PHILADELPHIA -- When Mike Richards was named captain of the Flyers last September, I questioned the decision. Not because I don't like Richards and not because I don't think he's a leader. I just thought the Flyers were dropping too much too soon on the then-23-year-old face of the franchise, too much on someone who had just signed that huge, long contract, too much on an unmarried guy still getting used to the glare that comes with being an athletic superstar in a hockey-intense city.
One summer later, Paul Holmgren's trade for 34-year-old Chris Pronger bears this out. Jay Bouwmeester was younger, faster, a seemingly perfect mesh for the Flyers' young core, at least at first glance. But like the recently retired Derian Hatcher, Pronger has captained a Stanley Cup champion, is a poster child for nightly intensity, for playing hurt, for bringing an edge.
At the very least, he will supply support for Richards' captaincy.