I love our diehard L.A. Kings fans. You are me. I am you. Kindred spirits. Mike Richards’ acquisition created a unique and powerful breed, a mutant of sorts but one I have come to also love and respect – The Flyers & Kings Fan Fusion.

Today, I received an email, well, three emails from one such diehard. I enjoyed it, every bit of it and I had to share.

Flyers fan here (and HUGE Kings fan since 4pm EST 6/23 when Ed Snider made the worst mistake of his tenure). I love your site, I check out Surly and Scribe every day for the blog reports. You guys rock!

Shucks.

This is an article posted today by NHL.com listing the top 3 (thru the first quarter) Selke nominees and Mike Richards (In my opinion, the NHL’s most complete player and the player with the highest hockey IQ in the league. Painful that he’ s playing with parking cones for wingers ) is listed # 2

I am sure he she didn’t mean Andrei Loktionov. That was a Penner reference…not certain Dustin Brown is a cone but, to be blunt, you know I want Gagne and Williams as Richards’ wings. Moving on…

Two telling stats :

On the PK Richards has been on the ice for more than 51 minutes shorthanded this season and only one 4-on-5 goal against. That’s just outstanding even by Richards standards. And he ‘s only been on the ice for 7 even strength goals against for the year, facing top competition which puts in #2 in the league. Now if someone could find a mad scientist to invent a cloning machine, we can replicate him and Kopi and have a whole team who understands playing all balls and heart. Know that he’s not even 100% MR mode yet. That will come post All Star game when the final drive for the division and conference posturing is on, he’ll start to become predator.

I don’t know about you, but I got a semi.

But it’s in the playoffs that you see when he has won championships at every level he’s ever played at, he becomes a shark in blood infested waters, total predator. He’s just outstanding to the point where you’ll get tired of saying out loud, ‘I can’t f’n believe what I just saw!”

Last year, unfortunately, he played the whole year with torn ligaments and cartilage in his left wrist and as the year wore down, it almost crippled him. He also got pneumonia just as the Buffalo series started and dropped close to 15 pounds (If you google the post game interviews from that series , you can see how thin and gaunt he is) I’ve never had pneumonia but I think playing hockey at playoff level with it can’t be a lot of fun. Despite that, that unmatched heart of his didn’t quit. In 7 games against the Vanek line, they only got 1 ES goal. Richards was on the ice for 7 Flyer goals which led all Flyers and only 2 going the other way, which also led all Flyers. Against the Bruins, that busted up wrist and bad lungs put up 25 shots on goal in the first three games, which also led all Flyers.

We call that a warrior, boys and girls.

I ‘ve been a Flyers fan since I was a kid in the early 70′s and have seen a lot of coaches (including Murray and Stevens). Lombardi should realize Murray’s systems are outdated and not suited for the talent on this team. Also, he cannot motivate, which is required. Also, MR needs wingers-BADLY. The guy is all alone on that line and a talented playmaker with him can do a lot of damage with a top winger who can finish. Shame on TM for having that guy (Gagne) who’s had brilliant history with Richards and they’ve not played a shift together. If you can’t figure that out, trade for one but get him some help.

Telling stat on Richards – Captained his Rangers team to a Memorial Cup Championship, was selected to be Capt (over guys named Crosby and the most talented cup team assembled) of the World Juniors team and won Gold (and separated Ovechkin’s shoulder in the gold medal game for dissing the American team), drafted by the Flyers and went to their AHL Team the Phantoms, led them to a Calder Cup and was selected to the 2010 Olympic team (and on it’s best line/most effective) won Gold.

Memorial cup, World Cup, Calder Cup, Olympic Gold – Only player in the NHL in this decade who has achieved that. That’s not a coincidence, he is just that good a player and leader. If the opportunity arose, he’d be great as the kings Captain. I think he already is, but not wearing the C.

I knew all of this but every time I read it, it brings perspective on how Mike Richards has literally been a winner at every level he has played and at everything he has done – the only thing missing is the Stanley Cup…for now.

Oh…please don’t believe the garbage posted about Richards on the Internet regarding the trade. He wasn’t a ‘poison’ or ‘cancer’ (I hate trolls) in the room. Per Chuck Gormley of the Burlington County Courier (Chucks pucks site) now with CSN Washinjgton and one of the few total objective reporters that covered the Flyers for years, this from a blog post season when a fan asked him if Richards caused a problem and what about Pronger. His reply was ‘By all the games I’ve covered, by all I’ve seen and all the players I’ve talked to, Mike Richards is liked and respected by every player in that room, not one player on of off the record would say a bad word about him. He went on to state that Pronger was respected by most but liked by few.

