We are very grateful here at Y-Ddraig that the Cardiff Devils longest serving player, and testimonial man, Mark ‘Richie’ Richardson agreed to answer some questions for us. It’s fair to say he has seen some ups and downs with the Devils, and fresh from lifting the league title for a second year , we were lucky enough to ask him how it feels. We are very grateful to Richie and to Cardiff Devils Director of corporate development Neil Francis for allowing us the time to carry out this interview. Our thanks also go out to all you Devils fans who again have submitted some fantastic FANZONE questions. Please continue to send questions when I reveal who we are interviewing next as this is a great way for you to ask your favourite players what you want to know.
As I mentioned above this year saw Richie celebrate his testimonial year and back in October thousands of fans also turned out to celebrate with him. Mark has had a fantastic career with the Devils, enjoying two spells with the Devils, he originally joined back in 2005 as an 18 year old and spent two seasons before moving on. He returned in 2009 and has been one of the fans favourites ever since. In his time in Cardiff, Mark is one of few players to have iced at Wales national ice rink, the Big Blue tent and Ice Arena Wales and he has amassed over 500 appearances for the Devils and over 200 points. It is fair to say he can be classed as a Devils Legend.
1. My first question has to be, how does it feel to be a back to back league champion and to have also picked up the hardest conference trophy also?
Answer:- It’s an amazing feeling! It is hard to put in words, but to win it last year was a huge achievement, and to win the league and conference back to back speaks volumes about the team, the staff, the fans and everyone involved with the club.
2. Having been at the Devils for many years, it’s fair to say you have seen some ups and downs. How much of a difference have the new owners made to life as a Devil?
Answer:- The difference is night and day. The owners are so passionate about the club and they are prepared to do anything they can to help us win. The professionalism now is second to none and as players we couldn’t be treated any better.
3. With the years that you have spent at the Cardiff Devils, you have played on many home rinks. How does the atmosphere at IAW compare with the others?
Answer:- Both the Wales National Ice rink and the Big Blue tent were smaller rinks compared to IAW and I remember nights when you thought the roof was going to come off the BBT it was so loud. I think the atmosphere is hard to replicate in Ice Arena Wales but the fans have shown us that they can still make it really loud and the Challenge cup, semi final, second leg against Sheffield this season really stands out, it was crazy that night.
4. How proud were you at your testimonial game and was there any player that you would have liked to have played that couldn’t make it for any reason?
Answer:- I was extremely proud, and to share that experience with my wife Sarah and daughter Grace was something I will never forget. When you start playing for any team you can never expect to be there so long and I really appreciate being given the chance to play for the Cardiff Devils for all these years. There were some guys that couldn’t make it for various reasons but it would have been nice to bring back Brad Voth and Brent Walton to name a few.
5. Do you now class Cardiff as home and what’s your favourite thing about Cardiff?
Answer:- Yes, I now class Cardiff as home and have done for some years now. I love living here, it is an amazing place, and you have everything you could want in a city and it’s great to be close to so many beautiful beaches and places to visit.
6. Now that you are one of the most senior Devils players, I’m sure that you pass on your advice to the new players that come in. Who was there at the Devils for you to take advice from when you first joined?
Answer:- I was extremely lucky that when I joined the Devils as an 18 year old, there were local guys who had already played in Cardiff for many years. Jason Stone, Phil Hill, Jonathan Phillips and Neil Francis. They were all a huge help to me and I learnt a lot from them.
7. If your time as a Devil does come to an end but you are not ready to hang up your skates and stick, would you consider joining another Elite League side?
Answer:- I honestly hope I am never in that situation! I will do everything I can to look after myself and to keep improving so that hopefully the Cardiff Devils will still want me. So I hope I will never have to make that choice but it would be a situation that I could only consider if I was faced with it in the future.
8. Post season is unlikely to be restful for yourself and the other GB Devils. How much break will you get after your GB games before you have to start preparations and training for next season?
Answer:- I usually take a couple of weeks to relax, but I like to keep active with other activities like swimming etc…You have to take a break to let your body to recover after a long season, but there isn’t too much time to sit around so then it’s back in the gym and on the ice to get ready for next season.
9. Although the whole team have stepped up this season, do you think we have missed having the threat of a player like Patrick Bordeleau from last season?
Answer:- It has been debated that we have missed an enforcer type player and Patrick Bordeleau was very effective for us last season. Personally, I think that now we have won the league again, it shows that we haven’t really missed that type of player, as we have plenty of guys to take care of that side of the game. I guess it comes down to personal opinion at the end of the day.
10. Looking forward to the play-offs, do you feel the Devils are better equipped to go a step further this year and who if anyone would you want to avoid?
