By Ellen Chlumecky
March 24, 2015
On March 22, the Los Angeles Kings made a decision to recall Mike Richards from their AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. The Kings recently added the veteran back on to its low-scoring lineup before opening a five game road trip against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night with their playoff dreams looming in the near future. After three losses in their past four games, the Kings sit two points behind Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division.
Richards was waived and immediately sent to the minors in January when the Kings lost their patience with several seasons of his poor performance on the offensive production. Once Richards cleared waivers, he accept the minor league assignment. He gained 14 points in 16 games for Manchester. He is currently in the middle of a 12 year contract through 2020 that carries an annual cap hit of $5.75 million. General manager of the Kings, Dean Lombardi, had said that Richards had been sent to the AHL reluctantly because of his efforts. They made a statement saying that they would recall the veteran for the playoff push if his replacements didn’t excel. His replacements didn’t succeed, so here Richards is now.
Mike Richards is no stranger to being a strong player. In fact, he’s gotten in trouble for it several times. He’s a hard-hitting player who a multitude of players have to frequently look out for on the ice. He tends to dominate physically and is more than often called a bully on the ice. Before he was on the Los Angeles Kings, he was previously the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers. he was drafted in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Flyers and 24th overall. He has been the member of two Stanley Cup winning teams with the Los Angeles Kings. He has also been on numerous championship teams, including: the Memorial Cup, World Juniors, Calder Cup, and Olympic Gold.
The Kings have been having a rough year. A player who has consistently been a goal producer for the team wasn’t performing so they thought it was the best idea to send Richards back down to the AHL. Maybe they thought that sending Richards down to the AHL would light a fire under him. It’s really crunch time for the Kings right now so calling Richards back up might be a good option for them right now. The Kings really need to light a fire underneath their players right now.
By Ellen Chlumecky
On Monday morning, Salva Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings was arrested on a case of domestic violence and has been suspended indefinitely from the Kings. They are waiting on a formal investigation by the NHL. The Police Department that arrested Voynov is expected to meet with the Los Angeles Country District Attorney’s office at some point this week.
While the details are still hazy on the next steps to occur to Voynov, the NHL made the clear decision to suspend him indefinitely. While the NHL has not responded as quickly or as appropriately in the past with certain cases such as Seymon Varlamov where they continued to let him travel and play with the Colorado Avalanche while his case was being tried through the judicial system. With the course of action currently being taken with Voynov it looks as though the NHL wants to improve their methods of discipline.
Gary Bettman stated that the league had been working with the union on the policy for over a decade to improve their policies. He stated that their main focus for the league is counseling and education. The NHL has a joint program with the Players Association and they provide counseling and educating on domestic violence for more than a decade. The security department holds annual meetings with each individual team. They not only talk about domestic violence but hold substance abuse programs, behavioral health programs, and programs targeting counseling and educating the players on many other issues.
With the recent problems happening in the NFL recently, the NHL clearly needs to show the sports world they can handle their problems with a firm, steady hand. The NHL has the opportunity to show their fans and other spectators that they will not stand for this kind of behavior in their athletes.
Voynov is currently suspended, but after the trial the NHL needs to seriously look into removing Voynov from the league whether or not he was pronounced guilty. By removing a player who was involved in this situation shows the dedication to removing this kind of behavior from the league. The NFL is receiving all kinds of slack for their lack of action with these behavioral problems and domestic violence instances. The NHL needs to act quickly and show the rest of the sports world that this type of problem should not be welcome on teams. When any future players see problems like this in the media, they shouldn’t aspire to be like these players which is why action to remove players like this is the best plan in the long run.