Brad Richards (Jared Silber/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers didn't have a 'Welcome Back' party for Brad Richards, so he made his own. The veteran center -- who was bought out by the Rangers last summer -- scored the only goal of the game, just seconds after New York hit the post, to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 1-0 victory over his former team.
It was almost too fitting. In Brad Richards' first game back in Madison Square Garden since he was bought out last summer, the Chicago Blackhawks, his new team, and the New York Rangers, his old, were playing to a scoreless tie. Then Richards delivered the dagger.
During Wednesday night's contest, less than twenty seconds after New York's Dan Boyle hit the crossbar, Richards collected the puck behind the net, was given space to walk out front and waited out Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot before burying a shot up top. The celebration tells you about all you need to know:
The goal was Richards' 11th of the season, and there are likely few teams he would have relished a tally against more. His three seasons in New York were productive, but he was much maligned by fans for the big money he was making with little to show for it come the post-season.
Signed to a nine-year, $60 million deal in July 2011, Richards lasted only three years on the deal before the Rangers cut ties with him to make room under the cap to retain some of their restricted free agents and give them wiggle room instead of being choked by the salary cap like, coincidentally, Richards' new team, the Blackhawks, are. However, Chicago was able to fit the aging center -- Richards is 34 this season -- under the cap on a one-year, $2 million deal that helped them add depth down the middle.
The 1-0 victory gives the Blackhawks 92 points on the season, and they now sit three back of St. Louis for the Central Division lead and two back of Nashville for second place.