(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images North America)

Why Brad Richards Has Been Anything But A Bust

When you’re a big-ticket free agent in any sport, the minute the ink dries on your new lucrative deal the expectations soar to unthinkable levels. And, more often that not, those players fail to reach those lofty heights.

Add to that the pressure of playing in New York City, the intense media scrutiny, and a passionate fan-base and you have a recipe for potential disaster if you get off to a slow start, right? Except if your name is Brad Richards.

The marquee name in this past offseason, Richards opted to come to Broadway over any other location, realizing a young Rangers’ team, similar to the style he won with in Tampa in 2004, has a great opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. Not to mention, one of the best – if not the best- goalies in hockey named Henrik Lundqvist.

However, there’s a sentiment floating around that Brad Richards has been less than what he’s capable of through the early portion of the season. Not yet a free-agent “bust” but toeing that line ever so slightly. I’m here to to say that is the farthest thing from the truth.

Join me after the jump to find out why Richards has been more than just numbers this season. 

6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points in 16 games. Observe that stat line.

Immediately your impressions are it’s fairly good. Nearly a point per game pace, something all offensive players hope for over the course of an entire season.

However, if you add to it the expectations of a 9-year, $60 million deal and you get the ridiculous perception Brad Richards is not living up to his deal. The culprit perpetuating this idea is TSN, who briefly touched on Richards recently and had this to say about the all-star center:

The biggest free agent in the pond this summer was forward Brad Richards, who made a high profile move from Dallas to the New York Rangers. He was expected to drive their offence but the 31-year-old has given New York less than a point per game and has just four goals in 13 contests.

Maybe TSN should have waited to respond as Richards added 2 more goals to his season totals, including a clutch, game-winning goal to defeat the New York Islanders last night. Not to be forgotten is the goal Richards scored against the Montreal Canadiens to maintain a two-goal lead or the late third period snipe against the Anaheim Ducks in Sweden to tie a game the Rangers were out of.

Going beyond the numbers, Richards added necessary depth at the center position for the Rangers. Taking some of the spotlight off of Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan enables both to continue developing steadily, especially Stepan who is tied for 4th on the Rangers with 10 points (7 of them coming since placed on the GAS line with Anisimov, Gaborik).

Stepan’s growing confidence might stem from a conversation he had with Richards recently, who told the young center to not over think and to just play. Or ask Michael Del Zotto what Richards has meant to his re-emergence this season, admitting to Richards mentoring him on and off the ice. It’s that type of leadership you can’t put a financial value on. It’s an intangible asset only a few possess and use. John Tortorella was already aware of Richards’ leadership abilities from his Tampa Bay days and it’s clearly justifiable why he was comfortable giving Richards an “A.”

The one area Richards was brought in to improve and hasn’t thus far is the power play. Operating at a 13.4% (good for 22nd in the NHL) isn’t exactly the optimal proficiency. Yet, at times you do see the difference Richards brings with his vision and world-class passing ability. His assist to Dan Girardi during the Carolina Hurricanes game last Friday is a prime example of what the club is capable of with Richards in the fold.

The bottom is this: Strip away the money Brad Richards is being paid to be a New York Ranger and look at his total body of work thus far in just 16 games with the team and you’ll discover he has been everything the Rangers hoped for and much more.


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Tags: Artem Anisimov Brad Richards Derek Stepan John Tortorella New York Rangers TSN

  • nyifancentral

    Did Dolan write this propaganda, 30m dollars in the first two years to be completely invisible in baseball’s market and he is not even playing with the player he was signed to help.

    He scored a fluke for the Rags to avoid losing to a team that had the Rags on the ropes at the end of the game that already lost to them.

  • BlueLineStation

    Not exactly sure what part of the goal was a fluke. Care to elaborate? Does it matter who he’s playing with? I don’t care if he’s on a line with two Bantam players if he’s putting up points and the team is winning. We have a guy signed for 10 years who has helped push our team to the next level. You have a guy signed for the next 10 years who is either in the press box or on IR.

  • nyifancentral

    @BlueLineStation Sure, I will eloborate. Cablevision signed Richards to play with Gaborik to give him his franchise center and had to give him a pathetic contract (unlike DiPietro) where he makes 30m dollars in the first two years where in DiPietro’s case the burden to play if he wants to play is entirely on him at 4.5m where if he cannot play insurances pays and the cap hit is void.

