Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
Even before he led the team on that magical Stanley Cup Finals run in 2009-2010, Mike Richards was a fan favorite in Philadelphia. He was a special talent who played the game the "Philly Way"—rough, tough and extremely well.
He was the perfect franchise center—a player that took as much pride in his defensive game as he did in scoring points. A player that was unafraid to mix it up in the corners, come to the aid of his teammates and set a tone whenever he stepped onto the ice. In short: Mike Richards played old-school Flyer hockey. For that, he was compared to legends of generations past, especially Hall of Famer and franchise icon Bobby Clarke.
In 2010-2011, something began to change. Something wasn't right with Richards; something was different. He was far more surly with the media; he didn't seem to give 110 percent every night; he didn't look like he was having fun on the ice. His production decreased (though some of that was likely due to season-long wrist injury), his relationships with some of his teammates deteriorated and his drinking (if you believe the "Dry Island" scandal) became problematic.
It all ended with the young Flyer captain being shipped off to Los Angeles for a younger, better version of himself (Brayden Schenn) and another "true Flyer" (Wayne Simmonds). Like Carter, Richards had just signed what amounted to a lifetime deal with the club. Like Carter, Richards has since said he would not have signed the contract if he knew he'd be traded. And like Carter, Richards now has an axe to grind.
He'll get his first chance just four games into the 2011-12 season, when the Flyers host the Kings.