Answer:- I don’t know if I would say we are better equipped, as last year we were one shot away and it was heart-breaking to lose that final game, so it would be great to win it this year, and we certainly have the team to do it. There isn’t a team that I would personally want to avoid, it’s a short play-offs and it’s exciting whoever you are playing.
11. Finally, who is the toughest ‘D’ man currently with the Devils and who is the toughest you have ever played with in your time as a Devil?
Answer:- Its too hard to call who is the toughest current ‘D’ man but one of the toughest I ever played with was our former captain Tyson Marsh. Tyson was an absolute warrior and played hard every night.
This is our feature where we ask you the Devils fans to come up with questions for your favourite players. We pick the best and ask the players on your behalf. Many thanks to all of you who have contributed to this interview and if you didn’t this time, why not next time?
1. When you started out playing for Swindon Lynx, what team did you aspire to play for? (Question by Mark Seagrove)
Answer:- I think when I was that young I just wanted to play hockey for anyone. My goal was only to play professional Hockey and now that I have managed to do that for so long I feel very lucky.
2. How much Welsh do you know? (Question by Brochan and Celyn Evans)
Answer:- Very little I am afraid, my daughter has taught me to count to ten but that’s about it.
3. Other than Richie, do you have any other nicknames and who on the team has the funnies nick name? (Question by Brochan Evans)
Answer:- A few guys like to change it to Rico or Ricardo but nothing crazy. I think my favourite is Mad Dog for Thomas Murdy as if you have ever met him you know it is very appropriate.
4. What did you want to be when you grew up (if not a hockey player)? (question by Celyn Evans)
Answer:- I grew up playing football alongside hockey, so would have to say a football player. As a youngster I played for the Swindon Town academy but a time came to choose between hockey and football.
5. Have any of the Canadian players taken you to Tim Horton’s and if so what is your favourite Timbit? (Question by Brochan Evans)
Answer:- I have actually never tried a Timbit and have only visited a Tim Horton’s for a hot chocolate when I was in Canada many years ago.
6. If you could bring back a player that has left the Devils that you played with, who would it be? (Question by Rhiannon Davies)
Answer:- Very tough question. I have been lucky enough to play with lots of great players and people but to choose one I would have to say Brad Voth. Brad came to Cardiff the same time as me and went on to have such a huge impact on the club. I wish he would have had the chance to play for the new ownership.
7. Which signing for the Devils throughout the years has been most beneficial and helpful for the team? (Question by Catherine Boucher)
Answer:- I think there are a few for different reasons. Brad Voth as I mentioned before was the heartbeat of the Devils for many years for his style of play and now there is Joey Martin who is probably the most complete player I have had the privilege to play alongside.
8. How do you find adjusting the mentality as a team and individual when making the jump through the seasons different competitions? (Question by Sion Ford)
Answer:- I can’t really answer for the team but we want to win them all, so the mind-set has to be that every game is as important as the last. Personally I don’t think there is any adjustment for me. The type of game I play, I just try to be as consistent as possible no matter what competition we are playing in.
9. Are there any other teams in the league that you would have joined before the Devils? (Question by Catherine Boucher)
Answer:- To be honest I was 18 and looking to join an Elite league club and I had an offer from Sheffield and an offer from Cardiff. I thought Cardiff suited me better and here we are now!
10. Who were the hardest CHL team to play against in this season? (Question by Abi Lewis)
Answer:- Probably Davos. Vaxjo were probably the best team we played overall but that first game in Davos was tough. We knew they were going to be good and we really didn’t know what to expect and they played quite an open style but we learnt a lot from it and it was a great experience to play in the old arena they have there.
11. If you could join any CHL team next season, what team would it be? (Question by Abi Lewis)
Answer:- I think from the experience we had last year it would have to be Vaxjo. The Swedish league is so well respected and the arena and facilities were out of this world.
12. If you had to pick an NHL team to join the EIHL what team would you choose? (Question by Abi Lewis)
Answer:- Probably the Pittsburg Penguins as they have won the last 2 Stanley cups, but I think they might have a good chance of winning the league, so thankfully it won’t happen as we want to win the league again.
A massive thank you again to Richie for agreeing to this interview and we would like to wish him and all the Cardiff Devils players and staff a massive good luck for the play-offs. Also thanks again to any fans who provided our FANZONE questions.
Please follow me (@BlackburnJulian) and Y Ddraig (@YDdraigHQ) on twitter to find out who our next interview will be with and maybe your question will be answered
‘Richardson celebrating the Devils’ latest title victory!’
Photo Credit: Helen Brabon