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The "D" in Richardson

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Brad Richardson has turned the page on a 2008-09 season filled with injury and healthy scratches that had Kings fans forgetting his name, literally, as the second-year King has impressed coaches with his tight checking game and hustle, earning more minutes...and scoring goals in 2009-10.

What’s in a name?

A lot, even if that name isn’t spelled correctly.

On Feb. 3, 2009, Kings forward Brad Richardson ( highlights)  stepped on the ice in Ottawa wearing a jersey that, on the back, read "RICHARSON." No "D" present in his family name.

It had to feel sadly appropriate.

For much of last season, Richardson ’s first with the Kings, he was missing from the ice altogether, either due to injury or dissatisfaction from coaches. Richardson appeared in only 31 games and had five points, all on assists.

This season, though, has brought a fresh start. Richardson, for the most part, isn’t getting high-profile minutes and is doing the grunt work on the fourth line, but he’s been strong of late and was rewarded with a streak in which he scored a goal in three consecutive games.

"Everyone wants to score, right?" Richardson said. "Everyone wants to score and feel like you're contributing, but obviously even if you're not scoring, you can still do good things and help the team win. Bringing energy and doing all that stuff. So just because you're not scoring, you're still helping."

And that, more than the three goals, is a measure of how far Richardson has come this season.

Consider the final minutes of the Kings' 2-1 victory over Calgary on Monday. With the Kings nursing a one-goal lead, and the Flames charging, Richardson got a shift with less than five min tues remaining.

Then he got another one, at the 16:51 mark. And another one at 17:19. And another one at 18:47. The last five minutes of a game often reveal which players have earned the trust of the coach. Richardson now fits that category.

"When we get into that close game, tie game, one-goal game," coach Terry Murray said, "I'm looking to be very responsible on the checking side, and I like what Richie has been doing over the last dozen games or so."

Richardson starts games as the fourth-line center, but later in games, he has moved up to skate with more skilled players. In the third period Saturday, Richardson was playing left wing alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.

"It's definitely a good thing when he's throwing you out there in the third with different lines," Richardson said. "He's having confidence to put me out there in those situations in tight games, so hopefully I can go out and execute. I'm not going to go out with Kopi and start trying to dangle (the puck) with everyone. You just go out and do the same thing. That's what he wants to see. Just go out and execute."

From Richardson's standpoint, that's a refreshing change from one year ago.

Continue to Part II

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