- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
- 0 Shares
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Since he didn't know what team he would be playing with next season, Brad Richards' offseason has been a whirlwind.
"You have a routine, you go settle in and get some downtime and start your training and all that, but when you don't know where exactly you are going to be living, East Coast, West Coast, north, south, it's a different experience," Richards said of free agency. "First time I've gone through it. I would've rather it happened [in] probably 24 hours, somebody told me that I'm moving and just make a quick decision. Just a lot of time to think about it."
After signing his nine-year, $60-million deal with the New York Rangers on Saturday, Richards is looking forward to getting his life back to normal in the upcoming weeks and months. Richards made his first appearance at the MSG Training Center in Greenburgh, N.Y. on Wednesday, skating with children for the Garden of Dreams Foundation as part of MSG's annual "Dream Week."
The 31-year-old center even showed off his new No. 19 Rangers jersey, which he will be able to wear after Ruslan Fedotenko, who wore the number last season, gave it to him. Fedotenko did not make Richards pay for the number, although the center is trying work something out to compensate Fedotenko.
Richards said he is still figuring out where he wants to live and is leaning toward living within New York City. He's talked to several Rangers about living in the city and hopes to have a place by August.
As part of his training regiment, Richards will head down to Tampa, Fla., on Sunday to work out with his trainer although he won't be spending the rest of the summer there like he did when he played with the Lightning and Stars. He's going to try to persuade his trainer to come to New York, as Richards said his trainer has several area-based athletes he also works with.
While Richards tries to find a home and get back into his routine, he's spent time talking with Rangers coach John Tortorella, who he won the Stanley Cup with in 2004 as part of the Lightning. They've talked about the team, the expectations, and, of course, what it would mean to bring the Rangers their first Stanley Cup in 18 years.
"He did say many great things about the city and his big thing was winning here would be bigger than anything," Richards said. "He spoke highly of all that."
After signing a massive free-agent deal, Richards knows there will be pressure but is hoping he can use his experience from his previous deal, when he signed a five-year, $39-million deal with Tampa Bay in 2006.
Richards said he struggled some in the first part of the deal but he's now older and more experienced. Still, Richards acknowledged that his new deal is a "different animal" and plans to talk to individuals that can prepare him for what to expect.
The center also added that he's not focused on the years on the deal, which would pay him until he is 40. Richards said he feels his last two seasons have been the best of his career. Richards tallied 52 goals and 116 assists in 152 games with the Stars the last two years.
"I don't know where it's all going to go," Richards said. "I can't sit here and tell you that, but someday I can't play, I have to walk away. I don't consider turning 31 to be too old. I have a lot of years left."
Fedotenko joined Richards on the ice Wednesday, as he re-signed with the Rangers on a one-year deal on July 1. The two played together in Tampa Bay and Fedotenko is thrilled to have Richards as a teammate once again. Fedotenko will wear No. 26 next season, which he had previously worn and which belonged to forward Erik Christensen on the Rangers last season.
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
Brad Richards is looking forward to settling in with the Rangers.