This is turning into the Brad Richards blog. I don’t mind though. Anyway, Mr. Richards made his first appearance in Rangers blue today at a Garden of Dreams skate at the Madison Square Garden training facility. After the event, Richards put on the No. 19 jersey, which was previously worn by Ruslan Fedotenko, who was more than willing to give Richards back the number he wore in Tampa, when they two played together on a line en route to a Stanley Cup.
Fedotenko was surprised when asked if Richards bought the number back like players do in other sports, especially baseball.
“We won a Cup together, he was No. 19, we’re in hockey, it’s good guys in the locker room,” said Fedotenko, who days earlier signed a new one-year deal with the Blueshirts. “If you start bargaining, what’s next? It’s hockey. It’s a team sport.”
(If I’m not mistaken, Scott Gomez in 2007 bought No. 19 from Blair Betts after Gomez lost out No. 23 to Chris Drury on a puck-flip.)
Fedotenko will take over No. 26, previously worn by Erik Christensen, who will now be No. 40. Mike Rupp, who signed a three-year deal with the Rangers on July 1, will be No. 71, a reverse of his former No. 17, which is taken by Brandon Dubinsky.
Richards said he’s happy the two month-long process of figuring out where he’d continue his career is behind him, and he can begin his normal training schedule in Florida.
“It’s not a normal summer,” he said. “You could be going to different cities. I can’t wait to get up and be settled. It was all going to work out financially but it’s just not knowing. You have a summer routine with down time.”
The center who signed a nine-year, $60 million deal with the Rangers on July 2 told WFAN’s Sid Rosenberg this morning he will begin looking for a home in Manhattan, and hopes to be moved in by the first week of August. He said he would be looking towards Fedotenko and former Dallas Stars teammate Sean Avery to make the transition to the Big Apple a smooth one.
Richards talked about the pressure of playing in New York and being the man signed to the longest and most expensive contract in the organization’s 85-plus year existence.
“I learned a lot,” he said of the free agent frenzy that took place last Friday. “This will be a different animal. I’ll talk to some people can help. I’ll be most comfortable when I start playing.”
Richards also praised the young core of players the Rangers have as a large reason he chose New York over other teams who pushed hard for his services. He also said the length of the contract shouldn’t hurt him, as he feel he’s in the prime of his career.
“I don’t consider turning 31 old,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of years left.”