That’s basically what happened. The Flyers made Richards captain and 8 mos later cut him off at the knees by bringing in Pronger. Pronger has a huge ego, does not let anybody tell him what to do, esp a 24 year old kid who he has 14 years on. He has to be the only voice, the big dog in the house. There was no room for debate. That is what caused the division, the players to a man liked, respected and were loyal to Richards, but afraid of Pronger (and his temper, did a lot of screaming and yelling often heard by reporters in the hall after losses). Pronger has an overbearing personality and his caustic and abrasive demeanor and that temper, has fractured every team he’s played on and he’s been traded 4 times for that reason.

Richards is a great leader, you can see that already in the 21 games as a King and he’ll only get better. Let his play and leadership be your measuring stick, don’t buy into the crap that the trolls (led by two Philly reporters who despised Richards and bled negative in their articles, making stuff up (using the ever popular ‘anonymous source’) at times, that is on the internet.

Ed Snider saw red and lost part of his sanity when the Boston series ended and Richards had the C, and Snider (overheard by a Philly sports talk radio show guy) ‘I want him gone’ and gone he was, to the Kings.

Part of what led to that was the tailspin the Flyers took last spring, losing games and divisional points. Richards was in a lot of pain at that time (which we found out post season but suspected it, you could see his play was off) and did give a few surly / moody responses to repeated questions post game. But at least he was real, better that than vanilla pudding stepford, standard canned responses of his teammates (we have to play harder/ we need 60 minutes/…arghhh).

That factored into his decision (not Homer’s, he is a total Richards guy, which is why he was so choked up the day of the trade in that video he can’t speak).  When Ed says jump, you say how high. It was not his call to trade Richards. That and the fact Lavy loves Pronger and has wanted him Captain since he arrived as Coach. They are a lot alike personality wise.

The Flyers hung their hopes on an aging, now injury prone 38 year old all star defenseman in the twilight of his career and gave up on a stud 26 year old center who is all heart and guts and not even in his prime yet.

Major Fail on the Flyers part—-HUGE coup / victory for the Kings. He will win you a Cup.

My only satisfaction is that somewhere in the near future, Snider will have a stroke watching Richards skate around the Staples center with the Cup in one arm and the Conn Smythe in the other.

Have a great holiday and I love your website, your insights and your debates. Your articles are always interesting and timely and call out what’s required.

Love your work….

Deirdre

Northeast Phila

Seriously, I got wood…but there is more.

PS: I forgot to put in the previous post that in a very good article in the Hockey News this summer about the Kings and more specifically , how landing Richards was a great move, Carpe Diem, by Adam Proteau.

Proteau reflects on why the Flyers spin bad / negative things about Richards

“It’s like when a stunning woman breaks up with you and you embellish and invent things about her to make yourself feel better because she’s not around anymore”

That really summed it up and is a great analogy.

Deirdre

And still more from Deirdre – how do you not love this guy girl!?

PSS: Last note on Richards’ leadership

A great way to measure a leader is how he reacts to extreme pressure and darkest hours … In Mike’s case that was the 7 game series against Boston in 2010. When you’re the Captain, leader, and pressure holder for a team that is down 0-3 in a Stanley Cup playoff how you react is a large part of what makes you a leader. It’s a part of the reason why it’s only been achieved 3 times in NHL history.

When you have to play / lead with your back to the wall every shift for 4 straight games, it shows your true mettle. And he showed it in spades. Not only was he the leading offensive guy (9 points / 7 games) but he physically dominated every shift and neutralized Chara for 7 games. He took a physical pounding out there, given Chara is a foot taller and 80 lbs heavier but he never gave an inch. It was beyond inspirational. Danny Briere commented that from the bench when you saw how much he sacrificed his body and how hard he worked, you couldn’t wait to get over the boards to live up to that standard for your shift.

And that….that is the essence of Mike Richards and the Richards effect. Combination of grit, guts, High IQ and equal parts inspiration / desperation and perspiration.

That’s why he’s an excellent Captain and has excelled at every level, because the guys on the bench will play hard for him and follow him.