When it became obvious that the New York Rangers were going to buy him out, Brad Richards pitched a potential new NHL home to his agent Pat Morris: The Chicago Blackhawks. Morris reminded him that the Hawks had little money against the cap with which to spend on a center, despite their need for one.
Then GM Stan Bowman came calling for Richards, and the veteran decided he’d make this work at the Blackhawks’ price.
Of course, making $51 million off his Rangers deal helps soften the blow of making just $2 million next season.
Richards spoke with Bob Verdi of the Blackhawks’ website about that recently:
You received a substantial amount of money so the Rangers could clear salary cap space, not an uncommon occurrence in the NHL now. Did that figure into your decision to sign with Chicago for one year at $2 million?
RICHARDS: I’ve been fortunate to make a lot of money, and as you say, a lot of teams are up against it with the salary cap. The general manager in New York, Glen Sather, was great to me. We had a good relationship. But it’s a business thing. And the upside to me is that I can afford to be picky. I had other options beside Chicago, maybe for a longer contract and more money, but as soon as I heard from Stan, and later talked to [Head Coach] Joel Quenneville, there was no doubt for me.
He also cautioned those that think he’s cemented in as Patrick Kane’s center next season:
“People are talking about how I’m coming here to be the No. 2 behind Jonathan [Toews] centering for Patrick Kane. But July is a bit early to be making out lineups. The thing about playing in Chicago—if you do your job and get ice time, you know you’re going to be playing with talented players.”
As we said when he signed: From a regular-season perspective, it’s a great signing for a player of his caliber at that price. But back-to-back postseason flops leaves us wondering what he can actually provide them in a push for the Cup.
Luckily for the Blackhawks, Richards is right: They’ve got championship depth that’ll be enhanced, and not ruined, by Richards’ performance.