Tag: Mike Richards

2014 NHL Draft - Round 2-7

Carolina won’t buy out Semin after season, says Francis


We wrote yesterday about ‘Canes head coach Bill Peters possibly reaching his breaking point with struggling forward Alex Semin, who was a healthy scratch for Tuesday’s win over Tampa Bay.

Peters’ boss, Carolina GM Ron Francis, doesn’t appear to be as close to breaking.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

The Canes’ options with Semin include placing him on waivers, sending him to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League or buying him out after the season.

Francis indicated the Canes would not do the latter.

“Alex is a part of the Hurricanes and we’ll continue to work with him and try to help him be the player we think he can be,” Francis said. “Things are different now in the way we are running things and what we expect. Our job is to continue to work with him and get the message through.

“We think we can do it. We’re not giving up on him at all.”

Not surprising to learn that Carolina’s passing on the buyout route. Since amnestying contracts is no longer on the table, utilizing a standard buyout for remainder of Semin’s five-year, $35 million deal would be a really expensive proposition for the ‘Canes — though to be fair, another team with financial issues, Arizona, used a one on Mike Ribeiro last June.

What Francis didn’t rule out, though, was the waiver route and a possible demotion to the AHL. In the world of guaranteed contracts and salary caps, it’s one of the few motivational tools general managers have at their disposal; we saw this recently with the L.A. Kings and forward Mike Richards, who was waived then sent to AHL Manchester after clearing.

Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said Richards needed to “re-find his passion and his love for the game,” while GM Dean Lombardi said “it’s up to Mike.”

Semin would almost undoubtedly clear waivers if placed on the wire. Could a wake-up trip to AHL Charlotte deliver the message Peters has been trying to send?

NHL on NBCSN: Faltering Kings face rival Blackhawks

Drew Doughty, Patrick Sharp

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign with Wednesday’s second game as the Los Angeles Kings host the Chicago Blackhawks at the Staples Center at 10:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

While they would prefer to sit atop the Central Division, things are basically business as usual for the Chicago Blackhawks, who visit the Los Angeles Kings to wrap up Wednesday’s Rivalry Night action.

(Click here to read about the Washington Capitals hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins.)

Things aren’t quite as casual for the Kings, however. It’s true that Los Angeles has made a habit of grabbing an unimpressive playoff spot and running with it, but this season may just push that limit.

The Kings are currently sitting at ninth place in the West, three points behind the Calgary Flames for the West’s wild card spot. Sports Club Stats gives them slightly worse than a coin flip’s chance at making the playoffs, for what it’s worth. They may have a game in hand on Calgary, but the Flames hold the kind of tiebreakers (six more wins, four more in regulation/overtime) that give a quick argument for how much Los Angeles needs to improve.

Not that the Blackhawks are likely to take the Kings lightly, mind you.

Most obviously, Chicago remembers all too well falling to Los Angeles in that memorable 2014 Western Conference final series.

Beyond that, the Kings have been very tough at home, sporting a 15-6-6 record at the Staples Center. Considering how well-rested this group is (as opposed to Blackhawks team that almost sent a starting lineup to the All-Star Game), we should see the best Los Angeles has to offer tonight.

The Kings play their first game since sending Mike Richards to the AHL. Martin Jones is available to play if Los Angeles wants to move away from struggling starter Jonathan Quick. Corey Crawford is expected to be in Chicago’s net.

The Blackhawks took the first meeting between these teams, handling the Kings 4-1 in Los Angeles on Nov. 29. They face a far more desperate opponent tonight, however.

Have ‘Canes reached breaking point with Semin?

Carolina Hurricanes v Columbus Blue Jackets

Alexander Semin’s nightmare campaign continued on Tuesday, as Carolina head coach Bill Peters explained why Semin would likely be a healthy scratch tonight versus Tampa Bay.

From Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer:

Semin, who’s only played in 26 games this year due to injuries and healthy scratches, is in the second of a five-year, $35 million deal that carries a $7M cap hit through 2018.  His first two years in Carolina were fairly solid — he scored 35 goals and 86 points in 109 games — but this year has been an unmitigated disaster; Peters, in his first year on the job, has responded by sending Semin a series of messages… none of which seem to have gotten through.

