Chris Di Fran broke the news that the Philadelphia Flyers named Mike Richards as team captain September 17. This is a move that most of the hockey world has been expecting since his emergence last season—and especially with the departure of Jason Smith to Ottawa.
Over the years, the honour of team captain of an NHL team has lost its lustre. Gone are the days when a gritty fourth liner could be the team captain for 10 straight seasons—then again, gone are days where players played for one franchise for 10 seasons. Most teams award the captaincy to its best or most popular player, not necessarily the leader or heart and soul of the team.
The Philadelphia Flyers have never swayed from their organizational belief that the captain of the team should be the very embodiment of what a Flyers teams is supposed to be. He must be courageous, fearless, both a vocal and non-vocal leader. Leading the Flyers to victory each and every night should be his only career goal.
Flyers management believes that the captain should be the conduit between the front office to the players. The chosen one is responsible to ensure that each and every player in that dressing room is aware and reminded of the end goal each and every time they step on the ice.
One only need look back on the 2007-08 season to see why Mike Richards is the perfect choice. His competitive desires during every single shift are almost too hard to believe. After every whistle, he seems to direct his linemates or engage in a rational discussion with the officials.
Even if Mike Richards didn't say a word all season long in the dressing room, there wouldn't be a player on the Flyers that didn't know what he was all about. They only need to share the ice with him to realize he is all about making the Flyers a winning organization.
At the age of 23 and over a decade's worth of contract, the face of the Flyers has arrived and won't be leaving anytime soon. Next stop? Captain of Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics.
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