Being the top point man on the Dallas Stars gives Brad Richards a tough job of having to do his part in keeping the tough, but young, Stars afloat in the tough Western Conference. With Richards in the final year of his contract, he’s focused on doing what he can to show that he continues to be one of the NHL’s top playmakers and point producers.
Unfortunately, with the Dallas Stars ownership situation hanging in limbo and the team unable to make any major financial moves (like a contract extension for example) Richards is a prime suspect for trade rumors and speculation. With the Stars playing in Toronto tonight, talk picked up about Leafs fans daydreaming of having Richards centering Phil Kessel and Kris Versteeg and how well those three could work out.
Sure, it’s a pipe dream for now, but TSN’s Bob McKenzie says that trade talk to Toronto and elsewhere might get fired up again in the future if things in Dallas’ front office don’t get straightened up.
And there’s no question the Maple Leafs will be knocking on that door in a big way. But so will the centre-starved New York Rangers and the Blueshirts’ trump card could be that Richards loved playing for coach John Tortorella during their halcyon days in Tampa.
So even if Richards does move, and smart money is he will be on the move at some point, it will be a lot closer to Feb. 28 than now and the Leafs will have plenty of competition.
There’s a lot of “what if” type of talk to this and there’s obviously nothing at all imminent or even likely going on with Dallas regarding Richards in either trade talk or contract discussions. For Dallas fans, they’re not at all excited about the possibility of moving Richards as he’s proven to be Dallas’ top player since arriving from Tampa Bay in the 2007-2008 season.
This year, Richards is Dallas’ top scorer again after being their top man last year by 20 points over Loui Eriksson. It’s safe to say that if the Stars don’t have Richards, they become a woefully inept offensive team and that if a team were interested in making a deal for him it’d have to be a whopper. But if the ownership situation doesn’t improve in Dallas, GM Joe Nieuwendyk would lose trade leverage later in the year when the Stars might have to make a really hard decision whether or not to keep Richards in the fold or risk losing him for nothing.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.