By John Z.
Hey all, before you start reading, here is a little intro about myself. My name is John, I’m a 24 year old, Mechanical Engineer, and a die-hard Ranger Fan. I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1997. I love going NYR Casino Night to gamble and mingle with the whole NYR team and alumni. This year will be my fifth year running. My favorite player is Brian Leetch, who had a huge influence on my decision to become a defenseman. I’ve played ice and roller hockey since I was 4 years old. Hopefully I’ll see one more Stanley Cup before I get old and gray…Wake up! Oh the heck with it, Now here is my article…
The Beginning of a (Re)New(ed) Era
Richards on his convo with Torts: “he said winning here will be bigger than anything”
– @thenyrangers on Twitter
As Tortorella tries to do his best Charlie Sheen “Winning” impression for Richards, us NYR fans wait and see what beholds this upcoming season. As the Gomez-Drury Era is coming to an end, a renewed era has begun. The reason I say renewed era is because of the reunion between Richards and Tortorella. Like Messier with all his buddies from Edmonton…wait let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.
Sure at first you must have felt warm and fuzzy inside getting a number one center. But all of a sudden who came into your mind…Chris Drury…Scott Gomez…Bobby Holik? You said to yourself, “Oh this is just another long high priced contract we must suffer through again,” but trust me this time it’s different. The difference is Brad Richards wants to play, not just collect a pay check at the end of the year. If it was about the money, he would be in Calgary or Toronto right now for a couple million more. He knows what he’s getting himself into with Tortorella. Richards knows he is not a push over coach. Tortorella basically said to him on July 1st, “If you want to play for me, great. If not, don’t talk to me.” Bringing them back together is like a high school reunion.
Quick History Lesson: In 2004, Brad Richards produced 26 goals 79 Points, won the Conn Smythe Trophy, while Tortorella won the Jack Adams. Both won the Stanley Cup.
Tortorella molded Richards into the elite player he is today. Tortorella getting Richards back is like a child losing his favorite toy and Mommy finding it again.
So what are the Rangers getting in Richards?:
1) Power Play: Let’s face it, the Rangers PP is abysmal. It’s the reason why the Rangers are in the bottom three playoffs slots each year and a first round exit.
2010-2011 Season: PP% 16.9, Playoff PP: 1 for 20
2009-2010 Season: PP% 18.3, Playoff PP: N/A
2008-2009 Season: PP% 13.9, Playoff PP: 4 for 31
Brad Richards PP Stats:
2010-2011 Season: 72 GP, 7 PPG, 22 PPA
2009-2010 Season: 80 GP, 13 PPG, 27 PPA
2008-2009 Season: 56 GP, 5 PPG, 14 PPA
– Courtesy of yahoo.sports.com
When calculated, about a third of his point total for the year is on the PP. He has a bomb of a shot from the point and is a great passer in the offensive zone. This is one of the main reasons why he was brought in. Do I need to say more?
2) Face-offs: Another big problem the NY Rangers had last year was on face-offs. With the absence of Chris Drury, the Blueshirts faceoff % was at the bottom of the league. Mark Messier tried to help during the year, but much work needs to be done with Boyle, Stepan, Anisimov and Dubinsky. Along with the newly acquired Mike Rupp,Richards wins over half his face-offs which will help.
3) Leadership: Now I’m not saying he should be the Captain or he is a better leader than Dubinsky, Staal or Callahan, but he has been an Assistant or Captain for many years in his career. As you can see in his interviews, he is very poised and calm, which could help settle the young group down in pressure situations. I would not be surprised if he gets an A.
4) Waking up Gaborik: Marian Gaborik scored 22 goals last season. Amazingly those goals were scored in just 14 of the 62 games he played in. His inconsistent play frustrated many Rangers fans. Now I don’t want to use my crystal ball here but if Richards can get 50 assists a year with a team like the Stars then I am pretty sure Richards with a high end sniper can make magic. That’s if they gel together.
5) Brad Richards is a Yankee fan
All these reasons sound too good to be true, but hopefully it can transpire into reality. Overall, I feel Brad Richards is the missing piece to the NY Rangers puzzle.
He is the leader of the new NYR Revolution…
– Richards look-a-like Kyle Reese from Terminator
Just kidding, but he can be a great asset to the team. I’m not saying he will bring us a Cup, but the organization is moving in the right direction with their young core and key players. The Euro trip should bring this group a little closer and make Brad a leader on this team. We’ll just have to wait and see until September.
Just a reminder that I will be accepting guest blog entries until July 31st. Please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner will receive a home blue Derek Stepan jersey.