Mike Richards moves from Philly teacher to LA student

Richards at Kings camp (photo: M. Zampelli)

In some news that went a little under the radar this summer, the Kings traded away Wayne Simmonds and two other assets for former Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards.

A few days later, his former left wing, Simon Gagne, signed a free agent contract to join him in Los Angeles.

After spending the summer fishing and answering questions about his time on the East Coast, things started to return to a little bit of normalcy for the 26-year old forward when camp opened last week.

“Testing days are always the tough part of camp,” Richards began. “You just want to get back on the ice and play some hockey. It went well though, that’s why you work out in the off-season – to prove that you’ve come to camp in shape.”

In the days that have followed, Richards has started to some similarities to previous camps in Philadelphia – with one notable exception.

“It’s pretty similar – a lot of ice-time, a lot of teaching. I think with the new players we have here, or anytime new players join any team, you want to come out of training camp knowing what to expect and knowing what you need to do when you hit the (regular season),” Richards explained.

“For me, this is just different because I’m the one learning it, instead of trying to help other people do it.”

Part of that adjustment process took a huge step forward when he played his first pre-season game on Wednesday night.

“Being around the guys and getting the system helps. But, (the game vs. Phoenix) was the biggest step,” said the Kings second line center. “Just playing a game and being in the Staples Center, getting used to the surroundings a bit more. It’s starting to set in more as time goes.”

Aiding in his rising comfort level are his linemates, Gagne and Dustin Brown.

“It reminds me of a couple years ago when Simon and I had a lot of success, and then (later) with Mike Knuble in Philadelphia,” recalled Richards. “It has a lot of the same characteristics – Brownie’s probably a little bit more physical and a little faster. But, he’s still similar to what Knube’s had – being in front of the net, a hard worker and finishing his checks. So, I think it has a lot of potential. Obviously, we still have to learn to play with each other a little bit more. That’s why we play exhibition games and we still have a couple weeks before it really has to click.”

Is it getting incrementally better each day?

“I think so. Anytime you spend more time on the ice with each other, it’s going to benefit you as a line. Simon and I are both learning stuff. So, it’s good to have somebody who’s been here a long time and knows what to do to walk us through things if we have questions.”

Moving from teacher to student, he seems to be doing just fine so far.

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