As Rangers fans try to figure out what in the world has happened to Brad Richards, it sounds like he is just as baffled (via NY Post)...
“I’ve never been through anything like this in my career,” Richards said. “I’m trying to cope with it, I’m trying to learn from it but I’ve never experienced anything like this.
“When you’re an offensive guy, you have to produce.”
Despite his struggles, Richards is trying to stay positive...
“The thing I hang on to is that we’re still in it and I know I can help a lot more than I have. That’s what I’m looking at. That’s a good thing.”
Richards has just one point in the last seven games and just two goals since January 26th, none on the power play.
...i'm really at a loss with Richards. This guy was one of the premiere playmakers in the NHL just two years ago and now he can barely complete a pass. I've beaten the "not enough toughness" drum on this blog all season, but, man, Richards has killed the Rangers. While he was near career lows in points last season, he picked his spots and couldn't have been more clutch. This year, minus the clutchness he has been exposed. I mean ZERO power play goals? Really? How is that possible?
...i can see two possible reasons for his demise. The first is that he's hit a wall at age 30 the same way Chris Drury did. For whatever reason his body could be breaking down and he just can't survive the rigors of an NHL season. The other is that he didn't properly prepare for this season. Instead of playing overseas during the lockout, Richards decided to stay around New York and obviously not train as intensely. Add in having the flu during the shortened training camp and you can see why he was probably out of shape to start this season. And now that he's struggled so mightily you have to figure confidence is the issue.
...i tend to think it's the latter, which is why I'd be against buying him out this offseason. Give him another year to prove himself. If he can't, it's amnesty buyout next offseason, but if he can, expect the Rangers to be back in the hunt for a Stanley Cup.
...but as Richards says, the Rangers are somehow still in the thick of the playoff race without contributions from him and Gaborik, so even if they can get a small increase in production the Rangers should be in good shape going to the postseason. A turnaround from these two could be better than any trade deadline move the Rangers can make.
I have a feeling things are shifting. It may not happen in one game but I get these feelings - better times ahead for our beleaguered stars and the team
Spoken like a true prodigy, could not agree more. They are tenuously in 8th despite 19 & 10's struggles. If they start to heat up then it will get interesting. I laugh at all the bandwagon fans where if they lose one or if 30 has a bad game, then you jettison players & fire the coach. Silly.
You know, if Gabby and Richards were just themselves from last year, not even better, just the same as last year, we'd be leading our division, or in a very close second.
I tend to think it's the latter too, as well as personal issues. Hockey players are human with the same emotional vulnerabilities you and I have. Also he was less than spectacular last season, though he did have a nice turnaround at the right time. Some players just don't do well on Broadway, though Richey's a flashy kind of guy and I can't imagine him getting stage fright under the bright lights of Broadway, and also he may not thrive under Torts' system, though I don't think it's that different to how they played in Dallas. One thing I don't buy into is that he's washed up at 30 and I do think he'll come around. My question would be that even if he doesreturn to "form" is he worth the huge salary or would the Rangers do better buying him out after next season and playing the free agent market then.
Since I'm on a roll let's move onto Gabby. If you recognize my screen name you recognize the fact that from the get go I am 100% AGAINST trading him. His problems seem to be easier to pinpoint than Richey. Major shoulder surgery. Like Tommy John surgery some players come back, some don't. It's possible that his shoulder will never be the same and will lose an edge on that ripping wrister that is his trademark. As with baseball a great pitcher who loses a couple mph off the fastball adapts by developing other pitches, like a great splitter or change-up while lesser pitchers fade away. Same holds true in hockey and a great player will adapt to their changing body after a surgery and I believe Gabby to be that great player. Even if he has lost something on his wrister he will develop other offensive weapons and become a 40 goal scorer again in my opinion. He's sneaky and he's smart. The only thing is that with the pressure in NY to produce now may be holding him back and being on a team less in the spotlight might be just what the Dr. ordered for him, though I want him to stay here. Hope he can turn it around here and make believers out of all of us.
I hope he puts up 80-90 points next season, just to shut everyone up. I'd love to hear what everyone has to say once that happens.
Unbelievable, he goes down and we're just completely shorthanded, but then when he's in there the complaints are just as consistent.
I know we're paying him a lot, but the guys in the worst slump of his career, it's a shortened season, and our coach changes the lines every second. Take a step back and look at our bottom 6 forwards that have produced roughly 12 points thus far, COMBINED - That my friends is the problem. You can grind it out all you want, but at some point that puck needs to hit the back of the net.
