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WINNING BONDS

Newest Flame Brad Richardson reunites with Darryl Sutter

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

In this game, nothing spawns a cherished, lifelong connection than going through hell and winning it all.

For the newest Flame Brad Richardson, it's obvious how deep those championship roots are ingrained.

"He can be a tough coach," the veteran said of his old-is-new-again boss, Darryl Sutter, "and he can also be someone that's there for you when things aren't going well.

"But the big thing I see now and have always seen from Darryl is the consistency. The homework.

"He loves when guys are laying it all out there and bringing it every night. To play a long time in this league, that's what you have to have - and Darryl's a coach that demands you bring it every day, and it's got to be the same every night. That's his element. He's a hard worker.

"Look, my family grew up on a farm, too, and farmers are the hardest-working people out there. You get up, you do the same thing every day, and you pour your heart into it.

"That's what I see in Darryl. And that's what intrigued me about this opportunity in Calgary."

Richardson - who won a Cup with Sutter as a member of the tough-as-nails 2012 LA Kings - is back under the tutelage of the hearty Albertan. The 36-year-old, left-shot pivot signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with the Flames on Wednesday and is eager to resurrect the pair's winning pedigree.

 

 

When Sutter signed on with the Kings at the midpoint of that championship campaign, Richardson saw a noticeable shift in the team's mentality.

Suddenly, a team that struggled to put two or three good games together, was quickly becoming the pack leader.

"It was a funky year," Richardson said. "When Darryl came in, that instant credibility and instant work was instilled. I don't know what it was, or how much of it was how he demanded consistency and effort every night. But it all clicked for us. Once he came in, we went on a run right before the playoffs, got in and went on a crazy run - I think we were 16-4 to go on and win the Cup. We were up 3-0 in every series, which is a nice little cushion to have when you're in the playoffs."

Indeed.

Now, naturally, the goal is the same here in the Stampede City.

Richardson will certainly help in that pursuit, bringing versatility and veteran savvy to the Flames' forward corps - and in particular, the fourth-line centre spot, where the Belleville, Ont. native expects to ply his remarkable, 16 years of big-league background.

Richardson has 825 career games under his belt with the Colorado Avalanche, Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes and Nashville Predators, most recently, scoring a total of 107 goals and adding 139 helpers.

He also has 13 points (7G, 6A) in 61 career playoff games.

But, perhaps, the most impressive stat lingering there on the page is his work in the faceoff circle. The 6-foot, 190-lb. forward has a career win percentage of 51.7%, and is a stunning, 53.3% over the past 10 seasons, ranking him 23rd league-wide in that span among players with at least 5,000 attempts.

 

 

"I've played centre pretty much my whole life, so it's area that I've definitely worked on a lot since I was… honestly, a kid," Richardson said. "My dad put a big emphasis on faceoffs - and especially as a kid, when you're learning to make little plays off draws, I started working on some tricks at a pretty early age.

"Nowadays, it's habit. I don't watch a ton of faceoff video. I'm usually more focused on what I'm doing, instead of putting my attention on other guys' tendencies. Obviously, if you're struggling against a certain guy or are going up against a player like Patrice Bergeron, you might look at them a little more closely. 'OK, what's he doing here, or how does use his wingers in this situation?'

"It's fun. I enjoy it. There are little subtleties of it. My 'faceoff tricks.' Some of the guys that I've played with in the past - they would probably tell you the stories - but they would laugh at me all the time. It keeps you in the game, keeps it fun, and it's a little niche inside the game that people don't normally see."

Just don't expect the 'tricks' to be spoken of publicly.

"Not a chance!" Richardson howled.

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