Mike RichardsThe trend of decade-long contracts appears to be continuing in the new NHL. The Philadelphia Flyers have locked up 22-year-old forward Mike Richards for the next 12 years in a deal worth $69 million.

Richards’ contract is only one year short that of Islanders’ franchise goalie Rick DiPietro, who is in the second year of his 15-year contract. Richards will earn an average of $5.75 million per year and be under contract through the 2019-2020 season. The deal will pay him $5.4 million in 2008-2009, earning a raise each season until 2012-2013 when he’ll make $8.4 million. Richards’ salary will then decrease each subsequent season, down to just $3 million in the final year of the deal. Richards is currently in the final season of his entry-level deal and is earning just over $940,000. The contract extension will begin next year.

“I want to be here, I love the city, I love the organization and when I was given the opportunity I was excited to be here over the next twelve years,” said Richards. “Ed Snider and Paul Holmgren have given me the chance that I wanted to be here, to be part of the organization. I talked to a couple guys and all the consensus is that this is a first class organization, nobody treats you better. The city, the fans, nobody treats you better anywhere else, that was encouraging and from there it just got me excited.”

Mike Richards is off to the best start of his career. He has 14 goals and 34 points in 28 games.