‘Breach of contract’ ends Mike Richards tenure with Kings

Just when you think the Flyers pulled off the most unprecedented move in NHL history – trading Chris Pronger's contract to Arizona – the Los Angeles Kings are trying to do something even more unprecedented.

Former Flyers captain Mike Richards is no longer a member of the Kings. This much is known. But it's how the Kings parted ways with the veteran forward that is interesting.

Instead of a traditional buyout, the Kings cited a breach of contract on Richards part, allowing them to terminate the deal instead of buy Richards out.

Here is the statement from the Kings:

The Los Angeles Kings today have exercised the team’s right to terminate the contract of Mike Richards for a material breach of the requirements of his Standard Player’s Contract. We are not prepared to provide any more detail or to discuss the underlying grounds for the contract termination at this time."

The Kings obviously held true to their word and nothing more has been revealed. 

A few tweets came out indicating an incident involving Richards at the border is what caused the breach of contract.

In a story on ESPN, it is revealed that the Kings were made aware of the incident on Friday night as the NHL Draft began. The Kings were attempting to trade Richards and in talks with the Oilers and Flames. Both GMs, Peter Chiarelli for Edmonton and Brad Treliving for Calgary, were informed by Kings GM Dean Lombardi about the incident and Lombardi halted all trade talks.

Prior to Richards placement on waivers on Sunday, the league was made known of the Kings plans to terminate the contract on Monday. The NHLPA can file a grievance and is in the process of investigating the situation.

Richards was scheduled to earn $5.75 million annually for the next six years with the Kings as part of a 12-year contract signed while he was with the Flyers in 2007.

After winning two Stanley Cups as a member of the Kings in 2012 and 2014, Richards cleared waivers earlier this season and accepted a demotion to the AHL's Manchester Monarchs.

So what's next for Richards and what happens to the Kings? Well, Richards is free to sign anywhere, even if the NHLPA does file a grievance and win, and the Kings get the cap relief they needed a year ago while paying $1.32 million per year for each of the five remaining years on Richards contract.

Regardless of what is next for both parties, the story is far from settled and could go down as one of the strangest break-ups in all of sports.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso

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