With an acrobatic style of play small goalies can make themselves look larger than life. Since being drafted 28th overall by the New York Rangers in 1985, Mike Richter achieved that feat ten fold. Per lightening quick reflexes and determination, Richter marveled crowds and teammates alike up until his number retirement ceremony in February 2004.
Before making his NHL debut in the 1989 playoffs, Mike Richter honed his craft through experience. While playing for the University of Wisconsin Madison he represented the United States in the World Junior Championship, earned All WCHA Second Team honors and participated in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Though Richter lost on his New York debut, he soon became a familiar face in the Blueshirt's defensive lineup.
Pictured: Mike Richter posted 12 wins in his rookie campaign as a backup goaltender to Ranger's starter John Vanbiesbrouch. Richter's brick wall mechanics earned him a trip to the 1991 Canada Cup tournament (Credit: Sports Illustrated)
Vanbiesbrouch was traded to the Vancouver Canucks prior to the start of the 1993-1994 NHL season. A move that hoisted Mike Richter to the top of the Rangers goal tending depth chart. At the crease, records were shattered. Richter tallied a 42 win season that secured New York's second President's Trophy in three years. This magical season continued as time went on. Mike Richter was named Most Valuable Player at the NHL All-Star Game hosted at Madison Square Garden. In the playoffs, Richter ramped up his technique, becoming the eight goaltender to post four shutouts in one playoff season.
Watch: Mike Richter stopping Vancouver sniper Pavel Bure on a penalty shot in Game Four of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. The Rangers would go on to defeat the Canucks in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup since 1940.
Over the next few years, Mike Richter consistently ranked among the world's top goaltenders despite a series of injuries. Even though Medical Collateral Ligament/Anterior Cruciate Ligament sprains and concussions were often overcome with rehabilitation, a string of mediocre Ranger teams were the driving force to his personal statistics declining. Nevertheless, there were bright spots outside of the NHL. Richter led the United States to victory in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. This performance earned him another Most Valuable Player award.
After winning a silver medal in the 2002 Olympics, a skull fracture and concussion forced Mike Richter to retire. He finished his career as the Rangers all-time leader in wins. A feat Henrik Lundqvist surpassed last season. Here is a list of New York Ranger Team Awards Richter won during his time with the Blueshirts.
1991 Player's Player Award
1991 Team Rookie of the Year
1991 Good Guy Award (Cooperation with the media)
1991 Lars Erik Sjoberg Award (Best rookie in training camp)
1991 Frank Boucher Trophy (Most popular player on and off the ice)
1997 Crumb Bum Award (For service to New York youngsters)
1999 Frank Boucher Trophy
2000 Team MVP (Most Valuable Player)
2000 Frank Boucher Trophy
2000 Player's Player Award
2002 Frank Boucher Trophy
2002 Team MVP (Most Valuable Player)