Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Seen and heard last night at Air Canada Centre in Toronto:

CALLE’S NIGHT On March 7, 1989, the Buffalo Sabres decided they had seen enough of a homesick young Swedish defenseman and traded him to Washington. These days, Calle Johansson is still going strong and no longer homesick.
Johansson played in his 1,018th NHL game last night, his 900th as a Cap. The latter figure is second only to Kelly Miller’s 940 career games with Washington. Johansson leads Caps defensemen in games played, points (459) and assists (349).
A player who rarely misses games, Johansson has already missed five this season with an injury (he missed only six in the previous two seasons combined). But his stellar play is finally being recognized for the first time his name appears among the nominees for the World team in the All-Star Game.
Two weeks later, he will be the captain of Team Sweden in the Olympic Games.

NOW WE KNOW One of the lingering mysteries about the Caps was why right wing Stephane Richer went to the trouble of coming out of retirement, getting into shape, reporting to the Caps’ training camp in the fall of 2000 and then quitting after one practice. Now we know.
According to a Pittsburgh newspaper, Richer has suffered from chronic depression since he was a child. He finally sought professional help last spring and has been undergoing intensive treatment since. He has come back a third time, and before last night he had four goals and an assist with Pittsburgh after 14 games.
Richer told the Pittsburgh newspaper that he pondered suicide after leaving the Caps. He said he had regularly climbed into his Porsche intending to kill himself “going 140 miles an hour. 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?’”

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