Blue Notes

Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.

Scratching my head: Rangers giving Brad Richards a mulligan

Rangers center Brad Richards celebrates his second of

Rangers center Brad Richards celebrates his second of three goals against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period. (April 19, 2013) (Credit: AP)

The text from the Rangers really surprised me, although some people had a gut feeling that Brad Richards wouldn't go anywhere in 2013-14.

It read: "The Rangers will not be using our one remaining compliance buyout during this offseason."

In other words, Richards, coming off the worst campaign of his career, and his $9 million salary and $6.7 million cap hit will be with the club in September with an opportunity to rebound.

He still can be bought out next year IF he isn't injured. That would make him ineligible for the amnesty buyout.

But is that too late? How can Richards possibly meet expectations, especially after his disappointing showing last season?  A Cup Final? To me, it's short-sighted.

Pressure? Sure, he's proud and dedicated and wants to win and prove he deserves to be a No. 1 center and that the half-season was an abberration. Problem is, he was so awful that his long-time coach demoted him to the fourth line before finally benching him in the playoffs.

From what I saw, I didn't think Richards had much left in the tank either. If you watched the games, No. 19 looked slow physically and mentally at times.

Oh well, he'll still collect 2/3rds of what's remaining on his $60 million contract next summer if all goes well.

And the Rangers, now handcuffed to a large extent with only about $12 million to spend under the cap on restricted free agents like Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan, will presumably sent out basically the same team that won one round in the playoffs this spring:  thanks to two shutouts by Henrik Lundqvist.

And let's not forget that Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin will miss camp and maybe the beginning of the season.

Unless Sather has something up his sleeve trade-wise (Del Zotto) , or that he believes in his up and coming youngsters: Miller,  Lindberg, Fast....

Fans have to hope that Alain Vigneault gets a little more out of Richards, whom Vigneault called "an outstanding individual" during his introduction to the media,  and the Blueshirts, than John Tortorella. Especially in May and June.

Tags: Brad Richards , Rangers

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