Richards and the clutch touch

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Here’s Josh (age 26) Thomson’s story from The Journal News and LoHud.com today:

By Josh Thomson, 26

NEW YORK — With a young team on the verge of contending in the Eastern Conference, John Tortorella found himself motivated to land Brad Richards as a free agent.

The 32-year old was a champion and a former Conn Smythe winner who’d earned Tortorella’s trust in moments that separate those who lift Stanley Cups from others who simply dream of it.

“He’s got ‘it,’ ” Tortorella said. “I’ve known him since he was a kid when he broke into the league. He’s just made big plays at key times.”

That included an NHL-record seven game-winning goals during Tampa Bay’s 2004 run to the Cup, a victory that helped put the Conn Smythe in his hands and the Cup in Tortorella’s. He added nine more game-winners his first season on Broadway and, on Monday night, arguably the signature goal of this postseason when he tied the score with 7.6 seconds to play in Game 5.

“I definitely haven’t seen everything,” said Richards, who stunned the Coyotes in Phoenix with 0.1 seconds remaining on Dec. 17. “Last night was a new experience for me, too.”

The centerman now leads the Rangers with 10 points through 12 playoff games, including an assist on Marian Gaborik’s triple-overtime winner in Game 3.

His success in the biggest moments comes as little surprise to his coach, who expected nothing less after what they’ve achieved together.

“There’s a relationship there. I’m not going to hide from that at all,” Tortorella said. “He’s done a lot of great things and helped teams that I’ve coached win. When you get involved in that and you go through the ups and downs of that — and him and I have — sure you’re going to develop a relationship.”

That bond meant Tortorella’s faith never wavered during a regular season that saw Richards searching to fit in at times. He has now suddenly lived up to the nine-year, $60 million contract he signed last offseason — and then some.

“I think every player in the NHL, if you asked them, it’s obviously the best time of the year to play,” he explained. “It’s the most exciting. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been in some good situations where I’ve had the chance to succeed, playing with some good players and some good teams.”

The lure of New York included a young roster and his relationship with Tortorella that Richards hoped could leave him fortunate yet again. Teammates often cite his experience and ability to lead by example.

“I’ve been around him all year and he’s done such a great job both on and off the ice,” said 21-year-old defenseman Michael Del Zotto, one of 10 Rangers 25 or younger. “It seems things like that where it’s just experience. He’s won a Cup. He’s been there. He’s been through it. You just have to learn off that. It’s not exactly things he tells you off the ice. You just have to learn by playing through it.”

Richards has been through it, showing his coach and the league that his intangible gifts could produce tangible results.

Even a coach edged in steel wouldn’t dare deny that.

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49 Comments

  1. everything back to normal, ilb?

    (I mean with the blog comments; obviously you’ll never be normal).

  2. Feel better, Miami!

    Tony IS better!

    Gotta start driving home, see you at Go Time!

  3. JimboWoodside on

    *Not* fixed as far as I can see, Carp – still need to enter ID info before posting every time.

  4. JimboWoodside on

    Hmmm…..info was there after my last post – maybe they fixed it…?

  5. Ha, yes! Keep it goin’ Carp!

    “Josh, 26, likes long walks, sports and sunsets, filed this story today.”

  6. McShanny (discp Czar) on

    Thanks to both of you helping us waste a bit of time getting our fix of rangers juice

  7. Let’s Go Rangers!

    U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!!

  8. I’m writing my Pulitzer Prize-winning bulldog story on Marc Staal right now, using canned quotes from Game 5, and it will easily be twice that length.

  9. Ria(the silent bonehead) on

    YEAH were back to “normal” LETS GO RANGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Lol, Carp!

    Let’s watch tonight NY Europansies ( Hank, Gaborik, Hagelin, AA, Feds, Stralman and Co) dominate Washington Europansies ( AO, Semin, Bakström and Co)!
    Happy VinceA Day!

  11. Down with EuroPansies! Be a Man! Be an American! All Hail VinceA for he is wise!

    U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!! U-S-A!!!

    and Canada

  12. Tony Rules! Tony is an American! He beat that Europansy sickness like it was….well…European!

  13. e3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my friends on

    Moses stood up a full 6 ft 10, said you cant close the door when the walls cave in

  14. e3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my friends on

    lets go rangers

    lets go tony

    lets go pimp

  15. Moses is *not* a Europansy. He cut off his own foreskin at age 99.

    Evidence against: Lived to 120. Living a long time is NOT American! Sounds like Europansy. Meat + Cigarettes + Whisky = AMERICAN!

  16. e3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my friends on

    manny – if it aint USA, i dont wanna play

  17. e3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my friends on

    hi i am a libra from brooklyn NY, i like red apples and i am trying to find the essence from within

  18. McShanny (discp Czar) on

    Just was watching NHL Live and they showed LA Kings first game in Europe…apparently it was a win against NYRangers – hmmmm

  19. Yev Kassem on

    SHIFT BY SHIFT…

    PERIOD BY PERIOD…

    GAME BY GAME….

    RANGERS IN 6!!!

  20. Winning a game on Europånsy soil means nothing. Try winning a game in front of a crowd that isn’t taking two days off from their part-time jobs in the lesbian vegan bookstore.

  21. Bookstore!? That’s the exact problem. Reading is a Europånsy occupation!

    *NO Bookstores*

  22. Remember when we signed Brad Richards and he turned out to be pretty much everything we paid for? That was weird.

    Brad Richards is Canadian which means he is *not* a Europånsy! North America! USA!

  23. Yev Kassem on

    According to the Elias sports bureau…

    The NY Rangers are UNDEFEATED when leading after 60 minutes.

  24. Anybody else having their picture freeze and stutter constantly? Comcast Sucks Balls

  25. Blogmama Go Tony!!!! on

    Good evening all!!! Nice job Josh!!!!!!

    Please, please win tonight!!

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