In the minds of many, it was only a matter of time before Mike Richards would find himself back in the National Hockey League. Dumped to the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs after clearing waivers back in January, the centre and his massive 12-year contract became a tale of disappointment and frustration.
But now the Kings have a spot for the former Philadelphia Flyers captain, so Richards is back in the show.
Los Angeles is a couple points back of the Calgary Flames for third place in the Pacific Division and they’ve had trouble putting pucks in the net. They’re set to open a five game road trip on Monday as they take on the New Jersey Devils, so Richards will get another shot when it counts. If he can make the most of this promotion, we could see a resurgence from a player looking for another chance.
Richards, who won two titles with the Kings, had 14 points in 16 games with the Monarchs. With the Kings, he had just 15 in 47 regular season games prior to his demotion.
Los Angeles has dropped three of the last four games and are in serious need of a boost. This road trip likely has their playoff hopes in the balance, so calling up Richards shows their faith in what he could bring to the table.
GM Dean Lombardi was initially reluctant to send Richards to the minors. He was banking on replacement forwards like Nick Shore, but his faith in them hasn’t materialized as of yet. Shore hasn’t found the net in 25 NHL games. Other possibilities, like the injured Jarrett Stoll, haven’t panned out either. Stoll hasn’t scored since Valentine’s Day and only has six goals in 67 games.
Naturally, it comes down to production.
“You’ve got to produce,” coach Darryl Sutter said Saturday. “At the end of the day, the guys have played 20-some games and we’re into the stretch part and they have one or no goals. We’re having trouble scoring. The guys have got to produce. That’s just being honest.”
And that leads us once more to Mike Richards, who has another shot to earn his keep and show the Kings why he’s a champion.