Struggling Richards benched as Rangers face elimination
As his team looks to battle back from a 3-0 series deficit against the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers center Brad Richards will be a healthy scratch.
Richards told reporters during morning skate that Rangers head coach John Tortorella called him Thursday morning to inform him of the scratch.
”I don’t know if surprised is the right word for it,” Richards said. ”I’m disappointed.”
The benching should not have much of an impact on either team, as Richards has been ineffective during limited playing time in the postseason. During the Game 3 loss against Boston, the alternate captain played only 8:10 on the ice — 5:58 on even strength — which was a career playoff low. In 10 games this postseason, Richards has one goal and a minus-3 rating.
Richards struggled for much of the season as well, recording only 11 goals and 23 assists during 46 regular-season games. He was demoted to the fourth line during New York’s first round series against Washington with wingers Chris Kreider and Arron Asham.
Asham will also be a scratch tonight as forwards Kris Newbury and Michael Haley will get playing time. After morning skate, Asham expressed his empathy and appreciation for Richards.
“He’s been a leader all year for us. He’s the voice in the room,” Asham said. “It’s obviously not his decision; it’s the coach’s decision, and if that’s he way he wants to go, that’s the way he wants to go.”
Richards is a controversial man to scratch considering how much money the Rangers are paying him. He has seven years remaining on his nine-year, $60 million contract, and is a potential candidate for a contract buyout after the conclusion of the season. This would cost New York $24 million over 14 years.
Amid all the talk of his time in New York potentially coming to an end, Richards ensured that he would try to prevent such a scenario.
”Nothing’s over,” Richards said. ”Work harder and try my best to never let it happen again.”
Meanwhile, as the Rangers make changes in an attempt to climb out of a 3-0 hole — a feat accomplished by only three teams in history — the Bruins will focus on themselves as they look to end the series and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
“I like where our team is right now,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “We’re certainly not looking at it the way other people will look at it — trying to find reasons to give New York some hope, saying ‘These guys have done this, these guys have had trouble doing this.’ We’re certainly not even going there.”