Earlier this year I posted that Brad Richards had become a mentor off the ice for Michael Del Zotto. Now Christopher Botta at the New York Times updates us on the relationship the two have formed and the positive effect it’s had on Del Zotto on the ice…
“Ultimately, a player has to fix his own game with the coaches when things go as badly as they did last season,” Del Zotto said. “But Richie’s support at the rink and away from it has made a huge difference.”
Botta notes that current Penguins player and former Richards apprentice in Dallas James Neal introduced the two via text message as he knew the All-Star center could mentor his struggling friend Del Zotto.
“I knew last year was a little bit of an up-and-down year, and we’d need him,” Richards said. “We need him to be playing like he’s playing. He’s playing really well. I’m not saying that’s because of me. I’m just trying to help him in any way I could. He’s done a lot of this on his own. He’s matured a lot. You can see he’s preparing.”
Botta adds that the two eat dinner together the night before every game and live in the same downtown Manhattan apartment building.
Del Zotto has 3g, 13a and is a +17 this season.
…i must admit in my critique of the Richards signing, this is one aspect I overlooked. His ability to take players such as Del Zotto and Stepan under his wing has expedited their development setting the Rangers franchise up for future success.
…as far as Del Zotto goes, while it isn’t always perfect, he’s had a renaissance season that’s seen him grow confidence by the game and become an integral part of the team, especially with all the injuries on defense.