The Canadian Mounted Police in Manitoba have formally charged former Los Angeles Kings forward Mike Richards with attempting to enter the country while in possession of a controlled substance. He is due to appear in court on September 10.
Richards was initially arrested on June 17 for reportedly being in possession of OxyContin while attempting to enter Canada. Some reports have the Kings not finding out about the situation until as late as June 26 during the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
As Richards would be a first time offender, he faces a possible maximum sentence of a $1,000 fine or six months in jail. Importantly, Westhead’s report cites that he’s being charged with having what “was clearly a small quantity intended for his personal use.”
Mike Richards charged for Possession of Controlled Substance while entering Canada. To appear in court Sep10/15. No further updates #rcmpmb
— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb) August 27, 2015
Richards’ future in the NHL is complicated by these charges, certainly, but also by the Kings termination of his deal, which they claimed was a “material breach of the requirements” of his contract and grounds for termination.
Richards had five years left on a deal that paid him a $5.75 million AAV.
How the NHL handles the case could set a precedent for future uses of a material breach of contract for teams. It would allow teams to circumvent the cap, finding loopholes in contracts instead of being forced to buy players out.It may inspire teams to push and see how little a player has to do in order to be in breach of contract. The NHLPA hearing will be an interesting and important moment for the NHL and the NHLPA this season. The announcement by the RCMP today should not impact the NHLPA’s grievance.