Everyone in the world who follows hockey thought that last season would be the last of center Brad Richards in a New York Rangers uniform, as he was expected to be bought out of his contract. Unfortunately common sense is not one of GM Glen Sather‘s strong suits, and that led to the return of Richards to the Rangers for another year.
But because of the Rangers hiring Alain Vigneault, who is implementing a new up-tempo offensive style of play, members of the Rangers organization and fans have been saying that Richards will have a bounce back season and excel under Vigneault.
While I bought that for a while in the offseason, the preseason certainly changed my mind. Throughout exhibition, Richards seemed like the same tired old player he was just a year ago and looked as if nothing changed and John Tortorella was still the Rangers head coach.
Then just a few days ago it was announced, and more recently confirmed, that Richards is going to start the 2013-14 regular season at left wing instead of his natural center position. So the season has not even started yet, and Vigneault is already seeing problems with Richards and trying to change his position in order to spark something in his game.
Why is Richards even on this team?
Oh, it has also been confirmed that Richards will be on the top scoring line with center Derek Stepan and right winger Rick Nash. The hope is for Stepan and Nash to make Richards better, but instead with his lack of speed and emotion that he showed this preseason and last year, I think he will actually make Stepan and Nash worse.
There is just no doubt in my mind that Sather really dropped the ball this offseason with not letting Richards go. The Rangers could have gone out and signed a couple more role players (who can put the puck in the net once in a while) if Richards’ contract was off the books.
Good job Sather.
Get ready for another mediocre season at the hand of the GM for life.