Mike Richards has not had the best season statistically speaking. He also had his disappointments on a personal level. A member of the 2010 gold medal winning Canadian Olympic team, he was passed over for the 2014 team, and by all accounts he was barely given a second thought. He has yet to eclipse the 10 goal mark this season, scoring his 9th goal against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. He is the only player among the lineup regulars to have a minus rating, probably because he is consistently tasked with checking the opponents top scorers.
Still, the Kings post season success this year, or lack thereof, will be determined largely on the play of Richards.
He is the kind of player the playoffs are made for. And he was made for the playoffs.
There might not be a player who combines heart and soul with the will to win and a great skill set since the guy that drafted him, Bobby Clarke. In the playoffs he gets a certain look in his eyes and plays a type of game that can’t help but inspire his teammates to run through walls.
There is some question as to whether or not recent acquisition Marian Gaborik can play the type of hockey the Kings play or if he will be a fish out of water. I think that by the time the playoffs roll around, it won’t be an issue. Richards will be part of the reason Gaborik can, and will play Kings hockey. Because that is what Richards does and that is what he expects of every King that takes the ice.
Dustin Brown is a great captain and solid leader, but Richards is the straw that stirs the Kings’ drink. He is a Darryl Sutter type player through and through, and come April you can bet he is going to be ready, and will drag the rest of his team along kicking and screaming, if the need be.