Many New York Rangers fans and hockey fans alike were very shocked that the Rangers front office decided not to buy out Brad Richards from his monstrous nine-year contract, worth $60 million, for which he still has seven years left on.
The reason for this shock was the fact that Richards had his worst season ever in the NHL, recording only 34 points in 46 games, where he was mostly non-existent, especially in the playoffs where his play was so dreadful; he had one goal and no assists in 10 games.
Now, however, with Rangers GM Glen Sather deciding not to buy out Richards this season, the 33-year-old former All-Star has to elevate his play and come close to that form again. This is not only to save his career with the Rangers, but also to get the Rangers back to the Eastern Conference Finals, like in the 2011-2012 season, and to go even further than that and bring home a Stanley Cup for the Rangers on the 20-year anniversary of the teams last cup victory. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Without getting too ahead of myself, yes, Richards is going to be very important and will dictate the Rangers season in 2013-14. Contract aside, the Rangers got Richards to be a number-one center. Last year, he was anything but, and even spent time on the Rangers’ fourth line. Richards’ dismal play last season was just unacceptable and one of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest, that the Rangers did not go as far in the playoffs than they did the year before.
Richards needs to show us all that he still has years left in the tank and if he does not, then you can expect a very similar season or even worse for the Rangers in 2013-2014.