Dreger: Reuniting with Tortorella brought Richards to Rangers

Darren Dreger
7/2/2011 5:42:52 PM
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Los Angeles, Calgary and Toronto presented compelling and in some cases, more lucrative offers, however, in the end the lure of Manhattan and the chance to reunite with Rangers coach John Tortorella closed the deal for Brad Richards.

Toronto tabled a six-year offer with an annual average salary greater than the $6.67 million that Richards will earn in New York, while the Kings and Flames both went "all in" in this game of high-stakes poker with mammoth nine-year, $60-65 million packages.

NHL stars Mike Richards and Jarome Iginla played their part in trying to woo the coveted centre west, while legends such as Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier added their support in an effort to land this year's biggest free agent fish.

The Rangers will pay Richards $50 million in the first five years of the contract, including $24 million in the first two years, $18 million of which is structured as a signing bonus and protected against the possibility of a lockout in 2012-13.

In the meantime, Toronto didn't waste time initiating plan "B" and signed Tim Connolly to lead the Leafs offence with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.

Connolly's two-year agreement in part, is designed to give him just enough time to put a history of injuries behind him.

The 30-year-old was a prime target with four teams vying for his services, but was told by the Leafs on Friday that if they failed to sign Brad Richards, he was their man.

Kaberle Watch

Meanwhile, former Maple Leaf Tomas Kaberle remains among the big-name free agents still available.

Kaberle has multiple teams interested, but remains patient and willing to wait to see what materializes now that many of the other high-end talent have been taken off the market.

Darren Dreger


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