Sunday, February 12, 2012
Brad Richardson-Los Angeles Kings
Bradley Richardson had just enough time to shake a few hands, hug a few buddies, and bid farewell to friends and family after his recent game in Fort Lauderdale. His Los Angeles Kings had just given up an empty-net goal to the Florida Panthers.
He and his teammates were being herded to the bus for a late night flight to New York. They were scheduled to play the Islanders on Saturday night, and the Dallas Stars the following night, the twelfth of February. The trip had begun on the first day of February, an excursion of packing and unpacking, rushing and waiting, that could resemble one of those ten-day, fourteen country tours in Europe! (Look in your passport. See all the stamps. You were there!)
I am certain that the NHL season is a blur, on many occasions, for the players. Granted, they do travel well, and are seldom seen at Burger King or McDonald’s. Once they had packed all of their individual gear in their bags after the game, each player was responsible for hauling that stuff to the cart to get it on the bus. Bo bus boys allowed in the visitors’ dressing room!
Losing is never fun, and it took the edge off our visit with Brad after the game. But he did remark: “I love the game. I love to play. I’m lucky to be in the position to live the dream by playing in the NHL.” I noted that he was moved around in his assignments during the game. “That’s all part of it,” he said. “You just do what you have to do to win. To lose close games is always disappointing, but you don’t dwell on it. But it will be nice to get back home after this trip”.
There were several other fathers in the “Family and Friends” area at the Bank/America arena. There was some discussion about the upcoming “Father and Sons” trip. It is an annual excursion adopted by NHL teams to provide families with an opportunity to share the dream. Jim Richardson indicated he would not miss that trip, with the possibility of a little golfing on the journey.
Brad Richardson is currently in his seventh NHL campaign. He recently celebrated his twenty-seventh birthday. From the minor ranks of the Belleville Minor Hockey Association, to a cup of coffee with the Wellington Dukes, he progressed to an impressive OHL career with the Owen Sound Attack. A serious injury in 2003-2004 limited his ice time to only 15 games. But he bounced back the following year, notching 41 goals in 68 games. He spent three years in Colorado before being traded to Los Angeles.
There are many reasons why players survive in the NHL. Skating ability is always listed as number one by most scouts. But a player must also possess the vision to see the game, and anticipate quickly. It is not a game for the faint of heart, nor for the timid. Brad Richardson is now playing at the highest level in the world because he has those qualities, those abilities, and the desire to achieve at that level. He talked about the skill level of his team mates, Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar in particular. Richardson knows the game, and realizes what it takes to win.
He will likely participate in a number of charity golf tournaments this coming summer. For young sports fans, the golf course is the best place to meet Richardson, to talk about the game, perhaps score an autograph. In the meantime, he and his team mates have a little business to take care of, heading into the final stretches of the season before the playoffs.
February 13, 2012