Tag: Mike Richards

2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

Richards: I gave Lombardi ‘my word’ I’d work harder in the offseason


Mike Richards wants to reward Dean Lombardi for showing faith in him.

In a conversation with ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the 29-year-old Kings forward spoke about his general manager’s decision to keep him, as opposed to buying him out of the last six seasons of his $69 million contract.

“I really didn’t want to become a free agent and leave,” said Richards. “I want to be part of the Kings for a long time. So I was a little nervous from that point, even though I didn’t think Dean would do it, there’s always that chance that it could happen if he thought I couldn’t be the player I was before. If he thought I was on the downward track, maybe he would have done what was best for the team and bought me out.

“But it’s good to see he has confidence I can be back to being that player. It’s not easy working out every day and pushing towards it, but I’ve done it before and I felt I could do it. I gave him my word I would work towards being the player I was before.”

Certainly, Richards is under pressure to get back to being more than a fourth-line center. Lombardi defended his decision to keep the player by saying, “Time and again he shows up at critical moments.”

But Lombardi also said this: “The biggest thing in the meeting with Michael – the important thing – is that he realized he’s going to have to make some adjustments in his offseason training.”

And that’s something with which Richards couldn’t disagree: “I think before, not that I didn’t work hard, but I think I just took it for granted, where stuff was going on and you could skip a workout a day or two and not think it would be problem … and then at the end of the summer, you’re probably not in the best shape you need to be in going into a season.”

Poll: Is Drew Doughty the best defenseman in the world?


When Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar referred to Drew Doughty as “our Nick Lidstrom” back in May, was that really an outrageous statement? Let’s get this out of the way: Doughty hasn’t accomplished even half of what Lidstrom did, but at the age of 24, Doughty has achieved a lot.

Doughty has played a huge role in the Kings’ resurgence and is one of the main reasons they’ve won the Stanley Cup in two of the last three years. It’s not just his teammates or admires that recognize what he brings to the table either. Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray identified Doughty as the difference between his squad and the championship Kings.

He’s also excelled internationally as illustrated by his two Olympic gold medals and his gold medal from the 2008 World Junior Championship. He was also part of the 2008 tournament’s All-Star team.

At the same time, while he has played a big role in guiding teams to victory, he doesn’t have much in the way of individual awards. He’s never finished higher than third in the Norris Trophy voting and the last time he even got that high was in 2009-10 when he recorded 59 points. The Norris Trophy typically goes to a blueliner that’s prolific offensively in addition to being strong in other aspects of the game, but Doughty hasn’t recorded more than 40 points since 2009-10.

To put that into context, the last Norris Trophy winner with 40 or less points was Rod Langway in 1983 and 1984.

With that in mind, is Doughty the best defenseman in the world today? Is the fact that he hasn’t won the Norris Trophy yet holding him back from that title?

More Kings day coverage:

It’s Los Angeles Kings day on PHT

Under Pressure: Mike Richards

Can the Kings keep scoring like they did in the playoffs?

Can the Kings keep scoring like they did in the playoffs?

Los Angeles Kings v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Seven

Remember when the Los Angeles Kings didn’t seem capable of regularly scoring more than two goals per game? Probably, because it wasn’t that long ago.

The Kings scored at least three goals in just six of their previous 26 contests when they acquired Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The 32-year-old forward was coming off a rough and injury-riddled stint with Columbus, but he quickly developed on-ice chemistry with Anze Kopitar, which gave the Kings the flexibility to move Jeff Carter to the second line. That proved to be a great shakeup as the Kopitar and Carter lines provided the Kings with an effective one-two punch throughout the playoffs.

Los Angeles averaged 2.32 goals per game prior to the trade, but that jumped to 2.74 for the remainder of the season and 3.38 during the playoffs (up from 2.85 goals per game during the 2012 Cup-winning playoff run). The Kings inked Gaborik to a seven-year extension, but will that be enough to keep their offense dominant or did they simply get hot at the right time?

One thing to keep in mind is that even if you accept the premise that Gaborik was the missing piece of the puzzle the Kings needed to make everything click, then that still wouldn’t make them a safe bet to be prolific scorers going forward. If their offense is really that dependent on Gaborik then they are only as reliable as he is and his long injury history makes it hard to know what to expect from him going into any given year.

That being said, their spark wasn’t just about Gaborik. Rookies Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson also stepped up in the playoffs to give the Kings some much needed scoring depth. Then there was Justin Williams, who always seems to excel when the stakes are high, but was superb even by his high postseason standards as he earned the Conn Smythe Trophy after recording 25 points in 26 playoff games.

There’s also the question of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, who had 50 and 41 points in the regular season respectively. As mentioned above, Carter stepped up in the playoffs while Richards did not, but both of them have previously been far more productive than they were in the 2013-14 regular season and remain significant threats going forward.

