As word spread that he signed and the amount he signed for, immediately fans took to setting the bar high for Richards. After all, he’s won a Stanley Cup and has been coached by the effervescent John Tortorella. An instant hit, for sure. Every move Richards made on the ice, and even more notably off the ice (*cough*Olivia Munn*cough*) was picked apart under a microscope. There were thoughts that he was ‘preoccupied’ off the ice, thus leading to his ‘slump’ on the ice.
Even with the #RichardsMunnEffect put aside for a moment, his actions were held to a higher standard, thanks in part to his lofty contract. If he’s being paid umpteenmillions of dollars to play, he damn well better score. A lot.
Richards played all 82 games last season, scoring 25 goals. To some, that wasn’t enough. I heard various request and pleas for him to score more, get more assists, click with Gaborik, score more goals, etc… I chalked his underperformance (if you can call it that) to an adjustment period. You can’t expect him to come in and work well on every line he’s placed on. Line configuration is an art, kind of like a Picasso. His veteran presence was needed though. With all of the young talent the Rangers have in the locker room, Richards’ mentoring was almost invaluable.
Now Rick Nash, just having been traded to the Rangers, also has a lofty salary. He’s signed thru 2018 for roughly $7.8million a year. The question that looms overhead is ‘Will he produce big?’ He runs the risk of falling under the same scrutiny that Richards did about 1 year ago. The situations are a little similar, in the fact that they include a highly-touted free agent/player with a hefty contract.
I don’t expect Nash to come out firing on all cylinders, scoring goals left and right. There’s an adjustment period that comes with a player that has been traded to a new team, new plays, new teammates, new linemates… They all effect his play in one way or another. I’m not going to expect big numbers from Nash, and I wouldn’t be disappointed that the Rangers have ‘wasted’ money on him if he’s not putting up big numbers.
It’s all about being realistic with expectations. I don’t expect him to march the Rangers to a Stanley Cup, it’s simply not possible. Can he help the Rangers get there? There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s an asset to the Rangers and will only help better the team.
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