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Michael Richards
 
Jersey Number: #18
Junior Experience: 4 Years
Date of Birth: Feb 11th, 1985
Height: 6'00"
Weight: 192lbs
NHL Status: 1st Rnd Philly '03
How Acquired: 1st Rnd '01 draft
Hometown: Kenora
 
Some refer to him as Captian Canada, others simply call him Kraemer, because his namesake is the actor who played the quirky neighbour on the popular TV sitcom: Seinfield.  Somehow Michael Richards tends to embody all of the above and a whole lot more.  The highlight of this season for Richards has to be Canada's Gold medal finish in the World Junior Championships.  After coming so close in the Christmas of 2003 gaining silver for their efforts, Richards led and captained what may just happen to be the single greatest ever junior team assembled.  Team Canada with their second year captain waltzed through the tournament undefeated and often winning by significant margins over some very talented world teams.

Michael Richards also owns the distinction of being the youngest Rangers' captain since Brian Scott was named to the position in 1995, when Peter DeBoer arrived on the scene in Kitchener he refused to name his leading scorer and eventual Memorial Cup MVP: Derek Roy as team captain during his 18th year.  Even more surprisingly Michael Richards as a 17-year-old broke Derek Roy's string of 3 consecutive seasons as the Rangers' lead scorer when the Rangers finished first with 100 during the regular schedule.  At the season-ending banquet Richards was quick to thank his teammate for missing time while gaining silver in Halifax with the Rangers enabling him to get the jump on Roy for the scoring lead.

Though Richards' talent and desire have never really been doubted throughout his 4 year OHL career he and his most prominant linemates: Petr Kanko and Nathan O'Nabigon really made a name for themselves while the Rangers were forced to due without three of their brightest stars during the Christmas break of 2002 and into the new year.  Those three terrorized the remainder of the OHL and showcased a second scoring unit for the Rangers which would pave the way for a national championship.  Richards would contribute 9 goals and 18 assists in 21 playoff games giving the Rangers a one-two punch that was second to none in the OHL.

Many cringed when Jamie McDonald made Richards the 4th overall pick in the 2001 OHL entry draft.  Richards' size wouldn't be competitive in the more physical OHL.  Nothing could be further from the truth, Richards has been described by some as a bulldog he forces his way to the net with severe prejudice, sometimes he simply won't be denied passage to the goal regardless of how big the defenders are or how many are in his way.  Richards also has a knack for standing up for his teammates, he's a fighting captain who fights with his fists and fights to the net.  When Boris Valabik was knocked out by Tim Sestito he stepped in immediately to scrap with Sestito, in Peterborough last season Richards defeated the much bigger Petes' captain Jon Howse changing the momentum of the game.  He could very easily be described as being very similar to former Rangers' captain Jason Byrnes, except with more scoring ability.

Richards' overall value to the Rangers' couldn't be understated, when he's out of the lineup the entire team seems to sag, and naturally when he's in the lineup the team gets a huge lift.  Only recently have the Rangers discovered how to play effeciently without their star center.  Richards has played on two consecutive Canadian teams at the World Junior Championships.  In the 2003 tourney Richards and team Canada lost to the US team in the final game, only 18 years old Richards was on the ice in the dying seconds trying to win faceoffs to tie the game.  In Christmas of 2004 Richards returned to team Canada, he returned as captain of what was perhaps the greatest Canadian Junior team ever, at least they were the single most dominant team in the history of the event.

After success in the Memorial Cup final Michael Richards was selected in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.  Next season he is expected to join their AHL affiliate the Phantoms, and challenge for a place with the big club.  Jeff Carter who's career has crossed several times with that of Richards' was also taken in the first round by the Flyers in the same draft.  Michael's older cousin Jeff Richards played with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.


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
2004-2005 Kitchener Rangers
35
19
29
48
55
5
5
5
Career Totals
225
112
170
282
288
71
28
15