Tomorrow night, a very familiar face will be returning to the Wells Fargo Center. This man joined the orange and black in 2005 and was named the franchise’s 17th captain in 2008. He took the Flyers all the way to the Stanley Cup only to fall short to the Blackhawks in 2010. This man ladies and gentlemen, is Mike Richards.
I haven’t taken the fact that Richards isn’t on the team anymore easy. When I found out Jeff Carter had been sent to Columbus, I was in the car coming home from the Jersey Shore. The text message I had received also included that Richie could be next. I was sweating and almost in tears when I got home to hear he was traded. I wore my Richards jersey around the house and to hockey practice that day and I wasn’t a happy camper. Mike has been my role model, hockey idol, and a hero to me since the moment he stepped on the ice on the ice of what was at that point the Wachovia Center. Lets look back at some of the key moments in Richard’s career as a Philadelphia Flyer:
October 5, 2005- Mike Richards plays makes his NHL debut with the Flyers against the New York Rangers. In this game, he also scored his first NHL goal. NOTE: He scored his first hat trick later in the season against the Islanders and finished his debut season with 34 points in 79 games (not half bad for a rookie).
December 13, 2007- Mike Richards signs a 12 year contract worth $69 million with the Flyers which was made to “keep him in Philly for the rest of his career”
September 17, 2008- Mike Richards is named the 17th captain to wear the “C” for the Flyers. He was the successor of former captain Jason Smith.
February 15, 2009- Mike Richards became the first player in the NHL to score three 5 on 3 shorthanded goals.
May 24, 2010- Mike Richards took the risk of lifting the Prince of Wales trophy as he prepared to bring his team to the Stanley Cup Finals.
June 23, 2011- This was one of the darkest days of my time as a Flyers fan. Mike Richards is traded to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and a 2012 second round pick.
I’m expecting an emotional game Saturday evening. I will be in attendance and will be sporting a LA Kings Mike Richards shirt in honor of my favorite hockey player. I’m hoping for 2 things: the fans to give Mike Richards the round of applause that he deserves, and a Flyers VICTORY!