EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The Los Angeles Kings assigned center Mike Richards to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League on Tuesday.
The move was expected after Richards cleared waivers but the repercussions were felt in the Kings dressing room.
"We've got a pretty close team here, so anytime anybody leaves, it's always tough," said Jeff Carter, a close friend of Richards who played with him for the Philadelphia Flyers.
"We understand that those things happen. He brought a lot to this room that, unless you're in this room, you don't see. It was tough. It was tough on him too. But it's an opportunity for someone else to step up and some of the younger guys to play a little more and become leaders in the room."
The Kings will turn to center Nick Shore; center Andy Andreoff is available, and left wing Tyler Toffoli is close to returning from mononucleosis.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said Richards could return to the Kings at some point.
"Nobody wants to get sent down, right?" Carter said. "It's an [unpleasant] part of the game. I think he's handled it well. He's been around a long time and he knows how it works, so I'm sure he'll work hard and we'll see him again here soon."
Richards has not been available to comment. He last played in the AHL for the Flyers organization in the 2005 playoffs.
Twenty-nine other teams could have taken the former Flyers captain and Selke Trophy runner-up but his hefty contract and performance make it difficult to justify. Richards has 15 points (five goals) and is minus-7 in 47 games.
Richards, who won the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012 and 2014, has five full seasons remaining on a 12-year contract extension he signed with the Flyers in December 2007. His annual NHL salary-cap charge is $5.75 million, almost all of which will remain on the Kings' cap.
Lombardi has other roster questions because center Jarret Stoll, right wing Justin Williams and defenseman Robyn Regehr are going to become unrestricted free agents this summer; forwards Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and goalie Martin Jones are among those who will become restricted free agents.