Slap Shots | Damian Cristodero

Richards sets bar high

Lightning right wing Marty St. Louis said he watched intently Thursday as former teammate Brad Richards made his debut for the Stars. But if St. Louis was surprised at Richards' career-high five-assist outburst, he didn't let on. ¶ "Did I know he can make plays like that? Absolutely," St. Louis said. "You've got to give credit where credit is due. He could have had more."

Richards is not so sure. In fact, during a conference call Friday, he was mock-worried his new teammates were "bugging" him that he needed a repeat.

"That's the funny part," he said. "I don't expect myself to do that, obviously, and I'm sure I'll get bugged if something doesn't go right the next game. But they've been great. They've welcomed me."

It helps when the new guy can play.

"Talent and skill guys never have a hard time adjusting," Stars captain Mike Modano said. "They raise their level, and everyone wants to raise theirs with them. Those type of players, who can make an impact like that, are few and far between."

Richards said he believed things just got "a little stale" with the Lightning and is excited about "fresh ideas" with the Stars, whom he sees as similar to Tampa Bay's championship team.

"You know, it's very similar," he said. "There's a lot of young, talented players, and then you've got a couple older veteran players, great goaltending, and I think it's spread out through the lineup. There's a lot of different areas that the team can beat you. That's always exciting."

Kind of like Richards' debut.

"He always was a great passer," former teammate Vinny Lecavalier said. "Obviously, he played great."

Risebrough's defense

Wild general manager Doug Risebrough has been hammered by popular opinion in Minnesota for picking up ruffian Chris Simon at the trade deadline. You remember Simon, who almost decapitated the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg then tried to saw off the foot of Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu with his skate blade (an exaggeration, but you get the idea).

Simon was suspended a combined 55 games for those bonehead moves.

Anyway, Risebrough told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he "miscalculated" the backlash and said Anaheim's Chris Pronger is a dirtier player because he injured more victims.

Risebrough said he was disappointed with reporters "for not telling" the whole story because it had not been sufficiently pointed out that none of Simon's attacks caused serious injury.

"There's no doubt the incidents that have caused attention were mistakes and poorly motivated decisions by Chris," Risebrough said. "That's not to say the league was wrong in disciplining him, but tell the complete story."

Head games

Oilers coach Craig MacTavish told the Edmonton Journal about his former Oilers teammate, Kelly Buchberger, who spoke often with the team psychologist about his scoring problems.

MacTavish recalled that coach John Muckler, during an exhibition with the Soviets, put the newly focused Buchberger on the ice for a prearranged, postgame shootout.

"Bucky was all focused, and he'd gone through all this mental imaging," MacTavish said. "He went in for the shot, and, uh, he didn't score. He came back to the bench, and I said, 'Bucky, how did it go with the visualizing?'

"Bucky said, 'Once I crossed the blue line, geez, everything went black.' "

Odds and ends

Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf recently stopped off for a pregame coffee, leaving his truck running and unlocked. Surprise, it was stolen. Police recovered it the next day. … Interim Maple Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher took a shot at his underachieving team: "I learned the last year they started to play well when nothing was on the line."

He said it

"The main thing is, we know we have the best talent in the league. If we're firing on all cylinders, I truly believe that no team can beat us in this league."

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk to Ottawa reporters after coach John Paddock was fired

Richards sets bar high 03/01/08 [Last modified: Saturday, March 1, 2008 10:33pm]

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