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Brad Richards says he'd listen to Tampa Bay Lightning if former team interested during free agency

Neither Brad Richards nor his agent said the Lightning will have an edge if it wants to pursue the former Tampa Bay star in free agency.

But both indicated Thursday that Richards, who has spent three-plus seasons with the Stars and will be an unrestricted free agent July 1, will listen if the Lightning comes calling.

"I never really wanted to leave Tampa," Richards told the St. Petersburg Times. "So, obviously, on July 1, if they talk to me, it's going to be something I'll listen to because of my history there."

Richards' preferences became a major issue Thursday with word that Dallas, which will not have a new owner in place by the time free agency begins, will not make an offer to the center, who is at the end of a five-year, $39 million deal signed with Tampa Bay before the 2006-07 season.

"There's really no point because we know he's not going to sign without an owner," Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk told Dallas.

The question then is will Richards waive the no-move clause in his contract so Dallas can trade his negotiating rights before July 1. That is to be seen. But if Richards, 31, becomes a free agent, interest will be keen.

A third-round draft choice in 1998, Richards played seven seasons with Tampa Bay, with 150 goals, 489 points in 552 games. He was MVP of the 2004 Stanley Cup run, with 12 goals, including seven winners, and 26 points in 23 games.

Under pressure from incoming owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie, the team traded Richards in February 2008 to the Stars for goalie Mike Smith, center Jeff Halpern, wing Jussi Jokinen and a draft pick.

Richards still spends the bulk of his summers in Tampa (he no longer owns a home but rents), trains in Saddlebrook in Wesley Chapel, is close with former teammates Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis, and took great interest in the team's resurgence.

"Obviously, it's back on the map," Richards said. "It's going in the right direction."

"Brad is going to examine all his options, but it is clear and is publicly known that he didn't want to leave Tampa," his agent, Pat Morris, said. "If Tampa likes him, he's certainly going to listen to what they have to say, among many, many other teams, I'm sure."

No suspension for Canuck in biting case

VANCOUVER — Canucks forward Alex Burrows avoided a suspension in the Stanley Cup final when the league decided it couldn't prove he bit the finger of the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron during Vancouver's series-opening 1-0 victory Wednesday.

Bergeron said after the game Burrows bit his right index finger through his glove during a scrum after the first-period buzzer. Burrows denied it.

League senior vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy spoke to Burrows Thursday; no hearing was held. The league concluded that whatever happened was scrum-related and no on-ice official saw it. "I can find no conclusive evidence that Alex Burrows intentionally bit the finger of Patrice Bergeron," Murphy said in a statement.

"I'm over it," Bergeron said after the Bruins' light practice. "I'm looking forward to the next game. We've got to get back in the series. … I don't want to whine about that stuff. I don't care."

Penguins: Sidney Crosby, who didn't play after Jan. 5 because of a concussion, has been cleared by team doctors to start offseason, off-ice workouts. He has not worked out since late April, when his attempt to return for the playoffs was halted by the reoccurrence of headaches.

Winnipeg: The team's name will be announced when the franchise meets its goal of selling 13,000 season tickets, spokesman Scott Brown told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. By Thursday afternoon, 4,170 had been sold, the team's website said.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Brad Richards says he'd listen to Tampa Bay Lightning if former team interested during free agency 06/02/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2011 2:08am]
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