A drug charge against Washington Capitals forward Mike Richards was stayed Wednesday in a Manitoba court, his agent and lawyer said in a statement.
Richards was charged with possession of a controlled substance last August, which court documents listed as oxycodone.
He was arrested by Canada Border Services Agency officials in Emerson, Man., last June after crossing the border from North Dakota. The charge was stayed Wednesday in provincial court in Steinbach, about 50 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.
“Mr. Richards is gratified that the Crown fairly reviewed the case and reasonably recognized that prosecution was not warranted,” his Toronto-based lawyer David Humphrey and Mississauga, Ont.,-based agent Pat Morris said in a joint statement.
Following the arrest, the Los Angeles Kings terminated Richards’ deal, which had five years and US$22 million remaining — citing a “material breach” of the contract. Richards, a 31-year-old native of Kenora, Ont., recently signed with the Capitals after NHL officials gave him permission to resume his hockey career.
“Mr. Richards always maintained that he would plead not guilty and would defend the case vigorously,” the statement said. “After the Crown brief was disclosed to the defence, Mr. Richards’ counsel advised the Crown of fatal defects in the prosecution case. The Crown and defence agreed that follow-up investigation was warranted.
“That investigation has been completed and the Crown decided to stay the charge, thereby ending prosecution.”
A Capitals spokesman declined comment. Entering Wednesday’s home game against the Montreal Canadiens, Richards has one goal in 15 games this season.
“Mr. Richards wishes to extend his heartfelt appreciation to his loyal fans and especially to his parents, brothers, extended family and friends for their love and support,” the statement said. “Mr. Richards is now entirely focused on his hockey career and he and his legal counsel will not be commenting further on the successful resolution of this charge.”
Richards has played parts of 11 NHL seasons with the Capitals, Kings and Philadelphia Flyers. He has recorded 180 goals and 303 assists in 725 regular-season games.
© 2016 The Canadian Press