Three years ago, mere days after acquiring Mike Richards from the Philadelphia Flyers, the Los Angeles Kings went “all in” to lure free agent Brad Richards (no relation) into joining the team. Despite appeals from Wayne Gretzky and Kobe Bryant telling Richards how great of a place Los Angeles is to live and play in, Richards chose the New York Rangers and the hustle and bustle of Manhattan over California living. Now as the two teams prepare to faceoff in the Stanley Cup Final, it’s interesting to ponder not only what could have been, but also what could be this summer.
Had Brad Richards joined the Kings, it’s safe to say Jeff Carter wouldn’t have been acquired at the 2012 trade deadline. Also, before Darryl Sutter took the Kings’ head coaching job in December 2011, former coach Terry Murray was fired essentially because the team wasn’t scoring. Having Richards’ craftiness would have certainly given the Kings’ offense a major shot in the arm.
Hindsight is 20/20, but the last chapters of Brad Richards and the Los Angeles Kings have yet to be written. When Richards takes the ice for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, he’ll be skating on the very ice he could have called home had he made that decision. Given Richards’ inconsistencies with the Rangers, it’s possible the team takes advantage of the amnesty provision at the end of the season. This would allow them to walk away from the remaining six years of his contract with no salary cap penalty.
Regardless of how the Stanley Cup Final ends, it’s a real possibility that both Mike and Brad Richards see themselves amnestied this summer. While both are amazing players, they’re not living up to their lofty cap hits and moving on could be best for all parties involved.
If Brad Richards does return to the open market and the Kings have a hole at center with Mike Richards amnestied, the union between Los Angeles and Brad Richards could just happen. Spurring the Kings, playing them in the Stanley Cup Final, and then joining them would be something right out of a Hollywood script for Brad Richards. Given the way things happen in the NHL, it could happen.