Archive for Mike Richards

Players Stunned by News of Stevens’ Firing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 5, 2009 by flyersfan44

According to reports, Flyers players were stunned when informed of John Stevens’ firing. I’m guessing that this is especially true of the younger players like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who were coached by Stevens while they were in the AHL with the Phantoms. I’m not sure why they were stunned – they had to realize that the unacceptable effort and lack of urgency with which they were playing wasn’t going to be tolerated for much longer. Losing six of seven, being shut out two games in a row (once by the defense-pitiful Thrashers), and currently being in the middle of the conference and out of the playoffs just begged for a coaching change to be made. More likely, the players are feeling like the party’s over. Time for the young players to get their minds away from the next party and refocus on the game. Laviolette, who has a reputation of being tough on players and not being too tolerant of mistakes and lack of effort, should get the players’ priorities straightened out.

A couple of reports (ESPN and Howard Eskin) have said that captain Mike Richards has relinquished the captaincy to Chris Pronger. This was not indicated at last night’s news conference when GM Paul Holmgren claerly stated that Richards was the captain. However, after Laviolette takes over it is possible that a change in captaincy could occur. I think it should happen. Richards, like Stevens, is a quiet sort who does not (or cannot) get in his teammates’ faces and it is believed that Richards never really wanted the captaincy anyway. Pronger, who has captained several teams and won the Cup, can definitely call people out when necessary. He has stayed out of Richards’ way with regard to the captain’s role, but they might as well make the change in leadership across the board. These players need to be held accountable; it would be best to have both the coach and captain with the same approach.

Flyers host the Capitals tonight at the Wachovia Center – should be an interesting evening.

Carter Makes All-Star Team; Richards Snubbed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 11, 2009 by flyersfan44
Mike Richards puts one of his non-All Star worthy 44 points past Toronto's Vesa Toskala in Saturday's 4-1 Flyers win.

Mike Richards puts one of his non-All Star worthy 44 points past Toronto's Vesa Toskala in Saturday's 4-1 Flyers win.

Although he did not appear on the ballot, Flyers center Jeff Carter was named to the NHL Eastern Conference All-Star Team.  Carter is having a breakthrough year and is leading the League in goals.  Although Carter certainly deserves this honor, it’s unbelievable that Mike Richards did not make it.  He has been the Flyers best all around player and has 44 points as of January 11 with a +16 rating.  Unfortunately, many deserving players were left off the team this year thanks to a system that allows fans to vote for the six starters.  Montreal fans shamelessly stuffed the virtual ballot box on NHL.com, and voted in four starters from the Canadiens.  So, for example, Alexei Kovalev (11 goals, 32 points) is starting while Boston’s Phil Kessel (24 goals, 41 points) and New Jersey’s Patrick Elias (19 goals, 48 points) will remain at home with Richards.

Looks like there’s three things that have caused these All-Star injustices to occur.  First, the fans’ disregard for the idea that they should objectively vote for the best players rather than their home team players.  You would expect Montreal fans especially to have respect for the ideals of the game.  Second, every team must have at least one representative.  Someone not as deserving as someone else could make it because of this stipulation.  Third, there’s more teams now than ever in the NHL but virtually the same number of players (18 skaters, 3 goalies) are chosen as when there were fewer teams. 

It’s nice to involve the fans, but if they’re not going to respect the ideal of the All-Star Game then maybe a new system needs to be devised.  Thanks, Le Quebecois!

Camp Opens Today

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2008 by flyersfan44

The Flyers open training camp for the much-anticipated 2008-09 season today at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.  Now the off-season moves are pretty much completed and the evaluation begins.  Many fans were disappointed with the lack of a big-name signing over the summer, but salary cap constraints only allowed for a few lesser known names to be added to the roster.  The departure of forward RJ Umberger, also the result of salary cap issues, also was disappointing and this blossoming player will be missed.

Let’s take a look at some of the more significant stories as training camp gets underway:

1. Mike Richards is named Captain. Looks like it’s time for the young forward to take the next step to a leadership position.  The other option was defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who also provides good leadership and was captain in Nashville, but Richards definitely represents the future of the club and it makes sense for him to take on the official designation of team leader.  This will become Richards’ team.

2. Who will be the Top 6 on Defense? With Derian Hatcher placed on injured reserve, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, and Randy Jones are the automatic top three.  Ryan Parent, who played well during the Flyers’ playoff run, could step into the top 4 spot with a good camp.  That would leave five players to compete for the last two regular spots: Lasse Kukkonen, new acquisitions Steve Eminger, Ossi Vaananen, Danny Syvret, and veteran Bryan Berard, who was recently signed to a tryout contract.  How well Eminger, Vaananen, and Syvret play and whether Berard can still produce will determine how strong the Flyers’ defense will be this season.  They need to improve greatly in this area and cut down on the number of shots allowed per game.  They just cannot regularly give up 35 or 40 shots per game like last season and expect to improve their point total.

3. Another center moves to the wing. How many times have the Flyers moved a center to the wing?  Seems like this has happened often and not always with good results.  The latest experiment is moving Danny Briere from center to wing with Mike Richards centering him and Simon Gagne.  I like Briere at center (his natural position) because of his size.  I’d hate to see him get banged up along the boards, but the Flyers expect some chemistry with this combination. 

4. Will Gagne return to form? After missing most of last season with a concussion, will Gagne return to the 40 goal-scorer or will he be unable to regain his scoring touch? Will he be overly susceptible to concussions and be knocked out of the lineup again?  The solid return of Gagne is essential if the Flyers are to improve.

5. Consistency! The Flyers must develop into a team that plays consistently well over the course of the season.  Too many ups and downs last year, with a horrid ten game losing streak that almost cost them a playoff appearance. Were they playing over their heads in the first two playoff rounds or is that the team that we can expect to see this season?  50 wins could be an achievable goal if some of the question marks pan out but only if coach John Stevens can get them to play at a consistent level throughout the season.

6. Will Giroux make the team and produce? Claude Giroux, who tore up the QMJHL playoffs last spring, is expected to make the team this season.  He has great goal scoring ability and wonderful potential for the Flyers.  Will he be able to produce at the NHL level? This is another piece that the Flyers will need to jump to the next level.

That’s a fair amount of uncertainty heading into camp but should make for an interesting pre-season and early regular season in Philadelphia.