The 50th Anniversary of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will be celebrated in a number of ways this season. One of which is a countdown of the league’s 50 greatest players based solely on their QMJHL accomplishments. They stand out among 9511 players who played in the QMJHL over the past 50 years. Yours truly was part of the committee entrusted with the difficult task of making these selections.
The player ranked at No. 8 in the QMJHL’s 50-year history is Brad Richards.
When we think of Brad Richards from his Oceanic days, we think of a player who cracked the 100-point mark in each of his three seasons in Rimouski. The Murray Harbour, PEI native was especially dominant in 1999-2000 when he was named MVP of the QMJHL regular season, playoffs and at the Memorial Cup in Halifax. That year, the Oceanic was the toast of Canadian Junior hockey and Richards led the way to the tune of 186 regular season points, 37 playoff points and then 10 points at the Memorial Cup for a staggering 233 points in only 79 games!
Richards was the Oceanic’s top pick in the QMJHL Draft in 1997 and joined his good friend Vincent Lecavalier (No. 14 on our list) in Rimouski after the pair played together for the Midget Notre Dame Hounds. With his 186-point campaign in 1999-00, Richards still boasts the most production season in the QMJHL over the past 30 years. The Oceanic’s No. 39 had a real knack for raising his game when the chips were down and is the only player in hockey history to have won the Stafford-Smythe Trophy (Memorial Cup MVP) and the Conn Smythe Trophy (NHL Playoff MVP). Richards won the two trophies in 2000 and 2004, respectively.
Richards was a third-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 1998 NHL Draft, the same day the club nabbed Lecavalier first overall which proved to be a franchise turning point for the Bolts to say the least.
Richards also played for Canada at the 2000 World Juniors and saw his No. 39 retired by the Oceanic in a joint ceremony with Lecavalier on September 24, 2004 – mere months after the pair raised the Stanley Cup with the Lightning. Richards is among 20 QMJHL products to have gone on to play at least 1,100 games in the NHL.
Richards was inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame in April 2017, becoming the second player from PEI to earn the honour.