By Deborah Lew
This is the seventh feature of a special multi-part LAKings.com content series featuring various members of the Kings organization as the Stanley Cup makes its way around North America throughout the summer.
Injuries are pretty much synonymous with the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Extra curtains are placed around the locker room during media sessions, ice packs are kept more secretive than ever and all the broken bones, concussions and muscle tears are revealed at the conclusion of a team’s postseason.
But every once in a while someone comes along who re-writes the norm – enter Los Angeles Kings forward Brad Richardson.
Two days before the Kings were set to open their first round series against the Vancouver Canucks, Richardson, in his fourth year with the club, was diagnosed with appendicitis – something that couldn’t have been helped or prevented with heat therapy, a brace or even an amendment to the NHL rule book.
“It was weird, it just happened and my mom was luckily there to diagnose it,” said Richardson, whose mother is a nurse and just so happened to be in town visiting at the time.
Even though they were able to correctly diagnose the issue before his appendix ruptured, Richardson was still given a three to four week recovery period…of which he used six days.
“When I came back I felt really good, I skated for a couple days before I came back,” said Richardson, who missed only the first three games of the series due to his appendectomy.
“I honestly didn’t know how I was going to feel,” Richardson admitted. “At that point you’re still a little bit sore, and you wonder if this is going to be OK, and then you get hit a couple times and you’re like, ‘Alright, I’m fine.’ It felt good after that.”
Richardson was inserted into the lineup with Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan, and the trio made an immediate impact, adding speed and a high level of energy to the Kings’ already successful game.
“I thought our line played well throughout the playoffs. Darryl (Sutter) is the kind of coach who believes in all four lines – if you’re playing well he’ll play you, he doesn’t care if you’re first line or fourth line, he’ll play you if you’re playing well and that’s one thing I respect about him,” Richardson said. “When you’re on the fourth line you always want to contribute in some way, and I felt like we did that.”
A perfect example of their contribution came in Game 5 against Vancouver – only Richardson’s second game back, which took place a mere 12 days after his surgery – where he scored his fifth career playoff goal. The goal forced overtime, during which Jarret Stoll scored the game and series winner.
“To beat the Canucks was a big confidence-booster for our whole team,” Richardson explained.
After discarding Vancouver and his appendix, Richardson and the Kings went on to dispose of the St. Louis Blues, the Phoenix Coyotes and the New Jersey Devils en route to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. It was also the first one for the Belleville, Ontario native.
On August 25, The Cup arrived at 8:30 a.m. in the town of Belleville, where Richardson, his friends and family were eagerly awaiting their day of celebration to begin. The festivities started with a home-cooked breakfast from Richardson’s mother for about 40 people, after which a game of ball hockey was played, that included Richardson’s dad, brother, and many others.
The winning team’s prize? The Stanley Cup of course.
“I ended up losing, so I didn’t win the Stanley Cup twice, but I won it once, so that’s fine,” Richardson joked.
The day’s itinerary then took the Cup to a few local establishments, including bagel and coffee shops that Richardson’s dad often frequents before a two-hour public appearance in downtown Belleville. Richardson’s next move was a bit out of the ordinary, but an unforgettable one at the very least.
“I didn’t tell anyone, I just showed up at a local arena and there were a couple local teams practicing, and they were obviously pretty stoked, so I jumped on the ice and we got a team photo with the Cup,” Richardson chronicled. “They were pretty thrilled.”
After a busy morning and afternoon, Richardson’s entourage, which had grown to 70 people, made its back to his cottage for a bit of relaxation and photos before ending the night with a private party for 300 people at a local bar owned by one of Richardson’s friends.
The party featured a band, a DJ, and the event was also attended by Stoll and defenseman Drew Doughty, both of whom threw Cup parties that were attended by Richardson earlier this month in their hometowns.
“That day I actually got to sit back a little bit and watch my dad and my family and some of my buddies and it was really cool to watch them be in awe of the Cup,” said Richardson. “When I pulled it out of the truck and walked into the house, my buddies were looking at me and they couldn’t even say anything, they were like, ‘Oh my God, that’s the Stanley Cup.’ So that was really cool.
“All in all, it was the perfect day.”
It’s probably safe to assume it’s a day most people would happily trade their appendix for.
Join the conversation on Twitter with the NHL, LA Kings and the Cup Keepers for their summer with Stanley by using the hashtag #StanleyCup
LA Kings: @LAKings
Photos via @KeeperOfTheCup
Deborah Lew: @by_DeborahLew
For photos of the Kings’ summer with Stanley, view the Hockey Hall of Fame’s ‘Stanley Cup Journal’ CLICK HERE
You can also check out the Stanley Cup on Facebook at Facebook.com/StanleyCup and Facebook.com/TravelsWithStanley
To read about Jerret Stoll's ‘MY STANLEY CUP STORY,’ CLICK HERE
To read about Bernie Nicholls' ‘MY STANLEY CUP STORY,’ CLICK HERE
To read about John Stevens' ‘MY STANLEY CUP STORY,’ CLICK HERE
To read about Colin Frasers' ‘MY STANLEY CUP STORY,’ CLICK HERE
To read about Simon Gagne’s ‘MY STANLEY CUP STORY,’ CLICK HERE