Considering his talent and capability, Mike Richards had a disappointing 2013-14 campaign. His 11 goals this past regular season was his lowest total since scoring just 10 goals in 2006-07 while still a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Overall, Richards's season was deemed so disappointing that there was speculation that the Los Angeles Kings were going to buy out the remaining six years of his contract. But that wasn't the case. Instead, GM Dean Lombardi and the Kings are hoping for bigger and better things from the 29-year-old. It just didn't happen this season.
Despite how fans evaluated his season, Mike Richards actually did have a respectable campaign. His 41 points were good enough for fourth on the Kings while his 30 assists ranked him second on the team behind only Anze Kopitar. His offensive production may have been a far cry from his career-high 80 points in 2008-09 but that certainly does not suggest that Mike Richards failed to succeed.
Of his 11 goals this past season, four of them came on the power play for Richards while one was a shorthanded marker. In addition, three of Richards's goals were game-winners while adding another game-winner in the playoffs. As great as his work on the special teams were, however, Richards could have had some more luck on even strength as he finished the regular season with a -6 rating before duplicating that in the playoffs.
Reliability played a factor in Richards's game as he took part in all 82 games while racking up just 28 penalty minutes in addition to going 53.9 per cent in the faceoff circle. That number was duplicated in the playoffs as Richards played in each of Los Angeles's 26 games, although his 17 penalty minutes over that stretch increased his time in the penalty box.
Considering what kind of team the Los Angeles Kings are, 73 total hits during the regular season would not be seen as a promising number. In all fairness, however, for someone with the 5' 11, 199-pound frame of Mike Richards, the lack of intensity can be overlooked. In addition, the native of Kenora, Ontario, isn't the most defensively-minded player, blocking just 21 shots during the regular season and another 14 in the playoffs.
While I'm certainly not inclined to give Mike Richards a high grade, what he does contribute discourages me from giving him a low grade. Finishing second on the Kings in assists shows what a great set-up man the native of Kenora, Ontario, is - and that included sparking some new-found chemistry with youngsters Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.
With his hefty pricetag entering the 2014-15 season, some fans are reticent to see Mike Richards staying in Los Angeles. But Dean Lombardi and company elected to keep the former Kitchener Ranger around and, if recent history has taught anything to fans of the Los Angeles Kings, it's that Mr. Lombardi has a reason for every decision he makes - even if it isn't the most popular at the time.
2013-14 may not have been the greatest year for Mike Richards, but patience is the key in this. Sooner or later, Los Angeles's No. 10 will prove to his team's fans that they had nothing to worry about. As for this past season, it was nothing more than a rough patch. There are better days ahead.
Overall grade for Mike Richards: C-