Richter, a 40-year-old Democrat who lives in Guilford, said he expects to make a decision in the next few weeks about whether to run for the Fairfield County seat in 2008.
"I've considered entering public office in some form for a long time," Richter told The Associated Press. "I'm getting positive responses."
A series of concussions forced Richter into early retirement in 2003 after 15 seasons with the Rangers, the club he backstopped to the Stanley Cup title in 1994 after a 54-year drought. Richter was a three-time All-Star and the MVP of the 1996 World Cup, in which he led the United States to a gold medal.
In the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Richter criticized President Bush's comment that Osama bin Laden was wanted "dead or alive."
"I think that was entirely inappropriate -- I think it was sickening actually," Richter told Newsday at the time. "This is no cowboy movie. This is not something to be glib about."
Richter worked last year for U.S. Rep. John Hall, a Democrat and former musician who upset six-term incumbent Republican Sue Kelly in upstate New York. Richter helped Hall, who opposed the Iraq war, win over police officers, fire fighters and other constituents who might not have otherwise voted for him, said Tom Staudter, Hall's spokesman.
"He was hugely popular," Staudter said, describing Richter as bright and friendly. "He'll be great."
In a sign of his status, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani named his dog "Goalie" after Richter.
Another intriguing factoid: Richter is currently enrolled at Yale University, majoring in ethics, politics and economics. So this ain't your typical dumb jock (an aside: it's entirely anecdotal, but I've noticed that hockey players seem to be, on average, smarter than athletes in other sports. Ivy league schools whose teams are jokes in other sports have some of the best college hockey teams in the nation. Probably just a bias on my part, but still).
Shays' 4th District is one of the wealthiest in the country, and I wonder if a bit of old-fashioned elitism might cut against Richter ("Only uneducated rabble would elect a sports star to Congress"). But certainly, an intriguing potential matchup.