Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 02/29/08 at 06:35 PM ET
It’s been a busy week for Brad Richards. On Tuesday he was traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Dallas Stars along with Johan Holmqvist for Mike Smith, Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen and a fourth-round pick in 2009. Last night he played in his first game for the Stars and made it a memorable one by becoming the first player in NHL history to record five assists in his first game with a team as Dallas defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 7 to 4.
Today, Richards participated in an NHL teleconference and below is the transcript of that Q&A with various members of the media.
Q. Is it simplifying it too much to say that all the buildup and all the talk whether you’d be traded or not just all went away in your first game with Dallas and allowed you to have a game like that last night?
BRAD RICHARDS: Yeah, it was the most comfortable I’ve felt, obviously just getting back into the game day routine and setting aside all the other things that are in your head. It was a tough few days obviously emotionally.
Two years ago I didn’t think I’d leave Tampa ever and now I get a new start here. That’s nothing against Dallas; I’m very happy to be here. It’s going to be great. It was just the initial—when it finally hit in, it was a stressful few days. Obviously the best part is just getting out with your teammates and playing hockey again.
Q. And just to follow up, what was the hardest part of agreeing to give up that no-trade clause?
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, you never know if you’re making the right choice and you never know how it’s going to be on the other side. I was always told by older players that the guys are always good guys no matter where you go once you get to know them, and that’s the case here. They’ve welcomed me with open arms. I had three or four calls right off the bat from some of the players on the team. They’ve been nothing but helpful for me, and Johan since we got here, the whole organization has been great.
Q. I’ve been told that Columbus was one of your, quote, preferred destinations, that you had approved Columbus. I’m wondering if you could first confirm that and then tell me why that was, what attracted you to Columbus as a potential destination.
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, there was no list or anything that was rumored. I just told Jay that if the ownership was going to make him do this, we weren’t going to hold them hostage with the no-trade, but we wanted to control our destiny. Jay from the start when we knew probably what would happen told us that Dallas had the best offer, and we said Dallas would probably be the No. 1 pick if something happened.
He said Columbus is coming in with an offer, and there was a couple other teams, and that’s when I said if something falls through with Dallas, then maybe Columbus because it’s a good friendship with Freddie Modin, who I played with for the first six years of my career. And then obviously with some of their personnel, Rick Nash and some of the younger guys, it was I thought an opportunity maybe to go and grow with that team.
But it never really came down to that. I think they zeroed in with Dallas pretty early and everything worked out.
Q. You just joined a team that won 12 games in February. It’s the most games they’ve ever won in a month in their franchise, so this team is really cooking right now. Can you gauge at all the impact of the three players that they lost, and can you tell me why you think they’ve been so successful this month?
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, you know, what I’ve heard is this team is very close, and you could tell that when I got here. The biggest thing we wanted to do is fit in properly, not be a distraction.
There’s always two sides to a trade; they lose good guys and hopefully they’re getting good guys. We want to be that and help the team. It’s just good that we didn’t mess anything up. We kept thinking of going last night in the same direction, which was before the trade deadline. There’s still a lot of work to do, and it’s going to be fun to be a part of it.
Q. Your coach, Dave Tippett, is pretty well known for really intelligent, strategic plays, power play, and especially on the penalty kill. I guess probably you’ll be looking forward to sharing thoughts with a guy with that kind of a mind. What do you know of Tippett and what are you looking forward to?
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, he’s been great so far. Yeah, it’s great to—I really believe things got a little stale for me in Tampa, unfortunately, for whatever reason. It’s good to get a new mindset and new players and new ideas. That’s what’s so exciting about a change. Obviously these guys are doing a lot of things right, so it’s good to come in and get those fresh ideas. I know I’m going to learn a lot. I still have a lot to learn, and it’s going to happen every day here. It’s going to be great.
Q. A couple questions. One, when a player is looking around and he knows he’s going to get traded, how much homework do you do checking into the team you might be going to? And the other question I have for you is how much heat is there in Tampa now that you’re gone and they’ve been going through so many goaltenders there, Mike Smith probably to be the goaltender?
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, the trade was—obviously it’s a unique situation when you have a no-trade. The relationship that Jay Feaster and I have, and the coach, we grew up together, so he wasn’t demanding anything. It was more the ownership, and he wasn’t going to—he told me right from the start that if this is going to happen and we’re going to do anything, we’re going to do what’s best for you. That was comforting. That makes things a lot easier. You definitely do homework and you definitely see what the Lightning can get back and take all that into consideration, and this was a perfect fit.
You know, as far as Tampa goes, obviously they’re in a rebuilding stage, and they’ll probably make more changes, who knows, in the summer. And it’s unfortunate because we had such a good thing going there in ‘04. Things just kind of fell apart and unraveled with the ownership and all that. It’s pretty unfair to a lot of good people in that organization who built the organization up the way it should be, and they’re standing there watching it get ripped away, and a lot of it they can’t help.
I only wish them the best, but I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen down there.
Q. I’m wondering, you go out and get five assists in your debut, so I’m wondering, have the guys in the room come up with a nickname for you, and might it be “Gretzky”?
