New York - June 21, 2014 - Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards will not receive a compliance buyout, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi told the Los Angeles Times on Friday.
Richards has six seasons remaining on the 12-year, $69 million contract he signed in December 2007 as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Richards was traded to the Kings on June 23, 2011.
Lombardi said after speaking with Richards during exit meetings after the Kings won the Stanley Cup that he trusts Richards will make the necessary changes in his approach to the game that will allow him to have a better season in 2014-15.
Richards is a four-time 20-goal scorer who had 11 goals and 41 points in 82 games in 2013-14 and spent most of the second half of the season centering the Kings' fourth line. He had three goals and seven assists in 26 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
"The biggest thing in the meeting with Michael - the important thing - is that he realized he's going to have to make some adjustments in his offseason training," Lombardi told the newspaper. "He's 29, in his prime. So it's not as though the drop-off should be related to age. But players need to realize when you start getting 27, 28, you can't train, can't prepare like you used to when you were 22 or 23."
Lombardi said in addition to telling Richards what needed to change, he liked what he heard from Richards in the player's self-evaluation.
"He was very candid," Lombardi said. "The most important thing is, he realized he wasn't anywhere near where he is capable of being. If he's telling you, 'Well, I was good,' then you've got a big problem. If he's not able to critique himself, then we're wasting our time.
"But he freely admitted that it was nowhere near where he was capable, and the root is not age or injury. It starts with the understanding that I've got to prepare like a 28 or 29 year old, not a 22 year old."
The Kings have two compliance buyouts available, and the window to exercise one remains open until 5 p.m. ET on June 30. Lombardi said he feels comfortable keeping Richards.
"As long as he looked me in the eye and made that promise that he would make the commitment in the offseason … essentially, I have to trust him," Lombardi said. "Once that deadline goes, we're locked in."