Holmgren, meeting with reporters for his end-of-season address at the team's Voorhees training facility, said that Richards had dealt with an injured wrist since training camp and that it "inhibited his play in certain aspects; it affected his performance in the faceoff circle and I think it affected his shot to some degree."
Richards, who had one goal in the postseason, has a torn ligament in his wrist, and he said on his Twitter account that he would have the surgery on Wednesday.
Holmgren wasn't sure which wrist was injured.
"It's just one of those things; over time it's eroded," Holmgren said.
Holmgren said no thought was given to Richards' having surgery during the season because "the medical opinion was that he could continue to play through it without damaging it any further, and take care of it at the end of the season."
Richards, the Flyers' captain, did not make himself available to the media on Monday or Tuesday. He told the Flyers' public-relations department he would speak Wednesday.
Holmgren bristled at suggestions that Richards was not a good leader and lacked the fire to be a captain.
"I don't know where this [stuff] is coming from," he told reporters. "You guys all know Mike. He's a quiet kid; a reserved kid. . . . He's a hard guy to talk to sometimes for anyone, probably even his closest friends. He's just a quiet guy, but there is no issue in terms of Mike's relationship with Peter [Laviolette], or Mike's relationship with any of his teammates. That's all a bunch of crap."
Holmgren called Richards "a good captain for our team. I think he's a tremendous player in our league, and trust me, there are 29 other teams that would love to have Mike Richards," the GM said.
Center Danny Briere agreed, saying the leadership questions were "not warranted."
Briere said Richards "leads by example, by the way he plays, how hard he plays, and the way he sacrifices his body. There are not a lot of guys that do it as well as he does around the NHL, so honestly I think he is the captain for this team. It is well-deserved. Honestly, I don't understand what all of this talk is about."
Who will re-sign? Holmgren said he hoped to re-sign winger Ville Leino, who can be an unrestricted free agent.
He wasn't so sure about winger Nik Zherdev, who also can become a free agent on July 1.
"He would like to come back," Holmgren said. "I think Nikolay did some good things for us. He is obviously a highly skilled player that can do a lot of things. Where he fits in, how he fits in down the road, I don't know."
Holmgren said Zherdev was "kind of an outsider here. I think some of that is a language barrier, I think some of that is how Nikolay is; he's just quiet. . . . I asked him yesterday why he had a car service all year. Why wouldn't you ask one of your teammates to give you a ride? He is just a different guy."
The GM wasn't sure whether defenseman Sean O'Donnell would be re-signed. He gave a strong vote of confidence to Oskars Bartulis, who missed a big part of the season because of shoulder surgery. Bartulis, Erik Gustafsson, and Danny Syvret could battle for the sixth defensive spot.
It's likely the Flyers will re-sign Darroll Powe, but Dan Carcillo seems questionable. Both are about to become restricted free agents.