MESSIER ON RICHARDS
Six-time Stanley Cup winner and Hall-of-famer Mark Messier was in the buidling to watch the Flyers fizzle out against the Wild.
The primary purpose of his visit? To scout the Wild for prospective players for Team Canada for the upcoming IIHF World Hockey Championships in Germany in May.
But, with the Flyers plummeting like a stone, maybe he has his eye on a couple of Philly players too...
One of them might be Mike Richards, who Messier praised in all aspects for how he's handled and endured such a tough season.
“I really like Richards a lot," Messier said. “I like the way he plays and I think he’s a player the others galvanize around, which is important.
“As any young captain, it’s a learning experience. The only way you become a good captain is getting through the good times and bad times, making decisions – and sometimes they are not always great decisions – but you learn from those.
“I like him, I think he’s done a great job here. The team seems to be back on track now."
While that last statement was more of a courtesy than the rest of his comment, the fact is, Messier knows leadership. He's considered one of the greatest hockey captains in the history of the sport. So, to hear him give Richards a plug has a little more oomph than most.
As for the NHL's sudden rule change regarding head shots, Messier, who delivered more than his share of brain-rattling checks in his day, said ultimately it's up to the players to not put themselves in a position to get their clock cleaned.
“We have to be careful in instituting any rules," he said. “I know there’s pressure on the players and the NHL to make some kind of rule. But hockey is a game of intimidation, of intensity and body checks. When you grew up, you learned instinctual habits, to protect yourself at all times.
“I think we’ve gotten away from those instincts. . .(now) you’re seeing players letting their guard down at the wrong time. It’s a very fine line of making decisions and changing the rules."
You may have hated him as an opponent, but you've got to respect Mess and his view of the game.
Oh, and don't think he wasn't scouting the Flyers a little for the New York Rangers where he serves as an assistant GM. The Rangers are back within 5 points of the Flyers for a playoff spot and play them in the Final two games of the season.