-- Is it possible the free-agent signing of Brad Richards
was exactly what the New York Rangers
and Dallas Stars
"It takes probably two or three guys up front to do it offensively, because you're not going to replace the points with one guy, because there's only one guy in free agency with that kind of reputation. So we did it with two or three forwards and we're doing things more by committee now than by individual guys. I think in the long run, it will pay off for us."
-- Glen Gulutzan, on replacing Richards
The Rangers have been among the League's elite teams since October. In 27 games, they have 38 points, one fewer than East-leading Philadelphia. Richards has been the veteran rock the youthful Rangers coveted this summer, posting 11 goals and a team-best 14 assists after signing a nine-year, $60 million contract during the summer.
Contrary to popular opinion after Richards left Dallas for New York, the Stars have managed just fine without him. They lead the Pacific Division with 33 points in 28 games, and at 2.54 goals per game, aren't far off the 2.71 per game they averaged last season with Richards centering the top line, flanked by Loui Eriksson
and Jamie Benn
It is one thing for pundits to expect the Stars to take a step back, but captain Brenden Morrow
had his reservations after learning Richards had signed with the Rangers.
"I guess initially that's what you think, is if that line is going to struggle," Morrow told NHL.com as the Stars prepared to face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. "They were kind of the catalysts who offensively drove our team. When you lose a top center like that, you start to be a little concerned.