Richards had just come off playing with the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals, and he was looking for another opportunity to get back there. He believed the Blackhawks provided the best chance.
Now after having to wait 82 regular-season games, Richards is excited to finally get the playoffs going and hopefully make another run at the Stanley Cup.
“I can tell you all year how excited I was to come play games in October, but really when I signed here in July I was thinking about this,” Richards said after practice on Monday. “I know you got to go through the process; you got to go through the grind. Especially when I signed probably two weeks after I lost in the Cup final, so you’re real hungry, really want to just get back into that battle. We’re starting Wednesday night, and that makes it all worth the whole process and signing here. I know I have as good a chance as anybody with this team to win.”
Richards is hopeful his playoff experience will help the Blackhawks. He has 33 goals and 57 assists in 118 career playoff games. He won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004 and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.
“Conn Smythe is obviously something to draw on, but I think the older you get, you learn how to handle those ups and downs,” Richards said. “Losing a game is not the end of the world, just as winning a game doesn’t mean anything either. When you’re younger and you’re going through it, you tend to ride those roller coasters a little bit higher and a lot lower.
“As you get older, you learn to kind of just get into the next night’s sleep, get a good meal and start over, and really put yourself in a bubble and don’t tap yourself on the back too often and don’t get down too often. Try to keep it even-keel. That’s harder said than done when you get in it, because you start analyzing and looking and what ifs. That’s human nature, but the good thing is when you go through it, I think you learn to handle those things a lot better."
Lines and pairings: The Blackhawks’ lines during practice Monday were Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa, Kris Versteeg – Richards – Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell – Andrew Shaw – Patrick Sharp, Joakim Nordstrom – Marcus Kruger – Teuvo Teravainen. Their defensemen pairings were Duncan Keith – Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya – Brent Seabrook and Kimmo Timonen – Michal Rozsival.
Odds: The Blackhawks are tied for the second-best odds to win the Stanley Cup, according to Bovada on Monday. The Blackhawks have 8/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.
The New York Rangers have the best odds at 11/2. The St. Louis Blues also have 8/1 odds and are followed by the Anaheim Ducks (9/1), Minnesota Wild (9/1) and Montreal Canadiens (9/1). The Nashville Predators are at 12/1.