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Michael Richards (born February 11, 1985) is a Canadianmarker professional ice hockey centre and team captain for the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Playing career

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. That summer, the Philadelphia Flyers selected him 24th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

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 50 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 Atlantamarker. 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.

Before the start of the 2008–09 season, on September 17, 2008, Richards was named the 17th captain in Flyers history, succeeding previous captain Jason Smith, who had signed with the Ottawa Senators in the off-season. On February 15, 2009, Richards became the first player in NHL history to score three career 3-on-5 shorthanded goals when he beat New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist in a 5–2 win. Six days later, on February 21, Richards became the first Flyer in team history to score a shorthanded goal in three consecutive games and the first NHL player to do so since Joe Sakic in 1998. He finished the season second in team scoring to Jeff Carter with 80 points to go with a league-leading 7 shorthanded goals.

Facing the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second consecutive year in the 2009 playoffs, Richards added 5 points in 6 games, but could not help the Flyers from being eliminated. After Richards' season ended, he was announced as a finalist for the Selke Trophy, along with Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings and Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks. The next day, on April 29, 2009, it was revealed that Richards required surgery on both shoulders. He had reportedly felt discomfort since training camp and was on anti-inflammatory medication throughout the season. Surgery was completed on his right side for a torn labrum on May 1, while the left side will be operated on once movement is regained in the right side. Richards narrowly missed out on the Selke, which could have been Philadelphia's first individual player trophy since Eric Lindros won the Hart in 1995. Datsyuk won the vote 945-942 in the closest Selke Trophy race since its inception.

The 2009-10 season started successfully for Richards, scoring five goals in his first three games including his second career hat trick in the second period of the Flyers' home opener against the Washington Capitals on October 6, 2009. Against the Florida Panthers on October 24, Richards delivered a shoulder hit to David Booth's head. Knocked unconscious, Booth fell awkwardly on his head and neck and had to be carried of the ice on a stretcher. Richards was given a game misconduct and ejected from the game, but was not suspended by the NHL.

International play

Richards made his international debut with Team Canada at the 2004 World Junior Championships in Finlandmarker. Despite a third period lead in the gold medal game, Canada lost to the United States 4-3.

The following year, Richards returned to the World Juniors as team captain and led Canada to its first gold medal at the tournament since 1997. Richards tallied 5 points in 6 games.

After Richards' rookie season with the Philadelphia Flyers, he was chosen to his first senior tournament with Team Canada at the 2006 World Championships. Richards scored 5 points in 9 games, but Canada was defeated by Finland in the bronze medal game, failing to medal.

Personal life

Richards was born in Kenoramarker, Ontariomarker to Norm and Irene. He has two brothers, Mark and Matt. His cousin, Jeff Richards, is also an OHL graduate who plays for the Lakehead Universitymarker Thunderwolves. He recently appeared on Making the Cut, a Canadian reality show about aspiring hockey players.

Growing up, he attended Beaver Brae Secondary School in Kenora until being drafted to the Kitchener Rangers at which point he attended Eastwood Collegiate Institute for the remainder of his high-school career. He also played soccer in high school with Beaver Brae and was named the most improved player in his Grade 9 year.






Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2001–02 Kitchener Rangers OHL 65 20 38 58 52 4 0 1 1 6
2002–03 Kitchener Rangers OHL 67 37 50 87 99 21 9 18 27 24
2003–04 Kitchener Rangers OHL 58 36 53 89 82 1 0 0 0 0
2004–05 Kitchener Rangers OHL 43 22 36 58 75 15 11 17 28 36
2004–05 Philadelphia Phantoms AHL 14 7 8 15 28
2005–06 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 79 11 23 34 65 6 0 1 1 0
2006–07 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 59 10 22 32 52
2007–08 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 73 28 47 75 76 17 7 7 14 10
2008–09 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 79 30 50 80 63 6 1 4 5 6
NHL totals 290 79 142 221 256 29 8 12 20 16
AHL totals 14 7 8 15 28
OHL totals 233 115 177 292 308 41 20 36 56 66


Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
2004 Canada WJC 6 2 3 5 2
2005 Canada WJC 6 1 4 5 2
2006 Canada WC-A 9 3 2 5 10
Junior int'l totals 12 3 7 10 4
Senior int'l totals 9 3 2 5 10

All-Star Games

Year Location   G A P
2008 Atlanta 0 1 1
All-Star totals 0 1 1


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