Thursday, November 3, 2011

Richards Taking Stepan Under His Wing Is Added Bonus For Rangers

When the New York Rangers signed prized free agent Brad Richards this summer much of the focus was on what he could bring to the team himself as well as how he would help return Marian Gaborik to form.  Lost in the discussion for many was what a player like Richards could do for some of the younger Rangers in terms of learning the position of center in the NHL and how to deal with the ups and downs of the game.  Jim Cerny at Blueshirts United gives an example of Richards doing just that with second year forward Derek Stepan leading up to Monday's game against San Jose. 

"This guy over here (pointing to Richards) grabbed me one day at practice and said don't let your head think too much, just go play," Stepan explained. "I battle with this quite a bit actually. I did it last year when I went (17) games without a goal after my first three (on opening night). You have to get in between your own ears and battle it, get an ugly (goal) and get going again. And Brad helped me with that."

Last week Stepan was on MSG during intermission talking about his low confidence and that possibly sparked Richards taking this step, but it shows excellent leadership to help out a young player who was clearly pressing.  Stepan gave it back to Richards Monday with his first goal of the season.