Brad Richards: Rangers have no choice, must exercise buyout

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My column from The Journal News and Lohud.com:

By Rick Carpiniello

Everybody knew Brad Richards would be a better player for the Rangers this season than he was last season … because he couldn’t be any worse.

We knew he’d be better because he was angered, frustrated, probably embarrassed by his 2013 season, when he failed to stay in playing condition while helping the players’ union during the lockout, and when that lockout was settled and there was no real training camp or preseason.

So Richards dedicated himself over the next summer – having been rid of coach John Tortorella, who for so long was an ally, the reason Richards signed here (besides the contract) and who finally, in the second round of the ’13 playoffs, stopped giving Richards the long leash he didn’t deserve.

The Rangers decided to take the gamble and not use their remaining amnesty buyout to terminate his contract and eliminate the cap hit and cap-advantage recapture penalty last summer.

You know what happened. Richards was, indeed, much, much better this season. For much of the season he manned a very improved power play point. He played every single game, 105 now including playoffs.

More important, he took on a greater leadership role, particularly when Rangers captain Ryan Callahan forced his way out of town at the trade deadline. Richards became the de facto captain of a team that reached the Stanley Cup Final, reached it in no small part because of his performance in the early rounds, because of his goal in Game 7 in Pittsburgh. Reached it in no small part because of the influence Richards had in bringing Martin St. Louis aboard in the Callahan trade. Reached it in no small part because of Richards’ very real guidance of an inexperienced nucleus.

But now it’s time.

The Rangers have one, maybe two, maybe three games remaining. Richards’ tank looks completely empty again. He not only has been unable to keep up in a high-speed series, he has committed terrible giveaways and blunders. He hasn’t produced a point. The power play has stalled as he has bumbled at the point.

It’s time.

Rangers GM Glen Sather no doubt knows it. His lieutenants know it. Coach Alain Vigneault probably understands it. Richards does, too.

They all know, too, that the Rangers will need to find a replacement with the money they save, at center and on the point.

The buyout period begins June 15 or 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Final concludes, whichever is later, and it closes June 30.

The nine-year, $60 million contract Richards signed in 2011 was, in fact, a six-year, $57 million deal ($9.5 million per) – the last three seasons at $1 million per, designed to entice him to retire after the 2016-17 season and to average out his cap hit over nine years instead of six.

Problem was, with the new collective bargaining agreement, that kind of salary cap circumvention was deemed illegal, and so the penalty for recapturing that advantage was put into place, along with the two amnesty buyouts allowed per team, to be used by July 1, 2014.

The recapture penalty means if Richards stays and then retires, as expected, after 2016-17, the Rangers would carry a cap hit of about $5.67 million per season for three years, for a player no longer on the roster.

Richards received $33 million in the first three seasons. With the buyout he will get two-thirds of the remaining $27 million spread over twice the remaining term (12 years). And he certainly will get a contract as a free agent July 1 for less than he made this year, and for a shorter term, from another team (the Rangers are not permitted to re-sign him).

Richards has been both good and bad for three years, and even if there were no recapture penalty, the Rangers would have to think about what he will look like next season at this time, not to mention the next or the next. There is a recapture penalty, though, and this last chance to get out of it.

It’s time.

Twitter: @RangersReport

Photo by Getty Images.

 

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57 Comments

  1. Lone Ranger
    Here’s the skinny. Quick has just been that much better than Henrik. I mean this with respect but if we swapped goalies it would probably be 2-1 or 1-2 at this point of the series. Quick has stood on his freeken head. The wild card has been the defense being jumped on by bigger faster King players, not allowing our speed up ice. Our defense has to play the same way they did the during 6th game of the Habs series. Lack of top notch performances by Richards, Nash, Kreider & Stepon hasn’t helped either. Speed in all zones, aggressive checking & smart simply plays. Who knows, maybe we could pull this out. Subconciously LA would rather win at home. In the end, even though we should be proud because we never figured we’d go this far, it still hurts. It’s not too often a team gets this far.
    June 11th, 2014 at 5:59 PM

  2. Nothing new here…it’s a given, but he has really let the Ranger fans down so far in the SCF

  3. Excellent column Carp…even if, Lord Stanley and my kitties Stanley and Cup willing, good stuff happens the next few days…it’s time.

  4. I don’t think Quick stood on his head any more than Hank in the first 2 games. In game 3, yes. We have to be closing in on 2 full games without a goal now aren’t we?

  5. Handshake Wednesday followed by Richards Jersey burning Thursday followed by break up Friday. So depressing.

    Sire Father!!

  6. Given the scores of all three games, I offer that it’s not just about goalies….each has five guys in front of him. This is a team sport. OK, I haven’t eaten since last night….must get chow pre-game….later all.

  7. Stranger Nation on

    Somewhere in the hills of New Hampshire a grown man tears up as he reads this post and begins to clear his throught to sing his favorite aria…

  8. Ha Orr.

    Seriously man
    Is hammered.

