Brad Richards may not have met the high expectations the New York Rangers had for him when he signed a nine year contract with the team, but he certainly had his fair share of exciting and memorable moments. When remembering Richards' tenure in Manhattan, it's essential to note that the team won at least one playoff round each year he was on the team. Richards was one of the three alternate captains that led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals this past season, while being the "leader" of the three according to most inside the locker room.
Let's take a look at Richards' top moments in New York.
Honorable Mention: Richards' OT winner vs. Tampa Bay in 2012.
5. Richards nets a hat trick in a huge win over the Sabres- The Rangers were in the heat of the playoff race and John Tortorella wasn't happy with Brad Richards' play. Richards responded with a surprising hat trick against the Buffalo Sabres and goaltenders Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth, helping to lead the Rangers to an 8-4 victory and get two huge points. It was Richards' first-and so far only-career hat trick and it could not have come at a bigger time.
4. Richards scores the winner vs. the Coyotes with .1 second remaining- This time in the heat of Phoenix rather than the heat of the playoff race, Richards proved to be the difference again. With the clock winding down and both teams expecting overtime, Richards fired the puck at the net and it trickled through Mike Smith and into the net. The clock revealed only .1 second remaining, ending the game in the strangest and most exciting way I've ever seen in non-OT hockey.
3. Richards comes up clutch in the Winter Classic- Another game, another game winning goal for Richards. This time in the 2012 Winter Classic vs. the Flyers, Richards' game winning goal helped the Rangers come back from a 2-0 deficit and shock the hometown Philadelphia crowd. I guess Richards' knack for scoring the big goal isn't just an indoors thing.
2. Richards scores the winning goal in 2013-2014 ECSF game 7 vs. the Penguins- To complete the Rangers comeback from a 3-1 series deficit vs. the Penguins, Brad Richards fired the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury and gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead and win. When the Rangers have a 2-1 lead in a game 7 in the past few years it's pretty easy to expect that to be the final, so when Richards scored the goal the Rangers let Henrik Lundqvist take over and moved on to the Eastern Conference Finals. Another big game, another big goal.
1. Richards ties game 5 in 2013 playoffs vs. the Capitals with 6.6 remaining- I will probably get some flack for putting this ahead of a series winning goal, but I doubt anyone ever forgets this moment. After Carl Hagelin drew a double minor the Rangers were on the powerplay, and Richards was the only Ranger able to find the loose puck and find a way past Braden Holtby and a diving John Carlson in the net. Richards' goal with 6.6 left changed the entire feel of the series, and the Rangers would go on to win the game and the series.
While his last couple of post-seasons with the Rangers were generally disappointing, it's a testament to his time in New York that there were so many tough moments to choose between for the top spot in Richards' Rangers career. Richards' time was both brief and exciting, and his ability to find the puck and score in hectic times is something I will always love about him.