Former Flyers captain Mike Richards has been charged by police in Manitoba for possession of a controlled substance. He was reportedly charged on August 25, and he will appear in court on September 10.
Mike Richards charged for Possession of Controlled Substance while entering Canada. To appear in court Sep10/15. No further updates #rcmpmb— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) August 27, 2015
If convicted, Richards could be fined up to $1,000 or sentenced to no more than six months in prison.
The Los Angeles Kings terminated Richards' contract -- the same 12 year, $69 million contract he originally signed with the Flyers back in 2008 -- on June 29, citing a "material breach." It was reported back in June that Richards had been arrested attempting to cross the Canadian border with possession of Oxycontin. Here's TSN discussing that:
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.
On August 10, the NHLPA filed a grievance against the Kings on behalf of Richards, contesting the termination of the contract.
This isn't to diminish what could be a serious problem that Richards faces, but it's pretty clear general manager Dean Lombardi and the Kings are trying to use a loophole here to get out of the five years and $25 million that remain on the deal. Lombardi has to be kicking himself for not using a compliance buyout on Richards last summer -- especially after Richards' play degraded to the point of sending him to the AHL midseason in 2014-15 -- and this is an easy attempt to fix that error in judgment.
But he comes off as a huge hypocrite here -- at best. Lombardi's Kings failed to do anything after much more serious domestic charges came out against defenseman Slava Voynov last summer -- in fact, Lombardi undermined the NHL's suspension of Voynov by allowing him to practice with the team at one point.
If Richards' alleged personal drug use is enough to warrant termination of a contract, certainly beating up on one's girlfriend is as well?
Then again, Richards isn't valuable on the ice and his contract is an albatross, while Voynov is still seen as a hockey player that can contribute positively. So, you know. It seems the Kings have a handle on what matters.
Richards remains an unrestricted free agent, although signing with a team seems highly unlikely until this is all sorted out. Voynov is currently serving 90 days at a "luxury, pay-to-stay jail" in Southern California. He'll be out before training camp and is still under contract, meaning there's still a chance he's in a Kings uniform this fall.