NEW YORK: One year ago, New York Rangers veteran centre Brad Richards was benched in the team’s last two games of the National Hockey League play-offs because of poor play.
“It was the lowest point in my career,” Richards said about being made a healthy scratch during last year’s conference semi-finals.
“You never want to be on the outside looking in when your team-mates are battling in what I consider the best part of hockey - the play-offs.”
Richards is coming off a sub-par performance in game two of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Los Angeles Kings, but now he is being counted on to help turn the team’s fortunes around.
“Brad is a veteran player. I know he’s going to respond real well,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said yesterday. “I’m confident that’s what he’s going to do.”
Richards, 34, has assumed a leadership role on the team since captain Ryan Callahan was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in March.
“He’s acting as the captain right now. He’s certainly a leader in the room,” said Rangers president Glen Sather.
Richards, who 10 years ago helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win a Stanley Cup title along with friend and current linemate St. Louis, had a minus-three rating and a costly turnover in 5-4 double defeat earlier this week. REUTERS