Brooks writes that Richards is one of Tortorella's favorite players ever and that it has to be "tearing up" Tortorella's insides to place Richards on the fourth line and out of a big scoring role.
He writes that "everyone" thinks that the lockout, where Richards stayed local and did a lot of work with Hurricane Sandy relief, has had a negative impact and is the cause of his struggles.
Brooks says that the Rangers need more from Richards and that putting him in a scoring role could potentially spark him. He adds that Richards has done nothing to deserve an increase in playing time.
Richards centered the Rangers fourth line in game four.
Adam Rotter: It's easy to blame the lockout and especially the days of training camp he missed with the flu for his struggles. I hope that is the case or that something has been nagging him for most of the year and it's enough to hamper his play but not enough to keep him out of the lineup. I want to believe that there is some tangible reason for why Richards had the season he did and hope that it's not because his game has diminished this much.
With the amnesty buyout period stretching through after 13-14, I think the Rangers will keep Richards next season and then make a decision. That being said, you can make the argument to do it this summer and free up more cap space. I think the Rangers want to see one more full season from Richards before making their choice.
Below is what John Tortorella thinks about how older players should prepare for the season.
Tortorella said yesterday that older players are the ones who need to be on the ice more, "I think older players should have played. I think older players need to do even more as far as conditioning as far as being on the ice. Some guys that are up in age think that they need to rest. I've seen guys careers end quickly because they aren't doing enough. They need to be on the ice more, that is the way I feel about it. I really believe that and when I was an assistant coach in Buffalo, they felt they needed to be off the ice more and their career ended. They should have been on the ice and practicing more."