Have you ever lived in another person's shadow? Being constantly outshone by another is a maddening experience that can tear away at the fabric of your soul. This is because, more often than not, it is someone you genuinely like or at the very least respect who is keeping you down. Whether it is your best friend or a family member who is keeping you out of the spotlight, you cannot help but start feeling like this person is not someone you love but rather your mortal enemy. This can put a heavy strain on the relationship but even more than that it can shatter your feelings of self-worth. Consider then the plight of Brad Richards; doomed to live in the shadow of friend and former teammate Vincent Lecavalier.
It all began in 1997 when Richards joined the Rimouski Oceanic for the 1997-98 QMJHL season where he'd team up with Lecavalier for the very first time. It was a highly successful season as both players recorded 115 points on the season, went on a lengthy playoff run and both went on to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. It was Lecavalier though who received all the hype. He would play for Canada at the World Junior Championships that year and would go on to be the first overall selection in the draft. Richards was an afterthought, deemed to be a product of his environment, ultimately being selected in the third round. You could hardly blame Lecavalier though. He had his own problems to deal with; namely having to carry the weight of being a number one pick and being publicly anointed the next great French Canadian hockey player.
The following season Lecavalier made the jump to the NHL leaving Richards back in Rimouski to make a name for himself. Richards would do just that putting up some absolutely exorbitant point totals over two more QMJHL seasons and leading Rimouski to the 1999-00 Memorial Cup. That was great but Lecavalier was still an NHLer and thus still shone brighter.
When Richards finally made his NHL debut in 2000-01, he outscored Lecavalier but that was also the season that Lecavalier was first named Captain of the Lightning. Richards could not catch a break. Lecavalier was doomed to be in the spotlight and Richards was doomed to live in his shadow.
That all finally changed in the 2004 NHL Playoffs when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup and it was Richards, not Lecavalier who lead the team to victory and won the Conn Smythe. The spotlight was on Richards for what would seem like the first time ever but then the lockout came and all was soon forgotten. Then one season after the lockout Lecavalier finally reached his potential scoring 108 points and leading the league in goals with 52. Richards was once again an also ran and would be traded to Dallas the following season.
This is where Richards finally got to make a name for himself emerging as a bonafide superstar and one of the top playmakers in the game. He would culminate his rise from the shadows becoming the top prize of this summer's free agent market. By signing with the Rangers all eyes will now be on Richards. Lecavalier has meanwhile seen himself shifted to the backburner in the wake of Stamkos fever. It truly is a paradox and leaves us with the ultimate question: Who is better, Richards or Lecavalier?
A quick glance at the numbers from the past few seasons would no doubt leave you leaning towards Richards but it is important to look deeper than just point totals when considering who to take in your standard Yahoo! pool.