NEW YORK - Sometime shortly after noon yesterday, Mike Richards' phone started exploding. Calls and text messages flooded in from far and wide - family, close friends, former teammates . . . and even a few from people he didn't know.
To try to gain an hour of shut-eye at the Flyers' hotel in Times Square, as part of his usual pregame ritual, Richards had to turn his phone off.
That's what happens when you are named to Canada's Olympic team for the first time, when your country is the host of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and you're playing your nation's pastime.
Fortunately, Richards was able to answer the call from Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman shortly before the Flyers took the ice at Madison Square Garden for their morning skate.
"You kind of expect it to be crazy," Richards said of the Olympics. "Vancouver is going to be crazy. The pressure is going to be there. It's going to be fun. It's something I've looked forward to.
"I've heard stories about the Olympics before and things like the Olympic Village, so it's going to be a fun time."
Richards first called his parents back home in Kenora, Ontario, to share the news.
"My parents, for me, are the biggest influences in my career," Richards said. "They're someone who in tough times, I call and they give advice. I think everyone knows that I like going home [in the summer] and I like being home. They're a big reason why."
While the news for Richards was exciting - as it was announced across Canada live on TSN in an All-Star selection-type show - it was old hat for Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger.
Pronger will represent Canada in his fourth Olympics in Vancouver in 6 weeks. The lumbering defenseman was named an alternate captain for Canada for the second straight Olympiad.
"It never gets old," Pronger said. "It's always an honor to represent your country and have an opportunity to represent your country."
Pronger said that it was "both exciting and a lot of pressure" to play for Canada as the host nation. He has skated in Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin and now Vancouver. He won gold medals in Salt Lake City and Nagano.
"That makes it tougher," Pronger said. "It's such a short period and you have the best of the best from all the countries participating for one prize. It makes for an interesting tournament."
Richards said he was "a little surprised" that he made the team, given the Flyers' recent slide in the standings and the poor play that came with it.
"The month of December wasn't the greatest, teamwise and personalwise," Richards said. "I think it was more so of how you're playing at the time [of selection]. Sometimes the way you play doesn't reflect in the team. In this case, I think it did. But we've picked it up. It's nice to be there and be a part of the group."
That might have cost Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne spots on the Olympic team. Gagne may have never been seriously considered because of his abdominal surgery, but both players attended Canada's orientation camp in Calgary in August.
"I think it's a little disappointing probably for Jeff," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, who ran the U.S. team bench in 2006. "I think he's an elite player and he's represented his country in the past. I think with not getting named you probably get disappointed. But he's certainly worthy of it."
Kimmo Timonen was chosen to join Team Finland. He won a silver medal with Finland in 2006 in Turin.