When will the other shoe drop?
It’s been a little over a month now since the Los Angeles Kings terminated Mike Richards’ contract for a “material breach.” Doing so avoided a costly buyout, but it also opened the door to the NHLPA potentially filing a grievance.
The NHLPA promptly released a statement that it was reviewing the situation and the next day a report emerged that Richards was allegedly involved in a border incident involving the prescription drug oxycodone.
Since then though the NHLPA hasn’t filed a grievance and Richards still hasn’t been charged with anything. So when will we know for certain what Richards’ status is?
Although it’s possible that nothing is imminent, there is a major deadline to consider. The NHLPA only had a 60-day window to file its grievance, so it must take action by Aug. 29 if it plans to do so at all, per TSN. From there the players’ union can request an expedited hearing, potentially opening the door to this matter being settled by training camp.
The union might be waiting in the hope that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will make its intentions known first though. Sgt. Bert Paquet confirmed that the investigation into Richards is still active. However, the RCMP’s deadline to file charges might lead to them making a decision after the NHLPA has to take a position.
“In a federal drug case, and I am not saying this is one, we usually have more than a year before courts say we can no longer prosecute,” Paquet said. “It depends on the actual charges in this case, if there are any. But we’re not worried about that, we have several more months before we’re at the point where that happens.”
If nothing else, the Kings will have a $1.33 million annual cap hit on their books next season due to Richards’ recapture penalty, but if Los Angeles has to buy him out under normal circumstances, that would result in fluctuating cap penalties that would total roughly $14.7 million over 10 years. At its peak, the Kings would be charged $4.2 million annually for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns.