Brad Richards, the Rangers' new $60 million center, doesn't want to be called a savior, although he did say last week that if the Rangers win their first Stanley Cup since 1994, "you can call me whatever you want."

Still, the fact is Richards, 31, has played that role twice, leading his Quebec league team to the Canadian junior championship in 2000 and being named most valuable player in the playoffs when his Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004.

Can Richards do the same thing for the Rangers? Can he overcome the precedent of Bobby Holik, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, high-priced centers signed by General Manager Glen Sather to contracts worth a combined $132 million, then jettisoned after failing to perform to expectations? Can he apply the lessons of hard work learned from his parents, who still work their lobster traps in the swells of the North Atlantic?