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Richards sets aside everything for son

DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published May 30, 2004

CALGARY - Glen Richards asked politely that his son, Brad, not be asked about Brent Allen.

Brad had enough to worry about, Glen said. Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final against the Flames was a few hours away, and Glen did not want Brad's mind diverted from the task at hand.

"We don't even talk to Brad about it," Glen said. "It's a pretty emotional time."

Allen grew up with Brad on Prince Edward Island in the small fishing town of Murray Harbor. Played hockey with him. Was coached by Glen. The boys were so close, Glen said, Brent used to stay at the Richards house much of the time during hockey season.

Allen, 24, died in a car crash May 16, the day after Brad, who plays center for the Lightning and is one of the NHL's brightest young stars, was named to the Canadian team that will play in this summer's World Cup tournament.

Glen remembered Brent telling anyone who would listen about the prestige and enormity of the honor. If you didn't show the proper recognition, Glen said, Brent told you again.

Two days after Brent died, Brad scored twice in Game 5 of the East semifinal against the Flyers, including the winner in a 4-2 victory.

"There is a lot of emotion going on for Brad right now that people don't know about," Glen said. "Brad is kind of playing for Brent, too."

Brent was a defenseman. Glen called him "a good hockey player" and "a real good guy who always had a good day. ... It's the saddest thing I've ever seen in my life for a young guy to get killed, the same age as your son. The whole community is in shock."

Glen told the story Saturday while waiting for Brad in the lobby of the Lightning's hotel. He and wife Delite flew into town at 1:30 that morning and were scheduled to fly out at 12:30 a.m. today.

The family's lobster fishing business cannot wait. It is a two-month season, May and June, so every day Glen and Delite are away costs them a significant amount of money.

Just leaving the traps and boat unattended and unmaintained while buffeted by water and weather is worrisome.

Still, the parents said they will travel to Tampa or Calgary if the Lightning is one victory from clinching the Stanley Cup title and stay with the best-of-seven series until completion.

"The lobsters will be there for years to come," Delite said. "Money is not everything when it comes down to something like this. People in town were telling us, "You're crazy if you don't go.' "

"You might dream of something like this, but you never in reality think it would ever happen," Glen said. "Just to go back and think of this stuff, I can't believe it."

Believe this: Delite said Brad's eighth-grade teacher recently found Brad's graduation yearbook in which the 14-year-old's printed aspiration was to "beat the Canadiens in the playoffs."

Ten years later, it happened in the East semifinals.

"And now Brad is here," Glen said of the Cup final. "It is unreal."

All too real was what happened to Brent.

Please, Glen asked, talk to Brad about it another time. Maybe after the Cup final when things aren't as hectic and he doesn't need to be as focused.

"We just don't want to get his mind racing," Glen said. "We're just trying to keep his mind clear."

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