Richter's Best Days Behind Him?
I’ve Heard it so many times before, ‘Mike Richter’s best days are behind him’. Easy to say, since his numbers aren’t getting any better, and he’s hasn’t finished a year in the past three. But we will explore why this is a myth.
In the lastest issue of The Hockey News, they said (referring to the Rangers) “goaltending is a huge issue”. Huge issue? The Rangers named Mike Richter team MVP, and if you ask anyone in the Rangers organization, who was the biggest surprise this year? The answer will invariably come back, Dan Blackburn. Then why did the Rangers have the second highest goals against, you ask? The Rangers defense was horrific last season, making it easily the hardest place in the league to goaltend in. Facing 35-50 difficult shots night after night will take it’s toll on a goalie, whether he’s 35, or 18.
Anyone who followed the olympics closely, will tell you Mike Richter put on a show. He played truely inspired hockey, intent on not letting the puck get past that line. I’m not going to try to tell you he played like that night-in night-out with the Rangers, but every game he made several extremely athletic saves. Because, as I’ve stressed before he’s needed to. On the occasional night he would single-handedly steal a game, the Rangers have no business winning. The fact is, as far as the Rangers go, Mike Richter takes them there.
Even with all Richter does for the Rangers, he still has a bad name with the media. I got sick–just a little bit–everytime I had to hear about the big three goalies entering free agency (Joseph, Dafoe, Belfour). Well I would rather have a goalie named his team’s MVP, than a goalie deemed not good enough to start (Belfour)any day of the week. Ridiculous.
These days, the Rangers top goaltending priority is talented 19 year-old Dan Blackburn. Understandable, what he did at the end of last season was remarkable. But the Rangers signed Mike Richter to a contract with the intention of Blackburn being the starter at the end. That leaves people to wonder, where does tha leave Mike Richter, the man the media has made believe to be washed up?