© Associated Press photo
New York Rangers’ Brad Richards is ready for the 2013-14 NHL season.
Murray Harbour native ready for 2013-14 NHL season to start
Brad Richards just wants the new NHL season to begin.
The 33-year-old Murray Harbour native is coming off a year that ended with him being a healthy scratch for the New York Rangers’ last two playoff games against the Boston Bruins.
“I have a lot of hockey left and obviously that’s not the way I wanted to end the season,” Richards told The Guardian on Monday. “I’m putting it on my shoulders to get back on track.
“I’m also realistic and know I can still play the game, too. It’s going to be fun to get back and get going.”
The 2013-14 NHL season begins Tuesday night with three games. Richards and his Rangers teammates open Thursday in Phoenix.
The NHL didn’t start this time last year due to the lockout. The two sides eventually signed an agreement in January with an abbreviated 48-game schedule.
One component of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) allows each team two amnesty buyouts during the next two off-seasons.
Many hockey observers mentioned Richards as a potential buyout candidate during the summer as he has seven years remaining on the nine-year, $60-million contract he signed in July 2011. He will be 40 years old when the deal ends.
The Rangers didn’t buy him out and Richards wants to make it work in the Big Apple.
“The buyout would have been tough because I wanted to be in New York . . . I signed here for a lot longer than a year-and-a-half,” he said. “I do know the way my contract is structured, with the new rules under the CBA, it’s definitely something that teams have to look at.”
Richards wants to shelf all that discussion and get back to playing hockey, which begins Thursday in desert against the Coyotes.
The team is expected to start the season without Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan, but recently signed centre Derek Stepan is back in the fold.
Richards has been played some wing with Stepan and Nash, among a number of combinations used during the pre-season.
“I know what my role is. It’s to provide offence and help the team on the power play,” he said. “That’s never going to change.”
The Rangers, who have spent much of the pre-season on the road with renovations underway to Madison Square Garden, are also getting use to new coach Alain Vigneault’s systems.
“We’re trying to get as much work as we can done with that schedule and trying to get rest,” Richards said. “The main thing is trying to get everybody on the same page for Thursday night.”
Need to know
Who – A National Hockey League player
Hometown – Murray Harbour
Age – 33
NHL teams – Tampa Bay Lightning (2001-02 to 2007-08), Dallas Stars (2007-08 to 2010-11) and New York Rangers (2011-12 to present)
Awards – Richards won the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner with the Tampa Bay Lightning as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That year he also received the Lady Byng Trophy as the league’s most sportsmanlike player.
Online – www.brichards19.com
Season GP G A Pts
2012-13 46 11 23 34
2011-12 82 25 41 66
2010-11 72 28 49 77
2009-10 80 24 67 91
Career 900 256 560 816