Last night, Rangers website beat writer Jim Cerny reported that after speaking with reporters, Brad Richards sat by himself hunched in the corner with his hat pulled low.
Cerny added that Ryan McDonagh went over to console Richards and that tremendous frustration has built up for the Rangers Alternate Captain.
Richards was pointless with no shots on goal and won just nine of 20 faceoffs in the Rangers 4-2 loss to the Flyers last night. He also lost a huge faceoff that led to Kimmo Timonen's goal.
Richards is now pointless in four straight games.
Here's what Richards said after the game...
“I cannot explain it. It’s tough to figure.”
...i really have no idea what to think with Richards. Sure he didn't light it up last year, but he had one of the great all-time clutch seasons for the Rangers. Now, he can't even score on empty nets. Could he have gotten this old, this quick? We saw it with Drury and it might be happening again with Richards.
...i initially thought it might have been Richards reporting to camp out of shape, but we're now 42 games into the season. With the condensed scheduled, he's playing virtually every other night, so I'm very suspect that it's a conditioning issue.
...despite all this, I'm still willing to give Richards another shot next season. If he can't recapture it, fine, buy him out next summer. But I think the Rangers would be foolish to amnesty him this offseason because of 42 terrible games. He's been too good a player, for too long to give up on him this quickly. And that's coming from the guy who was vehemently against signing Richards two summers ago. But as we saw with the Gaborik trade, Sather isn't afraid to pull the trigger no matter who you are.
Here's how the rest of the team reacted last night...
He still (in a bad year) projects to 50+ points in a full schedule. The Rangers only have maybe 4 others capable of that. He is still easily a top 6 forward..........and a true play maker. He might have to play on the third line if Brassard continues to excel........but you need a play maker who can hold on to the puck in the offensive zone. Who replaces him at center? Not Boyle..........Miller?.....probably not yet. I think he comes back and scores 60+ points next year.
I'm got nothing against Richards, and thinks a real stand up guy, but have we EVER seen Richards be an elite player? Yeah, he scored a couple of big goals down the stretch last year, but did he really put the team on his back? Did any of those goals really stand out as elite?
Gotta wonder .....
If Richards can't explain it, and he's the one going through it, and he's a smart, veteran player ... maybe the reason he can't figure it out is because he's never had to play "old" before. It could be. It was tough watching Drury deteriorate before our eyes -- even if he manged some clutch points up to the end. I certainly hope the organization is kicking the tires on the quit-while-you're ahead plan -- a.k.a. the amnesty buyout.
It's simple!!!!! Richards has been "TORTIFIED" It happens to any star player who has to play Torts style! Even Nash is getting there!
Torts "Magic" is done and over with just like it was in Tampa Bay!
Look how good our new players played right after the trade deadline! They did not know Tort's system yet! Now look at them!!!!!!!!!!!!! They all have been "TORTIFIED"!!!
I've got faith he'll turn it around. A hockey game, and a season, takes a grueling toll on the body. I dont think you can look at Richards and say "well its been 40 games, he should be in shape by now, regardless of what happened at camp". Analysts always talked about Tortorella teams were well conditioned, and they didn't just say that for first half of the season. Not to sound like Torts, but "its a process". What you do in camp followed by what you do on your off days between games either sets you up to fail or succeed. The players went to Torts early this year and said to dial back the practices because they didn't have the camp to set them up for the practices. I fully expect a better conditioned team, Richards included, next year.
He's holding on too tight, He's lost the edge...
Part of the problem is the whole team is doing a poor job of entering the offensive zone. Part of the problem is bad transitioning in the form of trying to make fancy stretch passes and not keeping it simple. Another problem is many players seem to have confidence in skating the puck into the zone. I think this relates a lot to the sloppy passing, because often if there's a good couple of short passes out of the d zone and through the neutral zone, our offense has some space to skate in. Otherwise, we have all this shitty stretch passing and stupid misreads (Richards is most guilty here), that the defense just shuts down any attempt to skate in. Dump and chase ensues.
Really the only lines where dump and chase will work is any line that Hagelin is on, because he has the speed to chase the puck down. Otherwise it leads to turnovers. I think the Rangers would be better at dump and chase if they played better on the boards, but that has been one of their most inconsistent areas this season (and one of their strongest last season).
