One of the big things to come out of the off-season and more recently the New York Rangers training camp so far is the talk from Brad Richards about his new commitment to excellence. New head coach Alain Vigneault has made the theme of this year’s training camp “Clean slate… grab it!” and that seems to have Richards sold. “He uses the clean slate thing, but he uses it especially with me that all is forgotten.” Said Richards. Coach Vigneault’s clean slate campaign will be perfect for a Brad Richards that is trying to move on from the season he had last year. Starting anew is what he is looking for, but was his most previous season really so horrible? Was his skating and strength as up to par as we’ve seen in recent years? No definitely not, but even still the center managed to get 34 points in the most previous regular season and has accumulated 100 points in a season and a half with the Rangers. Now, with Vigneault, a more offensive-minded coach leading the way can Richards turn it around for the better like he says he can?
Potentially though, what can we expect from Richards? One of the key advantages to Richards is that he’s got a Stanley Cup ring and a Conn Smythe trophy from his 2003-2004 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, achieving 79 points that season, the idea of bringing him here was to not only have him be an offensive threat, but to have him be the team’s emotional leader and experience holder when it comes to going deep in the playoffs. Not only that, but since he joined the team two seasons ago, Richards has arguably been the our greatest asset when we needed him most. We all remember the winter classic against the Philadelphia Flyers, and who doesn’t remember game 5 of the conference semi-finals against the Washington Capitals during the 2012 playoffs? Brad Richards has the potential to be this team’s mentor and anchor, and with his experience help lead them to a Stanley Cup Final.