If a month ago at this time, you would have asked, then Philadelphia Flyers captain, Mike Richards, where he would be now, in El Segundo being introduced as the newest member of the Los Angeles Kings would have probably not been anywhere in his mind. But that is were he was earlier today, at the Kings’ practice facility being formally introduced by GM Dean Lombardi into the Kings’ organization.
The couple of days following the blockbuster trade that brought Richards to SoCal, Richards sounded confused and upset that the team he had known for his entire six year career had traded him away. Later that week Richards found himself walking in a place that would persuade many to move to California, Manhattan Beach.
“I started walking on the beach and I was kind of thinking, ‘It’s not a bad place to be and not a bad place to start a new career,’” Richards said.
When asked how he felt about coming into a city where hockey is not as intensely magnified and followed by the public, a complete contrast to the fan base and population in Philly, Richards said he would welcome the change.
“It will allow me to come to the rink and focus on playing hockey and my game on the ice instead of a lot of things that happen off the ice,” Richards said. “It’s tough sometimes seeing these articles and hearing some things that are said when you know that they aren’t true…It’s going to be nice to come to the rink and just focus on hockey.”
Richards seems eager to move past his drama in Philly, and become a part of the Kings.
“I’ve heard a lot about how good this group is and how close they are as a group and what the room’s like,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of that. They seem like they have a lot of fun. They’re a close-knit group. I think that’s what you need to have success.”
This optimism towards coming into a new city and team stems from, the fact that although the he is a new member of the Kings the faces around the team are not too unfamiliar to Richards. Coming into a team where, former Flyers coaches Terry Murray and John Stevens run things, Richards should have very little trouble transition into Kings’ systems.
“When you don’t have to learn the system, it makes things a lot easier going through training camp. You’re not thinking too much as you normally would . I think that’s going to be the biggest thing that’s going to help me get adjusted to L.A.”
Hopefully that success he is talking about does indeed show up next year. Richards making a smooth transition into the Kings locker room would have a great influence on that success actually coming about.