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Mike Richards Looks Forward To New Beginning with Kings

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After spending six seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, new Kings’ center Mike Richards is eager to make a new start in Los Angeles.

“I look forward to starting the season with L.A.,” Richards said. “This is great but the big thing is going to be on the ice and starting a new chapter in my life.”

Richards made his first appearance before the media Wednesday afternoon at the Kings’ practice facility in El Segundo. The eagerness in his voice was a far cry from the sadness that existed on June 23, the day he was traded to the Kings for forward Wayne Simmonds, center Brayden Schenn and a second-round draft pick.

“When I was traded I was a little bit upset,” Richards admitted. “I think leaving Philadelphia, I grew to have a home there and a lot of friends.

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“I got out here on Sunday night. I had some time on my hands, so I started walking down the beach and started thinking, ‘It’s not a bad place to be, not a bad place to start a new career.’”

That path of a so-called “new career” was the overarching theme throughout much of the press conference. Gone is the captaincy.

“I have no plans other than coming here and playing hockey,” Richards said about his ambitions of becoming captain (or lack thereof.) “I just want to come in and focus on hockey.”

With the captaincy comes the responsibility of dealing with the media. However much has been made of Richards’ sour relationship with the Philadelphia media.

“There’s a lot of stuff written in Philly,” Richards said. “A lot of different things go on there than what goes on the field.

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“It’s almost mentally draining when you keep having to back your story up off the ice, keep defending yourself when people say things that aren’t always correct.”

The latest salvo was fired on Tuesday when the entertainment gossip columnist from the Philadelphia Daily News said Richards’ refusal to sign a dressing-room promise to abstain from alcohol for a month led to his departure from Philadelphia.

“Philadelphia tends to blow things up a little more than what they actually are,” Richards said. “That just started out as more of a friendly, fun thing you can joke about in the dressing room. I’m not sure how that got out.”

Richards admitted being upset about the media leak. “Usually what happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room,” he said. “That’s the kind of bond you have as a hockey team.”

For Kings’ General Manager Dean Lombardi, the leak was the biggest problem he had with the entire story.

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“I find it more telling that some player or somebody in that room talked about it,” Lombardi said. “The way these players are so exposed, the one place left was [the dressing room.] It just isn’t right.”

Lombardi did his due diligence upon finding out about the story, however.

“We did a lot of investigating on it. We found out that it was Charlie Sheen that planted the whole thing.”

Giggles aside, Lombardi has been impressed with Richards in the several days he has been in Los Angeles. Specifically he pointed to Richards joining Trevor Lewis, Dustin Penner and Jarret Stoll on the beach doing off-ice training.

“For a veteran player on a new team who hasn’t been versed on our conditioning and the way we do things, I don’t know how many guys would expose themselves.”

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Stoll had no doubts about Richards’ work ethic.

“He’s exactly what I thought he would be,” Stoll said. “He works hard. He looks like a pretty good player mentally.”

For Richards, despite the initial disappointment of being traded, he is looking forward to making his mark on the Kings.

“It’s an exciting young team,” Richards said. “The team has made huge steps in the last two years. I look forward to being a part of it.”