Of course, growing a young team and winning multiple Stanley Cups was something Sather has done before but that was so long in the past and he is so old that he likely has forgotten that has even happened. Instead, the GM has fallen back on the modus operandi that has defined his time in New York: analyze what is wrong and throw money at the problem.
In 2007 the Rangers had a problem. Michael Nylander wanted a multi-year deal for a decent amount of money. The 35 year old had just averaged a point per game for two seasons as the pivot for the Blueshirts star sniper Jaromir Jagr but he was 35 years old. So instead Sather looked at the free agent class and signed Scott Gomez. He didn't look and realize that there was no way the two could possibly possess the puck at the same time all the time. But he wanted a center, Gomez was out there and he signed him to a ridiculous deal. It didn't work out and Sather cut ties with Jagr. Then Sather cut ties with Gomez. Hamstrung by other insane signings, Sather was forced to embark on a youth movement. Times were tough but they were moving in the right direction. Except, his star sniper needed a center.
Seeing that supposed stud Chris Kreider has no confidence in himself or would rather party in college for another year or whatever, Sather needed someone to be the first line center and Richards was the best one available.
Over the last three seasons Richards played 208 games and collected 216 points as the first line center on the Dallas Stars. He looked great and he made Loui Eriksson into an All Star but, it must be said, Dallas didn't make the playoffs any of those three seasons. As Sean Avery found out, Dallas is not New York. But, in this case, this is a good thing: the Rangers have a far better back end then the Stars and are deeper up front.
When Gomez arrived he came to a team caught between styles - some lines played north-south, others played east-west. He was expected to share the puck with Jagr and, with a shrug and that damned smirk, he didn't put the effort in to adapt his game. Marian Gaborik is more Eriksson then he is Jagr and that should allow Richards to play his own high-tempo style without making major modifications.
The contract that he received is ridiculous but, let's face it, that doesn't matter. At 31 already, Richards will not play all nine years - the length of the deal is there to lower the annual cap hit. The Rangers have shed Drury and will bury Redden again so there is room for Richards this coming season. And if the experiment goes the way of Gomez, the upcoming expiration of the CBA should allow Sather to correct the mistake before it drags the franchise down.
Now it must be said that we don't know exactly who's idea signing Brad Richards was; it might not have been Sather's. With the NBA locking out their players this week Jimmy Dolan may have pulled the Rangers back out of his toybox and decided to play with them again - rumours yesterday had him talking to Richards to further seduce him to the
No matter who made the ultimate call, the simple fact is that the Rangers threw patience and the rebuild to the wind. The timetable has been pushed up - Dolan wants a winning team to justify the prices of the renovated Garden and who knows what is happening with the Knicks. There is little room for mistakes this coming hockey season, the Rangers not only have to make the playoffs, they will be expected to win a round or two. And they surely will be expected to win the Cup within the next three years before Gabby and Hank's current contracts finish. The Ranger brass believes that Brad Richards is the man who can make that happen. Let's pray they're right.