I know this is crazy talk, but with Stephan solidifying himself as the #1 center right now, shouldn't Torts be trying to cut down on Richards' ice time so he can focus on getting in shape instead of draining him every night? Dare I say even give him a game or two off to spend time working on his conditioning with the training staff? This has been beaten to death, but I have no idea why Nash is still playing on Richards wing. I know Torts is probably hoping Nash's creativity sparks something for Richards, but I think it's just suffocating them both. Nash has scored some amazing goals, but all he's done this season is play one on one. I can't think of many goals he's scored off of a solid possesion or a series of passes. If this team is going to succeed in the postseason, this team needs Nash to find chemistry with a center, and thats not happeneing right now.
I blindly pulled for Chris Drury to have a resurgence, and I will do the same for Richards. He can turn it around, and he's going to need to. No one is going to trade for him unless we're willing to get screwed on the way back, which this team can't afford. No one out there wants to be the GM for the next Scott Gomez for Ryan McDonagh trade.
Just gotta echo this . . .
"A turnaround from these two could be better than any trade deadline move the Rangers can make."
Buying out Richards at the end of this season is likely NOT an option. Why? Because we aren't talking about 1 or 2 years remaining on his contract: he has 7 years remaining and is owed around $45 mil. The Rangers are not just going to hand him $45 mil at the age of 33.
A more plausible option would be to look for a trade where we eat part of his cap hit.
With this being said, I hope he snaps out of it (STARTING TONIGHT PLEASE) and is able to give us at least 3 to 4 more effective years.
Not sure if this was mentioned too, but the condensed schedule could be a problem for the older guys as well. Richards looks so slow. Maybe he's lost 1/2 a step, which can be all it takes at this level. Otherwise, I can't notice anything different about his game this year from last. It's a total enigma. Gaborik is different story, although he has looked a little better in the last couple of games.
Did he get a concussion earlier this year or am I wrong about that? That stuff can throw you off a bit, even a slight one. I have personal experience with that. Not to make excuses but It might be a factor in all of this.
I agree 100%. Especially "A turnaround from these two could be better than any trade deadline move the Rangers can make." If the Rangers make the playoffs and these guys turn it on, it could get really fun to watch again.
"we’re still in it..." That right there sums it up, this team assumes were "still in it". Were on the outside looking in. Maybe he's watching another team.
He gets another year. This whole year has just been so screwy and him missing most of training camp because of the flu didn't help. He's just too much inside his own head and that's something he can work through. He's a smart guy and he has at least attempted to seek out advice from people who have experienced similar issues.
And I'm sorry, but he is not the ONLY one killing the Rangers. At least I see some attempt to spark on Richards part. The other night I watched Gabby just literally watch a puck float around in front of him and he just stared at it. I see heart in Richards, which probably leads to his overthinking. I don't see any heart in Gabby at all 90% of the time.
If Richards shows the same drop off next season, then I see no choice but to use the buyout then, but not right now. This lockout season just has too many other variables to cause what he's experiencing now.
It is obviously mental with him in my opinion. Probably caused by the lack of being ready physically at the beginning of the season as stated. He looks just like Gabby out there most nights. Lost. The fact that he doesn't know why this is happening is also a major clue telling me it's mental. If you are lost, you don't know whats going on. He will figure it out. They need to stop thinking and just play. Him and Gabby.
@TheNYRBlog Richards has to be an amnesty candidate
Buy him out this year. He has been extremely underwhelming aside from some dramatics. He hasn't clicked with other high caliber stars on the team. Buy him out. If he wants to be a Ranger next year he can sign back for a lot less money and a lot less years.
"90% of this game is mental, the other half is physical "...There is no way Richards has all of a sudden lost it. Drury's 1st 2 years on Broadway were on par with the rest of his career, maybe slightly lower. Richards came to the Rangers, didn't mesh with Gabby and had to find other line mates that would work. In Dallas, he had either Erikson or Benn so you would have to expect a pretty big drop-off if it didn't work with Gabby because the Rangers had nobody last year that could touch those guys. This year, I really think the lock-out has thrown him for a loop. He's fighting himself at this point and over thinking everything. You could see the other night when he had a wide open shot from the slot and jsut wound up to try to blast it through the net instead of picking a spot. He needs a goal badly. Hopefully the Universe can accommodate tonight. You're absolutely right, a Richards/Gabby resurgence would be better than any trades Sather could make and would make this team extremely dangerous come playoff time.
I place a large amount of blame on the quick start the the season/impromptu training camp. If you remember, Richards had the flu and missed essentially all of training camp activities. Clearly, this does not address everything but it's easy to see that he fell behind early mentally and physically and has been playing catchup ever since.