(Don’t forget that the ‘Canes are actually playing some good hockey lately. They’re 6-2-1 in January, most of which coincided with Semin being parked in the press box.)

Expect talk of parting ways with Semin to continue in Carolina, especially in light of Los Angeles waiving Mike Richards on Monday. Richards, like Semin, has an expensive contract — making $5.75M annually through 2019 — and, like Semin, was woefully underperforming compared to his price tag.

Update: To clarify the above tweet regarding buyouts — amnesty buyouts are no longer available, but clubs can still exercise regular buyouts on players, like Arizona did with Mike Ribeiro during last year’s NHL Entry Draft.

Whatever the Kings decide with Richards, they’re ‘going to have to play better’

Joe Pavelski, Jonathan Quick

Darryl Sutter still thinks Mike Richards can be a good NHL player, and he’s frustrated by the media coverage of the Kings’ decision to place the 29-year-old center on waivers.

“This is hockey, and some of you guys don’t get it, period,” the coach told reporters today, per LA Kings Insider. “Lots of players go on waivers and lots of players clear waivers, and lots of players still have great years in front of them.

“It’s just that there are people in the media who continue to want to beat people up because they can’t do it themselves. It’s frustrating. I think Mike’s still got lots of hockey left.”

Whatever the team decides to do with Richards, both in the short- and long-term, the Kings, to most everyone’s surprise, find themselves outside the playoff picture heading into Wednesday’s home game versus Chicago, after which they’ll head out on a tough, five-game road trip with stops in Boston, Washington, Florida, Tampa Bay, and Columbus.

All-Star forward Anze Kopitar was asked this weekend to pinpoint why the defending champions had such a modest record (20-15-12) after 47 games.

“I don’t think you can pinpoint,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of hockey the last few years. Maybe there was a little bit of a fatigue factor. But we’re all professionals. We’ve got to get ready for each and every game.”

The statistic that really stands out about this season’s Kings is their goals-against average. At 2.53, it’s only the 13th-lowest in the NHL. Last season, it finished at 2.05, better than everyone.

Blame the goaltenders. Blame the players in front of the goalies for not being in a “checking mood” often enough. Blame the absence of Slava Voynov, or the departure of Willie Mitchell. Blame the shootout. Blame fatigue. The fact is, no defending champion since the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes has missed the playoffs, and the Kings would like to keep it that way.

“I think we’re one point out of a playoff spot,” said Kopitar. “That’s encouraging. And we realize we’re going to have to play better the second half of the year. We have a pretty long road trip coming up, and this is a good time to get going and turn things around.”

Related: Mike Richards clears waivers

Mike Richards clears waivers

Mike Richards

Los Angeles center Mike Richards cleared waivers on Tuesday.

Richards, 29, passed through the wire unclaimed after yesterday’s big news that L.A. waived him in the midst of what’s been a disappointing campaign. A former 80-point scorer and Selke runner-up, Richards played a key role in each of the Kings’ two Stanley Cup championships but had both his role and playing time decrease this year, scoring just five goals in 47 games while averaging less than 14 minutes a night.

Richards was always going to be a tough pickup for any team thanks to his massive 12-year, $69 million deal — one that carries a $5.75M annual cap hit through 2019. There were reportedly trades being negotiated through the weekend in an effort to move Richards but, when Kings GM Dean Lombardi became dissatisfied with the deals, Richards was waived.

“The way I look at this, Mike’s, in his career, he’s shown he can be a .330 hitter and get you 80 RBIs as an All-Star player,” Lombardi explained, per LA Kings Insider. “So, maybe at this stage, maybe it’s not there. But I still assume he’s capable of being a .280 hitter and doing a lot of those things for you that only he can do.

“Let’s face it – right now he’s batting .200.”

What happens now will prove interesting. Richards will likely be sent to AHL Manchester and the cap-strapped Kings will receive $925,000 of relief in the process. That said, Richards’ deal remains an albatross; even with that relief, the contract still represents $4.8 million of dead space.