The Richards Reaction
If somehow you haven’t heard, the Kings acquired Mike Richards from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. This deal is an earth-shaker in every possible aspect.
- Schenn, a former #5 overall pick, was said by many to be the Kings future star center. The only problem I have with that statement is that Kopitar is only going to be 24 at the start of this season. So that depends on what is meant by ‘future’.
- Simmonds, a fan favorite, is the type of player Dean Lombardi covets: physical, good size, and a budding scoring touch. His progress, however, was stunted this past season, posting only 30 points in 80 games played, down from 40 his previous season.
The skeptical side permeates because as a Kings fan, I am extremely cautious with my level of excitement. Los Angeles fans have been burned in the past with transactions similar to this. The act of trading of a young player/prospect for an established player(s) that can help your team now sounds like a slam dunk, until you take a look at:
- Oct. 18, 1983 – Acquired Brian Engblom and Ken Houston from Washington for Larry Murphy.
- Feb. 17, 1996 – Acquired Shane Churla and Doug Zmolek from Dallas for Darryl Sydor and a fifth-round choice in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.
and this list of established veterans:
- Jason Allison (injury)
- Anson Carter
- Ladislav Nagy
- Mark Parrish
- Jeremy Roenick
- Cliff Ronning
- Martin Straka
taken from this article about players who disappointed in Los Angeles.
Of course, this is a different situation. Schenn’s potential is quite high, but still somewhat of a gamble. Simmonds will probably never be a 30 goal scorer, though he should have a productive career.
And Richards is entering the prime of his career. Not the end. Not the early, unknown stages. The prime. He is 26 years of age and signed through 2020 at a very affordable salary cap hit of $5.75 million.
Current Kings GM Dean Lombardi has, as promised, been much more conservative with his prospects and young players. Until this past Thursday.
It couldn’t be more improbable that Mike Richards coming to the Kings is so bittersweet, as Mike Richards has always been one of my favorite non-Kings. Easy for me to say now, right? Here’s proof from three months ago:
Thus, the fact that I’m not so excited I’m camping outside of Staples Center for the first home game on October 18th is somewhat perplexing. I guess this has to do with the possibility of what Brayden Schenn can become. He could be a stud. He could be a superstar. But the more I reason with myself, I realize that the odds of Schenn becoming a better player than Richards are less than favorable, strictly based on percentages, so if I’m Dean Lombardi I make that deal every single time.
Still, that slim chance is present in the back of my mind, like a spider that crawls under your bed, knowing that one day it could crawl out and bite me. Whenever Schenn starts to light it up on the the big stage, every goal he scores will be like a punch to the gut of every Kings fan.
But I have come to this realization: if Mike Richards can somehow help the Kings win the Cup, it will exterminate the bugs.
I have to come clean about something- I’ve been saying for weeks that I didn’t believe the Kings would be in on Brad Richards, because I felt the most dire need was for a left-winger. Obviously there has been a glaring hole at the 2C position, but I was confident that Schenn or Loktionov would be able to fill that this season. Thus, I was wrong, and I’m happy about it. mainly because after Smyth finally departs, there will be ample cap space to add another weapon to line up on either Kopitar or Richards’ left side.
Here are some highlights to dramatically worsen your anxiety for October 7:
Showing the skill that earned a Selke nomination in 2009. And yes, that was in the Stanley Cup Finals.
A reason opposing centers will want to keep their heads up.
Ice water in the veins. Patience, vision, silky mitts.
The second greatest shorthanded goal scored in the 2010 calendar year. (After Kesler’s in the Olympics versus Canada) It is a defining Mike Richards play. Compete, ability, poise.
Looking forward to a new era for the Los Angeles Kings. Welcome to LA, Mike Richards.