On the first day of training camp Wednesday, New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault declared a "clean slate."
Perhaps more than anyone on the Rangers, Vigneault's "clean slate, grab it" philosophy can be embraced by center Brad Richards. Considered a buyout candidate after the 2012-13 season, the Rangers center is embracing a fresh start under Vignealut after admitting to reporters on Thursday that he lost confidence in himself and former coach John Tortorella last season.
"He uses the clean slate thing, but he uses it especially with me that all is forgotten," Richards said. "In the end it's all up to me. It's a new season. I really put all of that in the past. I had a lot of time to get rid of those thoughts and what happened, and regroup. Hopefully this is a positive thing that will get me going in the right direction.
"I didn't sign here to play a year and a half of hockey. I wanted it to be here. I'm happy I'm here. I'm thrilled. I did not want to end my New York Ranger tenure as that. I'm grateful I am still here. Hopefully this is the start of something new and fresh, and get back on the track."
In the second of a nine-year, $60 million contract, Richards had 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 48 games. He had only one point in 10 playoff games and was demoted to the fourth line before he became a healthy scratch in Games 4 and 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Bruins.
Both Richards and Vigneault believe player and team will benefit from the coaching change.
"With any player, part of the important thing in Brad's case, I told him to turn the page as much as he can and not answer questions about last year because it has no significant importance to now," Vigneault said. "All he has to do is stay in the moment. To me he looks real positive and looks like he's got a lot of energy. I think he's looking forward to the challenge that's coming up this season."