Around this time last year, Brad Richards was a hero to New York Rangers fans. Now he is one of the players Rangers fans are upset with the most and many are wondering how long he will be wearing blue and red.
Richards was one of the players hurt by the lockout. He did not play any hockey during that time and you could tell he did not have his legs when the lockout shortened season started. But now there are no more excuses. Richards needs to elevate his play to the level he was at last year during the playoffs and years before.
Richards won a Stanley Cup with current Rangers coach John Tortorella in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Richards’ play was so great he received the Conn Smythe award as the MVP of the playoffs. Last year, in his first year with the Rangers, he scored many clutch goals. His most memorable one will be the tying goal with six seconds left in game 5 against the Washington Capitals that forced the game to overtime. The Rangers would win the game and eventually the series in seven games where Richards scored a key goal.
But this season has been downright dreadful for Richards. Most people will notice how slow he looks. No one knows if he is fighting through injury or if age has just hit the 33-year-old center too quickly. Whatever the case is, Richards must be better. Having weary legs should not affect decision-making. Whether it is during 5-on-5 plays or on the power play, Richards has made some awful decisions. The blind between the leg drop passes are the most aggravating things to watch.
Richards must find his game and find it quickly. If he does not produce and the Rangers falter, Richards might find himself as the recipient of a buyout clause this offseason.