New York Rangers center Brad Richards sat down with Steve Serby of the New York Post for in-depth interview that talked about issues both and off the ice. The overall interview is excellent and gives a real feel for Richards as a person beyond just the dollar figures and hockey skill that has been the focus since he signed with the Rangers. Aside from his age where the length of contract and money has been talked about, the most discussed issue with Richards has been whether he could perform in the pressure of New York.
Q: The pressure being in the New York market.A: It’s gonna be a different animal, I’m not gonna lie to you. It’s not the same as playing in Tampa or Dallas. But I’ve been through playoff runs. If you’re getting into a Game 7, it’s as much pressure as you can handle no matter where you’re playing, ’cause we all have pride and we want to win. I think the experience of playing on home soil for Team Canada, playing for the Olympics, that’s a lot of pressure that people don’t realize if you’re a Canadian playing on those teams. There’s no option, you have to win. . . . I think that’s something that will make me better, it will drive me, it’ll push me more. Can’t have those nights where you don’t feel like playing hard, you have to play hard in front of these fans, they’ll let you know.
There is nothing more you can ask of a player than to play hard. Player’s will have off nights and some will even have off years, but if they are giving legitimate effort the complaints about them will be much different than those who just appear to be going through the motions. The fans of this organization have always gravitated to those who break their backs to help the team win, even above those who were more skilled. Obviously they will expect numbers and wins from Richards in his tenure as well, but giving the right effort will take him a long way to winning over the Garden faithful.
The fact that Richards sees the pressure of New York and the knowledge of Rangers’ fans as a motivational force sets the stage for him to be just fine here and will only make this team better. When your best players are also your hardest workers it becomes contagious throughout the lineup and with the number of young players the Rangers have in the fold, those are the kinds of lessons you want filtering through your roster and organization.
For many he will be judged on whether he brings a title back to Broadway, and that is part of the pressure that comes with signing for big dollars in New York, but Richards accepts that challenge and is hungry for it. These are the types of things, while just words at this point, make you believe that Richards can succeed where other big names have failed in spotlight of New York.
The more you hear and read about Richards the more you like the man that will be manning the middle for the Rangers for many years to come. This city is lucky to have #19 as a Blueshirt.