The glow of the 2014
But loyalty proved costly in more ways than one.
On Sunday, the Kings placed
Richards has five years and $22 million left on his contract — the one he signed when he was with the
Especially problematic for the Kings will be the buyout cap hit in the third and fourth years — $4.216 million each year, according to the website capfriendly.com.
The drop-off in Richards' performance before he hit his 30th birthday in February this year was dramatic considering his championship pedigree: He won two Stanley Cups with the Kings, reached the Cup Final with the Flyers and won Olympic gold with Team Canada at Vancouver in 2010.
Richards cleared waivers right after the All-Star break when the Kings sent the struggling forward to their minor league affiliate in Manchester, N.H. He returned late in March but had minimal impact as the Kings failed to make the playoffs, and since the end of the season the organization has been exploring trade possibilities and, of late, other options to get out from under the big contract.
Lombardi's failure to use the gift of a compliance buyout last summer was a rare blunder by a usually savvy executive. Lombardi went to visit Richards in his hometown of Kenora, Canada, and said to
"Essentially, I have to trust him," Lombardi said last summer. "Once that deadline goes, we're locked in."
Two other players on Sunday were put on waivers, also headed for likely buyouts — Montreal forward
The Canadian network Sportsnet reported that the Mike Richards buyout was the sixth largest in the
The move continues a summer of transition for the Kings as three players on last year's season-opening roster are expected to be elsewhere: Richards, center
The recent moves by the Kings and Ducks, who acquired
"I thought Dean [Lombardi] did a good job getting Lucic," said Ducks General Manager Bob Murray. "I thought that was a good move. I thought Calgary got better.
"The West was getting better here in the last couple of days."
Calgary's impressive defense corps got even better when the
"The division got better for sure,"
And Murray isn't necessarily done yet. He will have discussions early this week with his veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who will become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.
"There are some things out there. I don't know where we're going to go with that. I don't think we're finished," Murray said Saturday. "But I'm not going to rush right into free agency. I'm waiting to see what happens a few days into it."