Michael DeNicola

 

Lately I've been jumping head first into controversial topics like Scott Hartnell deep in the offensive zone. Why not go a bit further?

This is perhaps one of thousands of attempts to put Mike Richards' injury and role in perspective, and may get lost throughout the internet's white noise, but here we go. 

Mike Richards. 

 

You know him. You love/hate him. Our Captain. 

Mike's a quiet dude. It's his nature. But because the kid can't flap his jaw at the camera lens like a smack-talking Deion Sanders, he's ridiculed and his leadership's been put under the media microscope more often than a cancer cell.

That's old news. It's been that way for the better part of his career as captain. Though that fire remains burning, there's been new logs fed to the flames. People question his heart, his doggedness, and his yearn to lift Lord Stanley at all. 

It seems as if fans quickly forget his performance in last season's playoff run. Particularly THIS play; one of the best demonstrations of what a true hockey player is bred to be. 

But what happened to that Mike Richards, some of you ask?

 

You ever wake up in the middle of the night to pee, drag your half naked body out of that comfortable, warm bed, begin towards the bathroom with eyes barely open and then....BAM!

Your big toe just met the corner/leg of one heavy piece of furniture. Your eyes water, the mid-evening fog lifts immediately from within your mind. The full wrath of pain settles into your awareness and then a string of profanities escape your mouth like you've been possessed by the devil himself. 

Now...multiply that feeling by ten and imagine experiencing it every night for the next 8-months, and even worse on 82 of those nights. But imagine that pain in your wrist. 

 

Richards suffered torn cartilage in his left wrist during training camp prior to the pre-season beginning. We all know that by now. But do each of us truly understand the limitations, the pain, and the energy-sucking it advances onto the body?

If you were ever a 15-year old boy with a stack of old Gent magazines and an injured wrist, then you can understand the torture it introduces into your personal life, not to mention your friggin' professional career. 

The injury Mike suffered created arthritic symptoms and wrist instability which "leads to progressive cartilage degeneration". Without immediate surgery (which Richards obviously opted out of in order to play and complete the 2010-11 season) the severity of his torn ligaments worsened. 

So if corrective surgery is out of the question for the time being, then a family of Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) must be introduced to treat the injury. "They promote inflammation, pain, and fever, and support the blood clotting function of platelets; and protect the lining of the stomach from the damaging effects of acid."

 

So he's good, right? He takes meds and he can remain playing the classic Mike Richards role, right?

Think again, pal. 

 

Like I said, Mike suffered this injury before the regular season even began. Throughout his "temporary" solution, these NSAIDs' side effects began to take their toll (note: that is only an assumption). 

The most common side effects include nausea, ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, decreased appetite, rashes, dizziness, headaches and drowsiness. 

If you've ever taken a second to check out your News Feed on Facebook, you could pick out three or four "friends" posting statuses about how "shitty" they feel due to one or two of these symptoms combined. They bitch about getting out of bed, or going to work/school. They're tired, irritable, and - frankly - you don't wanna hear about it. 

 

But the thing is, we can all relate. We've felt that way. All of us. One time or another throughout our lives. 

Richie was experiencing these symptoms in waves of combinations while playing ice hockey. While nursing torn ligaments in his wrist. While dealing with the pressures of being captain. While having the media hound him at every corner. While being scrutinized for not performing like we all know he can. 

When I have the sniffles, or excessive diarrhea I turn into Joseph effing Stalin. You put me at my desk at work and I'll sit there with a blank, empty facial expression. A brain so flooded with depression I'd be a personification of the Mexican economy. I'd want to tear your face off with my fingernails if you even asked me to turn my head. 

You get the picture. 

 

So Richards had somewhat of an off year? It happens. And considering the possible hells he experienced throughout his slump, I'm surprised he didn't take a sedative so powerful that when he woke up we'd be driving flying cars. 

It's not that Richards has no heart. He's got enough of it to power all of Philadelphia's skyline. The man can, he has, and he WILL lead this team in an enormously impressive manor that will give Napoleon Bonaparte's corpse a hard-on. 

Mike Richards is our Captain.