Former Kings center Mike Richards signs with Capitals

Center Mike Richards, who won two Stanley Cup with the Kings, will be resuming his NHL career with the Washington Capitals, having signed a one-year, $1-million (pro-rated) contact.

Richards still has a court date looming in Canada in connection with his arrest at the border in Emerson, Manitoba, in June. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance and his next scheduled hearing is Jan. 28.

Before the deal with the Capitals was announced Wednesday, Richards met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Bill Daly, the league’s deputy commissioner. Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan told Mike Vogel of the team’s website that the team felt “comfortable” that the pending legal situation for Richards will  “not be an issue.”

After Richards was arrested, the Kings moved to terminate his contract.  A settlement was reached in October and Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi supplied The Times with a written summation of the long saga, calling what happened “a tragedy.”

Lombardi had more to say about Richards during a conference call Wednesday afternoon. The Kings made a three-player trade with the Philadelphia Flyers, acquiring defenseman Luke Schenn and forward Vinny Lecavalier.

“I think now that everything’s out in the open and the team can work with him without things being hidden, I think he’s got a great shot,” Lombardi said. “There’s nothing being hidden anymore.”

Richards will be joining former Kings teammate Justin Williams, who signed with the Capitals as a free agent July 1. Lombardi praised Williams as “a winner” and spoke about the impact Richards had on the Kings’ first Stanley Cup championship -- in particular, in the opening round against Vancouver.

“I think that this is a great opportunity for him,” Lombardi said. “The biggest difference is, you’ve got a good man there in Brian MacLellan, it’s a strong organization and now everybody knows the facts and can help instead of everybody worrying about [how] you can’t say nothing.

"I think he’s got a great chance, and I’ll be pulling for him now that hopefully he gets through all those issues.”

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