The 36-year-old from Murray Harbour had a 15-year career after he was drafted 64th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. The Lightning also selected Vincent Lecavalier with their first overall pick that year. The two played hockey together at Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
In October of 2000, Richards made his NHL debut in a game against the New York Islanders. By October 8, he scored his first points against the Vancouver Canucks when he managed a goal and an assist in a 5-4 loss. In his rookie season, he finished with 62 points in 82 games – including 21 goals. Richards finished second in voting for the Calder Trophy.
By 2004, Richards and the Lightning secured the first Stanley Cup in franchise history with a victory over the Calgary Flames in seven games. Richards picked up the Conn Smythe as the most valuable player in the post-season, with his 26-point performance leading his team. He also snagged the Lady Byng Trophy.
By February of 2008, Richards was traded to the Dallas Stars along with Johan Holmqvist in a deal that sent Mike Smith, Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen, and a draft pick to Tampa. He made an immediate impact with the Stars, helping them reach the Western Conference Final with 15 points in 18 post-season games.
Richards joined the New York Rangers in July of 2011, signing a nine-year deal that hooked him up with head coach John Tortorella again. Unfortunately, things fizzled out on Broadway and he was bought out by the team in July of 2014. He signed a one-year deal with Chicago and managed to pick up the second Cup of his career with the Blackhawks in 2015.
In July of 2015, Richards signed a one-year deal with Detroit.
“I want to thank the fans and the five organizations I have played for…,” Richards said. “During my time with those teams, I met many great people. I also want to thank the staff and management in those organizations for all the help and support they gave me. I appreciate all the trainers who did tireless work to help me play and keep me healthy. I had many amazing teammates and made many great friendships along the way that I truly appreciate, and I will never forget the great times we had together.”
Richards’ best season came in 2005-2006 with Tampa, when he put up 91 points in 82 games – including 23 goals. He scored 28 goals in 2010-2011, his best goal-scoring totals. In 2009-2010, he put up 13 goals on the power play.