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Flyers of yesterday and today compare Richards to Clarke

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TSN.ca Staff with files from TSN's Sheri Forde
5/28/2010 7:43:04 PM
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The Philadelphia Flyers were the first non-Original Six team to win the Stanley Cup, taking the trophy in back-to-back season in 1974 and 1975.

And The Broad Street Bullies were led up front by the youngest captain in the league at that time - Bobby Clarke.

Now - 35 years after the Flyers last captured a championship - the franchise is gunning to re-claim it. And the captain of this squad - Mike Richards - is garnering great praise from Clarke himself.

"I didn't get to see too much of Mr. Clarke playing," Richards told TSN. "But from the stories I've heard and the videos I've seen he was a guy who obviously played very competitive and I take that as a compliment."

But it doesn't just stop at praise. Richards is actually drawing comparisons to the former Flin Flon Bomber as the best captain to ever don a Flyers jersey. Especially after his heroics in Game 5 against the Montreal Canadiens - where he sent a message early with a highlight reel goal after goaltender Jaroslav Halak and defenceman Roman Hamrlik got tangled up.

"Absolutely," said former Flyer Joe Watson. "The old saying was 'as Clarke goes, the Flyers go' and it seems like Richards goes. And he's got some good leadership qualities. He's got a guy like Pronger and he helps him out, but as Mike goes, the Flyers go."

Pronger, a former captain himself who has played in his share of big games, also sees Richards as a heart and soul player much like Philly's beloved No. 16.

"He's obviously a guy I've talked about as a throwback player," said Pronger. "And a guy that plays a lot like Clarkie did when he was the captain of the Flyers. "He's obviously a gifted player offensively, a guy that is good is own end, kills penalties, wins faceoffs - all the little the things that get overlooked when people look at stats. You look at points and goals and forget to look at the little things - the intangibles - that help teams win. And that's what guys like Richie do."

But other members of the Broad Street Bullies are quick to point out that Richards isn't in Clarke's class. At least not yet.

"No question, Clarke has a little more talent," said Flyers alumnus Dave Schultz with a smile. "But he's my buddy - I have to say that. There are a lot of similarities in many ways. He took over the other night (against Montreal) and did what he had to do as a captain and as a good player."

Back in the days of the scrappy Flyers of the 1970s, every kid with a hockey stick pretended he was the Flyers' hard-nosed captain with the toothy Stanley Cup-winning grin.

And hoisting the Cup for the first time in 35 years would go a long way towards putting Richards on that type of pedestal.

Written with files from TSN's Sheri Forde in Chicago.

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