When the New York Rangers inked C Brad Richards to a nine-year, $60-million deal this offseason, many figured they’d finally found a No. 1 center to play with Marian Gaborik.
Yet just eight games into their first season together, Richards and Gaborik appear to be parting ways.
The New York Daily News reports that head coach John Tortorella split the pair in practice today to address what he called a “team funk.”
“The way I look at it, I think if you’re going to get into a routine as a team, I don’t think you can keep on changing the lines as much as I have,” Tortorella told The Blueshirts Blog. “The thing with our team right now is, it’s not one or two guys. This is a team thing, offensively anyway, there are a number of people struggling.”
While the idea of Richards-to-Gaborik is great, the reality is a little more complex. “I met the guy a month ago, for the first time in my life,” Richards said. “We have to be realistic.”
So onto the new plan: Gaborik staked with C Erik Christensen and LW Wojtek Wolski at Friday’s practice while Richards went with Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. Gaborik has plenty of experience with Christensen (the two played on a line last year) while the Richards “demotion” could be to spark a pair of struggling skaters. Dubinsky has yet to score a goal this year while Callahan is on pace for just 21 points, way down from last year’s career-high 48.