The Dallas Stars will not only be facing the New York Rangers Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, they’ll also be squaring off with former teammate Brad Richards, who signed with the Rangers as a free agency over the summer.
“It’s just like seeing Marty (Turco) in Chicago, Hully (Brett Hull) in Detroit or Mo (Mike Modano) in Detroit. It’s strange to see those guys on other teams, but you get used to it,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “For the first shift it might be strange seeing him in a Rangers uniform, but after that it’s just another game.”
Richards, acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay in 2008, played a little more than three seasons for the Stars, but with the Stars ownership situation still unresolved as free agency approached in the summer, Richards felt it was time to take his talents to the free agent market. He signed a nine-year, $60 million deal with the Rangers.
"When you're not in the playoffs for three straight years and you're not spending the money that six, seven, eight other teams are in the Western Conference, [I'm] not saying you can't do it, but I wanted that stability," Richards told ESPNNewYork.com. "It's no one's fault. It's my decision and I'll take full accountability for that decision."
When Richards moved on, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk used the money he didn’t spend on re-signing Richards and signed several players on July 1 to make the Stars a deeper team. Players like Vernon Fiddler, Radek Dvorak, Sheldon Souray and Michael Ryder have paid big dividends.
“We’ve adjusted well to it and they’ve all really done a good job,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley. “Richie is a special player. It would be nice to have him and what we’ve got, but we feel we’ve got a good team. Joe’s done a great job in getting the pieces he felt we needed. It’s been working out.”
Things have worked out well for Richards and the Rangers, who are 17-6-4 and own the second best points percentage in the NHL (.702). Richards is tied for the team lead in points (25), leads the team in assists (14) and is second in goals (11).
And the Stars have adjusted well to life after Richards. They are 16-11-1 and right in the middle of things in a tight Western Conference. They head into Tuesday’s game sitting atop the Pacific Division.
“I’m happy with the way the team’s playing,” said Morrow. “He’s happy in this city, too.”
Bachman to get second straight start
Richard Bachman will get his second straight start when the Stars take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night.
“It's an opportunity for him to showcase himself with us. It's an opportunity to solidify him in our plans and what we're doing,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We have to evaluate him, just like we are Lars (Philip Larsen), Vinny (Tomas Vincour) and all these guys that are coming up. We want to see where they stand. It's a good opportunity for him to showcase himself.”
Bachman, in his first NHL start on Saturday, stopped 26 of 27 shots in a 2-1 victory over Los Angeles at Staples Center.
“We have to get better each game. You can see in the standings it is getting tighter and tighter, things are even squishing from the bottom and pushing into the top. So the only way you have a chance to stay in the thick of things is to try to get better each day, and the teams that do that, I think, are the teams that will be standing in the end. We have to be one of those teams.”
Stars coach Glen Gulutzan