So the Kings are a team with the tools to be very effective offensively, but one of the things that they have going for them is that they don’t necessarily have to be. This is also a squad that’s capable of winning low-scoring games as it was their defense and goaltending that highlighted their 2012 Stanley Cup championship. If the go cold offensively after their strong showing in the playoffs then that will be a problem, but it won’t necessarily be a crippling one.

More Kings day coverage:

It’s Los Angeles Kings day on PHT

Under Pressure: Mike Richards

Under Pressure: Mike Richards

Mike Richards

“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the Los Angeles Kings, we pick … center Mike Richards.

Sometimes a player is judged based on more than just the goals, assists and points he puts up. Even beyond the simplest numbers, there are facts and figures that matter more and more when it comes to forming opinions, and few things can drive feedback down quite like an athlete whose play doesn’t seem to match his pay. Much like Roberto Luongo (during his time with Vancouver in particular), Richards’ contract carries an expensive price tag ($5.75 million per season for a guy seemingly penciled-in for the third line?) and scary term (the deal expires after 2019-20), thus inspiring terms like “anchor” and “albatross.”

The defending champions are designed so near-immaculately that the 29-year-old’s deal sticks out like a sore thumb; add that to the a rejected opportunity to get out of it and every underwhelming Richards shift will only frustrate a subset of fans that much more.

With all apologies to Jonathan Quick (the other Kings player with a polarizing contract) and Justin Williams (a guy who might get squeezed out after this upcoming contract year), Richards is an easy choice for this feature.

The uncomfortable thing is that he’s highly unlikely to impress anyone expecting the 70+ point production of his peak years in 2007-08 (75 points) and 2008-09 (80). Really, his best chance of appeasing anyone is to appeal to hardcore fans and/or those who are more likely to empathize with his challenging situation.

Ideally, he can at least be more of an asset as a defensive forward with some upside. As this intensive study at Jewels from the Crown shows, his underlying numbers aren’t as bad as you might think when placed in the proper perspective, so maybe it’s a matter of adjusting expectations.

People forget that the Kings would have to pay Richards plus another player to take his place, so a buyout isn’t as cut-and-dried as it may seem. Still, it’s simply more fun to hammer on this situation in the simplest of terms.

As far as his team is concerned, Richards can be useful if he ups his offensive production a bit and continues to carry a heavy defensive workload for the Kings. Will he be valuable enough to justify that $5.75 million? It’s difficult to imagine such a scenario, which might miss the point.

That said, more than a few people will expect more than what Richards is probably capable of providing, so expect him to be in some high-pressure situations next season.

It’s Los Angeles Kings day on PHT

Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team?  The defending champion Los Angeles Kings.

After decades of NHL existence without managing to win it all, the Los Angeles Kings managed that feat in two of the last three seasons. At this moment, it seems like hockey fans are witnessing a battle for supremacy between the Kings and their conference rivals the Chicago Blackhawks (both locked up with two recent titles).

In stark contrast to the 2012 Stanley Cup run in which they lost four playoff games and never faced elimination, the Kings found themselves fighting for their postseason lives with great frequency. To put it in the simplest terms, Los Angeles went from an 0-3 deficit against the San Jose Sharks to winning the Stanley Cup with a dramatic Alec Martinez overtime goal against the New York Rangers … and it rarely looked easy.

Much like in 2011-12, the Kings didn’t win their division, although qualifying for the postseason was much more comfortable this time around.

Once again, the Kings were a dominant puck possession team that opted to add a significant (if often-criticized) sniper during the trade deadline to put them over the top. Much like Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik really helped to push the Kings over the top, especially when it came to the postseason.

Still, the core players are still what drive this Kings team. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty both made strong cases for Conn Smythe victories and other individual awards. Justin Williams finally received some mainstream attention by winning that playoff MVP. Dustin Brown was his typically cantankerous self. Jonathan Quick’s 2014 postseason was as polarizing as his 2012 work was exalted, yet the bottom line is that the American goalie is already a two-time champion.


The scary thing for opponents is that the Kings’ best players remain in their prime years and the team didn’t deal with much in the way of turnover this offseason. In a way, the potential improvement of Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson might seem like an “upgrade” in itself.

(Re-signing Gaborik certainly doesn’t hurt matters, aside from the worries about his fragility.)

The biggest move might have been one that wasn’t made, actually, as GM Dean Lombardi opted against buying out Mike Richards. It will be interesting to see if people look back at that move as one that hinders future Carter/Gaborik-type tweaks or if it was a wise retention of a center who was once deemed elite.

While winning another Stanley Cup deprived them of a high first-rounder, the Kings stockpiled 10 selections in the 2014 NHL Draft, so it was a pretty promising summer overall for L.A.