Born February 11, 1965 (age 26) in Kenora, Ontario, Canada
Center for the Los Angeles Kings
We’re gonna take today and tomorrow to profile two former Flyers who’ve been in the news lately. First is Richie, who played with the Kenora Thistles before the Kitchener Rangers nabbed him in the OHL draft. Two years into his junior career, the Rangers snagged the Memorial Cup and the Philadelphia Flyers snagged Richie 24th overall in the 2003 draft. After two more years with the Rangers, he went to the Philadelphia Phantoms and promptly helped them win the Calder Cup in 2005. When the Flyers began their 2005-06 season, Richie was with them to make his debut, and he scored his first goal against the New York Rangers (nice!). His rookie season also included his first hat trick, and that was the first time since 1994 that a rookie had done that!
He had a short sophomore season due to stomach surgery (eesh!), but the 2007-08 season was so good for him that he was named an alternate captain and was given a 12-year contract extension. The next year, he was named captain after Jason Smith went to Ottawa, and in that season he became the first player in NHL history to score three 3-on-5 career shorthand goals! But after the 2009 playoffs, he let out a secret: he’d been playing with pain in his shoulders all season and needed surgery on both of them. He also lost the Selke Trophy by only a few points, the closest vote ever for that award.
Even though he had a great 2009-10 season (and we all know how far the Flyers went in the postseason), two things stood out: a hit he gave Florida’s David Booth, where Booth had to be carried off the ice on a stretcher. Richie was given a game misconduct penalty, but he wasn’t suspended. The second was an ongoing fight he had with the Philadelphia press. It had been reported that he and other players had a hard-partying life off the ice, and Richie took exception to their claims. With every encounter, he never shied away from telling them that he didn’t like how the team was being treated.
Last season he had 23 goals and 43 assists, and the Flyers fought the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of the playoffs before being swept by the Boston Bruins. Then came the head-scratching trade made by the Flyers where he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a draft pick. I wrote about it this past summer, and it still baffles me. But Richie’s adjusted rather well – so far this season he has 10 goals and 9 assists. The shock of a new team won’t slow him down, that’s for sure.