Mike Richards could be odd man out in Kings’ lineup changes vs. Jets
Indications are that center Mike Richards could be a healthy scratch for the first time in his long NHL career.
It hasn’t happened since he was traded to the Kings before the 2011-12 season, and those who covered Richards in Philadelphia said he was never a healthy scratch with the Flyers. He missed games because of injuries and once because of an illness during his Philadelphia days.
Richards, 29, has won two Stanley Cups with the Kings. But in the last 20 games, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter has been reducing his ice time, and Richards played a season-low 9 minutes 7 seconds in the Kings’ 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
The next morning, rookie center Andy Andreoff took Richards’ spot on the fourth line at practice. Richards and Jordan Nolan were the extra forwards and appear in line to be the healthy scratches Saturday night against Winnipeg at Staples Center.
The demotion would be a tough blow for a proud player such as Richards, especially coming against the Jets. He grew up in Kenora, Canada, about 2 1/2 hours from Winnipeg.
Richards has five goals and 14 points this season, putting him on a 10-goal, 28-point pace. He spoke about his decreased minutes after practice Friday.
“That’s no fun. That’s no good,” said Richards, who has one goal in the last 18 games. “I still obviously think I can play a lot more minutes. But, at the same time, you play what you’re put in the position of.
“I’m not going to cause a scene or do anything to take the focus away from everything. You come to the rink every day and play hockey.”
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi, who is known for his loyalty, could have used a compliance buyout on Richards in the summer but opted not to do so. The salary-cap hit the Kings took because of Richards’ contract is $5.75 million per season, and his deal runs through 2019-20.
Richards was asked if he found himself almost waiting for something good to happen.
“You come here, you work, you get ready for a hockey game, like any other year or any other time,” he said. “That’s about all you can do.”
KINGS VS. WINNIPEGWhen: 7 p.m. PST Saturday.
On the air: TV: Fox Sports West. Radio: 790.
Etc: Former Ducks center Mathieu Perreault has 15 points in the last 16 games for the Jets. He has been held without a point only three times in that span, by Colorado, Minnesota and San Jose.
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