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Can hard skating Richards rebound?

The Rangers would love the Dallas Stars version of Brad Richards to return.

The Rangers would love the Dallas Stars version of Brad Richards to return.

Perhaps the smallest but most intriguing piece of news that has come out of Ranger land in recent days is that of Brad Richards already spending significant time on the ice ahead of the up coming season. Last season Richards wasn’t prepared (at all) for the abbreviated, condensed season and it showed all year long. The Rangers did fine without a strong season from Richards but it goes without saying that a well rested, fully functioning Richards makes the Rangers much stronger and more dangerous.

The fact Richards has been skating for the best part of a month is fantastic news. It indicates he is aware of the necessity of being in top shape in a critical juncture in his career and it indicates he’s willing to do whatever it takes to rebound. Barring an MVP like season it is likely Richards is heading into his last year as a Ranger but a good year for Richards means he could make himself attractive to other teams. The free agency market is not looking strong next summer and a 70+ point season from Richards would likely give him another chance to cash in.

The incentives for both Richards and the Rangers are numerous as the veteran approaches the 2013/14 season. If Richards can be the Dallas vintage Richards – he of the 90 point seasons – then the Rangers are instantly a contender. With Lundqvist in net, with their defensive core in place and with Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan up front the Rangers would boast multiple assets.

So much could depend on Richards. An in-form Richards all of a sudden gives the Rangers a much more intimidating middle of the ice. A trio of the blossoming Stepan, an in form Richards and the talented Derick Brassard would be comparable to most of the NHL’s elite middle groups. Perhaps only Pittsburgh can really boast a better three – regardless of their form. Of course, all that depends on this aforementioned form.

Of course, Richards has previous when it comes to rebounding. A mediocre year in Tampa became a trade to Dallas and following a relative subdued start to his time in Texas it was followed up by a 91 point season to re-emerge Richards among the games elite centres. No one truly expects Richards to be able to return to the top table of NHL centers but a return to being a fine top six center would be welcomed with open arms by the Rangers. It could be a critical aspect of the Rangers immediate future.

31 Responses to “Can hard skating Richards rebound?”

  1. Bloomer says:

    Hopefully he can improve his play on the PP. That is what the Rangers desperately need right now. If not, bench him so he doesn’t hurt himself and then they can but him out.

  2. Walt says:

    I, for one, am pulling for BR to have a good season, only because we are stuck with him for this up coming year, and he still is a Ranger. My gut tells me that he is over the hill, and is on a slippery slope, and won’t have much of a season.

    My biggest fear is that he has a decent year, and then the team decides to keep him, that would be a disaster. Let’s face it, these guys play well, then they reach a certain age, and it’s like a brick wall. Their hearts are in it, but their bodies aren’t, and that is what I believe is going on with BR. Should that be the case, we are looking to move some young kids up faster than we want, but maybe it won’t be such a bad thing after all!!

    • Centerman21 says:

      Keeping Richards is partially due to the kids in the pipeline not being ready. They need Richards one more season as a bridge to those players.
      Richards isn’t over the hill at age 33. He’s certainly got 2-3 years left. He wasn’t too old in 11/2 but in one offseason he became too old and slow to play professional hockey? Is that what the nay Sayers are saying? Because its pretty ridiculous.
      Richie had 11 points in the Rangers first 13 games last season and without being in game shape. Then he took that hit from Kaleta sending him head first into the boards.
      The man has worked his butt off this year so he can at least go out with a good season. Maybe he has a monster 80+ point season and the Rangers win a cup this year. Either way he’s gone. If he were to get injured then the Rangers may shut him down but until then, why not think positive? Stop being pessimists.

  3. Tim says:

    You raise a great point that we should all be very optimistic about–in all likelihood, regardless of how he plays the Rangers will probably have to buy him out bc the new CBA is so harsh on these contracts. I like Brad and think our fans are too fickle when it comes to turning on people, but realistically he’s prob gone no matter what from a business standpoint. He puts up 85 points now it’s great, but this cap hit in 3-6 years is gonna be brutal and we know there’s gonna be rough years ahead for him–this is the peak of the wave no matter what. BUT what’s great about this is what’s great about SHORT TERM contracts, that they light an economic fire under people’s asses. So BR will know he’s not just playing for his future here, but wherever he plays, so hell yeah, I say we hop on board and hope he lights it up this year and gets us back into contention!
    …Then we just gotta trust that our management will be smart enough to say, “Ok, but seriously, have fun going to play in philly or with whoever signs you after we buy you out…”
    I love all our players and I hate to turn on them, but NO player should ever get a deal like we gave BR–that kind of security just inherently breeds the mediocrity that comes from being too safe. We all need incentives to push us–things to make us want to get better and better every year.
    The only person who doesnt? Hank Lundqvist, the robot warrior machine who runs on the extreme personal guilt of thinking if he only hadn’t let up one goal we wouldn’t have lost 1-0….
    Lets go Rangers!

    • Walt says:

      I for one was against signing BR in the first place. When the terms were announced I posted that the contract was nuts. On many other occasions I stated that the man isn’t hungry any more with he contract being what it is. I want him to have success because he is on our team, but the legs aren’t there, the hunger isn’t there, and yes he is over the hill, in spite of what others may say!!!!!

      • Scully says:

        I want to continue to go on record and say you have no right to question this man’s hunger or say “mother time” is coming for him. The terms of his contract when announced were considered very good compared to the rest of the market and what he was commanding. He took LESS to come to the Rangers. Does that smack of someone who isn’t hungry?

