DeBoer: ‘Always been a fan’ of Mike Richards, as reports of Sharks’ interest swirl

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Could there be a Mike Richards-Peter DeBoer reunion in the San Jose?

On Tuesday, CSN Bay Area asked DeBoer about a Sportsnet report claiming the Sharks had interest in Richards, who played four years under DeBoer in OHL Kitchener (the two won a Memorial Cup together in 2003).

“I’ve always been a fan, but also he’s a guy that I’ve tried to stay in contact with over the years,” the Sharks head coach said. “I’ve always followed his career.

“Glad to see that he’s back and training and might come back, but beyond that, no other relationship.”

When asked if he thinks Richards could make an NHL comeback, DeBoer replied “I think he can,” adding he’s spoken with Richards over the last few months.

Richards, 30, hasn’t played in the NHL since April. His 12-year, $69 million deal with the Kings was terminated this offseason due to a “material breach” stemming from an incident at the Canadian border.

Currently, he’s awaiting trial in January for allegedly entering the country with Oxycodone. As CSN Bay Area notes, no team would likely make a move until Richards’ legal situation was cleared up.

That the Sharks have interest probably goes beyond Richards’ personal history with DeBoer. The club’s had bottom-six forward depth issues all year long, and have tried numerous solutions.

Dainius Zubrus was signed after arriving on a PTO in November, and GM Doug Wilson has relied heavily on recalls from the AHL’s Barracuda, rotating in the likes of Ryan Carpenter, John McCarthy, Bryan Lerg, Micheal Haley, Nikolay Goldobin and Barclay Goodrow.

Should he eventually be signed, Richards would also give the club some experience and depth down the middle. Tomas Hertl, now in his third NHL campaign, has struggled this season — he has just four goals in 34 games — and is currently manning the fourth line between Melker Karlsson and Mike Brown.