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Caps Make a Low-Risk, High-Reward Signing of Mike Richards

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TSN - The last time we saw Mike Richards he wasn’t much of a hockey player. He was diminished, physically and mentally. He knows it and admits it. Will he be different now? Even he isn’t entirely sure. Richards signed a one-year, $1-million contract with the Washington Capitals this week and on Wednesday met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly, receiving clearance to return to play.

“I’m just really looking forward to getting back to having fun playing the game I love,” said Richards, reached by phone on Wednesday night. “I’m excited and I’ve never felt better. When you’re having fun and relaxed, hockey is easy. When it becomes a burden, a job, I guess, it’s difficult to play at the highest level. It was a forced vacation but the extended stay away from the game has been good for me. It’s given me a chance to see I took coming to the rink and playing hockey for a living for granted.

“Watching the game on TV, it got the competitive juices going again. I worked out a lot. A lot. It kind of started to get old the last little while. I started working with a new trainer this summer. We’ll see. We focused on getting better at hockey in a few key areas. Getting quicker was the big thing for me. It’s kind of hard to tell when you’re skating by yourself. But we’re going to get a chance to find out.”

Love this deal. Yes there’s a bit of chatter about Richards being too slow, game has passed him by, this and that. Look- he’s still only 30 years old. He had 4 straight 20 goal season, and had an 80 point year in 08-09. He doesn’t have nagging injuries, and because of his legal issues, he’s re-focused on the game. We’ve seen comebacks like this is every sport, all the time. No reason Richards should be any different. With Jay Beagle on the mend, Mike Richards is the perfect signing. Play those 3rd and 4th line minutes, grind, be gritty, and show the league he belongs in it. He has so much to prove, I love this signing. I’m not worried about character issues- if he causes problems, he’s gone. Such a low-risk, high reward signing. And he’s won 2 Cups. Can’t teach that sort of experience.