It’s official: Brad Richards will not be waiving his no-trade clause before free agency opens on July 1st. Richards’ and his agent Pat Morris told Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk that he would not approve of any trades before the unrestricted agent hits the open market in a week. Predictably, Nieuwendyk isn’t pleased by having his hands tied—but there’s little he can do in this situation:
“It’s disappointing, but you move forward and work on to the next issue.”
The decision makes sense from Richards’ point of view. Instead of waiving the no-trade clause (that he negotiated when he signed his contract), he’s waiting to hit the open market as this year’s prized treasure. If he hasn’t decided where he’d prefer to play, then there’s no reason to waive the no-trade clause simply to negotiate with a team when he may want to negotiate with another team on July 1. It’s pretty simple: he wants to wait until all of the suitors are free to make offers; then choose his future accordingly. With his play on the ice over the course of his career, he’s earned the opportunity.
Fans in Dallas may be a little less understanding throughout the entire situation. They see a player who probably won’t re-sign with their team—and refuses to let their team acquire any assets in return. It’s a tough pill to swallow knowing they a) missed the playoffs, b) didn’t trade him at the deadline when there could have been a huge return, and c) will watch the best player on their team walk away for nothing.
There are rumors that Richards could end up on any number of teams next season. It’s been well publicized that he has a relationship with Rangers head coach John Tortorella from their days in Tampa. The Toronto Maple Leafs have repeatedly been mentioned since they have cap space, deep pockets, and could use a marquee player for their passionate fans. He may end up back in Tampa and the LA Kings could still enter the bidding war. And those are just the teams we hear about. There’s always the possibility of a team coming out of nowhere and making him an offer he can’t refuse.
It’s no wonder he wants to keep his options open.