The glow of the 2014 Stanley Cup win and the reassuring words from center Mike Richards were enough to persuade Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi against using a compliance buyout with Richards last summer.
But loyalty proved to be costly in more ways than one.
On Sunday, the Kings placed Richards on unconditional waivers, moving toward buying out the hefty remaining contract. The salary cap hit will be on the Kings' books through the 2024-25 season.
Richards has five years remaining on his contract -- the one he signed when he was with the Philadelphia Flyers -- and there is $22 million remaining. The provision for the buyout is 2/3 of the contract, meaning they will owe $14.6 million, spread out over 10 years.
Especially problematic for the Kings will be the buyout cap hit in the third and fourth years, $4.216 million and $4.216 million, according to the website capfriendly.com.
The drop-off in his career has been swift considering his championship pedigree: Richards 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 during the season right after the All-Star break when the Kings sent the struggling forward to its minor-league affiliate in Manchester, N.H. He returned late in March with minimal impact and since the end of the season, the organization has been exploring trade possibilities as well as other options to get out from under the shadow of the big contract.