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Richards: If not for the cap, half the league would want to play for Hawks

Jul 25, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

Brad Richards Getty Images

When Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane began their careers with the Blackhawks, Chicago hadn’t won a playoff series since 1996. They represented the beginning of a new era. Now the team commands the attention of Chicago and the respect of the rest of the league.

It’s because of their resurgence that Brad Richards was willing to sign a one-year, $2 million contract with them over potentially more lucrative offers for the sake of being Chicago’s second-line center.

“If it wasn’t for the salary cap, half the league would want to play here,” Richards said, per the team’s website. “For a long period of time, Detroit was the destination point for veteran free agents who wanted to go play with great players for a chance to win the Cup. Now that place is Chicago. Great city, great organization, Original Six franchise.”

That wasn’t the case before Toews and Kane led Chicago to two Stanley Cup championships over the span of four years. Richards remembers that for the first half of his career, the United Center was barren whenever he was in town to play against the Blackhawks. Now even coming from a big organization like the New York Rangers, Richards has been impressed by the passion of the team’s fanbase.

“There’s a lot going on in New York. When the Rangers are winning, it’s big. But when it’s over, it’s over,” Richards said. “There’s a lot going on in Chicago too, but it’s the middle of July and the Blackhawks are relevant. What’s happened here is remarkable.”

The Blackhawks signed Kane and Toews to matching eight-year, $84 million contract extensions that take effect in 2015-16. Those cap hits will present a challenge to GM Stan Bowman as he works to make sure the team remains deep enough to stay competitive, but what those forwards have already done for the franchise can’t be undersold.

  1. hockeyflow33 - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    I think it’s safe to say that goes for any of the Original Six teams right now.

    Even you Toronto.

    • urallstupid - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:13 PM

      only toronto could afford half the league tho ^_^

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:19 PM

      Actually Toronto has cropped up on no trade and free agent rejection lists this year. Detroit has failed to sign most of those they sought to.

      Habs, Bruins, Rangers and Hawks are relevent/desired. .667 desirability is still pretty good compared to the rest of the league.

      • blomfeld - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:07 AM


        Yeah, well check out where the other ‘half’ of the league wants to sign … you got it baby, them SC Champion Kings of Los Angeles !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) :) :)


        Person A: hey man, like when do you think we’ll see another cup here in LA ?

        Person B: how’s about 2015 friend ? :)

        GO KINGS GO !!! … TODAY, TOMORROW AND FOREVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  2. areaman714 - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    A little butt-kissing is helpful every now and then . . .

  3. spitfisher - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    Wow, Richards is brilliant…..

  4. billiam55 - Jul 25, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    “was willing to sign a one-year, $2 million contract with them over potentially more lucrative offers”

    hmmmm ya maybe bc hes getting that 24 million from the rangers

  5. rutledge3197 - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:04 PM

    Maybe true but that’s cuz the Cubs & White Sox suck …. NY has the Yankees… The Giants….. And well that’s where he is … For now

  6. blackhawks2010 - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    Richards is 100% correct, the Blackhawks are the best organization in the NHL. No question, first choice for any player. Class Act.

    • billiam55 - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:24 PM

      not the best. one of the best.

    • lowenni - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:36 PM

      I’m sure you’re not biased at all, blackhawks2010

  7. esracerx46 - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    I don’t want to come off as conceited but……only half?

    • lowenni - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:20 PM

      Well you still came off as conceited.

      ….I’m just jealous that the Hawks are so good.

      • esracerx46 - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        Yeah… Points for being aware of it? Haha. Just glad they’re finally out of the doldrums. This is the golden age of the blackhawks.

  8. nyking1963 - Jul 25, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    Players take discounts to stay in LA and play for the Kings.
    Right now the Kings organization is the standard bearer for NHL franchises.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:29 PM

      stripping asside fan bias, they are probably 1 and 2.

  9. nightfireop - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:18 PM

    that’s nice brad, only one detail: you signed with the hawks at a gimme-another-chance-to-prove-myself price and not at your maximum value. therefore salary cap or not, you wouldn’t have made that much of a difference payment-wise.

  10. endusersolutions2013 - Jul 25, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    Bommom line is that Brad, you need to REALLY hit your conditioning now, and get rest during the pre and real season, as if you can’t bring it, Q is not reluctant to sit folks.

  11. 34defense2014 - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    I can’t believe it took him this long to realize they no one likes a Rag!

  12. 34defense2014 - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:01 PM

    Oops, that lol

  13. Wineshard - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    Yeah franchises all of a sudden become “model franchises” when they happen to land generational players in the draft. I remember when the Chicago arena would be a barren wasteland. Now that Toews and Kane ride in on their flying unicorns everything is hunky dory.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:28 AM

      Playerws are one part of the equation. The former CEO $$Bil underspent the franchise into the ground. His son built it back up when he took over.

      You cannot be single factorial with intellectual honesty.

      Do some research before your over generalize again.

