The Unheralded Franchise Player

What's the deal with the NHL ignoring Brad Richards?

Richards, overtime hero of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the center that has been consistently held back by the nay sayers since his junior days, has been one of the leaders of Tampa Bay's offensive charge this season as well as through the playoffs.

But alas, Bradmaster is still disrespected in spite of selfless (if not-so physical) play and scoring ability. Just look at and their polling results for biggest threat from Tampa Bay. Of course Martin St. Louis leads the way -- but Brad is a distant 5th, even below OTHER in the final poll results.

12 points in 12 games played thus far in the playoffs, Richards is third on the team behind Fredrik Modin and Martin St. Louis for points. He's 3 ahead of Vincent Lecavalier. Being third on the team for points during the regular season was also the truth.

And yet people don't think of him as a threat? Or less of a threat than others? He makes his linemates better, he's part of the reason St. Louis and Modin have been so successful....

And yet he is the most overlooked cog in Tampa Bay's works. He is indeed the team MVP over the last few seasons, being consistent in scoring and only improving over the timespan of his short career -- registering 62 points his first two years and 74, and 79 points the last two years. That's better than former linemate and former teammate at Rimouski Oceanic, Vincent Lecavalier.

That's one thing that has pissed me off and led me to scoff in the past. I have heard Richards referred to as "a career minor leaguer" who only benefited because Lecavalier was his linemate in Rimouski. Yet Brad has a stellar time without Lecavalier in Rimouski and wins a Memorial Cup to boot... and STILL the nay-sayers says he is too small, or too inexperienced or just doesn't have what it takes. Of course the nay saying isn't at the level of what Martin St. Louis went through coming out of the University of Vermont, but it was up there from the pundits that I heard over and over again before Richards made the team.

If there's anyone who's my favorite player, it's gotta be Bradmaster. He was brought up to know that scoring is nice but assists are better, and he has demonstrated that throughout his history with the Lightning as he always has more assists than goals scored....

Show Brad Richards some respect, people... He's the one you need to fear more than Marty, more than Vinny, more than Mo' on Tampa Bay's offense.