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Michael Richards
 
Jersey Number: #18
Junior Experience: 3 Years
Date of Birth: Feb 11, 1985
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 190lbs
NHL Status: Philadephia 1st rnd '03
How Acquired: 1st round '01 Bantam
 
Michael Richards was actually a controversial pick from former Rangers' GM: Jamie McDonald, standing under 6 foot tall when drafted.  The Rangers had a chronic size problem and drafting yet another dimunitive center didn't appear to be the answer adding him a fold that already included Ryan Ramsay and Derek Roy, both whom stand under 6 feet tall.  Fortuantely for Rangers' fans nothing could be further from the truth!  Richards, though not overly imposing in size, plays like a much bigger forward, often powering his way through checks, he has a legitimate nose for the net, and doesn't allow himself to look outsized when he gets there.

During Richards' rookie season with the Rangers he scored 20 goals, with his quick successes it became apparent that there would have to be some way to move Richards from centering the Rangers' third line up to one of the top two units.  Moving Ryan Ramsay up to Derek Roy's wing on the top unit appeared to be the answer.  Richards, the 4th overall pick of the Rangers in 2001, was put between Czech wingers: Petr Kanko and Petr Hemsky.  The line thrived through most of the regular season, but in the postseason they suffered at the hands of a very strong Guelph Storm defense, Richards was contained to only one assist in the four game sweep of the Rangers at the hands of the Guelph Storm.

During Richards' sophomore season, a turning point occured when team captain: Derek Roy and power forward: Gregory Campell departed for the World Junior Championships in Halifax Nova Scotia.  Richards and the Rangers appeared lost at first in Windsor, but quickly the team rallied around Richards, and what would become a deadly unit of O'Nabigon, Petr Kanko and Michael Richards.  O'Nabigon and Richards would combine with first line leftover Petr Kanko to form one of the more energetic lines in the history of the Rangers.  The trio would lead the Rangers to a 7-3-1 record while the team played in absence of two of its top forwards.  For O'Nabigon who had always shown flashes of potential, it was a coming out party.

Even when amongst the best in Canada while playing in the Memorial Cup, Richards shone as a star, despite being only 17 years old at the time.  Because of his performance during the postseason, the Philadephia Flyers selected Richards 22nd overall in the first round of the 2003 NHL entry draft.  Richards was taken shortly after the Flyers had selected one of his colleagues: Jeff Carter of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.  Someone whom he'd share the ice with while representing team Canada over the Christmas holidays in 2003.

As the 2003-'04 season started, Richards was named team captain, the youngest team captain since Brian Scott was awarded the honour in 1995, nearly a decade earlier.  Richards won the player of the week early in the season after accumulating 8 points in 3 games including a heroic preformance which led the Rangers back from down 6-2 to the Saginaw Spirit in the third period to a 7-6 overtime victory.  Richards value to the Rangers became all too evident when the team struggled with him absent in Finland at the World Junior Championships, the Rangers struggled to find scoring without him and in games two to five of the Rangers abbreviated playoff run against the Plymouth Whalers whom they had eliminated just one year earlier.

Michael Richards needs only 7 goals to reach 100 for his OHL career with the Kitchener Rangers.  Last season he snapped a three year reign by Derek Roy as the Rangers' team scoring leader.  Richards might be one of the Rangers' best candidates in years for the Don Cameron Trophy awarded to Rangers' who score fifty or more goals in a season, the last winner of the award was Ron Goodall in 1987.


Season
GP
G
A
P
PIM
+/-
PPG
SHG
2001-2002 Kitchener Rangers
65
20
38
58
52
10
6
1
2002-2003 Kitchener Rangers
67
37
50
87
99
35
10
5
2003-2004 Kitchener Rangers
58
36
53
89
82
21
7
4
Career Totals
190
93
141
234
233
66
23
10
Photography provided by: Stephen Gardiner