Newly acquired Blackhawks center Brad Richards didn't get the typical free-agent news conference when he signed. There was no horde of reporters for a jersey presentation. No, the first real chance Richards had to speak publicly came Saturday before more than 2,000 fans at the Blackhawks Convention. And he received a standing ovation as he took the Hilton Chicago stage next to Hawks captain Jonathan Toews and winger Patrick Kane to partake in a panel on what it takes to win. "I guess if you're going to come to a new team this is the way to meet the whole organization," Richards said Friday night. Not even 24 hours earlier, Richards, who posted 51 points (20 goals, 31 assists) for the Rangers last season, wasn't even sure what to call Toews and Kane. He referred to them as "Jonathan" and "Patrick" on Friday before deciding it sounded too official. "Tazer and Kaner?" Richards asked, just looking for a sign that he was doing the right thing. Even after 14 years in the NHL, a Stanley Cup ring and a Conn Smythe Trophy that bears his name, Richards, who signed a one year, $2 million deal earlier this month, is just looking to fit in. In the near future that likely means centering a line between Kane and Brandon Saad. For the three other teams he has played for, Richards played a leadership role. Here, the 34-year-old Richards is to be the answer to the Hawks' annual second-line center questions. He's here for offense — despite a fan asking about his penalty-killing skills — and if it doesn't work out, he's just buying time for heralded Finnish center Teuvo Taravainen to assume the role. "I can't help my age," Richards, 34, said. "I can't stop getting older. It's a great opportunity in my career. You never know what the future holds." Richards can't even say he's certain who his linemates will be when the season opens. The thought is that he's a perfect fit on the second line with Kane and Saad, where the Hawks have tested out Dave Bolland, Andrew Shaw and Michael Handzus, among others.
Brad Richards on center stage as No. 2 center
Chicago Tribune | Jul 20