Brad Richards

Rangers audition Richards as top-line wing with Stepan, Nash


After a tough year under John Tortorella, many wondered how Brad Richards would fare under new Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault.

So far, it’s gone pretty well.

Richards is currently skating on New York’s new-look No. 1 line as a winger, playing with top center Derek Stepan and leading goalscorer Rick Nash, according to the New York Daily News.

“We’ve still got two guys out, and you’ve got three centers [Richards, Stepan and Derick Brassard] that want to play in offensive situations,” Richards explained. “I’m playing with Rick and Step, so hopefully we can get something going.

Down a pair of key wingers in captain Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, the Rangers are turning to Richards — who did play some wing with the Bolts and Stars — to fill the void. While the 33-year-old struggled at times last season and was made a healthy scratch in the playoffs, there’s some belief he can rediscover his game after a busy offseason of training and a new opportunity, courtesy Vigneault.

“If it works, that means we’re staying,” Richards said of his partnership with Stepan and Nash. “And if we’re staying, that means it’s working.”

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

To reiterate:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier
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Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench, and that’s only counting what the Flyers are paying Gagner.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.