Kings optimistic after 'all-in' presentation to Brad Richards
The Kings' eight-man delegation had about 90 minutes to make a presentation to Brad Richards and his agent, Pat Morris, on Friday in Toronto, emerging optimistic about luring the prize free agent forward to the West Coast.
Tim Leiweke, chief executive of the Kings' parent company, AEG, led the group. He said the presentation "went well. He was very impressed. Our team did the best player presentation I have ever seen."
The Kings' pitch, members of the group said, included game video that highlighted the team's potential and where Richards would fit in, recruitment messages from celebrities such as Hollywood mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer -- an avid hockey fan -- and Lakers star Kobe Bryant, and suggestions for potential residences based on the house Richards now has.
"It was all-encompassing," said Mike Altieri, the Kings' vice president of communications. "It talked about the organization, hockey operations, lifestyle. We went all-in."
Leiweke said after the presentation that he spoke one-on-one with Richards.
"He not only asked questions, we stayed behind and talked one-on-one. He's a very good guy, and I liked him a lot," Leiweke said by phone on the way to the Toronto airport.
“He was very knowledgeable and a good-character guy.”
Leiweke also said the process would not turn into the circus, as the Kings' negotiations with Ilya Kovalchuk did last summer. They went back and forth with Kovalchuk, who visited Los Angeles, and raised their offer several times to about $80 million over 15 years.
Kovalchuk took a $102-million, 17-year offer from New Jersey that was later changed to $100 million over 15 years after the NHL said the first contract circumvented the salary cap.
"This is very different," Leiweke said. "This is not a bidding contest. I think the decision will be made in a professional way."
The Tampa Bay Lightning, Richards' first NHL stop and the team he led to the Stanley Cup in 2004, also made a presentation. Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman told Canada's TSN network that he was trying to put the team's best foot forward -- and continue negotiations on a contract for restricted free agent Steven Stamkos, whose agent, Don Meehan, works in the same office as Morris at Newport Sports.
The Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs are also in pursuit of Richards.
We'll have more later, at www.latimes.com/sports.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Dallas Stars free-agent forward Brad Richards. Credit: Mike Stone / Retuers