Larry Brooks writes that Brad Richards found out last year that he was being scratched in game four against Boston by hearing it from Michael Haley and Kris Newbury during a team dinner the night before the game. (NY Post)
Brooks says that Richards figured out that if both Haley and Newbury were playing, he would be out of the lineup. The next morning John Tortorella called Richards to tell him that he would be scratched for game four. (NY Post)
Tortorella, in repeatedly calling Richards a “hell of a hockey player” and someone that he “loves as a player and a person,” said that Richards was scratched because he didn’t fit on the fourth line and the centers on the top three lines had stepped up and were playing better than him.
Richards spoke yesterday about his shift to the fourth line in game four.
Brooks says that it’s essentially a “foregone conclusion” that the Rangers will use their second amnesty buyout on Richards. (NY Post)
For more on Richards, click HERE and HERE.
James Duthie of TSN interviewed John Tortorella and Duthie said that when Tortorella was at TSN there wasn’t a player that he liked or respected more than Brad Richards.
While Duthie was setting up the question Tortorella said “yes” and then Duthie asked if the two had spoken and Tortorella responded quickly with a “no.”
When asked if he thought the relationship was damaged, Tortorella said “…….yea…that’s all ill go.”
Duthie asked if losing the relationship hurt and Tortorella said, “it kills me. It kills me. That kid there, I grew up with him. I learned a lot from him in Tampa. We grew up together. I don’t know where it went….see, now you got me talking about it, but yea, it’s been damaged. That is a regret, it’s a big one. When the game is done, relationships are all you have left and that is very important to me. Yea, that is a tough one for me.”
THIS SECTION has all of the Tortorella/Richards talk from the playoffs including Tortorella saying that he loves Richards.
Brad Richards said early during training camp that he reached out to Tortorella.
While meeting with the media yesterday, Brad Richards said that he didn’t sign with the Rangers to only play a year and a half with the Rangers.
Richards said that he didn’t feel “normal” all season but expects to be able to return to playing at a high level.
During John Tortorella’s meeting with the media, the Rangers coach said that Richards needs to take what happened to him at the end of the Bruins series as a wake up call and that he is sure Richards will be able to bounce back.
Tortorella said yesterday that the relationship between him and Richards had to be put aside when the decision was made to bench him for games four and five.
Tortorella said that the decision was made with the best interest of the hockey team.
While some have wondered if the relationship between Tortorella and Richards is now strained/over, Tortorella denied that saying “absolutely not, Brad knows how I feel about him.”
Following game four, Tortorella said that he loved Richards.
3:51PM: Richards’ comments today:
- On the season, “it’s disappointing season. There was a lot of expectations, it was all a mess….with the lockout. It was just a different year adn when you are out now the only thing that matters is that you aren’t playing.”
- On being scratched, “it was not a fun time. It was tough but life goes on and I need to regroup, figure some things out and start over.”
To read more of this story, click here
2:09PM: At CBC, Ron MacLean, the host on Hockey Night in Canada and a friend of Richards, said that Brad deserved better than to be scratched in game four.
MacLean also says that Richards agents advised against signing with the Rangers because they felt there were situations that would fit him better and also get him more money. Richards wanted to be closer to his family in PEI, Canada and loved the idea of playing for an Original Six team.
MacLean says that Tortorella didn’t respect what Richards did and compared it to when in 1996 Mike Keenan ripped Wayne Gretzky.
He also says that what the Rangers did to Richards is a common thing for how they handle players, “Wade Redden was so well thought of in Ottawa, the Senators chose Wade over Zdeno Chara. I feel the same way about Redden. He was thrown out. Bobby Holik. Scott Gomez. These are highly regarded players elsewhere who were made to appear to have lost it in New York.”
1:50PM: James Duthie was on TSN Radio this morning and spoke about Brad Richards and John Tortorella.
Duthie said that when Tortorella worked for TSN, prior to becoming the Rangers coach, there wasn’t a player that Tortorella gushed about more than Brad Richards.
“His face lit up like a high school crush when he talked about Brad Richards. For it to come to this, this is something that, no matter what you say about best for the hockey team and I love this guy, this is a huge embarrassment for a player of that level. I would guess that even though Torts will try to make things better that their relationship gets severed, relationships get severed from things like that. It’s a gutsy move, it didn’t matter in the hockey game. I think he will find a way to get Richards back in the lineup.”
Duthie went on to say, “hockey players are proud to the point of petty and I bet that that relationship isn’t repairable. When you embarrass a player like that, and I’m not saying it was the wrong move. Richards had an awful season and an awful playoff and was doing nothing. If you don’t think he can play in the top six then there is no point in putting him on the fourth line. He is not a fourth line player. If you take all the names and relationships out of it I don’t think it’s the worst coaching move ever, but when you embarrass a player like that they don’t recover. I bet that relationship is forever torn.
Tortorella explained his reasons for sitting Richards last night.
On MSG last night, John Tortorella talked about why Brad Richards was a healthy scratch last night.
Tortorella said, “By no means is this a situation where I am taking him out and blaming him, I am playing him on the fourth line, he is playing seven or eight minutes. It’s not good for him, it doesn’t work playing Brad Richards that way. I felt some other guys have played better so that is where he is on our lineup. It just doesn’t work and I’m not playing him in the proper way but I can’t put him in a situation with the other lines because they have stepped up. I look at the fourth line, looking to add some life, looking to add an identity on that fourth line and that is where Brad comes out and I get some fresh legs and enthusiasm.”
He added, “I’m sure some people will pick it apart, I wanna make sure you know….Brad Richards is a hell of a hockey player. He has had struggles here, it continues, me putting him in that role doesn’t help him, so I would rather have him out and identity how we are going to run our fourth line. Don’t put words in my mouth. I’m not blaming Brad Richards, I’ve heard enough of that crap. He is a hell of a hockey player that has had a. I need to make decisions for what I feel is right for the team to win tonight’s game. This is a Conn Smythe winner, I guy that I have grown up with, a guy that I love as a person and as a player but I have to make that decision. So kiss my ass if you wanna write something different.It’s not about blaming that guy and I don’t want anyone poling on him. It’s my decision for the hockey team.”
In the NY Post, Larry Brooks writes that John Tortorella runs no risk of losing anyone in the Rangers locker based on his decision to bench Brad Richards tonight.
He notes that Tortorella ran a greater risk by continuing to put Richards on the ice and give him ice time that he wasn’t deserving of.
Brooks says that had JT Miller been healthy and still with the team, this move could have come earlier in the playoffs.
While many are saying that benching a player of Richards pedigree in this situation is a bad move, Brooks says that Tortorella can’t rely on the past when trying to win tonight “Hockey can’t be about the past. Games and playoff rounds cannot be won on credit. If it’s not quite a matter of, “What have you done for me lately?” it must be a matter of, “What can you do for me today?” and not, “I will reward you for what you did for me yesterday.”
8:42PM: Savard sent out another tweet, “I’m just mad at Torts because if I recall in 2004 Richards helped him win the cup #connsmythe all I’m saying is live or die with your guy!!!”