The City of Brotherly Love was shocked when the Philadelphia Flyers traded captain Mike Richards over a year ago.
Some people still are.
While Richards was upset when the trade happened, it clearly worked out for the 27-year old.
Richards is coming off a Stanley Cup title with the Los Angeles Kings and was a key piece in the victory. He is well deserving of the championship, as well as making it on our list.
There are so many things to like about Richard’s game. He is a hard working, gritty, physical forward who also has a ton of skill with the puck. Richards is a well-rounded player on the ice, who both back-checks and fore-checks consistently. His end to end game is fun to watch, and he works incredibly hard for his goals. A perfect representation of Richard’s play style is portrayed during “The Shift” in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens.
Richards was crucial to the Flyers during their 2010 Stanley Cup run, where they would ultimately lose to the Chicago Blackhawks. Defensively, he was a pest, as well as a key asset to the penalty kill.
During his most recent cup run, Richards had a different role with the Kings. Although Dustin Brown is the captain of the club, Richards was still a key veteran leader during the regular season for some of the younger guys. He set a great example for rookie linemate Dwight King who certainly benefited from Richard’s presence.
Once the playoffs rolled around, Richards was bumped up to the second line with Dustin Penner and former Flyer teammate Jeff Carter. Richards again elevated his game during the post-season. It seems as if the bigger the moment, the better he plays. This clip highlights exactly what he brought to the Kings during their magical playoff run:
Richards had a Gordie Howe hat-trick in game 1 of their series with the St Louis Blues. It shows is all around game is extremely sound and proves that Richards is anything but one dimensional.
So, where will you find Mike Richards on the ice? Well, if you find the puck, expect Richards to be right there. He will attack the boards to fight for a puck, even against players that out-weigh him. If a puck is sliding towards the net, he will crash the crease looking to put home a rebound. You may also find him in the penalty box at times. Richards has been known to drop the gloves often in his career. He is absolutely fearless on the ice. I mean, the guy went after 6’5″ Martin Hanzal!
A quality of Richards that is often overlooked is his playmaking ability. He seems to be dialed in on his surroundings and able to deliver the puck to his teammates at any time. His ice vision is terrific as well as his one ice awareness.
Clearly, there are a plethora of qualities that make Mike Richards a top player in the NHL. He plays with a ton of heart and once he steps on the ice, he is a warrior. It is almost as if the ice is his battlefield. He will defend his troops and attack the opposing forces with everything he has. Richards is the ideal hockey player. His grit, skill, heart, work ethic and leadership are all characteristics of a guy you need to have a successful hockey team.
And that is one of the reasons the Kings are the champions and he is on our list.
The Rant Sports Top 100 NHL Players series will examine the top 100 players all across the league. Look for more from the top 100 soon.