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Remember when Brad Richards was a playoff healthy scratch?

Jun 9, 2014, 10:36 AM EDT

Brad Richards Getty Images

When we think back to where the New York Rangers were last season and where they’re at now in the Stanley Cup Final, Brad Richards‘ time in Manhattan sure has changed.

While he’s been instrumental to the Rangers success this season, just last year then head coach John Tortorella made Richards a healthy scratch against the Boston Bruins for Games 4 and 5 of New York’s second round loss to the Boston Bruins.

Now he’s centering the second line between Carl Hagelin and former Tampa Bay Lightning running buddy Martin St. Louis and, as Dan Rosen of shared, Richards is happy to be back on track.

“It was the lowest point in my career,” Richards said prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “You never want to be on the outside looking in when your teammates are battling in what I consider the best part of hockey — the playoffs.”

In these playoffs, Richards has five goals and 11 points in the Rangers’ 21 games. He’s far off the Conn Smythe Trophy-winning pace he had in 2004 with the Lightning, but his contributions have been big and coach Alain Vigneault has given him the opportunity to succeed.

Of course, even that success hasn’t killed talk of him possibly being bought out this summer, but that’s the nature of the business. For now, he’s happy to have the Rangers in the Cup Final and to have a shot at winning it all again.

  1. lowenni - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    I like Richards. I think he’s still a real solid player, and even if his Conn Smythe, 90 point days are behind him, I think he can still be a 50-60 point guy for the next few seasons. I’m sure the Rangers would love to keep him, but the reality is three or four years from now he won’t be worth $6mil and that’s really gonna handicap the team. Not to mention it’ll be hard to trade that contract. I bet a team like the Sabres or Flames or someone just looking to reach the cap ceiling would consider taking him in an actual trade this summer if the deal is right, so the Rangers just dont have to buy him out and get nothing. I like him and don’t want to see him bought out, but the reality is that this is a business, and that contract will simply be a burden for the Rangers a few years from now on (see: Heatley, Dany).

    • bcsteele - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      I agree with some of this. However, a trade decision would have to be made AFTER the possibility of a buy-out. No team would trade for him and that contract when they know the Rangers may just buy him out and they can attempt to just pick him up after the fact for cheap. Plus they wouldn’t have to give up any players or picks. If the Rangers do keep him, then the power of negotiation is in the hands of any team attempting to take on the contract. I don’t believe his contract is as damning as Roberto’s is but its close. So the Rangers would get hosed on a trade…just like the Canucks did. If I’m the Rangers, you pretty well have to buy him out or take your chances for that many years.

      On another note, I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been more talk about this regarding Marian Hossa. His contact would hurt the ‘Hawks down the road if he up and retired in a couple years.

    • lowenni - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      You’re right. A team likely wouldn’t take on his contract through a trade because then THEY’d be handicapped for years as well. A trade decision can’t be made after a buyout, however, as the Rangers no longer own his rights after they buy him out. He’d just be a free agent. Guess it sounds like they’ll have to buy him out then.

  2. 950003cups - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Nice turnover there B-Rad!! LOLOL

    • lowenni - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      You talk a lot of smack for a Devils fan…hard to s*it on your rival Rangers when they’re in the Finals and your team is on the golf course

  3. Professor Fate - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    I was disappointed when Richards chose the Rangers over the Kings, but King’s GM Lombardi went with plan B which seems to have worked out pretty well.

    One of the reasons Richards picked N.Y. was Tortorella, who coached him on Tampa Bay’s 2004 Stanley Cup team. Then Torts benched him in last year’s playoffs and was subsequently fired.

    • imleftcoast - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      Lombardi is looking like a genius. Richards is a buyout candidate, and the Rangers top line was a -8 in Game 2. Frankly, I don’t understand the reason for this post.

  4. phtjoey - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Richards has proven he can still play a secondary role on many teams, and this despite the fact that he was broken by his previous coach. You’ve got to tip your hat to him first and foremost, and to AV for saving Richards.

  5. tommydugan39 - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    Is the person who wrote this blind. Richards is the reason the rangers are down 2-0 Richards turns over the puck for most of the goals including the last overtime one. Richards will not take a hit and was a flop when he could have scored in the third period. Richards is holding the rangers back and hurting more than helping. Yes did score a few lucky goals. He puts his teammates in bad positions by trying to make a home run pass or back to the point at the wrong time. Richards on the power play is a joke has nothing left on his shot. Bottom line Richards needs to man up if the rangers want to win. Don’t play cutie boy Richards play real man Richards for your teammates…. Good luck Richards…… If anyone has any questions watch the film and get back to me. I know the game and sitting out Richards now would make us better…..

    • moarjam - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      Agree 100%. I like Richards and by all accounts he’s the leader in that locker room but my god…He has been the worst player on the ice BY FAR in the finals to the point where its noticeable that he doesn’t belong out there. He was a real detriment to his team in game 2. TERRIBLE in the defensive end of the ice with his play resulting in 2 goals against and many more opportunities hank turned aside. He has been bad on the PP. Slow as molasses out there. He also cant win a faceoff or board battle for his life. He was a MAJOR reason for the loss in game 2. The game shifted to LA’s favor every time he touched the ice. If NYR wants any shot at winning Richards HAS to turn it around.

  6. stakex - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    I think Richards “revival” is being blown a little bit out of proportions.

    Has he been better than last year? Yes…. but only slightly. This season was nearly as bad in terms of point per game production, and was the second lowest point total of Richards career, behind only last year. He also lost the spot as the Rangers top center, which is the whole point they originally signed him in the first place.

    As for the playoffs, he was good in the first round (where he scored 6 of his 11 points), but his play has fallen off substantially. He has just one assist in the last 7 games (with a -5 rating), and only two points (1g, 1a) since the start of the ECF… his faceoff percentages and shots on goal have also trailed off significantly. That’s not even getting into the anecdotal talk about how bad his play has looked, including at least one horrible turnover that resulted in a big goal.

    Bottom line is that, sure…. compared to an absolutely miserable year, he’s been better this season. Compared to how Richards has played during his career however, or to how the Rangers expect him to play? This season really hasn’t been a revival, and sure as hell hasn’t been good enough for the Rangers to pass on buying him out. Richards is clearly not the player he was when the Rangers handed him $6.6 million a season, and its unlikely that he’s going to return to that form at his age.

  7. jaybyrd99 - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    The way he’s playing now is the reason torts benched him . I like the guy, but he’s slow in these finals and his turnovers have been extremely costly. He’s also been horrible on the point of the PP. The interesting thing is that in 2 of the 3 years here ,the Rangers have gone to the ECF and now finals. He was decent in 2012 and parts of this playoff season, but at this point he looks burned out. Between him and Nash ( the Rangers first line checking center), the Rangers are paying a lot of cash for minimal production

  8. homerx - Jun 9, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    Richards has not played well in the finals. He needs to be bought out regardless; there is no way he is worth $6.6mm this year let alone three years from now. Even if he puts up 10 more goals the rest of the way he needs to be bought out. Think of what they can do with that extra money.

  9. thefutureofoil - Jun 9, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Play like he did in Game 2 and he may be a health scratch again. Absolutely brutal turnover for Stoll’s goal. Lost 60 percent of his face offs.

  10. dannyboy1313 - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Too bad he wasn’t a healthy scratch in a Game 2.

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