@TheNYRBlog It's because he's on my fantasy team
Also if you are saying he is out of shape and that's the problem than I put it on torts. If he is out of shape enough to warrant this kind of play then he should have been taken out of the lineup for a period of time like 2 weeks and gotten in shape. Torts should see this change in a player and do something, not just continuously play him every night. So you either have to put the blame on Richards because being out of shape is not the problem, or torts for not doing anything.... You can't have it both ways
I think it's the latter as well. I get hitting a wall but to drop that drastically in that short amount of time has to be something more than age. With Drury, it was injuries. For all we know same thing is going on with Richards but I think it's the lockout and hope the Rangers give him one more year. (As long as Torts is around, I assume they will.)
On a separate note, curious your opinion on Jussi Jokinen. Salary isn't great but otherwise I'm intrigued...
@Betweentheworlds oh yeah? Do you have a feeling what the stock market is going to do?
@Betweentheworlds for a number one center, and for a guy who put up 66 points last season, he's actually got a managable cap hit at 6.66 mill. Most #1 centers are 7-8 mill a season, so yes he's actually quite managable, he's absolutely got to produce though.
@ivanricov When was that?
@Iron Mike They've been in or just above or below the 8th spot pretty much the whole season. That equals "still in it" to me. Not sure what team you're watching. :)
@Iron Mike Actually Rangers are in the 8th spot, so they are in it.
@1NYN8V Agreed. I don't think one guy makes or breaks the Rangers. Yes, he's had a disappointing season, but I think the whole lockout debacle is reason enough to not be too hasty in dismantling teams. I'd hate to see the Rangers dump Richards prematurely and regret it.
Also, I don't think you can discount the way these slumps fester... Boyle looked just as awful this season, but since he FINALLY scored that goal, his play has picked up significantly -- yes, it was a low bar and yes, I'd still like to see more scoring from him, but at least there's a pulse there now. I think if Richards can get a couple of goals and the rest of the team can rally, too, we could see an upturn come playoff time.
@GLENsatherVSglennDANZIG He can't sign back with the Rangers if they use an amnesty buyout on him. Unless there's a free agent center available this year to use the money on, it's not really worth it to buy him out until after next year. Give him a summer of conditioning where he's serious, plus a Torts training camp to see if he can get back to where he was last season. If he can't buy him out.
@Herman_NYRBlog what's funny was he scored the first goal of the season for us..
@slapshot13j Get Richards doing "Herbies" with Schoenfeld the way Torts did with Hamrlik.
@rangersfan lol - lets see if they turn things around first and I'll get back to you on the stock market
@1NYN8V Still in it to me means being a contender, not barely making the final spot. I've been watching a team who I honestly think is not "in it" this year. Don't get me wrong, I'll take the 8th spot, but there's not a lot of hockey left
@KevinDeLury My bad...
@jtf1218 good call. Sorry that was an oversight on my part. I think we should still buy him out, sign another scorer in free agency whether he's a center or not and then sign someone for our bottom center spot. Step has already shown he's pretty much ready to be out #1.
@slapshot13j I'm not as intrigued by Daugavins but maybe because I don't know as much about him. He would fit salary wise since RFA at end of year but other than crazy shootout move, what has he done? I think he is more for shootout than anything else and we now have Zucc for that.
@Iron Mike By your standards the LA Kings were a dismal failure during the regular season last year then. #SeeWhatIDidThere :)
PS...Yes, I am hopelessly optimistic. Comes from many, many years of being a Giants, Knicks and Rangers fan. The Yankees kept me afloat...now even they give me ulcers. :)
@KevinDeLury Negative Nancy over here. We keep losing to these bottom feeders were not gonna hold that spot much longer.
@GLENsatherVSglennDANZIG @jtf1218 At this point the Rangers have made so many moves, I'm concerned that we're sliding back into the "chase the big shiny free agent" team we were just a couple of seasons ago. What made the Rangers so special these last couple of seasons was CHEMISTRY. Yes, there was talent, but these guys were tight. And after losing Prust, Dubi, etc., Richards has really stepped up in the off-ice team building area. I'd hate to see the Rangers lose any more of their team spirit - I don't think we can afford that right now.
I think dumping Richards would be a mistake, and beyond that - who do we bring in? And how do we know that person would be any better? I think we need some patience here.
@GLENsatherVSglennDANZIG @jtf1218 I was thinking trying to go after Getzlaf for this summer until he re-signed. Buying out Richards opens up a lot of cap space, but I don't know if there will be anyone out there besides maybe Ribeiro (on a shorter term deal) worth spending it on this offseason. 2014 when Gaborik comes off the books (if he's not traded this year) might be the best time to amnesty Richards and go all out to sign Malkin.
@KevinDeLury Okay...was just curious. He picks his spots to score so thought Rangers might be interested but you bring up a good point. If it was just for this year, I thought it may be something they look at. Obviously it's not so that plays a huge part.