  4. Frank Cerbone says:

    Richards will be hard pressed to put up a 50 pt season.

    • Chris says:

      What do you base this on Frank?
      Even during a dismal year he was on a better pace than you expect him to miss. Let’s face it, even if they ‘only’ get 60 points out of him over a full year that’s better than most team’s 2nd line center’s.
      No reason not to expect at least a decent return.

      • Centerman21 says:

        He’s not basing his estimate on anything. Richards was on pace for 61 points last season. People are just unfairly ruling him out for no reason. They act like they have to pay his salary. He’s working his butt off this offseason in Connecticut with a trainer/nutritionist. He will be a “Man on Fire” when this season starts. Like you said in the post, he’s probably playing for next season this year. Wether it’s a new contract or to play with the Rangers. I doubt that contract of his is allowed to exist after the buyout period ends next summer. Just let the guy prove he can still play people. He’s working real hard and no one feels worse about last year than Richie himself. The guy is a proud hockey player!

  5. Spozo says:

    60+ points (his pace last year) on a 1 year contract is not something anyone could have gotten out of free agency this year. The elephant in the room is the injury risk.

  6. neubster says:

    how & why was he not prepared for last year?

    • Nyrangers100 says:

      Cuz he had the flu going into training camp so he wasn’t game-ready with his skating

    • Centerman21 says:

      He was working with the Players union so we could have a 12/13 hockey season. It sucks but the owners used the lockout to get their way. It hurt the 30 somethings of the NHL the worst not having a training camp to get in game shape. Not Richards doing, he’s one of the veterans expected to be there as a union rep for the players and the Ranger players.

      • Walt says:

        And how many others were, and they played their hearts out!! This is a cop out.

        Crosby, Toews, and the list goes on, yet they played damn good all year, BR didn’t. End of story with this excuse my friend.

        • TxRanger says:

          You only listed two guys, so I’d like to see how far you knowledge really goes into this. Plus the two you listed are younger. Need I say more?

          • Walt says:

            Another appoligist!!!!!

            • TxRanger says:

              I for one think Brad is done. But your point was weak, your example was flawed, and you acted all knowing when you clearly can’t even counter. Shut up Walt! Everyone hear knows you know nothing!

          • Walt says:

            To all who don’t agree with me, here is a list of some player reps involved during the lock out who still had good seasons, that BR didn’t:::::

            Paille-Boston
            Mayers-Hawks
            Kromwell-Wings
            Horcoff-Oilers
            Salvador-Devils
            Tavares-Isles
            Biron & Step-Rangers
            Phillips-Sens
            Chimera-Caps
            Doan-Coyotes
            Hartnell-Flyers
            Gorges-Canadiens
            Orpik-Pens

            To TxRanger, some are younger, plenty are older, Doan anyone. So let’s drop the bunk about he was involved with the strike, and couldn’t train for the season, that is an excuse.

            Also TxRanger don’t get personal, if you disagree, so be it, don’t go shooting your mouth off and telling people to shut up, you sound like a dim wit when you do!!!!!

            • Hoggo says:

              Stepan was in Europe. Biron played in 6 games. Using Jamal Mayers as an example of playing well at any point in his career is indescribable(he played 19 games and had 2 assits last season) and Horcoff had a shit year.

              What standard are you using for “good seasons”. Half those guys are lower tier players (Chimera, Phillips, Paille) who wouldn’t be expected to have anywhere near the impact that Richards or someone of his ilk would have.

              • Walt says:

                The point I was trying to make is don’t use the excuse for not being in shape was due to your work with the union. I don’t care what quality player I mentioned, they were there for the union, and were ready to play when the season started.

                Chara, Montador, Feds, Parros, Adams (Pens), Lecavalier where also involved, and they were all ready, Richards wasn’t, that is the point.

          • Walt says:

            Hay dip stick, the word is YOUR, not you, so don’t go correcting people’s spelling, or grammer until you proof read your own posting!!!

  7. Debra says:

    he does not have a choice which is the key to must willpower!
    all or nothin – reigning richards to do!!

  8. Sean says:

    An extra bonus of a rebound season for Richards is the added resources other teams would need to put towards acquiring him next season. The more spent on Richards, the less whatever team takes him has to spend elsewhere, the more buying power the Rangers have.
    (This is assuming there is almost no chance of the Rangers not buying him out)

  9. FrankCerbone says:

    Last year? How does a “leader” making $12 mil a year not afford a flu shot?

    • Dave says:

      Let’s just call a spade a spade: The Rangers organization doesn’t care about annual salary, just the cap hit.

      61 points for a 2C is solid production. Sure, his contract is bad, but they have the cap space and they will need his production from the 2C slot.

  10. Matt Josephs says:

    I think we all want Richards to succeed. I just think really no matter what his production is this year he has to be bought out next year (barring the salary cap absolutely sky rockets and he can be kept with relative ease).

    Just need to get one good season out of him. Just one. I think he has it in him to do well. Just needs to find his skating legs. Maybe Avery mistakenly threw Richards skates in the Hudson.

  11. supermaz says:

    I don’t see him bouncing back.
    I see him as finished…we’d be lucky to get 40 pts. out of him.
    He was downright awful the second half of last season. I agree with Walt. Should have bought him out this past off-season. I hope we don’t regret it.

    • Walt says:

      Your asking for trouble agreeing with me, Centerman21 won’t like that at all!!!!!