      • cfos00 - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        If anything you’re underselling how bad an owner Bill was. Not being able to watch most games on TV was unbelievable, and ESPN had ranked it as the worst organization in pro sports—not just hockey— during his last couple of years alive. I interned there in college, and it was pretty surreal with certain things. You really couldn’t question or sound like you were unsure of decisions by the organization within the office without expecting Pulford or his son to tell Bill. Mike Smith was about as confident around the office as a guy that wouldn’t trust to run a gas station, let alone a franchise ( he did do some good things but signing Fleury was inexcusable when it happened, not just looking back). Bill dying and Rocky, not his brother who had been actively driving the franchise into the ground with Bill, getting the franchise was absolutely huge. As big as Kane and Toews have been, you can’t undersell how big it was to get an owner who understood professional sports, marketing, wanted to engage a fan base, embraced players from the past like Hull and Stan, and that has been willing to spend has been for the Hawks. The turnaround of the organization has been really remarkable, from the ice to the owners.

  14. kevt197 - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:39 PM

    it was a nice tricky move that they made hiring Stan Bowman knowing that Scotty would follow his son there… they are what Detroit used to be because they stole Detroit’s front office… no hard feelings though always kinda like the Blackhawks..

  15. dadawg77 - Jul 25, 2014 at 11:58 PM

    Also the rise of Toews and Kane happened after Bill Wirtz passed away and Rocky took over. That has about as much impact as Kane and Toews did to the increased popularity

  16. kicksave1980 - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    As a lifelong Blackhawks fan, this is amazing. Granted, half of the “fan” base doesn’t remember the old days, but I can remember in the not so distant past when people used to say that the Hawks had to overpay every free agent off of the scrap heap because the team was so terrible.

    • chanceoffleury - Jul 26, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      Indeed. I’ve posted about this before, but I remember going to a Blackhawks-Pens game in like 2003-ish and it was just pitiful. They were both so, so bad. I’m only 23 but my family has been season ticket holders since 1996, and my dad has taken me to games for years. We split them with my grandpa and uncles. I’ve been through the ups of watching them announce the Pens had won the Crosby sweepstakes, and downs not so long before that when the team had a goal differential of like -120. I remember at this hawks-pens game in particular my dad had been given 2 lower bowl, probably 15 rows off the blue line seats for free for giving blood. He didn’t even have to win them or anything. They just gave them as an optional gift to any person who donated. Among other options were “save a life, donate blood” t-shirts, pirate/steeler/pens hats, discounted kennywood tickets, small giftcards, etc. You could resolve western hemisphere blood shortages nowadays by giving away Pens-Hawks tickets. Haha!

  17. djshnooks - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    I know nobody wants to believe it…

    But this is where the Sabres are headed, with all the talent they have, world-class owners in the Pegula’s, an intelligent GM in Murray and a Hall of Fame Asst. GM in Patrick…plus lots of cap space to play with.

    And on top of all that, they were able to get the Montreal captain to come home and be the leader for rebuild…plus, they got his best friend to add Buffalo to his trade-list, putting the Sabres ahead of Original-6 franchises like Toronto and Detroit…oh yeah, Matt Moulson decided he wanted to come back after being traded away.

    I don’t care who you are or what you think, that says a lot about the Buffalo Sabres organization, owner and what they’re building. I don’t expect a Stanley Cup anytime soon, but I’m realistic…and with Reinhart, Ristolainen, Zadorov, Girgensons, Grigorenko, Armia, Pysyk, Hodgson, Ennis, Myers…that’s a nice group to build a new core around, all first round picks…plus 3 more in next year’s draft…add McDavid to that, and you have one very special group of young players.

    Again, I’m not expecting a cup next year…but I think you’re all going to be singing a different tune about the Sabres come 2015-16 when they will probably be the next “Colorado,” worst to first, team.

    Just watch…I promise it’s coming.

  18. 950003cups - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:39 AM

    Not the Kings?

  19. bbk1000 - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:15 AM

    “There’s a lot going on in Chicago too, but it’s the middle of July and the Blackhawks are relevant. What’s happened here is remarkable.”

    Ummm, Chicago is a nice town, but as sports go, there is absolutely nothing else worth a damn in Chicago….nothing…

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      I think you both just said the same thing.

  20. andyisfat - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Can you say bandwagon fans?

  21. cheggy1731 - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    LA fans enjoy the Kings and congrats once again. But you’ll find out once again how hard it is to repeat in this tough and competitive league. Party hard, it’s a short off season, and can’t wait until the Hawks knock you off your throne AGAIN !!!

  22. reeggss - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    Well put djshnooks

  23. hockeyfan117 - Jul 26, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    And no not the Kings,…lets give the Kings credit 2 cups in 3 years is great but honestly no one gives a rats ass about LA Kings hockey. Look at their parade,…I’ve seen more people at an MLS game then that(major league soccer). They are about as significant in the hockey landscape as the Hurricanes. Some teams just matter more then others sorry Nashville, LA, FLA, Carolina, Dallas. I bet you can make a real argument that the Winnipeg jets are more important to the NHL then the Kings!

    As for the Hawks damn straight Brad! Scotty, Stan, John D and Rocky have put the Hawks back on the map! Don’t take my words for it there is a reason the Hawks have the most national televised games this season and it isn’t just luck. Go Hawks!

  24. numba1wiscosportsfan - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    the other half move back home and play for the Wild!

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  1. P. Kessel (1795)
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  3. P. Datsyuk (1258)
  4. M. Richards (1109)
  5. M. Giordano (1104)