Take this article, written by Sam Donnellon today, which asks if the Flyers should remove the “C” from Richards:
THEY HAVE to do it now, don't they? Even if they want Mike Richards to remain captain, even if their internal discussions conclude that this team's fading finishes in two of the last three seasons were no fault of his, haven't the Flyers introduced a virus into their system with their tepid endorsements of the man over the last 10 days?
Haven't they put themselves in the position to either trade him or strip his captaincy?
No! No they have not.
Last year, we were all trying to figure out a way to give Richie an over-the-Cooperalls handjob for his playoff performance. This year, we’re running him out of town.
If you read this site often, you know that I routinely post about Richie’s (along with other Flyers) exploits. I make fun of his Yankees hats, immature Tweets, and off-ice adventures. Why? Because it’s funny and – I think – interesting to see what players are really like. But none of that has anything to do with whether Michael Richards is good captain or not.
His on-ice work ethic has never been questioned, and, by all accounts, his teammates like him. He’s not particularly verbose nor eloquent, but that doesn’t matter. This isn’t Mighty Ducks. Lavs doesn’t stand up in locker rooms giving convoluted speeches about pride and hometowns (which always seem to inexplicably end in spontaneous uniform changes) while Richards and Joshua Jackson roller blade around Northen Liberties with a fucking duck whistle. That’s not how it goes down in real life.
Instead, captains lead by example. Richards played the entire season with an injury, just like he did during 2008-2009 campaign. The one year he was healthy? The Flyers made it to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, partly due to his inspired play (cliche, but true).
While he may very well be the biggest dick in the locker room (more than one person has relayed that sentiment to me), his interaction with the media ultimately has nothing to do with him being captain. His responsibility is to the team, not the media.
That's what I would tell Richards in proposing he take a break from the job. As he himself has said, plenty of guys can wear the C, and Pronger is the obvious choice, when and if he gets healthy. Meanwhile, Mike Richards can deal with the media any way he would like, play unfettered and see whether a little time can heal a reputation that already has taken too many hits.
That makes no sense. Pronger is always hurt and the locker room equivalent of the team dad. He doesn’t hang out with these guys, he can’t relate to them. Do you think it’s a coincidence that every time we see pictures of the team out, they include – almost without fail – some combination of Richards with Carter, Giroux, and Van Riemsdyk (along with soon to be free agents Carcillo and Leino)? That’s the core of your team right there. Sure, their bonds may be formed over Eiffel Towers in Old City and Sea Isle, but they’re bonds nonetheless.
Take the Broad Street Bullies, for example. They were notorious partiers. Clarke, too…. And everyone on the team had his back.
The 1993 Phillies? Same way. In fact, Donnellon lauds Darren Daulton for being a great “captain” and holding his teammates accountable. However, he fails to mention that Macho Row was a bunch of drunks, nuts, and criminals (literally) who hated everything about the media.
Maybe some of the vitriol should go towards the coach. Here’s a guy who had trouble getting along with Rod Brind’Amour, oh holy of holiest ones.
Lavs is the anti-Charlie Manuel. For as calm and steady as Manuel is, Lavs is equally as reactive and combustive. Just look at what he did with the goalies in the playoffs. You talk about signs of panic, start there.
The point is, there’s a lot of blame to go around for the debacle that was this season. Everyone from the GM to the coach to the captain to the goaltender to sign man is to blame. But pointing the finger solely at Michael Richards is the wrong thing to do.
And don’t expect that “C” to go anywhere. The Flyers haven’t changed his name to the more professional-sounding Michael for nothing.