Without Richards, all-star team is a joke

    With all due respect to Jeff Carter, Mike Richards has been the first-place Flyers' best all-around player in the first half of the season and should have been selected to the Eastern Conference all-star team.

    But Richards was snubbed. So were teammates Kimmo Timonen and Simon Gagne.

    All because the fans made some very dumb selections when they chose the starters. That, coupled with the fact that each team has to be represented, left many deserving players off the team.

    And, make no mistake, no one is more deserving than Richards, who has excelled on the power play, penalty kill and even-strength situations.

    Carter was the only Flyer selected. The 24-year-old deserves to go; he is having a breakthrough season and he shares the NHL lead with 27 goals. It was the first time Carter had been selected to the team.

    The snub of Richards (15 goals, 27 assists entering Thursday) was stunning. He has been the Flyers’ most consistent player and is plus-16 in the plus-minus rankings.

     Gagne has 18 goals and is eighth in the league (and sixth in the conference) in the plus-minus rankings at plus-18. Timonen, regarded as one of the league’s elite defensive players, has 25 points, which is fifth among Eastern Conference defensemen. 

   The most undeserving starter, as slected by the fans, was Montreal winger Alexei Kovalev (10 goals, 19 assists) .

   Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuck (40 points) and Ottawa’s Dany(CQ) Heatley (36 points), each of whom were their team’s lone representatives, have numbers comparable to Richards. But their plus-minus rankings _ Kovalchuk is minus-12, Heatly is minus-2 _ don’t come close to Richards’ plus-16 ranking.

     The roster additions were selected by the NHL’s hockey operations
department after consultation with league general managers.
     The all-star game will be played Jan. 25 in Montreal. 

    It's just a shame that numerous true all-stars won't be there.

_ Sam Carchidi