Back in 2009, when he was the 24-year-old captain of the Flyers, Mike Richards boycotted the Philadelphia media, refusing to provide more than one- or two-word answers to post-game questions.
Apparently, it was a stance against reporters who questioned the off-ice habits of Richards and teammate Jeff Carter, who will face each other for just the third time in their careers tonight at Verizon Center when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Capitals.
Today, at the age of 31, Richards has gone out of his way to bob and weave questions about Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who four months ago compared his relationship with Richards to a husband whose wife had cheated on him in a written summation provided to the Los Angeles Times.
“I didn’t make anything of it,” Richards said. “People that know me know I'm not out to make headlines or anything. I couldn’t care less.
“No offense, but if I never get interviewed again… I don’t go looking for interviews like some people might. I think he obviously wanted to get his … whatever out there, and he went and sought that. I'm the type of guy that kind of shies away from that stuff and I don’t have any need to comment on it.
“You’d have to ask him. I’m the wrong guy to ask.”
Richards said he experienced “way more highs than lows” in his four seasons with the Kings and is happy with his decision to sign with the Capitals, saying the scouting report Justin Williams gave him was completely accurate.
“He was pretty bang-on with everything,” Richards said. “Obviously, a good team, their record (40-10-4) kind of stands for itself. But just the group of guys … he was bang-on with the atmosphere, the dressing room, how everyone enjoys to be around each other and just how much fun it is to come to the rink every morning.
“He told me it was one of his most enjoyable years as a pro and that says a lot for him, he’s been in the league for 15 years now. It’s lived up to everything and more. It’s been great.”
Richards says these 2015-16 Capitals have many of the same qualities as the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup champion Kings.
“It’s a fun group,” he said. “When we’re in the gym working out or on the plane I think everyone enjoys being at the rink and around each other. When you have a group like that it’s easy to come to the rink and play hard for each other.
“I think that might get overlooked when you’re putting together a team, but you see championship teams, you can talk to anybody and that’s what they have. Guys who love going to the rink and being together. When you do that you play so much harder for each other.
Statistically, Richards’ first 11 games as a Capital have been underwhelming. Still looking for his first point, he has just six shots, is a minus-1 and has won 55 percent of his faceoffs while averaging 12 minutes a game.
“It’d be nice to contribute offensively,” he said. “I didn’t expect to come in here and just light the lamp every game but I also expected to probably contribute a little bit more. It’s frustrating not getting the success but I think in the last three or four games I’ve been getting a lot more chances and making a lot more plays, so it’ll come eventually. Hopefully sooner than later, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little frustrating.”
Williams, 34, said he’ll be excited to face the Kings for the first time in seven years but maybe not as much as Richards.
“I think maybe Richie will have a few different feelings,” Williams said. “Obviously, we had a lot of success there, but his falling out was a lot different than mine. I’m sure he’ll have a big growl and big will to win that game as well.”
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