It’s the summer story for the Flyers that never quite dies a peaceable death. When Flyers captain Mike Richards had his abilities as the team leader called into question after the Flyers were swept out of the playoffs by the Bruins, Richards was quick to defend himself and the team from what went down as a disappointing end to their season.
Of course, that’s not always accepted right away and sometimes people feel the need to hear it from someone not directly called into question. When it comes to sounding off at reporters and media stories, who better to talk to than defenseman Chris Pronger. Pronger spoke with the media today to talk about how his back injury is holding up and he addressed the talk surrounding Richards and his role in the locker room.
CSN Philly’s Sarah Baicker gets the scoop from Pronger that he believes all is well with Richards as the young captain of the Flyers.
“What good does that do?” Pronger asked, about the idea of Richards stepping down. “That is the most ridiculous thought I have heard yet.”
“This is on-the-job training for Mike,” he continued. “I was brought in to help him be a captain and do all the rest of that and kind of help with my experiences. I think I got here, he was 24. He’s now 26. I think he’s made some strides.”
While the job inside the room as a captain is one thing, dealing with the media is another thing entirely and in Philadelphia that means things can get a bit tricky. One of the things Richards stressed in his talk with Flyers Files’ Chuck Gormley was working on his relationship with the media and not being as confrontational with reporters. If there’s one thing Pronger’s figured out in Philadelphia it’s how to keep things lively with the press as well as giving them enough of his time to make them not kill him in print, something Richards is still figuring out.
“Everybody does things their own way,” Pronger said. “I wasn’t always this vocal with the media or this patient. It takes time, you have to have those experiences. I think when you go through tough times, maybe this is one of them for him, you learn an awful lot about yourself, you gain a lot of experience. This game and life is not easy.”
It’s especially tough in Philadelphia where the team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1975 and the fans are anxious to see the Flyers take home the big prize. For Richards as the captain, the pressure is a bit higher on him to keep the team winning and given how close they came to winning it all last season, it’s not stunning to see him facing some hardships this offseason after such a meek exit from the playoffs.
One thing Pronger helps Richards do is take the heat and focus off of him so he can do more on the ice and focus. How it pays off in the seasons to come remains to be seen, but if Richards adopts Pronger’s style of handling adverse times and aggressive media, at the very least we’ll be entertained by the sarcastic answers and confrontational scrums after the game. For now, it’s a learning experience for Mike Richards and one he’s learning a lot from now.