September 16, 2019

Washington Capitals sign center Mike Richards to one-year deal

The Capitals have signed free agent center Mike Richards to a one-year, $1 million pro-rated contract, the team announced late Wednesday afternoon.

Richards had spent the previous four seasons in the Kings’ organization, winning Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014. Richards’ contract was terminated by the Kings last summer after he arrested in his native Canada for allegedly possessing a controlled substance. He has a court date pending on Jan. 28. After the NHL Players’ Association filed a grievance with the Kings, the team and Richards settled in October for $10.5 million.

According to a Capitals press release, Richards met with the NHL earlier on Wednesday and received permission to begin playing professionally again.

“I targeted him at the end of the summer as a possibility,” team general manager Brian MacLellan told the Capitals’ Mike Vogel. “I think we’ve kept track of where he was at and what the situation was. And as it became clearer and the possibility of him playing in the NHL going forward, we pursued it more aggressively.”

The move is one that some in the hockey community had speculated about in recent weeks, and makes more sense now that Jay Beagle will be out until around the middle of February with a hand injury. MacLellan said that “we’re going to see where he’s at physically and mentally, and try and incorporate him into our lineup where we see he fits … we’ll just kind of play it by ear.”

A bottom-six role is most likely for Richards, and with Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov playing as well as they are.

The 3o-year-old Richards was the captain of the Flyers from 2008 until 2011, when he was traded to Los Angeles. MacLellan said that he and head coach Barry Trotz spoke “quite a bit” with former King and current Capital Justin Williams, who was a teammate of Richards for the latter’s entire tenure in L.A.

“[We] talked to Justin just to get a sense of the personality, the character of the person. We talked to him, we’ve talked to various contacts throughout the league and we both wanted to get a sense of comfort for where he was as a person, and what kind of influence and what kind of personality he’d be in our locker room.

“I think we feel we’ve got a strong locker room right now and I think it’s a good possibility he’s going to add to that strength and be a big part of our organization moving forward,” MacLellan said.

Richards has a Memorial Cup (Canada’s junior championship) and a Calder Cup to his name in addition to the two Cups with the Kings, and was part of the gold-medal winning Canada team at the 2010 Olympics. In 710 regular season games, he has 179 goals and 303 assists, along with a 26 goals and 61 assists in 124 career playoff games.

There’s not a hard-and-fast timetable as to Richards’ debut, as the Capitals have three games in four days starting on Thursday against the Islanders in Brooklyn. MacLellan said that the coaching staff will evaluate him before making that call, but his entry into the lineup could happen sooner rather than later if he’s in game shape and/or if Zach Sill is suspended for a hit on Boston’s Adam McQuaid on Tuesday.

About Eric Hobeck

Eric Hobeck is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins and Capitals. Eric contributes to high school sports coverage at InsideNova.com. He served as sports editor of The Rotunda at Longwood University for two years, where he was also the men’s basketball beat writer. He hosted a campus radio show for three years and called basketball and baseball games for the station’s award-winning sports team. You can follow Eric on Twitter @eric_hobeck.

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  1. […] signing Mike Richards did not suit up, and his status for Friday night’s game against the Rangers is yet to be […]

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