GLENDALE – Brad Richardson got off to a slow start in his first season with the Coyotes, but as the season progressed he thrived on a line with veteran Shane Doan and rookie Jordan Martinook, and by the end of the year he produced multiple career highs.
“The experience overall was great,” Richardson said when asked to reflect on his 11th NHL season and his first in Arizona. “Everyone welcomed me in and I had a lot of fun this year. But when you don’t make the playoffs it’s never a great season, so you kind of look at it as an average season.”
Richardson played in all 82 games, a first for the 31-year-old forward, and he notched a career-high 20 assists and a career-high 31 points. Those are solid accomplishments considering the third liner chipped in just one goal and one assist in his first 14 games with the team.
“You always want to try to have a career year and if you can do that, that’s great,” Richardson said. “It’s definitely nice to play in all 82 games. The last few years I’ve had some injuries so it’s nice to feel healthy and contribute. I want to have another career year next year.”
|Brad Richardson. Photo by Norm Hall. |
Doan (28 goals), Richardson (11) and Martinook (nine), whom Head Coach Dave Tippett united on a line for a large chunk of the season, combined to score 48 of the team’s 208 goals in 2015-16. That’s 23.1 percent of the goal production.
Tippett liked the hard work the three players displayed and often said that’s what led to their offensive production. He likely will keep the trio together next season, assuming Doan, 39, decides to continue his NHL career. Richardson is hoping he does.
“It was a lot of fun to play with Shane this year,” Richardson said. “Obviously he had a heck of a year. He’s been doing that for a long time so I hope he’s coming back. It was really nice to develop that chemistry with him. And Jordan had a great rookie season. He was definitely the hound dog and the workhorse of the line, and it was really nice to play with him as well.”
Richardson finished second on the team in plus/minus rating at plus-8, and fourth on the team with three game-winning goals. He also blocked a career-high 53 shots and won 54.4 percent of his face-offs to help the Coyotes finish first in the NHL in that category at 54.7 percent as a team.
Richardson, who is signed for the next two seasons, has played 50 games in the NHL post-season and he helped the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012. Knowing what it takes for a team to accomplish that feat, Richardson likes the direction the Coyotes are headed.
“I think there’s a lot of hope for this franchise,” Richardson said. “We know there’s still a lot of work to be done. You can’t keep missing the playoffs. It’s not OK to do that. You shouldn’t be satisfied… I think you can kind of see that this team wants to be in the post-season next year.”