Gritty two-way center Mike Ricci was born October 27, 1971 in Scarborough, Ontario. A born leader and a star for the Ontario Hockey League's Peterborough Petes (for whom he posted seasons of 106 and 116 points and posted 35 points in 17 playoffs games in the spring on 1989), Ricci was selected by the Flyers with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 1990 NHL Draft.
Before being traded to Quebec in the blockbuster June 1992 deal that brought Eric Lindros to Philadelphia, Ricci jumped directly to the NHL as an 18-year-old and played two productive seasons for the Flyers at the start of a 1,099-game NHL career. Ricci broke into the NHL with a 21-goal, 41-point season in 68 games for the Flyers in 1990-91. He followed it up with a 20-goal, 56-point campaign the next season.
During the second year of his tenure with the Flyers, Ricci played through a very difficult time in his life. His father Mario, a steelworker and former soccer player who emigrated from his native Italy to raise a family in Canada, was gravely ill with cancer. When the opportunity presented itself, Ricci traveled back and forth from Philadelphia to Scarborough to be at his dad's side. Mario Ricci passed away two weeks before Mike was traded to Quebec.
After his two seasons as a Flyer, Ricci played five-plus seasons for the Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche. He notched his first and only 30-goal season in the NHL as a member of Nordiques in 1993-94. Two seasons later, in the first season after the Quebec franchise relocated to Denver, he won the Stanley Cup. Ricci contributed 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 22 games to the Avalanche's run to the championship.
As a member of the San Jose Sharks for six-plus season, Ricci perennially made a case for the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward but never won the award. He assembled back-to-back 20-goal seasons in 1999-2000 and 2000-01 and compiled a franchise-record iron man streak of 228 consecutive games played. Ricci's career finished with two seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes, retiring in 2008.
For his NHL career, Ricci played 1,099 regular season games (243 goals, 362 assists, 605 points, 979 penalty minutes) and 110 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs (23 goals, 43 assists, 66 points, 77 penalty minutes). Internationally, he represented Team Canada at the 1988-89 and 1989-90 (gold medal) World Junior Championships prior to being drafted by the Flyers. Ricci also won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 1994 IIHF World Championships.