Richards – A good deal?

The Chicago Blackhawks were one win away from making it to a second consecutive Stanley Cup final, they lost 3-2 on aggregate to Los Angeles Kings after an overtime goal from Alec Martinez won the game 5-4, the Kings went onto beat the New York Rangers to claim their second Stanley Cup.

Anyway, back to Illinois. The big news from the Windy City is the free signing of Brad Richards for the 2014-15 season. It’s an interesting buy. Surely Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville do not believe that Richards is the star player that he once was, rather, they must believe that the veteran, aged 34, has one decent season left in the tank. A season where he can pass on his playing knowledge to Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad on the Blackhawks’ No.2 line.

 

by NicoleYeary

by NicoleYeary

However, there is nothing to say that Richards will work out. During the Rangers’ Stanley Cup playoffs in 2013, then head coach, John Tortorella dropped him due to his ineffectiveness. The closest he came to having a hot shot during last year’s postseason was by logging on to play at My Casino Room who have a Hot Shot slot machine, little wonder Alain Vigneault demoted him.

If it was one coach who dropped Richards you could argue that there was a personality clash but, with two, it would suggest that there is some deficiency in either Richards’ play or attitude. When you look at Richards’ defensive play over the past couple of years, he has looked a yard off the pace, often struggling to keep up with the action. When you have a player lagging, changes are imminent.

So will Richards work out?

His defensive play has been ropey but, offensively, Richards is still a premium talent. In his 82 games for the Rangers last season he netted 20 goals and assisted a further 31 – in regards to points per game, this was his worst season on record. Over the season he showed consistency in his offensive play, it wasn’t until the playoffs that criticism started to mount.

When playing the Kings in the playoff final the Blackhawks midfield was seriously overran. Richards can help shore up the second line. He may be past playing on the front line but there is still plenty of juice left for him to slot back.

How much will he be able to pass on to Kane and Saad: a lot hopefully. Kane racked up 69 points last season while Saad contributed with 47 points. These aren’t terrible point tallies but they are not at the level needed to win a Stanley Cup. With Richards in the middle, being the assist master he is, you feel that he will give these two goals on a silver platter.

As Quenneville, the coach, said: “You can just never have enough depth in the middle, and I think he’s [Richards] just going to enhance our skill and our talent in the middle of the ice. So, way more options as a coach with him in there, and it gives us way more depth in all our lines.”

A $2million contract may be a risky gamble but then it is Brad Richards, and it would take a brave man to bet against him. Richards will work and it will hardly be surprising in 10 months time hearing news of him signing a contract extension to stay in the Second City.

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