Yesterday the big news in Dallas Stars land was that Brad Richards was in New York to, among other things, join the NHL Live broadcast from mid town Manhattan where he would no doubt impart some words on the general public about his feelings on his impending free agency and the Stars ownership situation.
Some felt this had a Carmelo Anthony/New York Knick inevitability vibe, others cited Cliff Lee saying all the right things and ultimately bailing on the Texas Rangers (for good reason) and others took his words as encouragement from a Dallas perspective.
The All-Star center continues to, within the confines of reason, be complimentary of the Dallas Stars but has made it clear that he is interested most in winning. He sees what's on Versus every night and he thinks he should be there. He knows he can do what they're doing. For a driven guy like that it's probably maddening.
"It's been too long since I had that chance to win the Stanley Cup," Richards told NHL Live. "I kind of thought we'd have a couple more cracks at it by now. That will be the main focus. If Dallas is the place where I think [they] can win then that's the place and hopefully it can work out."
Too often in sports the highest bidder seems to win regardless of potential for world titles. If ever there was an athlete who we could believe will place winning above monetary compensation (as Cliff Lee did), it's Brad Richards.
That's why it's critical for Tom Gaglardi to close the sale in early June and then hire the president's speech writers themselves to concoct a rhetoric so persuasive that he has no choice but to attach two Dallas Stars flags to his car and cop a squat in the metroplex permanently whether it makes sense or not.
Easier said than done.
For the fans in the meantime, idle hands are the devil's playthings and the off-season provides ample time for the sort of evil daydreaming that leads to conspiracy theories, twitter rumors and hyperventilating. The latest example is the case of the Tampa Bay Lightning and their potential allure as they bury the Washington Capitals...
It's a perfectly valid question. Brad Richards likes Tampa Bay. There's no denying it. He
likes loves Vincent Lecavalier and St. Louis. He knows the area. He tweets about the restaurants and the wine. He also would be a fool not to be impressed, as we all are, with what the Lightning are doing in the playoffs right now.
Unless they implode a la Boston last season, they're going to the Eastern Conference Finals and are going to have a very good shot at the Stanley Cup Finals regardless of who comes out of that Boston/Philly series.
At a glance people say "Tampa can't afford Richards."
In a world where the salary cap is going up to around $63 million they actually can. With Simon Gagne coming off the books they might be able to. On the other hand they only have 11 players signed up for next season with about $27 million in space for next year, including no goaltenders and an RFA in Steven Stamkos who will be looking for a little pay day, but we've seen more creative maneuvering done than that.
With Lecavalier and Stamkos at center it's unclear whether or not Yzerman would even make a bid for Richards. How about Lecavalier and Richards with Stamkos on a wing instead? Salty.
To me, however, the proceedings out East have less to do with the Lightning specifically but with the conference itself. If I were Brad Richards I would be looking East. The competition top to bottom is inferior to ultra competitive West. We talk about it all the time: "95 points and the Stars didn't make the playoffs??? Boy it would be nice to go East with that cushy travel and whatnot...". Now he can. With the Lightning or the Rangers or the Hurricanes...whoever.
So don't necessarily root against the Lightning with Brad Richards in mind. It matters not. We just need to keep our eyes on our own paper and not worry about what everyone else is doing.
Brad is open to the Stars and he is certainly paying attention.
"It's try to get my body back to normal, relax and think things over and give it a chance over there in Dallas to see what happens with ownership. It sounds like things are moving a little bit right now. We'll see. Sometimes you hear things differently than what's actually happening. At least there is some movement and talk."
"Give it a chance", he says. That's all a Stars fans can ask at this point. The rest is up to Tom Gaglardi, in all likelihood.