Michael Richards, shown here being introduced as a member of the LA Kings, has proven his maturity on the ice, despite being criticized for his behaviour off the ice. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)
LA Kings fans are in for a treat when one Michael Richards hits the ice later this week. He brings so much needed leadership, as well as a history of winning and a ton of skill as well. I think Richards will help the Kings and some of their younger players, especially in the absence of Ryan Smyth.
He will help take the team to the next level by bringing some maturity and toughness to the Kings, which I think is needed.
I was amazed over the summer by the amount of criticism Richards faced when he was traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the LA Kings. I was as shocked as the next person to hear the news, despite the fact that Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk had emerged as 'go to' guys for the Flyers. I never thought that Richards would be one of the guys to go.
To me the cap and length of his contract were factors in the trade, not the off- ice shenanigans that every one accused him of.
I guess I would get myself in trouble if I said "what's wrong with a few cocktails every once in a while", but the fact of the matter is Richards is a single, 26 year old guy! I also don't think that it is fair that some media types took the TMZ approach and waited outside local Philadelphia establishments hoping to catch a glimpse of Mike Richards late at night. I mean that's a little much.
The bottom line is that Mike Richards is one of the best young leaders in the NHL today. He stood up for teammates behind closed doors and with the media in Philadelphia which sometimes got him into hot water. The pressure of being a young leader in the NHL never seemed to bother Richards and although he never won the Cup in Philly he gave them a chance to win every night by being an offensive threat as well as shutting down the other top guys.
While I was researching this article, everyone, including Pete DeBoer the new head coach of the New Jersey Devils and Richards' former coach in Kitchener, said that Richards would never jeopardize a chance to get a win for his team.
Richards has yet to win the Stanley Cup, but let's not forget he has a Calder Trophy, a Memorial Cup, a World Junior Championship Gold Medal (he captained the 2005 Canadian Dream Team) and an Olympic Gold. The fact of the matter is that Richards never underachieves in big games.
My guess is there will be big games for him in the near future in LA!
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?