Richards Rides Off Into the Sunset
One of the CHL’s all-time greats is hanging up his skates as center Chris Richards has decided to retire from the game he played professionally for the past 12 seasons.
“It's time to settle down with my family,” said Richards. “Though hockey has been great to us, and we have seen many great places along the way, I would like to stay in one place and grow as a family. I would say 12 years is a good career at this level.”
Richards has traveled the road of minor pro hockey since he broke in with the Indianapolis Ice in 2000 (this after a year playing in Germany). In his first of 11 straight seasons in the CHL, Richards finished averaging a point-a-game (58 points in 56 games). This trend continued for nine straight seasons as only in his final two years (2009-10, 2010-11) did he not average more than a point a game.
As a college star at the Ohio State University (scored 22 goals with 52 points during his junior season), maybe Richards best professional seasons came upon his return to the state of Ohio. Acquired in a trade with the Austin Ice Bats in the summer of 2005, the forward gave the CHL expansion Youngstown SteelHounds an all-star center and a local hero as once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye.
In his three seasons with the Hounds, Richards made the All-CHL Team in 2007 and was a CHL Most Valuable Player Finalist in the same season - a season that saw him eclipse the 100-point plateau for the first and only time in his career (106 points). Only his teammate, Jeff Christian, would score more points (116) and it is Christian who would claim the MVP award with much thanks to Richards 67 helpers.
In his three seasons in Northeast Ohio, Richards would amass 85 goals and 193 assists for 278 points in 190 games played.
“These were by far my most memorable years of my career,” said Richards. “Going back to Ohio and playing in the state I played college seemed to bring back a new found passion for the game. I think playing closer to family and friends as well as being back in the cold winter climate had a lot to do with it. The people and city were great to us and that's what made it a perfect place to play. Being a former Buckeye didn't hurt either.”
The five-time CHL All-Star (03, 04, 07, 08, 09) left Youngstown and went to Corpus Christi for two seasons (again a CHL Finalist MVP in 2009) and then finished his playing days with the Mississippi RiverKings last seasons.
Following the 2010-11 season, the Cornwall, Ontario native was near the top of most all-time CHL statistical categories. His 706 games played were fourth all-time (just two games behind Joe Burton for third) and only four skaters had accumulated more than his 824 points. His 276 goals were eighth and his 548 assists were third most in the 19-year history of the CHL.
A different path awaits one of the CHL all-time greats, one with his wife Melissa and his young son Hunter right at his side.
“For the time being, we are staying in Corpus Christi (Texas),” said Richards. “My wife became a fourth grade Language Arts teacher, while I played here, and is as passionate about teaching as I was about playing hockey. We hope to move back up north in the near future to get closer to both our families while expanding our own. My goal is to get back into the game of hockey in another capacity, in the near future. I would like to thank the fans of the CHL for being so great to me and my family for the past 11 years. I would also like to thank my parents for their sacrifices and allowing hockey to be my job, and of course, my wife Melissa and son Hunter for their undying support and love throughout my entire career. It has been quite a ride! Ciao!”