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Kings center Mike Richards clears waivers, will be sent to minors

Kings center Mike Richards clears waivers and will be assigned to the team's AHL affiliate

Kings center Mike Richards cleared waivers on Tuesday, as expected, and he will report to the team's minor-league affiliate in Manchester, N.H., on Wednesday, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said.

Any NHL team could have claimed Richards in a 24-hour window -- which closed at 9 a.m. -- but the twin items of the length and term of his contract were significant obstacles. The 12-year, $69-million Richards contract, by the way, was negotiated when he was still in Philadelphia. When the Kings acquired him from the Flyers in 2011 in the trade that sent Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn to Philadelphia, they also acquired the deal.

The Kings face five more years of a $5.75-million cap hit after this season. If the team were to buy out Richards this summer, he would receives two-thirds of the dollar value of the contract to be paid out over twice its remaining life.

They considered using a compliance buyout on Richards following the Kings' Stanley Cup victory in 2014, but Lombardi, well known for his loyalty, brought Richards back, hoping he would bounce back and regain his old form.

It didn't happen that way.

Richards was used mostly in a fourth-line role and his output dropped to five goals and 15 points in 47 games. His plus-minus was a minus-7 and Richards has scored only once since Nov. 22.

The plan was for Richards to go to Manchester to work on getting his game back.

"I feel strongly about Mike Richards," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said on Monday after practice. "I can't say it any other way: I still think he has lots of hockey left in him."

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

10:54 a.m.: This story has been updated with confirmation that Richards will report to the Kings' AHL affiliate in Manchester, N.H., on Wednesday.

This story originally was published at 9:55 a.m.

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