While it became obvious only after three seasons that Brad Richards was not the same player the New York Rangers thought they were getting when they signed him for nine years at $60 million, he will still be missed. His leadership, professionalism, and clutch ability will all be surely missed even though Richards did not even come close to living up to his gaudy contract.
Richards’ first season with the Rangers, back in 2011-12, where he recorded 66 points, went very well and consisted of some great moments. For example, his game-winning goal in the third period with 0.1 seconds left in the regular season vs. the Phoenix Coyotes, and also who can forget the huge goal in Game 5 of the second round of the playoffs vs. the Washington Capitals with 6.6 seconds left to tie the game at two, leading to a Rangers’ 3-2 win in overtime.
The following lockout-shortened season in 2012-13 proved to be the downfall of Richards’ career. Not only was he not producing, only 34 points in 46 regular season games, but it got so bad that he was a healthy scratch in the Rangers’ final two postseason games, after going 10 playoff games with one goal and no assists.
Richards’ last season with the Rangers started off great, as he looked rejuvenated, but as the season progressed we started to see some of the Richards from the previous year. Overall he recorded 51 points in 82 regular season games and five goals and seven assists in 25 postseason games.
So overall was Richards worth the nine-year, $60 million contract? Definitely not since he was just bought out after only three seasons, but you cannot say Richards ever coming to the Rangers was a mistake. In his three seasons here the Rangers made it to at least the second round of the playoffs, two trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, and one time, in his last year with the team, to the Stanley Cup Final. The Rangers may not have won a Stanley Cup in Richards’ three seasons with the team but his leadership and influence should provide a big impact on the young players on this Rangers’ team for years to come.
Richards will be missed in the Rangers’ locker room next year but if Richards was not bought out of his ridiculously high contract, that locker room would look completely different before the start of next season with the many restricted and unrestricted free agents the Rangers need to resign all leaving in the offseason. The bottom line is that you cannot deny keeping Richards would do more harm to the Rangers than good.
Richards may not have been a great Ranger, but he was a good one, and there is no doubt that if his contract was more reasonable that he would still be on this team. I think I can speak for all Rangers’ fans in saying we wish Brad Richards the best of luck…except if he goes to a division rival, of course.