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Demoted Kings center Mike Richards 'in good spirits' in minor leagues

Former Kings center Mike Richards made his debut with the Manchester Monarchs on Friday

Center Mike Richards, who was assigned to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League by the Kings last week after he cleared NHL waivers, made his debut with the Monarchs on Friday night and fared well according to Mike O’Connell, a senior advisor and development coach of the Kings.

O’Connell attended the Monarchs’ 3-1 victory over Portland on Friday and then came to Boston for the Kings’ game against the Bruins Saturday at TD Garden. Richards didn't record a point, but he had two shots and one minor penalty.

“He was good. He played a lot,” said O’Connell, who added that Richards centered for Brian O’Neill on the left and Sean Backman on the right.

“He played well. It was a good, spirited game, a real good game. It was kind of sloppy at times but both teams were up and down. It’s good action. He played well.”

Richards was more critical of himself, though, according to this story in the Manchester Union Leader.

O’Connell said he spoke briefly to Richards before the game.

“He was in good spirits. Players get along, it was really good. What you’d expect of him,” O’Connell said Saturday after the Kings’ morning skate in Boston.

Richards, who will be 30 on Feb. 11, had struggled offensively with the Kings again this season. He had five goals, 15 points and a minus-7 defensive rating in 47 games. His contract runs through the 2019-20 season with a salary cap hit of $5.75 million per season, a key reason teams passed on him when he was available on waivers.

Being sent to the minor leagues at this stage of a career in which he has won the Stanley Cup twice, an Olympic gold medal and other accolades couldn't have been easy, but O'Connell said he saw no indications Richards was sulking. Before Friday, Richards had never played a regular-season game in the minor leagues, though he played 14 playoff contests for the Philadelphia Flyers’ top affiliate, the Phantoms, in the 2004-05 season.

“I didn’t see anything of that,” O’Connell said. “The coaches spoke very highly of him. The players were pulling for him.

“It’s hard but he played really well and played all situations.”

The Manchester coaching staff was expected to be in Boston for the Kings’ game Saturday.

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