The New York Rangers have very little they can be proud of so far this season, but forward Brad Richards is a different story.
While his team’s early struggles have dominated the fanbase’s attention, Richards has four goals and five points in five games. Not a bad start for a player that saw his standing collapse during the 2013 playoffs.
He might be one of the biggest benefactors of the Rangers decision to fire coach John Tortorella. Although new bench boss Alain Vigneault hasn’t initially been able to produce the results that the organization was hoping for, few players needed a fresh start as much as Richards.
So far he’s seized it.
“I feel like me,” Richards told the Bergen Record’s Andrew Gross after he fired a game-high eight shots on goal in the Rangers’ 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues last night.
There’s still a lot of time left for the Rangers to turn this around, but even if they can’t, Richards will have a lot of motivation to succeed. While he’s signed through 2019-20, the Rangers still have a compliance buyout left and they might opt to use it on Richards this summer.
They will have reason to consider it even if Richards has a great season because the 33-year-old’s roughly $6.7 million annual cap hit will start to look pretty bad as he moves further away from his prime. Additionally, if Richards decides to retire before his contract is over, the Rangers will be subject to a cap penalty.
So this is a potential contract season for Richards and so far it’s going well.
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.