Brad Richards won a Conn Smythe under John Tortorella in 2004, when the two were teaming up to win a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. That now seems like a very, very long time ago.
The two are now in New York, of course, and Tortorella will go into Thursday’s do-or-die Game 4 against the Bruins without Richards. The head coach has decided to make Richards a healthy scratch for Game 4, a seemingly unprecedented move, even with the forward’s recent struggles.
That’s not the only change Tortorella will make for his Game 4 lineup. Forward Arron Asham will also be a healthy scratch as the Rangers look to climb out of a 3-0 series hole. Kris Newbury and Micheal Haley, who have one Stanley Cup playoff game between the two of them, will be in for Richards and Asham. Defenseman Anton Stralman, who sufferd an injury in Game 3, is also expected to be out. The initial speculation is that veteran blue liner Roman Hamrlik will replace Stralman.
The big story, though, is Richards. The veteran forward has an annual cap hit of almost $7 million after signing a nine-year, $60 million contract prior to last season. He did post 11-23-34 totals during the regular season, but he has just one goal in 10 playoff games this season. He had been skating on the Rangers’ fourth line and averaging about 15 minutes of ice time leading up to the healthy scratch.