Blog Entry

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Posted on: July 2, 2011 11:15 am
Edited on: July 2, 2011 6:50 pm

The biggest free agent is heading to the biggest market.

The front-runners all along, the New York Rangers won the race to sign former Dallas Stars center Brad Richards. Darren Dreger of TSN reports the deal is for nine years and $60 million, an average hit of $6.67 million.

"Very happy to become a New York Ranger today!!!" Richards wrote on his Twitter account. "Playing at MSG will be amazing and looking forward to working with a great young team"

Richards spent the opening day of free agency entertaining team presentations in his agent's office in Mississauga, Ontario. There he hosted the Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs (sans Brian Burke), L.A. Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames. It was expected Richards would make his decision late Friday but instead elected to sleep on it before deciding on the Rangers.

"You can find a player like this as a free agent or find a player like this in the top five [of the draft] and it takes a long time to develop," general manager Glen Sather said. "We needed somebody like this to take us to the next step. I think it's a great opportunity for us. I know he left a lot of money on the table by accepting the offer."

And what about that concussion he suffered near the end of the season? Richards says it's nothing to worry about.

"I have been training for six weeks, way ahead of any other training schedule I have been on because I was healthy after the season," Richards said. "My body felt great, my head felt great, so I got at it pretty quick."

For months it had been assumed the Rangers would be the ultimate winner of the Richards sweepstakes. The Blueshirts needed a top-line center, had the money to spend and Richards had said he wanted to play in a big market where hockey matters. Seems to be a natural fit. But it didn't stay that easy.

The Leafs, Kings and Lightning were not surprise suitors at all. And if any other teams were to be in the mix, it was assumed it would the Sabres in Buffalo and maybe even the Flyers in Philly. Instead, the underdog came in the form of the Flames, who gave Richards a lot to think about.

Dreger reported Saturday morning that the Flames actually offered more money than the Rangers, giving an offer at the same length but for $65 million total. In the end, Richards took less money to head to New York and reunite with his former coach in Tampa, John Tortorella.

The Kings also came to the table with an aggressive offer, trying to give L.A. perhaps the best collection of centers in the NHL with Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar already on the roster. Tim Leiweke, the chief executive of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Kings, was part of a group that included general manager Dean Lombardi and several others who went to Canada to meet with Richards. Not even video messages from Wayne Gretzky and Kobe Bryant won over Richards.

"We have a lot of respect for Brad and Pat Morris and the way they handled this," Leiweke said. "We understood his desire to play out East and did the best we could to overcome that. We wish him the best. Dean [Lombardi] and his team did a great job. We are focused on other options and are certain this team is going to be very good next year."

His contract isn't as high as I anticipated it might go. Considering some of the contracts that were flying around yesterday in the free-agent frenzy, it was reasonable to assume he would see a number around the $70 million-$75 million range. Instead, the Rangers get him at an average cap hit of $6.67 million -- still a lot, but a reasonable price for a player that had 77 points in 72 games last season. The Rangers could have done worse.

Now, the Rangers still have around $15 million under the salary cap ceiling, according to, which should be enough room to sign restricted free agents Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Brian Boyle.

Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Oct 12, 2010
Posted on: July 2, 2011 5:44 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Of course, New York City and New York State will take 13.375% of that money, thank-you. These are the same people trying to convince you to pay more taxes.  Well, now every New York Rangers fan will help pay Brad's taxes.  Oh, there is no state income tax in Texas so games are cheaper to attend.

Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2011 5:13 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

So what happens now if in 2 or 3 years the Rangers are in last place,do they have to keep Tortorella ?

Since: May 7, 2011
Posted on: July 2, 2011 4:49 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

To me it looks like the Rangers might have paid more than what they had to in order to get Richards. The only team in my opinion that has Stanley Cup potential is the Lightning,and maybe...maybe the Kings. It's like a NY based team....they always go after the big name players,but at times come up short as far as winning a championship(with the exception of the Yankees). All I got to say is that Richards had better pull a "Mark Messier" or else!

Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2011 4:47 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Spoken like a true New Jersey Devil or Islander Fan

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2011 4:38 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

A boom or bust signing ... we'll see.

Since: Jan 21, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2011 4:28 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

I'm so frekin' happy right now I'm smiling ear to ear with the signing of Brad Richards. With the young crop of players the Rangers have they'll be a force for years to come. Richards, Callahan, Gaborik, Dubinsky, Stepan, Anisimov, Prospal, Prust, Boyle and if he can find himself again Avery on the offensive front and Staal, Sauer, Girardi, McDonagh, Del Zotto and if they sign him, McCabe behind the blue line and King Henrik in the net. Now if all stay healthy and I know that's asking a lot from the Rangers, this team can win some Stanley Cups!

Since: Jul 13, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2011 4:11 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

No offense Star, but I'm pretty sure most people knew Gretz from Edmonton, and the rest when he moved to LA to pacify the wifey - long before he was washed up at the end and went to NY to be with Mess again (and who had those 5 rings long before NY came calling, and was kinda known as well).

Since: Sep 18, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2011 4:08 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

THIS SHOULD BE SATHERS LAST MOVE...seriously..we're going with youth..we're going with youth..noooo..lets sign a guy just recovered from a concussion who isnt a top player..dont be a fool..he's not a #1 center....9 years..brilliant..would have been smarter to put a big offer at stamkos and give up the #1's if youre gonna do this...brad richards..will be booed loudly half way through the least they let the bum gilroy go..what a bum..they are better by subtraction

Since: Mar 16, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2011 3:58 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Wait...who is this Wayne Gretzky you speak of...

Since: Mar 16, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2011 3:57 pm

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

Can anyone else say CASH GRAB?   If he says anything about going to New York because he believes they can win is utter garbage.  Sure, he wanted to play with John Tortorella but that is the only selling point that New York had to offer...enjoy 8th,9th,10th place in the eastern conference for the next 8 years dummy.  You earned it....

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