If there is a quality free agent this summer who could make a difference and be signed with Richards money, I say amnesty him. If not, give him another chance next season.
@TheNYRBlog the greatest myth is that he was any good last year, one good series against Caps surrounded by poor play isnt a good season
weirdly, Richards still has the 3rd most points on this team this year. Not saying judge players only by points, far from it, but it's just a weird fact.
The thing is, Richards may have lost 1/2 a step, and for a guy that was slow to begin with, that's all it takes at this level. Let's face it, last year, besides being clutch, wasn't a great year by his standards either. So it's not entirely true that he got old "all of a sudden". The trend has been down for a while.
Buying him out this summer would be stupid. If he has the same struggles to start next year, maybe Sather can trade him or then buy him out next summer. But having a knee-jerk reaction over a butchered season would be dumb. He's lost right now, but at least he still shows that he cares about it and is not just there to collect a paycheck.
I am posting the exact same thing about Richards this morning! I wouldn't say it's conditioning but I do think the lockout hurt him and he's been playing catchup ever since. I really hope the Rangers don't buy him out this summer (unless he goes to them and says he needs a change and to do it...yes I do think Richards might do that if he truly believed it).
Can we waste another year of Hank's prime waiting for Richards to do what he's paid to do? I trust Sather to make the right decision...whatever that may be.
@TheNYRBlog Richards wasn't that great last year. Def a decline
@TheNYRBlog Can the blueshirts afford to keep putting him out there in the midst of a playoff push? I don't think so. He's a liability.
@Skunkman torts did win the stanley cup w/ richards down in tampa......however I'm not sticking up for him. Torts has to either get some assistant coaches in to help w/ the power play and the offense in general or else he's got to go.
@rustybaum There isn't (to my knowledge) but there is in 2014 which is why I think he stays next year.
@chrisD Give it a month, he'll crumble yet again.
@rangersfan 12 in the league n forwards in blocked shots.....okay? Weird stat but true!
@Melissa (blknblueshirts) that would be priceless: "Hey, can you pay me the rest of my money so I can become a free agent and sign another contract somewhere else? I heard Columbus is a really nice place to break out of a funk..."
If he wants to get moved he should either accept a trade or refuse to report to camp and void his contract. Going to Management and asking for a buyout would probably be the ultimate me-first-pay-me-my-money move.
@TheRealVinnyDel Agree that his stats weren't outstanding, but man he was clutch. Nothing this season.
@calithirteen Exactly! Torts won in Tampa Bay until his system caught up with him and the players quit on him or got fed up with his system thus Tampa fired him! Is that not what is going on here?
@Melissa (blknblueshirts) Gotcha. Thanks!
@johnnyb3910 Okay, putting it that way makes what I said sound ridiculous lol. That's not what I meant (but understand why you took it that way). I meant if management comes to him and says do you have anything left or do you want out (cause I do believe they respect him enough to ask if they are at that point) he would answer honestly. Either way he's getting the money, it's more of how his career would end (i.e. go out on high note or low note).
@GraigGiuliani someone FINALLY put it into words correctly. " A team shouldn't all play like they are 4th liners."
@Skunkman @GraigGiuliani @calithirteen So who exactly has he done that to? Nash has 23 blocked shots this season. Crosby has 18 and Stamkos has 17. Huge difference there, huh? I guess Torts is making them block shots too? BTW, Cally leads the league with 57, but he was blocking shots long before Torts "ruined" him.
@calithirteen If Slatts does step down then let him take Torts with him!
by the way, even last year when we were winning, I never liked Tort's style!
@Skunkman I don't know if its so much his system that has caught up with him as his inability to adjust to circumstances on the ground. this team losts its toughness in the offseason n torts has struggled adjust. His handling of Krieder was awful. let torts ride out there year n if Sather finally leaves (god willing) let a new gm hire a new coach
@Melissa (blknblueshirts) i gotcha. Based on what we've seen from Richards, though, I think he'd have too much pride to try to finish his career somewhere else for a fresh start. Maybe if he has a bad year next year he'd take the buyout and just hang them up, but I think if management asked him if he wanted to get bought out he'd say he'd say he'd rather earn his money and prove to everyone he hasn't fallen apart.
I think any time your career involves a buyout, it would be tough to end on a high note.