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Gone in a New York minute: Richards, Gaborik split up

Oct 28, 2011, 6:16 PM EDT

John Tortorella AP

When the New York Rangers inked C Brad Richards to a nine-year, $60-million deal this offseason, many figured they’d finally found a No. 1 center to play with Marian Gaborik.

Yet just eight games into their first season together, Richards and Gaborik appear to be parting ways.

The New York Daily News reports that head coach John Tortorella split the pair in practice today to address what he called a “team funk.”

“The way I look at it, I think if you’re going to get into a routine as a team, I don’t think you can keep on changing the lines as much as I have,” Tortorella told The Blueshirts Blog. “The thing with our team right now is, it’s not one or two guys. This is a team thing, offensively anyway, there are a number of people struggling.”

While the idea of Richards-to-Gaborik is great, the reality is a little more complex. “I met the guy a month ago, for the first time in my life,” Richards said. “We have to be realistic.”

So onto the new plan: Gaborik staked with C Erik Christensen and LW Wojtek Wolski at Friday’s practice while Richards went with Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. Gaborik has plenty of experience with Christensen (the two played on a line last year) while the Richards “demotion” could be to spark a pair of struggling skaters. Dubinsky has yet to score a goal this year while Callahan is on pace for just 21 points, way down from last year’s career-high 48.

  1. stakex - Oct 28, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    The Rangers are struggling because they are not respoding to Torts or his system. With the players htey have, they should be a goal scoring machine… or at the very least putting up solid offensive numbers. Yet every since Torts came to the Rangers, they have had serious offensive struggles (and haven’t been a great defensive team for that matter). Last year the excuse was that Gaborik, their only true goal scorer, didn’t have a top notch center…… whats the excuse this year?

    The Rangers need to fire Torts, and Sather for good messure, if they ever want to be a contended. They have the team for it, but if the players won’t respond to the coach there needs to be a change before its too late.

    • danphipps01 - Oct 29, 2011 at 5:16 PM

      Absolutely. Tortorella’s got a confusing system that doesn’t seem to favour the players he’s got – much like Jacques Martin or anyone named “Sutter” trying to play a grinding defensive game with a team full of fast skill forwards. More generally, though, Sather makes it impossible to get anything done with this team. What’s that? A player over thirty whose numbers are beginning to dip? GIVE ME THE CALCULATOR, I NEED TO FIGURE OUT HOW MANY TENS OF MILLIONS I CAN GIVE HIM. The guy is absolutely toxic to long-term development. The Rangers could’ve put together a powerhouse years ago if they weren’t constantly dumping half their cap on players that are clearly over the hill. Richards was a reasonably savvy acquisition, but he is NOT worth what Sather’s paying him and the team now doesn’t have the money to address their ailing defense. Get rid of Sather and get a coach like Bylsma who likes a fast, offense-focused transition game and they’ll start penetrating much deeper into the playoffs quickly.

  2. rainyday56 - Oct 30, 2011 at 2:50 AM

    Ranger star signings earn their money simply by signing their contracts, then be advertised for the upcoming season by MSG network to sell subscriptions. The hockey is just a formality. There will never be a winning team at MSG the way AOL Time Warner does business. That goes double for the Knicks.

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  3. M. Richards (1265)
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  5. N. Backstrom (1072)