Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren believes that the simmering feud between team captain Mike Richards and the local media that boiled over on Sunday will dissipate in time.
Various sources reported Sunday that following the Flyers' loss to the Capitals, Richards got into a heated exchange with reporters outside the team's locker room and let them know that he was unhappy of the way that the Flyers were being covered in the press.
"He's going to be put in the position where he has to answer difficult questions, time to time," Holmgren told CSNPhilly.com. "I think over the course of time, Mike will get better in dealing with those questions as they come up, whether difficult or easy. He's an honest, young man and I'm sure he was stating his feelings. I don't think it's a big deal."
Richards was upset that the Philadelphia media were questioning him about his recent interview in the Hockey News in which he accused the local press of, "throwing the team under the bus."
"It's Philadelphia - when you're winning there are no problems in the world and you can pretty much do whatever you want," Richards told The Hockey News in the most recent issue. "When you start losing, rumors start flying and people seem to just make things up to take a negative spin on things.
"That's happened so many times this year already. In the first part of the year, nothing was going on, but all of a sudden when we're losing, the media starts throwing us under the bus and bringing up things from the past that aren't true. We have a great start and nobody's saying these things, but we go on a little bit of a skid and everybody's all over us."
When asked what he believed the media fabricated, Richards told the Philadelphia Daily News, "The drinking articles and things like that. That we're going out all the time. It said the players were drinking too much and Richards and [Jeff] Carter are out all the time."
Richards did speak to the media Monday following the Flyers practice but would not take questions from the Philadelphia Inquirer. While he was seen talking to head coach Peter Laviolette, he would not say what was being discussed.
"That was just a conversation about how things are going and what has been going on," Richards told CSNPhilly.com. "It's just a coach talking to his captain."
In October, the 24-year-old issued a verbal boycott against the local media when he was asked if the trading of former Flyer Joffrey Lupul to the Ducks was due to the fact that Lupul was one of a group of young Flyers that was perceived as more interested in enjoying the local nightlife than what was occurring on the ice. Several photos were circulated showing Flyers players drinking and partying last season.
"Let me say this: The issue has been raised by (former Flyers head coach) John (Stevens) and myself with all the players," said Holmgren in an off-season interview with PhillyBurbs.com.
"I think this all falls under the umbrella of discipline. It's on-ice discipline - not overstaying-your-shift discipline - it's off-ice discipline, it's night before a game taking better care of ourselves. That's a natural maturation process that a lot of our younger players are still going through. We've addressed that. So am I concerned about it? We'll see how it goes this year. All our players have been talked to about it. Is it an issue? The fact that we've talked about it, I guess it is an issue."
In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News on Sunday, Flyers' defenceman Chris Pronger (who was acquired in the Lupul deal) said he felt a certain amount of sympathy for his captain, but stated that Richards must do a better job dealing with criticism from the media.
"I think you have to have thick skin to play sports in general," he explained. "When you don't play well, you're going to be told you're not playing very well. When you're playing well, you're going to get tapped on the back.
"You can have the highs and the lows or you can just ignore it all whether it's good or bad and just go out and play and perform."