Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 6/19/12

With great contracts come great expectations, and that especially applied to Brad Richards once he signed a nine-year/$60 million contract with the New York Rangers last July. As the biggest free agent target of the 2011 summer, Richards knew going in that he was going to be thrown lucrative deals left and right. However, it was the Rangers who, as compared to others, low-balled Richie in terms of cash. Richards took less money to come to the Big City and be reunited with head coach John Tortorella, and it ended up working out pretty well for the 32-year-old center, all things considered. 

The Good: As far as my personal expectations for Richards went in his first season with the Rangers, he exceeded them and exceeded them largely. Coming from Dallas to New York would be a tremendous jump on and off the ice, and I truly thought it was going to get the best of Brad in year one. To my surprise, it didn't have the impact I thought it would, and Richie turned out to be a key player for the Rangers throughout the season, especially down the stretch and in the playoffs. 

His 25 goals and 41 assists gave him 66 points during the regular season, which was good for second on the team in scoring behind Marian Gaborik. I honestly did not see Richards reaching beyond the 20-goal mark, but again, he beat the odds. Not to mention nine of those 25 goals were game-winners, making Brad the new Mr. Clutch on Broadway. He always came up with the big play during the regular season and playoffs, whether it be the go-ahead goal in the Winter Classic, the .1 second game-winner against Phoenix or the 6.6 second tying tally against the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Those are the moments a team's top performer is expected to step up in, and Richards did so many times, which is why Tortorella is such a huge fan. 

And then of course there is every other role he fills, such as penalty-killing, powerplay quarterback (although that one didn't work out all that well), and most of all, leader. There is a reason why Richards was given the alternate captaincy before playing a single game for the team. He's a natural-born leader that was a fantastic mentor for many of the younger guys on the hockey club. That's not a trait everyone possesses, but when they do, it can be quite special. At first I was skeptical of giving Brad a letter, but now, after season one, I couldn't be more happy. 

The Bad: Consistency was an issue for Richards throughout the season. I mentioned how he exceeded my expectations, which is true, but it can become frustrating when a player gives a team so much for a certain amount of time, and then falls off the face of the earth the very next week. This was sometimes the case with Richards, and it left the fan base rather aggravated when it was. Moving forward, consistency is something Richards is going to want to improve in his game, and if he does, he will be up there among the League's top scorers, let alone the team's.

Highlight of the Year:

 

Overall Assessment: All in all, you have to be happy with Richards' first season as a New York Ranger. For the most past, he did what he is being paid the big bucks to do, he established himself as a fan favorite and a leader and played a major role in the team's ascension to the top of the Eastern Conference. Next objective? Help bring the team a Stanley Cup. 

Report Card Grade: B

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Browns players explain motivation behind anthem protest

Ezekiel Elliott spotted hanging out on luxury boat at Texas lake

Jon Gruden: Manziel’s chances of returning to NFL are ‘slim’

Boldin: NFL offseason programs are for ‘babysitting’ players

Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner team up for hilarious rendition of total eclipse

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: Odell Beckham Jr. leaves game after low hit to his leg

Multiple Cleveland Browns players kneel during anthem

Army-Navy to play at the Meadowlands on 20-year anniversary of 9/11

Beckham stared straight at eclipse, can still see his 'haters'

LeBron downplays Griffin's comments about him going to NY

Broncos coach calls Siemian 'permanent' starting QB

The 'Anquan Boldin calls it a career' quiz

15 college football coaches who are on the hot seat

Getaway Day: The playing field is leveling off as the wild-card chase takes shape

Sports & Politics Intersect: Echoes of Charlottesville ripple across the sports world

BIG3 Playoff Preview: Can anyone stop Trilogy?

The 'Bye bye to the Beast Incarnate?' quiz

Why the SEC is not the best football conference anymore

Box Score 8/18: Reds and Cubs claw through a 23-run game

The 'M! E! S! S! Mess! Mess! Mess!' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Giancarlo Stanton won't stop hitting homers

NFL shifts blame for Zeke suspension to police and NFLPA

Box Score 8/17: Interleague games bring the fireworks

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

The 'Anquan Boldin calls it a career' quiz

Getaway Day: The playing field is leveling off as the wild-card chase takes shape

Sports & Politics Intersect: Echoes of Charlottesville ripple across the sports world

BIG3 Playoff Preview: Can anyone stop Trilogy?

The 'Bye bye to the Beast Incarnate?' quiz

Why the SEC is not the best football conference anymore

The 'M! E! S! S! Mess! Mess! Mess!' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Giancarlo Stanton won't stop hitting homers

NFL shifts blame for Zeke suspension to police and NFLPA

The 'Forget Calvin, bring back Jerry' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker