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Brad Richards is the new Wade Redden

An increasingly rare pose; Brad Richards goal celebration.

An increasingly rare pose; Brad Richards goal celebration.

Who knew Brad Richards’ fall from grace would be so quick, so sudden? In what looks like an irreversible decline in both form and ability, Brad Richards offering up the occasional solid period here or decent game, won’t likely be enough to stop his premature departure from the Rangers. Not many people anticipated him fulfilling his free agent contract but few will have seen his potential departure coming so soon.

Richards’ had a decent, if somewhat underwhelming first season in New York. In his defence, an abbreviated, compressed season with almost no training camp that was further hindered by the flu bug certainly didn’t help the veteran reach his expected level this year. Though, even with all that considered he still doesn’t look right.

There is surely no way Richards sees anywhere close to the end of his contract. Much like Wade Redden, Richie’s deal is already almost untradeable (especially with Bob Gainey no longer running hockey operations in Montreal). Indeed, Richards’ deal is especially untouchable considering the reduction in the salary cap next season.

The Rangers have already had their fair share of disastrous big name free agents. Redden, Chris Drury and Scott Gomez all arrived to much fanfare, yet all left the franchise in timid (at best) style. Richards’ would need a spectacular finish to his season – what looks highly unlikely – to defer discussion of the compliance buyout that appears to loom large.

While his relationship with coach Tortorella and apparent respect in the dressing room speak volumes of Richards as a person, no one ever doubted Redden, or Drury in that regard, but they were still moved because they couldn’t perform on the ice any more. Richards likely needs some divine intervention or a summer reprieve to quickly find his old form before next season begins. However, there is one significant aspect that is worth considering: the Rangers’ reputation as a ‘classy’ organisation, in addition to their well documented past mistakes in free agency.

The club has been chastised for all the big name mistakes in their recent past. While they have rebuilt the organisation impressively, predominantly through the draft, the media enjoys reminding the hockey world of the Rangers past blunders. The fact Richards will only be two years into his new contract this summer is a potential saving grace for the former elite center.

While buying him out may be the right roster move, it would look bad on the franchise in respect to how they treat players (knee jerk reactions to bad seasons) and may damage the club in reputation and appeal (to other potential players). This may be more of a long term issue than the damage Richards’ potential lack of production would have on the club’s on ice performance.

Someone that was once near the top of his trade seems to have become the new Wade Redden; a problem that might not go away in short order. The Rangers decision with how they deal with Richards may not be as clear cut as writing a cheque to write off a player.

30 Responses to “Brad Richards is the new Wade Redden”

  1. Chemmy says:

    “Who knew Brad Richards’ fall from grace would be so quick, so sudden?”

    http://theleafsnation.com/2011/6/3/brad-is-about-to-be-much-richer-ds

    June 3rd, 2011:

    “Finally, is Brad Richards the right fit for this Leafs squad? They’re young and they’re not very good but Richards seems like a bandaid fix. He’s unlikely to be the one piece that brings the Stanley Cup back to Toronto and in two or three years he could very well be a 55 point $7.5M boat anchor.”

  2. Harry says:

    Overreaction theater at it’s finest. Richards’ had been out of shape most of the season because he didn’t play in Europe during the lockout. When Richards joined the Rangers, the culture of the clubhouse completely changed for the better and they made the conference final for the first time since 1997. He deserves at least another season to redeem himself. Even if you’re the biggest Richards hater, wouldn’t it better to save the buyout for a better free agent class?

    • Walt says:

      Hay Harry, I’m no Richards hater, but the man is so slow, his passes aren’t as crisp, and he just doesn’t have the compete level he had even last year. The excuse that he didn’t play in Europe means nothing, plenty of others didn’t!

      • Harry says:

        Brad Richards’ body responds differently than other players. Novel concept?

        • Walt says:

          This coming from a 67 year old fan, he is getting there quicker than we thought, maybe that explains why he responds differently???????

      • scrangersfan says:

        You are absolutely correct Walt,I couldn’t have said it better myself. While I’m not a Richards hater, I did not think he was a good signing for the Rangers last year and I voiced my opinion on the blog. This is one time that I was hoping to say That I was wrong but I can not. Richards need to be bought out in the summer,no if and no but’s about it.

    • HARLEMBLUES says:

      Harry it’s pretty simple would you pay B.RICH 7.5+. yes or no.He deserves nothing,he’s being paid millions Harry.

      • Harry says:

        Oh he’s over-payed, no doubt. He should be bought out, just not this offseason, the 2014 class looks great, Rangers could replace him with Malkin.

  3. Brendan says:

    Even if he played significantly better this season, and this is a very big WHAT IF the Rangers take another deep run into the playoffs and Richards plays great, I still feel like he has no chance with the Rangers in the future, especially with how quickly Stepan has developed into a first line C.

  4. Bayman says:

    The difference with Redden is that the Redden contract was, to many, an obvious disaster the moment it was signed. It’s sad to watch the disintegration of his game though, like Harry, I lean toward giving him another year in hopes this season was a result of the lockout/flu more than aging.

  5. VinceR says:

    I know he wasn’t looking like a superstar beforehand, but what do folks think of any issues from the Kaleta hit?

    • ASFJR says:

      I’ve been thinking the same thing, that there was more to the Kaleta hit then they let on.

      I think he gets one more year. If I am understanding it correctly, the 2nd compliance buyout can be used this summer, or next.

      I’d rather they go down the middle with Stepan, Brassard, Richards and one of Boyle/Miller/Powe (with the other two playing the wing) next season.

      Stepan has improved offensively, but he’s really only sustained it for a quarter of the season, I’d want to see how consistent he is over a full 82. Same with Brassard. If they become legit 1 & 2’s then you buy Richards out regardless of his 2013-14 performance. They will need his $6 Million to resign Callahan, Girardi, the King (all UFAs) and also need $$ for MDZ, Kreider, Brassard & Moore.

      They’ll have $14 million to play with this summer, so they should be ok with re-signing the RFAs and keeping Clowe if his demands are realistic

  6. rocketroy says:

    SICK N’ TIRED OF TORTS STYLE HOCKEY…I am sure every Rangers fan, like myself found ourselves falling for the “Trade Deadline Syndrome”, as things were really looking up, and the new players was the magic we needed to carry us right into the playoffs….OOOPS…As I suggested right before the trade deadline, the ONE constant to this teams horrible play is Torts & Sully, and said that Sather should fire both, and bring in Jim Schoenfeld to finish out the year, and again we are back to same old style play, with the worst PP and PK, and are close to being eliminated, so why not give Schoenfeld a shot at it, what in the hell do we have to loose…!!!

    • Seahorse says:

      the playoff spot we currently have. teams dont just always get better and better every year. tampa was a game from the cup 2 years ago they arent doin so hot. the devils arent too great either after making the cup finals

    • VinceR says:

      Thanks for keeping it relevant rocket. And not being a broken record or mentioning they look like sh*t when they DON’T play Torts hockey, like last night with zero forecheck and not getting the puck low (when they did, they had opportunities, scored one off of plays like that, others Mason had to make some great saves).

      • Bluesboy says:

        Huh..? I think the BEST game they played ALL SEASON was the day after the Gaborik trade when the three new guys showed up at the rink 15 minutes before game time and just played a GREAT game (along with 12-15 other Rangers…) Sure enough, one or two practices under Tortorella and the new guys all look completely lost and timid… “let’s fall down, block shots and take ourselves COMPLETELY out of the play!”

        • VinceR says:

          And those guys were forechecking that game. Make up your minds, is the issue in the dzone or the offensive part of the game? Forechecking is defense too…defense in the ozone…you don’t have the puck and you keep the other team from controlling, hopefully taking it back away, and thus keeping them out of your zone.

        • scrangersfan says:

          That’s what you call the Tortorella virus Bluesboy, all the Rangers players catch it as soon as they step on the ice and follow Torts’s
          instructions.

  7. DPeters says:

    Sorry I disagree. I believe this player spent more time prior to start of shorten season aiding the local community rather than preparing himself for the coming season. This is quality player that needs to re-dedicate himself. Give him another year before writing him off – TOO MUCH talent. We see spirits of his old self but I am not sure he is in shape. This condition can be said for a lot present players. I firmly believe that a full training camp with Torts will produce a team similar to last year.

  8. Mr. Snrub says:

    Far as I know, Gauthier was the one who didn’t like McD, and with Gainey out because of his daughter’s death, Gauthier executed the Gomez or Mac Truck swap.

    That aside, I’m 100% in favor of buying out Richards. Only getting 66 points last season was a sign of decline, and all evidence points to his decline becoming more severe.

  9. vrp says:

    Brad Richards will turn 33 in May. Top years for NHL players is 27-ish. Richards is 6 years beyond his prime. Just four or five of the top 30 goal scores and points leaders during the current season have reached the age of thirty – and two of those are wingers for Crosby! Richards’ crash has been dramatic, but, it should not be surprising. What is surprising is why GM’s continue to give long term contracts to players pushing old age by NHL standards. And, yes, I know there are exceptions to the rule, but, they are becoming fewer and fewer in the modern day NHL. It takes its toll on the body and the mind.

  10. TxRanger says:

    Richards is not the new Wade Redden. This is what I love about sports blogs. We’re doing good since the deadline, we lose one game and rocketroy is freaking out again. A guy is having a tough season, we gotta get rid of him. Everybody chill out. Please.

  11. Evan says:

    No reason not to give richards another year. Offloading gaborik gave us sufficient cap space to resign our RFAs this summer and I really do not see us bringing back clowe based on the contract demands i had heard.

    I agree Richards has been completely dreadful this year, but I do not see many viable free agent center options this summer (unless i am missing something). Had Getzlaf not re-signed with Anaheim I think this discussion would be different, but I doubt getzlaf would want to go to a team who just bought out both redden and richards. Not the best of look. Either way, I think we give richards another summer to regroup and hopefully find his game. If not, I guess we may try and make a play for malkin next summer, but who knows at what cost that would be.

    In other news, columbus is in overtime at anaheim and have moved into sole possession of 8th place in the west with detroit losing at calgary. Not sure if they will end up making the playoffs, but pretty amazing season for them after the nash trade and they are absolutely stacked at defense even after giving us Moore.

  12. sean says:

    I know this seems weird but what stick does Richards use? it looks like he needs to add an inch to the length and get some tork in his snap shots. He flubs a lot of passes too.

  13. Ray V says:

    Richards has this look of no confidence now. The thing we all also need to take into consideration is the playing in New York no matter what major sport comes with added pressures (media, fans and so on) that you will not see in to many other cities. Most of us can probably go down the list of athletes in ALL our major sports that just could not handle the pressure of playing for a New York sports team. I was hoping that with the arrival of Stud Nash, Richards would feel the pressure off of him (pressure I think he put on himself) and gain that confidence back and play with the talent and abilities that he has. I think if he can play 3 good games in a row, it will bring that confidence back. Right now he just has that LOOK of fear.

  14. neal says:

    Can someone explain to me how at age 33 Richards skills have eroded so quickly. The skating, the passing, the shooting and missing several empty nets and most shockingly the falling down (many times). I have (as we all have)seen players skills erode, but not everything at once, which is what is happening here. I think there is something else going on (I have no clues what it could be) But all of a sudden, It seems as though ALL his hockey skills are gone at once.

  15. Lou says:

    For those of you looking at things for how you hoped them to be instead of how they are, the FACT is Richards is done.

    The excuse of no training camp is way past overused as surely by now he should have played himself into shape.

    The excuse of the Kaleta hit is also just as old-news – look at Stepan getting his bell rung last game and continuing to play at a high level.

    The excuse that he “can” play at a high level is long past its expiration, as it has not happened. and finally,

    The excuse that he is a good locker room guy, frankly, doesn’t sit well with me cause if any person were getting paid 4/5 of his salary, getting less playing time and being more productive, I am certain we would all be pissed.

    Facts are: he doesn’t hit (undeniable). Cant win a faceoff (remember last game). Cant make or hold a pass. Doesn’t drive to the net (undeniable). And isn’t even the play-maker he was made out to be. Forgetting his contract, based on these FACTS that player would not be invited back next year and would surely not be playing even 8 minutes a game. For these reasons he is a cancer and THE reason the NYR will fail this year.

    As for a buyout, Richards regrettably goes down in the NYR history as another Gomez, Drury, Holik, Lindross, Flurey, and yes, Redden — someone who came in and would not perform (the reasons are immaterial).

    Shame on you if you do not hold Richards up to high standards and accountability. Would it be me or you to have this opportunity we would give up our right arm for 1/3 his pay and to play for our beloved team.

    Why then do these idiots not perform? Drugs, laziness, entitlement and the lack of will to push on because they are financially set.

    C’mom new yorkers! Our fabric is to exceed expectations, to perform best when we are not supposed to, and to show up when its the hardest.

    Let’s hold our players to that same montra !!!

  16. Greg says:

    Believe me when I tell I have thought long and hard about buying out Richards. Stepan has taken over the #1 center spot with Brassard the #2. Richards should be the #3 unless Miller plays lights out in training camp. Don’t forget on the farm you have Yogans (6’3″ 215 lbs.), Jean (6’3″ 205 lbs.) and Hrivik (6’2″ 205 lbs.)who all will be vying for a roster spot. Sather needs to upgrade the D also maybe sending DZ & Thomas to Winnipeg for Byflgein (Rumor going around @ at the trade deadline). You’d wind up with 1-McD, Girardi, 2-Staal, Byflgein & 3-Moore, McAlrath (Eminger or Stralman xtras).

  17. pavel says:

    He woke up in the game against Panthers. Richards was really flying on his goal and the bounce of Zuck’s skate. He still has it, let’s home he’s beginning to put it back together. He’s a classy guy who deserves better.