Tortorella said a guy like Richards will gel with the group of players the Rangers already have under contract. “He just fits,” said Tortorella, who coached Richards in 2004 to a Conn Smythe trophy and Stanley Cup.
“There are things we need within the club and he brings quite a few of those things. I know he knows me. It was pretty much straight forward. I did outline a number of things as to what his role would be. Glen also did that as far as the organization. It goes from there.”
Tortorella said he was grateful he had a general manager and an owner who was willing to spend money to fill a large hole the team had.
“Our assets have grown and developed,” said Tortorella. “If the right piece comes along, you take a run at it. That’s where, as a coach, I’m bless to have an owner and a GM ready to step up to the plate.
“Glen was fantastic yesterday. At the end of the day, we’re a better hockey club than at the beginning. We filled some needs.”
Tortorella said the organization looked at what it had already and outlined what holes the team had. He said the team kills several birds with one stone with the acquisition of Richards.
“We outlined some of our needs when we met as an organization,” he said. “When we were knocked out in the first round, there were four or five main points we needed to fill. An elite center ice man, we got Richie. A man to run the powerplay. We got that with Richie.” Tortorella added Richards will also mentor younger players like Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov.
On to Sather. Obviously the biggest criticism from the trade has been its length. Barring any move, Richards will be a Ranger until he is 40 years old. But Slats said that’s the nature of the beast right now in the NHL.
“If you’ve been following what’s happened the last couple of days, the NHL cap system has changed, the cap floor has changed,” said Sather. “The market for players like this only happens once in a while. Any hockey club at the stage we are, there are only two ways you can go: 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. We needed somebody to like this to take us to the next step. I think it’s a great opportunity for us.”
Sather said the team will not be looking at adding a high-end left winger to play alongside Richards and Marian Gaborik, saying that player will come in house. I assume Woltek Wolski will get first-crack at it. Slats added the next step is to sign RFAs like Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Anisimov and others, but didn’t rule out more moves.
“We’re still looking a little bit,” he said. “There are some things we are still contemplating. The plan now is to get the rest of our players signed. I think they all can be taken care of the next couple of weeks. We’ve had discussions with everybody.”
Sather said the relationship between Tortorella and Richards clearly weighed in the decision to sign the center.
“John Tortorella pushes people to be the best they can be,” he said. “We’re at a certain level now, we needed to be pushed a little further. I think (Richards) pushes us to the next step. It helps everyone move forward and brings a lot of confidence to the room.”
Well, there you have it. A little surprised a move to bring another left winger to the mix isn’t being discussed. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for Wolski. Hopefully he can make it work.