Looking back at fantasy hockey's foremost fallen star…Mike Richards
Playing Halo with your buddies can be a great time. There you are, this intergalactic warrior, roaming around with your battle rifle taking names and kicking ass. You've got a controller in one hand, Doritos in the other, three empty cans of mountain dew strewn across the floor. Life is good, man.
Then, suddenly, in your peripheral vision, you see this weird flashing blue light. You lean into your television to get a better look – what is that? – S%&T!!!– there, attached to your right leg, is a blue plasma grenade. It's about to get real. There isn't really much you can do at this point. You charge into battle heroically, firing your gun and yelling uncontrollably. In your mind Hans Zimmer begins composing some epic send-off ballad that starts to crescendo as the final seconds tick away. No matter what you do, that grenade is going to go off and leave you as a mix of blue goop and pixelated body parts.
Mike Richards a lot like that blue plasma grenade. (If you weren't following my convoluted and likely unnecessary analogy above). At first we were all intrigued by that blue flashing light. Not anymore. Now he's the guy that destroyed many fantasy keeper cores. And at only 29 years old, has left us scratching our heads.
In 2008-09 he had 30 goals, 50 assists, 63 penalty minutes, and 238 shots. It was the kind of cross category coverage you can only get in the first two rounds of most formats. And he did it at 23 years old. His shooting percentage, normally a tell-tale sign of good luck, sat at only 12.6 percent, easily repeatable.
Making matters worse, he had a decent draft pedigree, going off the board to Philadelphia at 23 in 2003. His outburst was in no way attributed to wonky numbers or "luck", he was a burgeoning star who was approaching his apex.
I count myself among those that were excited about Richards. He had it all. From stats on the ice, to those lovely intangibles that clog up media airwaves. He was a winner, better yet, he was a productive fantasy player.
In our dynasty league a manager had to trade Marty St.Louis and a significant draft pick to acquire him. At the time many of us though the Richards' side had been ripped off, fleeced! Only receiving a then 34 year old St.Louis for a guy who was in his early twenties and appeared to have a decade of dominance in front of him.
Understandably, he shot up the rankings. Here is Dobber's top 50 from December of 2008: