Kenora beer league briefly recruits NHL star Mike Richards
'It's pretty scary when he's lining up to take shots at your head,' opposing goalie says
Unless it can convince another mid-career NHL player to join its ranks, Casey's Hockey League in Kenora, Ont. will probably never have another season quite like this one.
After his contract with the Los Angeles Kings was terminated, and before he signed his current deal with the Washington Capitals, hockey star Mike Richards returned to his hometown of Kenora last year, and during that time he was convinced to suit up as a member of his brother's beer league team.
It certainly spiced things up on the ice, said goalie Graham Voth, who found himself fending off lighting fast shots from Richards.
"There's a couple of guys who can shoot pretty hard in the league, but [Richards] brings the whole package," he said.
"It's pretty scary when he's lining up to take shots at your head."
"You'd be kind of beside him, and he would take two quick strides, and he's gone. You're left behind," said Adam Wilson, another opposing player.
Richards laced up with friends
Voth and Wilson both grew up with Richards, and played minor hockey with him. They still spend time together when Richards returns to Kenora during the summer, Wilson said.
They were hoping to recruit Richards for their own team, but in the end family loyalty won out, and Richard took to the ice for his brother Mark's team, the Kenora Kings.
Even on opposing teams, playing with an old friend and NHL superstar was "awesome," said Voth. But Richards's return to the NHL was also cause for celebration.
"I think he was getting a little worried. He wanted to go back," said Voth.
"And he said to me 'as much fun as it is hanging out with you guys here, I really want to be back in the NHL.' So I think he had fun at home, but I think it gave him a new perspective on how much he wants to be there all the time."
As for the Kenora Kings, the loss of their star player was followed by their first loss of the tournament, said Wilson, but the team is still at the top of the league.