Brad Richards arrived in Detroit on Thursday morning with a different mindset than in past years.
Last summer, the New York Rangers bought out the remainder of Richards’ contract to increase salary-cap space. Richards joined the Blackhawks soon afterward and was an important part of Chicago’s 2015 Stanley Cup Champion team.
Clearly, this offseason was a little bit different for Richards than the last.
“To be honest, I’m in a different frame of mind after winning a Cup than I was being bought out,” Richards said. “I had a little more confidence in myself when teams were talking to me, that I knew I could come in and help and that’s what I plan to do here.”
Richards, a 35-year old center who signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings during the offseason, joined the team as a role player. It’s a role he played well with the Blackhawks, and one he is looking forward to bringing to Detroit.
“I think they’ve had a lot of success in the past bringing in veteran guys and integrating them into a role that fits,” Richards said of the Red Wings. “I was used to that type of thing in Chicago, going in and playing a certain role. That’s not something I was used to playing in my career, and I think that prepared me for being open-minded with different things.”
Richards attended the Wings’ informal skate at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday. He hadn’t skated yet this week, and wanted to get back on the ice and meet his new teammates ahead of training camp. Richards hasn’t played with anyone on the Wings’ current roster, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t familiar with the team.
“I’ve obviously admired this team for a long time, and there’s no difference in the last few years,” Richards said. “Even though they haven’t made long runs, they’re always right there. That’s always an impression, and I’m very excited to be a Red Wing and play with some of these great players.”
Richards admitted he thought the Wings were going to close out their first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the postseason. He knows the Blackhawks were just a few bounces away from meeting Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals, which gives him confidence the Wings could make a deep run in 2016.
“I just played a team that they had on the ropes in the finals,” Richards said. “This league is so tough, so crazy, bounces here, momentum here. Watching that series from afar, everybody kind of thought Detroit had them. They didn’t, so that shows you how close it is. So I don’t see why we can’t compete. It’s a young team that has a little more experience again, and that’s always valuable.”
Experience is always valuable, and that’s exactly what Richards can bring to a young team. The 15-year veteran knows what it takes to bring the Stanley Cup home, and hopes to put the Wings in position to win their first championship since 2008.
“This has always been considered, if it’s not the best organization, it’s right there with any organization,” Richards said. “I just left a really good one recently and one before that in New York that does everything first class, and that’s all I’ve heard here.”