When Bruce Boudreau played for the Fort Wayne Komets in the early 1990s, fans used to serenade him with ``Bruuuuuuuuccceee'' when the center made a good play.
Komets fans will get to work on their pitch again this season as the team is signing forward Bruce Richardson as a player-assistant coach. Though only 5-foot-9 inches tall and 180 pounds, Richardson, 29, is known for playing like he's much bigger, annoying opponents with his chirping, hitting and general belligerence.
``He's unbelievable,'' said former Komet Jeff Worlton who played with Richardson a few years ago. “He's one of the nicest hockey guys I've ever met in my life, but he's tough as nails. He'll do anything you need for the team. He'll fight anybody. I've seen him fight guys my size. The only reason he didn't make it to the show was because of his size.''
Richardson, who is also known for helping younger players learn the game, has played most of his career with Hershey in the American Hockey League and Louisiana in the East Coast Hockey League. Last year he played in Germany. Two years ago he played with Danbury in the United Hockey League, scoring 25 goals and 87 points in 76 games, including four goals and three assists in four games against Fort Wayne. “He is a very dedicated, very aggressive, very hungry, team-oriented hockey player that the Hershey Bears couldn't recommend any higher to any team in hockey,'' Bears President and General Manager Doug Yingst said. “His commit to the team, his teammates and the community is second to none.''
One of Richardson's Hershey teammates during the 1999-2000 season was Komets defenseman Guy Dupuis.
``He does everything well,'' Dupuis said. ``He makes things happen out there. He's a good hitter who can fight when he needs to. He was really exciting and has been a fan favorite wherever he has played because of his size and his enthusiasm. It won't be any different here.''
Richardson's favorite movie is obviously “Rudy,'' his nicknames are “The Rat'' and “The Pest'' and he has a tattoo of Chinese characters on his right meaning “Determination.'' He has received more than 100 stitches during his hockey career. He's usually the team's captain.
The only knock against Richardson is that he's been injury prone, in part because he plays with disregard for his own body. He's super-aggressive and sacrifices his body for team. Among his more major injuries, Richardson tore a knee ligament in 2000, a broken left eye socket in 2002.
“They say I'm 5 feet 8 play like I'm 6-3,'' Richardson told the Cincinnati Post in 2002. “I'm a small guy and I go out there every night and just give everything I have, and that's important when you're not a big guy.''