Brett Hull and Les Jackson acquired Brad Richards from the Tampa Bay Lightning on February 26th, 2008 in exchange for Jussi Jokinen, Jeff Halpern and Mike Smith. Richards would go on to immediately become the top point getter for the Stars, run the power play, and pretty much be relied on for everything offensively in the collapse of Dallas' budget, front office, and ownership regime in the following three seasons. Richards produced 15 points in 18 playoff games for the Stars in 2008, but never got another chance. Ownership concerns caused him to look elsewhere and he signed with the Rangers last summer, leaving holes at center and on the power play that the franchise is still trying to properly fill.
Why He's On The List:
We struggled with this decision, as we did with the Jamie Benn inclusion, because the resume feels a little incomplete. Three seasons isn't (usually) much to work with or remember someone by in the annals of a franchise's history, but his offensive totals warrant inclusion. At 227 points in 220 regular season games he ranks #1 where pace is concerned among significant offensive contributors all-time. Sample size has a lot to do with it, but consider it in context with Brett Hull, who's tenure was similar: 218 games, 196 points. He'll certainly be on this list as well. At his peek, among the peeks of the others, is Brad Richards not the second most talented player (purely offensively) to ever suit up for the Stars? The third?
Continued after the jump...
The acquirement of Richards made a world of sense at the time. The Stars were regarded as a good team that couldn't get it done in the playoffs, so they acquired someone known specifically for performing offensively on hockey's biggest stage. He did immediately, recording 15 points in 18 games during the Stars run, but that was it.
The decline of the franchise left the Stars with a weapon that was best used in a situation that they couldn't get to, and so the story of his time here becomes one of unfortunate timing, like so many others we've discussed. Brad Richards is a star player and a useful piece on a contending team, as he proved this season with the Rangers. The Stars just weren't in position to compete while he was here, tarnishing his Dallas legacy (If you can call 3.5 seasons a legacy) and making it a lost three years for him in a way.
At his best he was an unstoppable point producer at home. The Stars didn't score on the power play when he wasn't on the ice. His nights were often quietly uneventful, at least to the eyeball test, and then he'd have yet another two assists to add to his swollen total on the season - Leaving us to ask "how did he get two more tonight?"
He wasn't flashy, but he made things go. He drove the machine. In the beginnings of both the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons he was a part of juggernaut lines offensively, helping Loui Eriksson along in his development and finding James Neal's tape, like Malkin does now.
Then there was his play on the road. As good as he was at home he was equally vulnerable away from the AAC at times. He and James Neal, despite Loui Eriksson's best efforts, were victimized again and again, targeted just as much as the Ribeiro line was last season.
He scored better than a point a game here for 200+ games, and yet was a -17. He scored 15 points in the playoffs for the Rangers this season, and yet was a -2. His possession numbers have never been great and his defensive game, at his age, probably won't undergo a renaissance any time soon. The lacking two-way play will hold him back from being a truly elite pivot in the game, but his offensive totals make up for it in the absence of shrewd observance - at least to most hockey fans.
From his debut with Dallas and those five assists he was the best player on the ice for the Stars most nights, yet his legacy will forever be tied to his departure, for which he should not be blamed. Having been through ownership trouble in Tampa Bay, and in the absence of an obvious and favorable resolution here in Dallas, he left. Most would have done the same.
There can be no doubt, though, that he is one of the most talented to pass through the doors to the Stars locker room.
How do you feel about his inclusion on this list?