The story off the ice between Brad Richards and head coach John Tortorella became a more interesting story than the games on the ice when the Rangers’ bench boss benched his $60-million fourth-line center for Game 3.
New York won 4-3 in overtime, and extended the series one more game. But the Bruins closed out the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a demanding 4-1 victory over the Rangers in Game 5 to advance to the Conference Finals.
The question at the root of the controversy is whether the Rangers will use their final amnesty clause to escape the remaining $36 million that is due to the 33-year-old through 2020.
Prior to the start of the season, New York and Montreal used one of the two compliance buyouts rewarded to each team as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement.
On Monday, Richards offered some insight on his struggles this season.
“I didn’t feel normal all season,” Richards said, via ESPN’s Katie Strang. “Obviously, there was something missing.”
The former Conn Smythe winner struggled in the postseason for the Rangers. Richards tallied only one goal in 10 games, and spent most of his ice time dragging down the Rangers’ fourth line.
One explanation for his struggles, at least according to Tortorella, was the lockout. Richards was one of a handful of NHL players that didn’t play overseas while the business side of things hammered each other out.
On Oct. 23, Tortorella told the New York Post (via ProHockeyTalk), “I worry about our older guys like Richie and [Mike Rupp] who aren’t playing [in Europe]. It’s tough and they need to stay on top of it.”
The Rangers traded Rupp to the Wild on Feb. 4, and Richards may be on his way out this summer, though New York could wait until next year to buy out the rest of his contract.
Devorski doesn't like delay of game penalty
In the first period of Sunday’s Game 6 between the Kings and Sharks, Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar attempted to clear his own zone on the penalty kill.
His icing attempt took a wrong turn, and ended up going over the glass, which resulted in a two-minute delay of game penalty. With two men in the sin bin, Joe Thornton gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead on a 5-on-3 power play.
The Sharks never looked back and forced a Game 7 set for Tuesday night in L.A.
Veteran NHL referee Paul Devorski is one who does not like the rule.
“I hate it,” Devorski told Sportsnet’s Mark Spector (via ProHockeyTalk). “Only because…we all knew when a guy was tired and he threw the puck over the glass. Now… a guy just tries to put it off the glass, and he’s got it a little too high, and sure as hell he gets a penalty.
“I don’t like calling it, but I don’t have any say in the matter.”
The delay of game penalty was introduced following the 2004-05 lockout, and might be a topic discussed in the offseason after the stir it has created in the playoffs.
Crosby appreciates Miami Heat comparison
Before the Heat and Pacers kicked off their series in the NBA playoffs, Indiana head coach Frank Vogel created somewhat of an off-the-court controversy by declaring the Heat as “the next team that’s in our way.”
Miami felt disrespected. Switching sports, with the Bruins set to faceoff with the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals of the NHL playoffs, Boston winger Milan Lucic likened the Penguins to the Miami Heat.
The Penguins were pleased with the comparison.
Although Crosby was happy with the comparison, he made it clear that the Pens aren’t content with being the best team on paper.
“I don’t know how much is meant by it, but at this point I don’t think it really matters what we’re classified as or what we’re like on paper,” Crosby said. “There’s always going to be comments and things like that said, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to go out there and play.”
Lucic told CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty on Saturday that the Penguins are “a great hockey club.”
“In my mind, they’re almost like the Miami Heat of the NHL with all the star power,” Lucic said
In the regular season, the Penguins and Bruins met three times with Pittsburgh winning each meeting.