Los Angeles Kings centre Mike Richards cleared waivers on Tuesday and will be sent to Manchester of the American Hockey League.
A member of Cup-winning teams with the Kings in both 2012 and last season, Richards is in the seventh year of a 12-year deal that comes with an annual cap hit of $5.75 million per season. He's being paid $7 million this season, with $6 million, $5.5 million, $4.5 million, $3 million and $3 million in each year.
"There's still time here. He knows what he has to do. That part I am not questioning," Kings general manager Dean Lombardi told TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun on Monday. "The way the schedule is down there, it allows him to get his innings in and conceivably he could be back here. That's the way we're approaching this. That's the short term. On the long term, he could be a different player. If you remember when Teemu Selanne when he went to Colorado it looked like he was done. He looked done. But all of sudden things changed. He went on for a longer career. They're different players but I see no reason why this can't happen here, either."
Richards has been a key part of the Kings' two Stanley Cup championship teams in the past three seasons, playing a responsible two-way role and providing leadership. But his plummeting offensive production hasn't matched his exorbitant contract for years in Los Angeles, which acquired him from Philadelphia in 2011.
Richards, who turns 30 next month, has only five goals and 10 assists in 47 games with Los Angeles this season. He has a minus-7 rating and has won only 48 per cent of his faceoffs while playing on a depth line with the Kings — not the numbers expected of a player with a $5.75 million annual salary cap hit for the next six seasons.