Center Brad Richards and several of his New York Rangers teammates participated in a benefit skate Friday to help in the relief efforts on Staten Island after Superstorm Sandy.
Richards, who signed with the Rangers last offseason, and led them to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last postseason, partnered with a high school team to organize "Skating for Sandy.”
Defensemen Steve Eminger, Dan Girardi, Anton Stralman and Marc Staal as well as forwards Carl Hagelin, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Jeff Halpern, Taylor Pyatt and Marian Gaborik joined Richards at the Staten Island Skating Pavilion for two afternoon sessions with area children.
”Being part of the community makes you a part of everyday life,” Richards said.
The idea was broached by Steve Rose, a community affairs officer in Brooklyn and a friend of Richards. Rose estimated the event raised between $10,000-$12,000.
”Obviously you know what’s gone on with New York,” Richards said. ”It’s scary to see what the damage is.”
Richards will also play in a Sandy-related charity game next Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J.. He will be joined by Eminger, Halpern and Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Also in that game will be several members of the Philadelphia Flyers.
”We’re excited about that,” Richards said. ”We’ve got a lot of good people on board.”
For a day, at least, Richards and his teammates were able to take their focus off the NHL lockout, which began on Sept. 15. Talks have netted little progress of late, and as the days wind down, so do the chances of a season. Friday, in fact, was the 62nd day of the impasse, and the NHL and NHLPA haven’t even talked this week.
On Thursday, the league requested a two-week moratorium.
”I don’t see the point behind that,” Callahan said. ”It doesn’t make sense to me. Two weeks is a waste of time.”
One of the main issues at play in fighting for a new collective bargaining agreement is determining which side will pay for the lockout, as well as expanded revenue sharing and contract lengths. One aspect of the owners’ proposal stipulates a maximum length of contracts, yet owners gave some players multiyear deals just before the lockout began two months ago.
”There’s people on the (ownership) committee who signed (players to) contracts two hours before the lockout,” Richards said. ”(It’s) tough to trust people when that’s going on.”
The Capitals signed defenseman John Carlson (six years, $23.8 million) and forward Troy Brouwer (three years, $11 million), while the Bruins agreed to terms with forwards Milan Lucic (three years, $18 million), Tyler Seguin (six years, $34.5 million) and Brad Marchand (four years, $18 million) in the days leading up to Sept. 15. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs are on the league’s negotiating committee.
”(I’m) not going to single out certain guys,” Richards said. ”Some of them I don’t know personally.”
The lockout has already forced the cancellation of 327 games, including the Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings at Michigan Stadium. The league’s other big midseason event – the Jan. 27 all-star game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus – is also expected to be formally cancelled in the near future.