Mike Richards : biography
Michael Richards (born February 11, 1985) is a Canadian professional ice hockey centre and an alternate captain for the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League (NHL). He previously played for, and was captain of, the Philadelphia Flyers. Mike Richards won his first Stanley Cup on June 11, 2012 with the Los Angeles Kings. Richards has won a Memorial Cup (Kitchener Rangers - Jr A), World Juniors (Team Canada IIHF) Calder Cup (Philadelphia Phantoms), Olympic Gold (Team Canada), Stanley Cup, (Los Angles Kings) Prince of Wales Trophy (Philadelphia Flyers) and Clarence S. Campbell Bowl (LA Kings). Based on the triple gold winners, he is the only player to win at Championships at Jr (CHL Memorial Cup) Minors (AHL) Professional Stanley Cup (NHL) and at Olympic and World Championship Levels (IIHF and IIHF World Juniors)
Richards grew up playing minor league hockey in his hometown of Kenora, Ontario. He played level A rep hockey for the Kenora Thistles until being drafted fourth overall in the 2001 OHL Priority Selection by the Kitchener Rangers. Richards was not a noted prospect prior to the selection. After receiving a tip from a friend in Kenora, Rangers general manager Jamie MacDonald traveled to see Richards play on two occasions.
Richards began his major junior career with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2001–02. He was a member of a dominant 2003 Kitchener team that captured the Memorial Cup and led the team in scoring during the regular season with 87 points. Following the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) championship victory, Richards was chosen as team captain. That summer, the Philadelphia Flyers selected him 24th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft with the second of the team's first round picks that season.
Upon being drafted, Richards returned to the Rangers for two more seasons. In his last season of junior, 2004–05, he embarked on another Memorial Cup run with Kitchener, but despite a remarkable 28-point performance from Richards in just 15 playoff games, the Rangers were eliminated by the London Knights in the OHL semi-finals. As soon as Kitchener was eliminated, the Flyers assigned Richards to the Philadelphia Phantoms, their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, for their playoff run. Averaging over a point per game, he became a key part of the Phantoms' 2005 Calder Cup championship.
Richards made his NHL debut with the Flyers the following season and scored a goal in his first game on October 5, 2005, against the New York Rangers. Later in the season, he scored his first career NHL hat trick, which included two shorthanded goals, against the New York Islanders on February 8, 2006. His hat trick was the first by a Flyers rookie since Mikael Renberg on February 15, 1994. Richards finished his NHL rookie season with 34 points in 79 games, third among Flyers rookies to Jeff Carter (drafted the same year as Richards, 11th overall) and R.J. Umberger.
Following an injury shortened sophomore season – Richards was kept to 32 points in 59 games due to stomach surgery – Richards emerged as a star with the Flyers in 2007–08 and topped the team in scoring with 75 points. Recognizing his ascent as a leader on the team, Richards was named one of the Flyers' alternate captains at the outset of the season and was signed to a lengthy 12-year contract extension worth $69 million on December 13, 2007. Shortly after signing the deal, Richards was selected to represent the Eastern Conference at the 2008 NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta. In the first NHL All-Star Game of his career, Richards registered an assist.
As the Flyers entered the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the third-seeded Washington Capitals, Richards scored his first playoff goal on a penalty shot against Washington goaltender Cristobal Huet in game three. In doing so, he became just the second player in NHL history to score his first playoff goal on a penalty shot (the first was Wayne Connolly who did so with the Minnesota North Stars in 1968). The Flyers defeated the Capitals in seven games and then upset the Montreal Canadiens before falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Richards finished his 2008 playoff run with 14 points in 17 games.
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