“There’s a captain in us all,” according to the famous punch line used in Captain Morgan commercials; however, that claim may not be exactly true, especially for anyone who is a Flyers fan.
Mike Richards was named captain at 23 years-old, which by some standards and perspectives is way too long to carry the title of captain, unless you’re the Pittsburgh Penguins and name a 19 year-old kid by the name of Sidney Crosby captain.
Either way, Richards is handling a major responsibility as captain and this could be too much for him to handle.
The past playoffs is a good example of how he can sometimes disappear in games — or a series. In the postseason, Richards netted just one goal and seven points, finishing with a -1 plus/minus.
Captains need to lead their teams both on the ice and more importantly, in the locker room. In Games 1 and 3 in the Boston series, the Flyers came out flat. They displayed little emotion and were outplayed on the boards, in open ice, and in net.
Some of that responsibility falls into the hands of Richards, who has the job of motivating his teammates either by example or by taking charge.
He failed to do both.
So should Richards support the ‘C’ in 2012?
I’ve always believed that Chris Pronger should be the captain of this team. He donned the ‘C’ with the St. Louis Blues and the Anaheim Ducks before becoming an assistant captain with the Flyers.
There’s no better motivator on this team than Pronger. He always seems to get the guys going whether by delivering a ferocious check, blocking a shot, getting in the face of a player after the play, or the occasional slap shot goal from the point.
There’s many facets to his game that would make him a viable candidate for the Flyers captain position.
And if it’s not Pronger, what about Danny Briere, who isn’t even an assistant captain on the team? Or Claude Giroux, who coincidentally is 23 years-old, the same age Richards was when he was named captain.
So why not Briere? If I’m not mistaken, Briere is the one who carried this team throughout the players (along with James van Riemsdyk.)
Briere’s playoff stat line is impressive: seven goals and nine points. He’s also very capable of supplying energy to the team because throughout the Buffalo series, Briere was crashing the net after each play and getting in the faces of every Buffalo defender, even Ryan Miller, despite his size.
Whether it be Pronger, Briere, or even Giroux, I feel the Flyers wouldn’t be hurting themselves by stripping the ‘C’ off of Richards’ uniform and assigning one of the above three the title.
And who knows, maybe the decision would be the spark that Richards needs to motivate himself to regain the position in the future.
It’s an interesting sub-topic to a disappointing letdown in 2011.