Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers celebrates his second period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on November 29, 2011 in New York City.
(November 28, 2011 - Source: Nick Laham/Getty Images North America)

Rangers’ Richards, Gaborik, Eminger help clean up Sandy-devastated Queens’ community


Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, and Steve Eminger already participated charity event to help those impacted by Hurricane Sandy and raised $10,000 in the process.

That alone was a great service to the community, but when former New York firefighter Matt Long asked Richards if he’d help clean up Breezy Point community, Richards agreed and brought Gaborik and Eminger along with him, according to an ESPN report.

Richards had previously met Long at a Rangers’ team event and at the time had offered his services to Long if he wanted to partner up.

“There were no cameras, no one was watching. It was just Brad Richards, down there getting dirty, ankle-deep in water, pouring garbage out of 100-year-old houses,” Long said.

Long’s brother, Chris, was among those who needed his house gutted and torn down. Chris is also a big Rangers fan and cheered up when Richards came to help him out.

“It was the first time he smiled since it happened,” Long said of his brother.

Richards is known for his community work and with the lockout dragging on, he’s spent some of that extra free time helping others.

“We’re doing it because we can. We’re in a position to do it and it’s fun for us,” Richards said. “A lot of us don’t like talking about it. We want awareness for it because we want to get the numbers up, [but] guys do a lot of this stuff and it goes unnoticed.

“We just want to be part of the community. It’s a tough time for these guys.”

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.