Earlier today, we wrote about Mike Richards getting just 9:07 of ice time — a season-low — in Thursday’s 4-3 loss against the Rangers, and the trade rumors swirling overhead.
Today, things got worse.
Richards skated in a position next to Jordan Nolan on the “fifth line,” which suggested he could be a healthy scratch tomorrow when the Kings take on the Jets.
More, from the O.C. Register:
Coach Darryl Sutter could always change his mind before Saturday night, but clearly a message is being sent either way. Richards is a 29-year-old former 30-goal scorer whose role is quickly diminishing.
”That’s no fun, that’s no good,’’ Richards said Friday. ”I still, obviously, think I can play a lot more minutes, but at the same time, you play what you’re put in position to play. I’m not going to cause a scene or do anything to take the focus away from anything. I’m just going to come to the rink every day and play hockey.’’
The former Philadelphia Flyer — in year seven of a 12-year, $69 million deal — was thought to be a potential buyout target during last summer’s compliance window, yet retained by Kings GM Dean Lombardi in a move that could come back to haunt the Kings. While L.A. has lauded Richards for his “intangibles” and leadership ability, the fact remains he’s on pace for the lowest offensive output of his career (just 14 points through 41 games) and the organization could find itself in a cap crunch with Justin Williams a UFA this summer and Anze Kopitar the next.
Richards, to his credit, is trying to stay positive.
”You come to the rink every day and, it is what it is, to be honest,” he told the Register. ”You come here, you work, you get ready for a hockey game, just like any other year or any other time. That’s about all you can do.’’