Brad Richards

Richards: If not for the cap, half the league would want to play for Hawks


When Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane began their careers with the Blackhawks, Chicago hadn’t won a playoff series since 1996. They represented the beginning of a new era. Now the team commands the attention of Chicago and the respect of the rest of the league.

It’s because of their resurgence that Brad Richards was willing to sign a one-year, $2 million contract with them over potentially more lucrative offers for the sake of being Chicago’s second-line center.

“If it wasn’t for the salary cap, half the league would want to play here,” Richards said, per the team’s website. “For a long period of time, Detroit was the destination point for veteran free agents who wanted to go play with great players for a chance to win the Cup. Now that place is Chicago. Great city, great organization, Original Six franchise.”

That wasn’t the case before Toews and Kane led Chicago to two Stanley Cup championships over the span of four years. Richards remembers that for the first half of his career, the United Center was barren whenever he was in town to play against the Blackhawks. Now even coming from a big organization like the New York Rangers, Richards has been impressed by the passion of the team’s fanbase.

“There’s a lot going on in New York. When the Rangers are winning, it’s big. But when it’s over, it’s over,” Richards said. “There’s a lot going on in Chicago too, but it’s the middle of July and the Blackhawks are relevant. What’s happened here is remarkable.”

The Blackhawks signed Kane and Toews to matching eight-year, $84 million contract extensions that take effect in 2015-16. Those cap hits will present a challenge to GM Stan Bowman as he works to make sure the team remains deep enough to stay competitive, but what those forwards have already done for the franchise can’t be undersold.

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Blue Jackets’ Wennberg done for night with upper-body injury

Alexander Wennberg, Jay Bouwmeester
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It wouldn’t be a regular season game without a Columbus Blue Jackets injury, right?

OK, the Blue Jackets hope that 2015-16 looks different from the medically challenged mess of last season, but at least one player is banged up tonight.

Alexander Wennberg suffered an upper-body injury and won’t return on Friday, as the team noted.

There’s no word yet regarding how serious the issue might be. It looks like he might have suffered an injury thanks to a Chris Kreider check:

Naturally, the Blue Jackets must hope that this doesn’t begin another trend.