Mike Richards: Man Crush Series, Part One

Nelson SantosCorrespondent ISeptember 29, 2008

Let’s face it, gentleman—if you're a huge sports fan, it means you are susceptible to falling into a man crush situation.

Take a second and think of how unnatural it is as a grown man to wear a jersey with another adult male’s name and employee number on the back of it.

Well, I’m here to confess my man crushes. That’s right, I have more than one. Although for my first segment, it’s going to be all about Mike Richards.

It all started for me while watching the Memorial Cup Championships in 2003. The Kitchener Rangers won the Championship that season, with a lineup that boasted Derek Roy, Gregory Campbell, and Steve Eminger.

But it was Mike Richards that jumped out at me. His determination to win every puck battle, his perpetually-intelligent decisions, and his overall competitive nature was remarkable to me.

My discovery of Mike Richards was followed by the joy of my favourite NHL team selecting him with the second pick of the first round, 23rd overall. Jeff Carter was selected 11th overall and got most of the media attention—but my man crush remained strictly on Mike Richards.

In the upcoming seasons, he would further endear himself to me with his performances in back-to-back World Junior Championships.

Richards was an integral piece of the puzzle in 2003-04, but wearing the captain ‘C’ the following year and leading arguably the best national junior team Canada has ever iced was a sure bet that I would continue my man crush on Mike. Combine that with his masterful performance in shutting down Alexander Ovechkin, and I couldn’t wait for his NHL career to begin.

Although his career with the Flyers was not as explosive as many anticipated I was more than willing to wait for his time to come. That time was the 2007-08 season.

Richards took his game to a new level proving to all that the hype that preceded his first NHL game was warranted. He was Mr. Everything for the Flyers last season and I firmly believe he will continue to be. I guess his 12-year contract is a sign that Flyers’ management believes the same thing.

He’ll begin the 2008-09 season as the Flyers’ captain. Factor in all his hard work and career season and he is still a very humble individual.  He scores, he hits, he fights, he leads, and he plays to win. What’s not to love?