Thread: News Article: King Richards the Lion Heart
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05-08-2012, 11:10 AM
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deeshamrock
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King Richards the Lion Heart

For any fans of Mike Richards and the essesnce of a champion, this is a nice read on all that he gives and why his addition to the Kings was the missing piece

Side note- If the Kings reach the finals it will be Mike Richards second trip there in two years. That's says ALOT about him and why he's won championships at every level he's played.

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/spo...wAllComments=y


King Richards the Lion Heart
by Gary Lawless


The Philadelphia Flyers must have momentarily forgotten who they are and what they stand for when they dealt Mike Richards to L.A. last summer.

They've been getting a reminder in these playoffs that even GM Paul Holmgren can't ignore, as the Kings have been steamrolling their highly-touted opposition en route to a semifinal berth.

The Flyers are about winning at all costs. No player in the NHL exemplifies that more than Mike Richards. Getting some cap room to sign an inconsistent goalie and pick up a couple of impressive but young forwards isn't equal value for the trade they made.

Richards was and is the best and most impactful player in the deal. Richards, so goes the gossip, was deemed too much of a bad boy for the Flyers. Right. Holmgren, who once punched NHL referee Andy Van Hellemond in the face, steers an organization that can claim two Stanley Cups earned with a value system that held spilling blood on par with scoring goals. Richards is a choirboy compared to Flyers legends Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach, to name just two. Did Richards and Jeff Carter run the streets a bit? No doubt. But winning the Cup is always a "now" objective and Philly is not as close today as they were when Richards was their captain.

Regardless of any intangibles surrounding the deal, as a hockey trade the Kings get a win right now. Richards makes more impact than the combination of Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.



Schenn and Simmonds are nice players and have some upside, but don't have what Richards has in the drive department. He's a piston where the other two are racing stripes. Nice to look at but not a requirement. If a team wants to win, they need a player like Richards, and he's given the Kings that element they were missing.

Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall, who never shied away from an altercation during his tenure in the Flyers' goal thinks L.A. got something extra in the deal.

"Off the top of my head, there are a handful of guys in the NHL like Mike," Hextall said. "He's special in terms of his competitiveness. You can't buy it. It's rare. Mike's competitiveness comes out for the right reasons. It doesn't come out because he got run or he got suckered or something happened to him. It comes for your hockey club. Guys that put the team clearly in front of themselves, everybody doesn't do that. It's a pretty special quality."

Richards has three goals and five assists in nine post-season games, and in a Game 3 win over the St. Louis Blues last week he recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, an assist and a fight.

Richards can beat you in a number of ways. He's tough, he can provide offence and he can defend.

The notion of Richards living too far out on the edge for the Flyers' liking seems to be a bit of a stretch. Team Canada was OK with Richards when he helped them win gold in 2010. Same goes for our national junior team, which Richards captained to gold in 2005. Oh, and the Flyers organization loved Richards when he led their Philadelphia Phantoms to a Calder Cup as a 19-year-old right out of junior hockey.

The Flyers saw Richards as their next great captain and put down $69 million to make sure he was theirs for a long, long time.

Somewhere along the way, the Flyers changed their mind about Richards and his linemate Carter.

Last summer, in a classic throwing the baby out with the bathwater manoeuvre, they shipped both players out of town.

"We didn't know anything they (Flyers) didn't know," said Hextall, who along with L.A. GM Dean Lombardi spent years in the Philadelphia front office. "The Flyers know what they are doing and Paul Holmgren is very good at what he does. The part about Mike Richards' character... there's a young man acting like a young man and Mike isn't alone in that. That's the same for every young kid. You go through different stages and different times. Did he have some fun and get carried away? That's probably a better question for Mike. But with all the research we did we felt it was normal behavior for a young kid and that's where we left it. All the stuff in Philly, in our mind, was overblown."

Now Richards, and Carter to a lesser degree, have helped the Los Angeles Kings to the Western Conference Final. The Kings have done it in style, knocking out the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the conference and taking just nine games to do so.

"The reason we were so attracted to Mike Richards was his leadership and his professionalism. I think we all know the hockey player," said Hextall. "That was the one thing we thought we needed injected into this organization and he's brought it. Mike, they way he plays, demands respect. People want to follow him. He's done a great job."

The Kings have Richards and are closing in on a Cup. The Flyers don't and could be done as early as Wednesday.

You do the math.

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