Take Brad Richardson, for example. As a member of the Kings, he relished every opportunity to play the Colorado Avalanche, who originally drafted him in 2003 before trading him to Los Angeles five years later.
After signing a free agent contract with the Vancouver Canucks over the summer, he returned to Staples Center a few weeks ago and it would have seemed like he was a sure thing to score a goal that night.
“I’d have made that bet,” he jokingly said.
It didn’t happen though. Richardson was held off the scoresheet and the Canucks lost 5-1.
Tonight, the two teams will rematch, but this time the game will be played in Vancouver – an area Richardson has quickly embraced since changing jerseys and relocating.
“Just the fact that you can walk everywhere is amazing,” he told MayorsManor. “I don’t even need a car basically. I’ve probably put about fifteen miles on my car. There’s about a three minute drive to the rink from my house, but most days I just walk. I like that part of it, just leave the car in the garage.”
Perhaps even more to his liking is the playing time he’s getting.
After being limited to just 16 games for the Kings last season, Richardson has played in all of the Canucks’ 25 games thus far. Even better, he’s getting consistent minutes on the team’s third line.
And, according to the versatile forward, playing for new coach John Tortorella has been an easy transition.
“I don’t think it’s been a big adjustment, really,” said the 28-year-old Ontario native. “He demands a lot, but pretty much every coach in the league demands a lot. He’s very honest too. If you’re playing well, he’s going to play you. So, I don’t think it’s been a huge adjustment, he just wants us on our toes and playing aggressive.”
Not surprising, tonight’s game vs. the Kings will mean a little more to Richardson than most other events on the schedule.
“There’s still a lot of great friends there, some good memories. I went out to dinner with them the night before [the game in LA]. They’re all great guys and a lot of close friendships. There’s really no hard feelings, I’ve moved on and I’m really happy for be in Vancouver.”
Those same sentiments are felt by players in the Kings’ locker room, including former roommate Jarret Stoll.
“He’s a very skilled guy and he just needed an opportunity and a role,” shared LA’s veteran center. “It was tough to find a role for him here. I’m happy he got a chance and that’s all he needed.”
Perhaps as a parting gift, one of the final marks Richardson left on the Kings was a nickname for Jordan Nolan.
“I have a buddy back home who’s native as well, actually, his name is Jordan too. So, I just started calling him Gordo for some reason. Then, when Jordan Nolan came [up to the Kings], I just started calling him Gordo and it kind of stuck. I don’t know why really. The boys thought it was pretty funny and Nolan’s had quite a time with it.”
Now playing for the opposition, Richardson already has a taste of what it’s like to face his former teammates.
“He was chirping a little bit,” Richardson said with a laugh, when talking about playing Drew Doughty earlier this month in LA. “He slashed me once and I talked to him after the game and he apologized. He’s one of my close friends, so it’s always fun to play against him. He has that competitive edge, so sometimes he gets carried away and slashes and stuff, but he always apologizes, so it’s good.”
It’s well documented how much Doughty hates the Canucks, so apparently Richardson isn’t getting any friendly breaks from the Kings top defenseman when they meet up on the ice.
And that’s just fine with Richardson, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
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