    No one signs with the Cablevision Rangers who are invisible in Manhattan media (even without basketball) unless the contract is front-loaded and these dumb contracts are going to drive the sport to another lockout, the last one the Rangers were losing 25-40m a year because all Cablevision does is write off losses like Comcast Flyers and the Amway/Little Caesars Wings in Detroit.

    Plus these stupid contracts drive up the market for all the teams, that’s how Wisniewski is making 36m dollars.

    Richards scored a goal, Drury and Gomez scored goals as Rangers too, Bailey gave away the puck.

  • BlueLineStation

    @nyifancentral So your argument is that, because Richards, who is producing, is not doing so on the same line with Gaborik, who is also producing, the signing was therefore a bad decision. What kind of logic is that? Richards was signed to help the team, plain and simple. The thought was that he would center Gaborik, yes, but that was hardly the sole basis for the signing. Richards is helping Gaborik because it forces the other team to make a decision. Either send out your best defensive players against Gaborik, or do it against Richards. Either way, an all-star is going to have a favorable matchup. Yes, the Rangers front loaded the contract. This is pretty standard procedure in the NHL. Except for teams like the Islanders, who are too poor to sign anybody. I don’t exactly see how that’s something to be proud of. Out of the 5 or 6 teams that met with Richards and made him an offer, the Rangers offered the LEAST amount of money. So no, he didn’t sign with the Rangers because of the contract. He could have gotten more money elsewhere. It’s obvious that you’re just talking out of your ass. Dipietro can retire at any point, but he clearly won’t. Are you seriously trying to claim that the Islanders are better off with Dipietro than the Rangers are with Richards? If you truly believe that Drury and Gomez were on Brad Richards’ level then I question how much hockey you’ve watched.

    The whole “Cablevision Rangers” thing is hilarious. It’s like the people who insist on referring to Obama as “Barack Hussein.” I’m hardly a fan of James Dolan but lets be real. Charles Wang is famous for his nepotism and is a borderline criminal, with his financial schemes with Sanjay Kumar. He cut off Chris Botta, one of the best reporters in the NHL, and he made his backup goaltender GM. He plays the system in order to merely get over the Salary Cap Floor. Alexei Yashin got paid more to not play for the Islanders than any forward on the team did. He refuses to spend money to improve the team and has just about run them out of Nassau County and potentially New York completely. And you’re going to complain about Dolan’s economics and ethics? Let’s be serious. If a prospective owner who had even half the money and pedigree of Dolan showed interest in buying the Islanders and keeping them where they are you’d be euphoric.

    Your bias is incredibly apparent. The Rangers have one of the best records in the NHL despite having one of the youngest rosters. Our prospect pool is looking pretty good, and the team is stable. I’d think that 96% of Islanders fans would trade places with us in a heartbeat.

  • nyifancentral

    @BlueLineStation New York won four stanley cups in a row without Charles Dolan, Snow signed Streit. Sather Redden, Gomez Drury .

  • nyifancentral

    @BlueLineStation Rather than refute every silly counter point, you have more playoff than the NYI since 1997 and backed in to it while Richards Dallas Stars had more points and did not qualify. he got paid upfront which Toronto would not give him along with Montreal and most teams.

    What’s next Tortorella was only kidding when he said Avery did not belong in the NHL two weeks before Dolan handed him Cablevision cash to become coach and change his mind? LOL

    You have Sather, Redden and your mistakes, Snow has Streit, Moulson, Grabner and a good young core.

    Yashin had five more playoffs in New York than ME-$$-Ier, Richter and Leetch with 80m dollar teams.

    You have Dolan and Al Trautig, Botta has a job thanks to Charles Wang. Marv Albert does not and neither does Bob Page or all the people who left Dolan’s newsday.

    Without the 1981 tax exemption the Rangers are history, one Dolan refused to give up to renovate the NHL’s worst building that’s almost never really sold out and dead quiet. which is half filled with opposing fans.

    Enjoy your seven game shootout wining streak which is longest since NYI came into the NHL. our team won four cups in a row, are NYC only hockey dynasty and greatest US dynasty in NHL history and fifteen games in a row all in regulation.

    Dolan got sued today by a former player, he’s all yours.