As befits his grinding role some teeth are missing from Brad Richardson’s mug.
The symbolism isn’t lost on anybody wondering how the centre who was in and out of Darryl Sutter’s doghouse last season in Los Angeles can add bite in Vancouver. The Canucks signed the unrestricted free agent to a bargain two-year $2.3 million US contract on the first day of free agency to help solve their riddles in the middle as a third or fourth-line solution. His game should complement Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen if his battle level is considerable and consistent like it has been in the past against Hansen.

“Playing against him a lot we’ve had some run-ins” said Richardson who had a scoring chance and won eight of nine face-offs in a 4-1 preseason loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday at Rogers Arena. “I said some things I shouldn’t have said to him and hopefully he doesn’t remember all of them. He brings speed and is underrated with his skill and competes on every shift.”

At his best Richardson should be an offensive upgrade on the departed Maxim Lapierre but being scratched in 27 of the first 29 games in the lockout season left a lot of people scratching their heads. Richardson did play the final 16 games and 11 in the postseason and was at a loss to explain the disconnect with Sutter.

“I wish I could tell you the answer to that — I ask that a lot of myself” said Richardson who also played left wing for the Kings. “I had a lot of chats with him and he said that’s just the way it was. It was a weird year. The first 30 games were a test of my will to be honest but it’s over with and done with and I’m just moving on.”

Well there’s moving on and then there’s moving into John Tortorella’s tough training camp world — including a 7:30 a.m practice Friday before Richardson brings his three-handicap swagger to the annual Jake Milford golf tournament — and the relentless daily regimen to exact more from a veteran core.

“He pushes you hard but it’s fair” added Richardson. “It’s not like he’s asking things you can’t do. You work hard for him he’s going to give you rest and time off too.”