this season with six points and 37 hits in 26 games.
Richards agreed to a 12-year, $69 million US contract extension with the Philadelphia Flyers in December 2007. He had four consecutive 20-goal seasons in Philadelphia, reaching 30 goals twice and scoring 80 points during the 2008-09 season.
He never scored more than 44 points in a season with Los Angeles, although head coach Darryl Sutter praised his two-way play and leadership during the Kings' three-year run of playoff excellence.
Richards ranks 16th in the NHL among active skaters in post-season games played (124), points (87) and assists (61).
In December 2007, he agreed to a 12-year, $69 million US contract extension with the Flyers. He had four consecutive 20-goal seasons in Philadelphia, reaching 30 goals twice and scoring 80 points during the 2008-09 season.
Richards has represented Canada at the Olympics, world championship (20060 and world junior championship (2004, 2005).
At the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, he earned the final roster spot on Mike Babcock's squad and worked his way into regular minutes on Team Canada's shutdown line with Rick Nash and Jonathan Toews as the Canadians downed the United States 3-2 in overtime to win gold.
With files from The Associated Press