97.5 The Fanatic Flyers Roundup: Mike Richards, Painful Sharks Loss
The Philadelphia Flyers suffered a bad loss against the San Jose Sharks, but their former captain became a bigger focus for their fan base. Mike Richards will play in the Flyers Alumni Game, the organization announced Thursday.
Mike Richards: Flyers Alumni Game
Richards began his career with the Flyers in 2005. He quickly showed the prototypical intensity that the organization had gushed over for decades. The Flyers handed him the captaincy at age 23 in 2008.
The former first-round pick developed into a strong offensive player at the top of the Philadelphia lineup and one of the better two-way centers in the NHL. He helped the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 in an electrifying playoff run.
However, his maturity off the ice became a concern. The downfall came as quickly as he rose. Paul Holmgren boldly sent Richards to the Los Angeles Kings in 2011 for a package centered around Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
Problems off the ice disrupted Richards’ career after he left Philadelphia. He hasn’t gotten involved with the Flyers even after he last played in the NHL in 2016 with the Washington Capitals.
The Alumni Game will take place on Friday, Jan. 26 against the legends of the Boston Bruins. Mark Recchi will enter the franchise Hall of Fame during a ceremony before a Saturday matinee against Boston the following day.
Former captain, Mike Richards is returning for the Alumni Game on Jan. 26 🚨— Flyers Charities & Community (@FlyersCharities) November 9, 2023
Richards led the Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final and he will be hitting the ice again alongside Mark Recchi, John LeClair, Eric Lindros, and more.
Get your tickets NOW: https://t.co/QhaSq79itY pic.twitter.com/ZFRGNmZbUJ
Flyers-Sharks: An Embarrassing Loss
John Tortorella and other prominent members of the organization have stressed organizational culture as a focus of the rebuild. However, they didn’t show enough continuity in an embarrassing loss at the Shark Tank on Tuesday.
San Jose entered the game with an 0-10-1 record. They took an early lead on an Anthony Duclair goal, and they never gave it up in a 2-1 victory. Tortorella insisted before the game that his team cannot even consider the concept of a trap game considering their lack of status in the NHL landscape.
However, his players didn’t bring their A-game in San Jose. They controlled the pace of play for long stretches of the game, but the result wasn’t there against the worst team in the NHL.
The Flyers have driven play at 5-on-5 at a much stronger rate in 2023-24. They finished 23rd in the league in percentage of expected goals (xGF%) last season, but they currently rank 8th in the most important analytical play-driving statistic. Tortorella won’t focus much on play-driving statistics after six losses in an eight-game stretch.
Carter Hart will likely start one of the two remaining games on the West Coast swing. He has missed the last three games with a mid-body injury.
The Flyers face the Anaheim Ducks on Friday at 10 pm (broadcast on 93.3 WMMR) and the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at 10:30 pm (broadcast on 97.5 The Fanatic).
The Ducks have started strong out of the gates despite low expectations entering the season. Their crosstown rivals in LA blasted the Flyers 5-0 at the Wells Fargo Center last weekend. The schedule won’t get any easier after a loaded weekend. Two Stanley Cup contenders, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Vegas Golden Knights, loom on next week’s schedule.