Last week, the Lightning pulled off probably the biggest trade in franchise history, a five-player deal that sent center Brad Richards and goalie Johan Holmqvist to Dallas for goalie Mike Smith and forwards Jeff Halpern and Jussi Jokinen. ¶ But the bomb in the deal was Richards, one of the most popular athletes ever to play in Tampa Bay for his efforts on and off the ice. Lightning fans from across Tampa Bay and even the rest of the country and Canada weighed in with their thoughts on Richards. Here's a sampling:
It is sad to see Brad go. He will be a solid NHL player for years to come, probably never the NHL star, but solid. He is a victim of his success as a youngster, paid way too much money with way too many expectations. I am sorry to see him go, but not at that salary. Tampa Bay had no options.
Richard J. Matassa
I think the trade from a team standpoint is a very good trade. I also think that Brad needed a change of scenery. Tampa Bay as a city is losing an exceptional person. He has done a lot of good things for the community that a lot of people don't hear about because Brad wasn't out for publicity. He did things for the sake of helping kids, not for the publicity. I hope he goes to Dallas and has a great few years.
A couple years ago the Bolts lost two players when Fredrik Modin was traded. It effectively cut the on-ice chemistry between Richards and Modin. Richards has been dealt very rough lines over the last two seasons. I hope that he has a brighter future with Dallas. I hope that Smith does not get burned out after a year like the last three or four goalies. The biggest aspect of this trade is the $7.8-million not paid to a single player. Still, best of luck, Richie.
Overall, as a Lightning and a Brad Richards fan, I think the trade was a win-win. Great for Brad. He'll be with a playoff contender and wings who can make plays. Sad to see him go, but great for the Lightning. It gets a bunch of room under the salary cap, a solid goalie prospect in Mike Smith and some pretty good offensive talent to help give a boost to some of those underperforming lines.
Make no mistake, the team didn't trade Brad Richards, it traded his contract, and he will be sorely missed. We can only hope and pray that the incoming ownership spends the extra dollars saved on some difference-making free agents this summer.
The only move made that I agree with was the re-signing of Danny Boyle. Richards was one of the few homegrown talented guys. The reason he appeared to be moved was that his wings were stripped from him and replaced with minor-league talent. Relying on the Vinny-Marty tandem — the team is putting its eggs in one basket. What happens if one of them goes down with injury? Where do the points then come from? If the Lightning had to move Brad, it should have gotten a more even return.
Valley Stream, N.Y.
I have to say that I have mixed feelings about the trade. I understand that with the self-imposed salary cap something had to happen. I agree with signing Boyle and trading Richards, even though I am a Richards fan and didn't want to see him go. I think the youth movement will be good long term, but I think the next couple years could be very long and disappointing. As a fan I certainly don't know what the thought process is, but it seems that better players were available who would have made more sense. I'm certain the Stars will have many new bay area fans for this year's playoffs.
When Brad Richards started with the Lightning, I immediately became a fan. His style of play and passion for the game quickly made him my favorite player. His work with the Children's Cancer Center, an organization I was already involved with, earned my respect for him off the ice. During his years in Tampa I met him several times and was always amazed by his interactions with the kids from the center. … I am sad to see him go but wish him the best in Dallas. I will be cheering for the Stars in the playoffs because I would love to see him hoist the Cup again.
I just cannot fathom the move made by Jay Feaster. He is the one who gave Brad his salary, and it was very much deserved. Richards has been the most consistent player year in and year out, scoring 20 or more goals in all but one of his seasons in the NHL. He played in every situation and was among league leaders in ice time over the last several seasons. How on earth do you replace that?
Kimberly A. Ricci
Richards is an elite player and will be wherever he goes. Brad has earned his right to play with a well-managed, successful team, and I think he'll find himself as part of a system where he is able to flourish. I truly wish him the best of luck. I just hope he takes it easy on the Bolts when he's on the other team's bench.
Victoria, British Columbia
The one area that wasn't mentioned in these articles is how Brad Richards leaving Tampa Bay will affect the children with cancer and their families. He was their friend who brought a smile to their faces and gave them a few hours of happiness without them having to think of cancer and the treatments they have had to endure. He was more than a hockey player for the Lightning. … For all the people who have been critical about the Lightning and want to get rid of their season tickets, why don't you give a hockey night to these children and their family? Instead of being negative, do something positive. I wish Brad the best in Dallas! I also hope the fans and children appreciate the young man who is a quiet professional and has a heart of gold. He will impact their community beyond his skills on the ice.
I was very sorry to see Brad go. He was a class act and a great player. Notice that his linemates were nobodies, and yet did he complain? No, because that wasn't Brad Richards.