Along with his columns, this season James Duthie will be talking hockey (and other things) with the biggest stars, newsmakers, and characters in the game. This week, Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards.
James Duthie: I didn't realize the new All-Star Game format was Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia. As captain, maybe you should have picked Stamkos.
Mike Richards: (Laughs) I should have. He came up to me on a face-off when it was 4-4 or 4-3 and asked me if I was looking at a 9-9 game tonight. At 7-7, I told him he wasn't very far off.
JD: Is it possible he's the best player in the game already?
MR: One of the most dangerous for sure. His shot is one of the best. It may not be as hard as Ovechkin's or Carter's, but it definitely goes in the right spot. A couple went post and in last night. One on the powerplay was just incredible. He just has the knack to find the hole.
JD: So does he belong in the “Ovechkin or Crosby” conversation?
MR: Yeah. Definitely.
JD: What's the problem between you and Brandon Dubinsky—whom you have fought, by our count, three times in your NHL career?
MR: Three times? Twice for sure. Not sure about three. Is this a math test? (Editor: it's three) (Laughs) I think we just play each other so many times. Phili and the Rangers just have really intense games, and we get in each other's face.
JD: If you really were captain of an All-Star team, would you pick him?
MR: (Laughs) Dubinsky or Stamkos?
MR: Uhh...I'd probably take a few before him.
JD: What if there were only two guys left and he's one of them?
MR: Who is the other guy?
JD: P.K Subban.
MR: (Laughs) I'll take Duby.
JD: What specifically did Subban say to upset you?
MR: I'm not going to get into this again. He's a great player, don't get me wrong. I never meant to start an uproar with a minor comment. It is what it is.
JD: Is there a code for how rookies should behave?
MR: I went through the same thing. I remember my first year we were playing against New Jersey and I was running around and lipping off to Patrick Elias. Elias came to me and Sergei Brylin too, and they said, “If you continue to show disrespect for players, you are going to get hurt.” That really hit home. I didn't want to be known as that guy who shows disrespect. I want to be a guy who plays hard in between the whistles but not cross the line. That was six years ago, but it hit home. When you hear it from a guy like Patrick Elias, who has a done a lot in this league and is well respected, you remember.
JD: Have you had a conversation with David Booth since that hit last year that really started the entire “blindside” debate?
MR: No. I fought him the next time we played when he was in the line-up, but I haven't spoken to him.
JD: Was your heart in that fight Booth instigated with you?
MR: No. (Long pause) I still don't know how I feel about that whole thing. On one side, it's hockey. On the other, you are looking at a guy being out of the line-up for a long time, and a helluva player, too. I obviously don't want to hurt anyone on the ice. I wouldn't do it again if that's what you are asking. I wouldn't hit a guy like that again if I'm put in that position.
JD: Deciding Game vs Montreal, Eastern Conference Final last year. On one shift you set up a teammate for a perfect chance, had a fantastic backcheck, then did the famous lunge—that ended with you scoring to tie the game 1-1. Was that the best shift of your career?
MR: Yeah. I would have to say so probably the most memorable, considering all the things that happened, and the timing—the clinching game of Eastern Conference Final. I still get goosebumps every time I see that shift on TV.
JD: Did you know Kane had scored the Cup winning goal in Game 6?
MR: Yup. I kind of saw the puck go past Leight (Michael Leighton), and Kaner clearly knew. I left the bench and went right to (referee) Kelly Sutherland and he kind of just gave me a head nod, and I knew it was over.
JD: Does it still make you want to throw up?
MR: Ironically, we won on that same goal in the Olympics, so I was disappointed it went in, but that goal won't make me throw up because I have a gold medal because of it, too. Everything evens out in the end I guess. (Laughs)
JD: Is Peter Laviolette a better coach or NHL on TSN panelist?
MR: I don't know, he was pretty good on TSN, but he's a great coach, so I'll go with that. He's a great speaker in the dressing room and on TV.
JD: Give me his best speech.
MR: Last year, before morning skate in Boston before Game 7, he gave us a speech about overcoming everything throughout the year and getting to where we were. It was incredible. Literally, we all wanted to play right then and there at 9 in the morning.
James Duthie's new book of columns, "The Day I Almost Killed Two Gretzkys (And other off-the-wall stories about sports...and life)", is now available. You can order your autographed copy here in the TSN Shop.