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Head-to-Head - Morrow or Richards?

Wednesday, 11.05.2008 / 11:00 AM / Head to Head

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Tale of the tape

Morrow
left WING
dal
(#10)
HT: 5' 11" WT: 207
'07-08 Stats:

GAMES: 82
GOALS: 32
ASSISTS: 42
POINTS: 74
RICHARDS
Center
phi
(#18)
HT: 5' 11"
WT: 195
'07-08 Stats:

GAMES: 73
GOALS: 28
ASSISTS: 47
POINTS: 75
They both pack plenty of punch, thrive under pressure and are the undeniable leaders for their respective teams.

The similarities don't end there either, as Brenden Morrow of the Dallas Stars and Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers both have the "C" stitched on their sweaters.

On top of all that, consider they were both draft-day steals. The 29-year-old Morrow, 6 years older than Richards and entering his ninth NHL season, was chosen 25th in the first round by the Stars in 1997. Richards, who enters his fourth NHL season, was the No. 24 pick by the Flyers in 2003.

They both established career highs in goals, assists and points during the 2007-08 season and are regarded as exceptional two-way performers. The million-dollar question, however, is who's better?

NHL.com wants to hear from you. If you were given the opportunity to build a franchise around either Morrow or Richards, who would you choose? With the exception of those fans in each city, the answer isn't as clear-cut as you might think.

Morrow, who played in the NHL YoungStars Game in 2001-02, posted 32 goals, 74 points and 105 penalty minutes last season. The 210-pound left wing even collected a career-best and team-leading 12 power-play goals and seven game-winners while averaging 19:59 of ice time per game. A humble Morrow credited his point increase to playing alongside center Mike Ribeiro much of last season.

Morrow, named the fifth captain in Dallas' franchise history in 2006, racked up 260 hits in 82 regular-season starts last season. He had 5 fighting majors last season - which tied for second among all NHL captains - and 105 penalty minutes. In addition to his ferocious demeanor away from the puck, Morrow has also become a dependable offensive force, as evidenced by his 9 goals and 15 points in 18 playoff games last season.

"To say he's a warrior is kind of an understatement at this point," said Dallas goalie Marty Turco. "With all he's gone through, the attention he gets, the physical nature he plays with and the pure intensity. It's not easy, but it's something that's inside him."

Richards, who represented the Eastern Conference in the NHL All-Star Game last season, had 28 goals and 75 points in 2007-08. The 195-pound center chipped in with a career-high 8 power-play goals and led his team with 5 shorthanded goals. He also connected for 6 game-winning goals while averaging 21:30 of ice time.

Richards was second on the team in takeaways (46), hits (110) and plus-minus (plus-14), fourth in total penalty minutes (76) and 11th in blocked shots (46) last season. Like Morrow, he'll never take a back seat to anyone and, as a result, was issued four fighting majors in 2007-08. He signed a 12-year contract extension with the team in December 2007, and became the 17th captain in franchise history on Sept. 17.

 
 
"I just think Mike Richards is a player that has all the characteristics we want on our team," said Flyers coach John Stevens. "We want a guy out there, that when we see him playing, he is representative of the identity of our hockey team. I think Mike is all of that."

Said Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke, "My guess would be that (Richards) hates losing more than he likes winning."

Both players also experienced successful amateur and international careers.

Morrow played four seasons with Portland (1995-99) in the Western Hockey League and represented the West in the WHL All-Star Classic from 1997-99. During the 1998-99 season, he led team in power-play goals (19), game-winning goals (6) and penalty minutes (248) and was named to the Western Conference All-Star Team. He was voted Best Pro Prospect by his peers that season and led Team Canada to a silver medal at the '99 World Junior Championships, finishing with 7 assists and 8 points.

Richards began his junior hockey career with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League and was a member of the 2002-03 team that captured the Memorial Cup behind a team-leading 87 points. He also won a Calder Cup title with the Flyers' American Hockey League-affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms, in 2004-05. Internationally, Richards captained Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2005 World Junior Championships, recording 5 points in 6 games. He also won a silver medal at the 2004 WJC.

Morrow's greatest assets are his physicality and his ability to play a solid two-way game. While he may not be a natural goal-scorer, Morrow will do whatever it takes to light the lamp. He entered this season a plus-119 in 573 games. Richards, who had 7 goals and 14 points in 17 playoff games for the Flyers last season, displays a smart, 2-way game and can play the point on the power play. His aggressive play sometimes gets him in trouble, but, like Morrow, he'll go through a wall if it meant victory for his team.

So there are the arguments, now you make the call. Will it be Morrow or Richards? Send us your thoughts at headtohead@nhl.com.

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com.
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