Los Angeles Kings forward Mike Richards has been cleared to play after sustaining a concussion in a game on Dec. 1 against the Florida Panthers. Rich Hammonds at L.A. Kings Insider says it's likely Richards will be in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Richards' clearance comes at just the right time as the Kings are beginning the Darryl Sutter era in earnest. The hope is the change in coaches will help spark a reeling team to perform up to expectations. Obviously getting Richards back will help as much as the coaching change.
Richards was injured on a check from Sean Bergenheim in the Kings' 2-1 win over the Panthers. The hit was reviewed by the NHL but it was deemed to be a shoulder-to-shoulder hit that had incidental contact to the head and Bergenheim was not punished.
Despite missing eight games, Richards is still second on the team in points, tied with Justin Williams at 20. Before suffering the concussion he was starting to look a little more settled and was performing at his best since the blockbuster trade over the summer sent him to L.A. from Philadelphia for a package that included Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. In the 11 games prior to the injury he had scored nine goals.
Obviously his return is huge for the Kings. We'll have to wait and see if he can return to the level he was playing at before the injury, it would certainly be welcome by the Kings. They are that bottom of the barrel when it comes to goals per game in the NHL with just 2.12.
Plus, it's so refreshing to get some of the concussed star players off the bench and back into the games where we all enjoy seeing them.
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