- Associated Press - Friday, October 14, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Under the visor, Mike Richards looks the same.

It’s the rest of his makeover that still seems out of place as he prepares for his Philadelphia homecoming.

He wears No. 10 instead of 18 and the “C” has been stripped from his jersey. Oh yeah, the jersey. Gone is the orange and black of the Philadelphia Flyers. Richards wears the black Los Angeles Kings sweater now, a uniform he’s still getting used to four months after his shocking trade out of town.

Richards returns Saturday night for the first time since general manager Paul Holmgren dealt him the same day he traded Jeff Carter.

“It’s going to be exciting. I’m looking forward to it,” Richards said. “I haven’t thought about it much at all. I knew I was going to have to do it some time.”

That time comes now in front of the usual packed Wells Fargo Center that will certainly give Richards a warm return. Only two seasons ago, Richards hoisted the Prince of Wales trophy in front of those die-hard fans for winning the Eastern Conference championship and returning the Flyers to the finals.

Richards was Philadelphia’s captain and led them all the way to a Game 6 loss to Chicago in the Stanley Cup finals.

None of that mattered when the Flyers decided to transform the roster after they followed the deep postseason run with a second-round exit in 2011. Richards and Carter, a perennial 30-goal scorer, were traded within 30 minutes of each other, and more changes were ahead.

It’s early, but the moves have paid off in Philadelphia with the Flyers off to only their third 3-0 start in team history. Beat the Kings, and the Flyers will open 4-0 for the first time since the 1995-96 season.

Team achievements really mean something in April and beyond.

This game is about Richards.

He’s been in town with the Kings this week, practicing on Friday, and socializing with his ex-teammates at night.

Richards is eager to hit the ice in front of one of the most passionate crowds in any sport.

“I enjoyed playing in front of them every night and I’m excited to play in front of them again Saturday,” he said. “I tried to leave everything on the ice every night for them and I thought I did that. It’s what made it fun to go to the rink.”

The Flyers shed over $100 million in salary _ and a combined 314 goals and 692 points from the duo _ in the June 23 deals that sent Richards to the Kings and Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Richards, once viewed as the face of the franchise, was traded for forwards Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and a second-round pick.

Story Continues →