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Richer excited to see All-Star Game come to Montreal

by Shawn P. Roarke

"This means so much to the city. Just look at what has gone on since training camp here. People are freaking out. They are proud of the city and of their team."
-- Stephane Richer

Stephane Richer, a mercurial goal scorer during an 18-year NHL career, is too busy to reminisce much about his NHL exploits.

In fact, he is playing almost as much hockey in retirement as he did as an active player.

Playing with Montreal legends, the 42-year-old Richer is staring a 57-game slate in the face.

"Every weekend I'm gone, sometimes playing three games in four nights," says Richer, who played 1,054 NHL games for Montreal, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Pittsburgh. "But I'm having a blast. I'm lucky to be able to do it. Every time they call me and they need some younger legs, I tell them I'm in. It's fun to be around those guys."

With that much ice time, it sounds like Richer, who dazzled with his speed and deadly wrist shot en route to scoring 421 goals and 819 points, could be in shape for a return to the NHL after a six-year hiatus.

"No, no, no, no!" says Richer, denying he is getting ready to follow in the footsteps of Claude Lemieux, a former teammate with Stanley Cup champion teams in Montreal and New Jersey.

Lemieux, 43, recently was called up by the San Jose Sharks.

"I wish him the best," says Richer. "We talked a little during Christmas and he said he is doing well. He says the game has changed a lot, but he said he was doing OK."

For Richer, the game of hockey is just a healthy distraction now. He has outside issues that take up most of his time.

For the past 15 years, he has owned a golf course -- Club de golf Montpellier -- in the Outaouais region of Quebec. He spends his summers golfing there and then spends a portion of the winter golfing in Florida.

"I can say my golf game is pretty good now," Richer said. "I'm like a 7 or 8 (handicap). You think I'd play a lot in the summer because I own the course, but I play more in the winter because I own a place in Naples and I go down there a lot."

Richer also owns -- along with his girlfriend Lisa -- two Fruits & Passion stores in the Montreal area. Fruits & Passion is a Canadian boutique franchise that offers the best in personal care and ambience products. 

"With the holidays, it's been crazy busy," Richer says.

And now, he will be busy for much of the next week as Montreal welcomes the hockey world for the 2009 NHL All-Star Weekend.

Richer, who had two stints with the Canadiens and won a Stanley Cup there as a rookie in 1986, is amazed at how hockey-crazy Montreal has become this year.

"This means so much to the city," Richer said. "Just look at what has gone on since training camp here. People are freaking out. They are proud of the city and of their team.

"For the past two years, I would say, hockey has really been back in town. People are going crazy over the Canadiens; the kids are starting to know the players again and all that. It's fun to see. People can't wait to show off their city."

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