    As the biggest pessimist on blog I promise you all if we win a home game and just make kings go home and somehow win that the series turns because there is no way they want come east for game 6. If so
    Watch out. Momentum
    Doesn’t change until we have a home game
    Monday.

    We win cup you all never hear from
    Me again.

    Just call me Tom hanks in
    Cast away.

  9. Looking back, in theory (bad contract aside), Richards was everything this team needed when he was brought in. It’s amazing how these things rarely work out for the Rangers.

  10. We miss having a Captain! #19 is NOT the Captain! Who in hell does he inspire? Jeesh.

  11. Remember game 4 against Boston last year, The Kreider scores in OT to extend series.

  12. Matty"WhyNot!!"Boy on

    Carpy, great article. Astute. Spot on. Describes it SO well even Sather can now understand it!!!!!!

  13. I think Sather has been afraid to ask Dolan (who probably has no idea what’s going on with hockey except the scores) for the $18 to $20 million in extra cash, the necessity of which resulted from his inept contract agreement. Now, he hasn’t a choice.

  14. 4th liners Dorsett and Carcillo buzz the net much more than the big earners, for whatever that’s worth.

  15. Just wondering, assuming AV doesn’t have the onions to sit 19 or 61 … who do you think deserves to come out for 13? I don’t think anybody does.

  16. Dorsett is coming out, which I think is total BS.

    And if that’s true -I- Dorsett’s brother told Eric, then that’s why. He might not be scoring, but Dorsett has worked his ass off.

    Neigh has been absolute garbage in this round. It’s unfair.

  17. Un-yuns call = 19, but as much as I’d like to see it it would disrupt the pp as well as slap the face of a ranger who helped get us here.

  18. Dolan could buy himself 72 Maserati Ghiblis for what Slats is about to ask him for due to his miscalculations.

  19. Was strolling around Limantour beach, thinking about the Rangers. I really need to get a grip.

  20. If 19 is on the PP, he should be down low, not on the point. He impedes McD’s, Leach-like offensive abilities, and 27 has to be totally and perpetually prepared for any breakouts.

  21. Admiral Akbar on

    Why is that asshat “reporter” guy Rich Chere tweeting obsessed with champagne being delivered to King’s dressing room in Garden?

    SOUNDS LIKE AN ABSOLUTE TROLL.

    His team has been golfing for months, yet he and trolls like him bask in the glee of schadenfreude at the Rangers potentially being swept in the SCF.

    He should be banished from the sidebar tweets.

    Byfuglien him, and others like him.

  22. Once Richie is gone, Norm and I can entertain the beginnings of a beautiful friendship. :)

  23. coos, never once have I wavered other than those three times in my high regard for you and your strange wit, even as you continue to spout your spectacularly wrong-headed opinions about your captain your captain.

  24. Dorsett’s set to pocket 2 mil next year. If they think they can keep Carcillo in that role, they might save over a million and package #15. Hate to see that happen.

  25. Norm, perhaps there were only three times, but they were a very, very vitriolic three times. :) Enjoyed every minute of it.

  26. YOU were the one who came up with the corn on the cob through the chain link fence, and I envied that good-humored retort.

  27. Richie will head up to Connecticut off season, pulling the iron sled loaded with sandbags which should make him even slower for Buffalo.

  28. Carp sit Dorsett , move Richards to the 4th line, move Moore or Boyle up….try both during the game

  29. I stole the chain link from Imus in re Marilyn Quayle. Wish I could claim it.

  30. Ethical question: say you are in beautiful northern CA and the focus of a generously provided birthday fete. How many times per minute are you allowed to look under the table at the boneblog to see how Elimation Game #1 is coming along?

  31. If, for whatever reason they didn’t want to give Mac the C after Cally left, they should have painted a big C on Hank’s helmet, hell with the league ‘rules.’ We don’t need ‘unofficial’ Captains.

  32. Seriously? After such a terrific year, such leadership, such dedication, you’re talking about buying his contract out again WHILE HE’S COMPETING FOR THE CUP??? What the hell is wrong with you people? Is nothing ever good enough? The guy is playing fantastic, sure he’s made a few mistakes, he’s also a human being, but he’s made more than his fair share of game winning plays, scored power play goals, had many great setups, etc. and is one of the reasons they are in the f’ing STANLEY CUP FINALS! Come on, the guy is a great hockey player and a great leader, let’s stop f’ing talking about buying out his contract WHILE THE TEAM IS IN THE F’ING STANLEY CUP FINALS! Seriously, are you San Jose fans now? Do you give up on your team while they’re still playing? Do you just sit back and accept defeat? That doesn’t sound like f’ing New Yorkers to me! They don’t have to think about next season, they have to think about Friday’s game! Then they have to think about Monday’s game! AND THEN THEY HAVE TO THINK ABOUT WEDNESDAY’S F’ING GAME! What is wrong with you? UGH! This article is infuriating, you should stop being a Rangers fan.

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