BRAD RICHARDS: No, I hope not (laughing). They’re just bugging me that they expect it again tomorrow. That’s the funny part. I don’t expect myself obviously to do that, and I’m sure I’ll get bugged if something doesn’t go right again next game. But they’ve been great. They’ve welcomed me.
It was just fun to get that under my belt, and obviously it was one of those nights that everything kind of went the right way.
Q. From a practical standpoint, I mean, are you living in a hotel, out of a suitcase? Did you bring enough clothes? How prepared were you for this move?
BRAD RICHARDS: I was pretty much prepared on Sunday night that this was going to happen. I was 90 percent sure it would be Dallas, but you still have to pack and get some things together. My family happened to be in Florida at the time, so they were a big help. You know, you do what you can. It’s the first experience I’ve had with this. But it’s not that far from Tampa, and I can get some stuff FedExed over.
Hopefully I’ll be out of the hotel very soon. A lot of the guys have people and ideas for me and a home or two, to get settled into a condo that will feel more at home. It’s a transition, but they’re just a lot of help, and it’s been great that way.
Q. Did your folks come with you? I know they were in Tampa.
BRAD RICHARDS: No, they didn’t. They’re going to come soon. They moved down to Tampa for a few months, rented a house down there. So they’ll move into my house and try and gather some things up for me and help me out with that.
Q. Could you compare this Dallas team with the Tampa team that won 2004? How would that be?
BRAD RICHARDS: You know, it’s very similar. There’s a lot of young, talented players, and then you’ve got a couple older veteran players, great goaltending, and I think it’s spread out through the lineup. There’s a lot of different areas that the team can beat you. That’s always exciting.
It’s tough to compare exactly the teams and the new style in the NHL and stuff, but there’s a lot similarities on how the game is played as a team game, and they’re not relying on one guy or two guys. It’s the whole lineup.
Q. What did you and Holmqvist think about the move?
BRAD RICHARDS: He was pretty upset at the start, which we both were. We’ve been together every day since it happened, and he’s just so excited to get to play on this team and play against these guys and practice. He’s going to learn a lot from Marty Turco and playing the puck behind the net and all that stuff. He’s like any hockey player; you know, it’s a chance now that we’re going to be in the playoffs, and who knows what can happen. He wants to be a part of it.
Q. I was wondering if it’s possible to win the Stanley Cup with so many Swedish and Finnish players and even a Swedish coach.
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, we hope so. It’s always possible. I always say the Europeans, the Swedish and Finnish players, are built the most like Canadian players because of their attitudes and how they play. They’re the type of players that can definitely do the job through the playoffs. The whole team, there’s a lot of great players no matter where you’re from on this team. It’s a great atmosphere.
Q. Actually on the question just prior, you’d be living in Hagman’s house the way it went last night. He can stay in the garage. But what’s the instant chemistry? I saw in one story that you said you knew his game and that you had respect, but you really clicked last night.
BRAD RICHARDS: Yeah, I mean, I knew his game. It’s not like I studied it or anything, but I remember playing against him in Florida. Like I told the media here, he was always one of those in-your-face, pain-in-the-butt type of players. He plays the game the right way. He’s going to be hard-nosed. He’s not going to give up on pucks, and you saw a couple—the first goal he scored last night, he just went like a bullet to the net. Those are hard areas sometimes that people don’t like to get into, and he’s a guy that’s going to get into those areas.
Q. Are you going to see more time on penalty kill or power play?
BRAD RICHARDS: You know, that’s totally out of my hands. Hopefully we just keep doing what we did last night. Like I said, they spread it out here so nice. I think we’ve got three of the best lines in the league if we’re all going. It’s pretty fun.
Q. You may have touched on this a few minutes ago, but it hasn’t been that long since you won the Stanley Cup in Tampa and now we look at the standings and the Lightning aren’t even in a place in the Eastern Conference. Do you see that as more of an isolated thing with the trading of you and kind of the dismantling, so to speak, or is this a sign of the NHL now that there won’t be these teams always at the top for a consistent number of years?
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, I think if the manager was able to maybe give it a run a little bit more for a couple years with the internal budget being higher, they probably could have kept things afloat a lot better. And then maybe if it didn’t work, do what they’re doing now. But instead it was cut early and often, and they were handcuffed in a lot of ways. It’s tough. Many times the last two years we played with the exact number of guys, no extras. If a guy got hurt you wouldn’t even call someone up some games; you’d play one short.
It’s tough when the budget is restricting you that much. As I’ve said before, every team is paying their top guys now, and most of those teams get to go to the cap, and we weren’t, so that’s why it didn’t work out.
Q. Sounds like it’s out of Jay Feaster’s hands, isn’t it?
BRAD RICHARDS: A lot of it. It’s tough. Every GM—I’m sure he’d like to have some things over again, which every GM would. But for the main part of it, it’s pretty sad to see how things have gone when they’ve headed towards building so much stability, and Ron Campbell, the president, the way they handled things and kind of kept stability there when we won and going into that. To see it out of their hands now and kind of losing it, it’s pretty tough to watch.
Q. Can you tell me why you’re wearing 91 and not 19?
BRAD RICHARDS: Well, 19 is retired. Bill Masterton wore 19.
Q. I knew he played in Minnesota but I wasn’t sure—
BRAD RICHARDS: Yeah, so figure it out from there, I guess.
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