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Richer recovering from depression

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 11, 2001


TAMPA -- Even when Stephane Richer was doing what he liked best, playing hockey, he was unhappy.

TAMPA -- Even when Stephane Richer was doing what he liked best, playing hockey, he was unhappy.

Chronically so.

The former Lightning wing, now with the Penguins, returned to the Ice Palace on Saturday night for the first time since overcoming depression so profound he said he considered suicide.

More than once he said he climbed into his Porsche 911 intent on ending his life.

"Oh, yeah, going 140 mph," Richer told Pittsburgh's Tribune-Review. "I didn't hit anything. I just kept going. When you get home and realize it, that's when you start crying. You shake. You're scared like, "What am I doing?' "

It came to a head the summer of 2000. Richer, who had quit the Lightning in the middle of the previous season because he believed he was not in the team's plans, walked out of Capitals training camp after one practice. It was about the same time a decadelong relationship was ending.

"I didn't want to live anymore," he said.

Richer, who went into Saturday's game with five goals, an assist and a contract that pays $700,000, started counseling last spring.

"Now I know how to deal with this," he said. "It's a family thing. Like if your dad died of cancer, maybe you will die from cancer. I'm trying to find out why I was always sad. All my life I had this."

Richer said it kept him from enjoying a stellar career in which he has 412 goals -- 28 in 110 games with Tampa Bay -- and helped the Devils to the 1995 Stanley Cup by getting 21 points in 19 playoff games.

"Now I see life differently," he said. "I see every day to another day. I enjoy it. Even if I have a tough time, I say, "Hey, I'm lucky I'm back in the NHL.' I appreciate it. I'm enjoying the game now."

RENEWED RIVALRY: When the Rangers beat the Islanders 6-2 Thursday at Nassau Coliseum, it marked the first time the teams met with winning records since April 1993. If there was any doubt the rivalry is as heated as ever, one only needed to watch Rangers wing Theo Fleury.

With the crowd chanting "crackhead Theo," in a touching reference to his battle against substance abuse, Fleury scored, had an assist and clucked and flapped his arms at the Islanders' Eric Cairns, who turned down a fight with Sandy McCarthy.

Fleury said he was dancing to the Chicken Dance song the organist plays and is punctuated by the fans yelling "Rangers s---." Trouble was, the organist wasn't playing when Fleury was dancing.

WILD STUFF: The Wild beat the Bruins on Thursday 5-3 despite being outshot 56-16. The Elias Sports Bureau says no team had been outshot by such a margin and won since the Kings beat the North Stars in March 1981 despite being outshot 68-19.

The Wild had the NHL's worst power play last season. Through its first 16 games this season it was leading the league with a 25.3 percent efficiency. The team had 36 power-play goals last season. It had 17 this season.

BEST TEAM: That would be the 1994-95 Bloomington (Minn.) Jefferson High team that included the Islanders' Mark Parrish, Pittsburgh's Toby Petersen and Tampa Bay's Ben Clymer.

NICE PICK: Detroit's Luc Robitaille, who scored his 600th goal Friday night against the Mighty Ducks, was a ninth-round pick by Los Angeles in 1984. That was two rounds after future Braves pitcher Tom Glavine was selected.

ODDS AND ENDS: Thrashers rookie Ilya Kovalchuk had seven goals in his first 10 games. He was scoreless in his next four and a healthy scratch in a fifth. ... Former Lightning Alexander Kharitonov left the Islanders to play in his native Russia. ... Jason Allison had no goals, three assists in seven games after signing with the Kings. ... Tony Amonte turned down a contract offer from the Blackhawks worth $30-million over five years. ... Remember how bad the Hurricanes felt after losing defenseman Sean Hill, who signed a four-year, $9-million deal over the summer with the Blues? Hill is such a bust, Carolina refused to claim him off waivers. ... Stars defenseman Derian Hatcher was minus-9 in his first 16 games. Hatcher was plus-21 when Dallas won the Stanley Cup. He was minus-12 the last time it missed the playoffs. ... Rangers television analyst John Davidson has taken in New York's 18-year-old backup goaltender, Dan Blackburn. General manager Glen Sather, who took in Wayne Gretzky during his first year in the league, asked the favor of Davidson. "He doesn't like staying up late and watching games like I do," Davidson said of Blackburn. "He's more into video games and hanging out with my kids (daughters Lindsay, 17, and Ashley, 14)." ... Of 13 penalty shots called, three have been against the Maple Leafs.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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ONLINE CHAT: Discuss the Lightning with Times sports writer Damian Cristodero in an online chat at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Go to tampabay.com/chat. If you can't be there for the live event, you can submit questions in advance. A transcript will be available online after 4 p.m. Tuesday.

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