Brad Richards wasn't sure the Blackhawks had enough salary cap space to sign him this offseason. But as soon as Stan Bowman made the call to the veteran center, choosing Chicago was an easy choice.
The Blackhawks' top offseason acquisition spoke with the team's official website on Friday and spoke about how Chicago's success and the buzz around the city has made the Windy City the top destination for veteran free agents.
"If it wasn’t for the salary cap, half the league would want to play here. For a long period of time, Detroit was the destination point for veteran free agents who wanted to go play with great players for a chance to win the Cup. Now that place is Chicago," he said. "Great city, great organization, Original Six franchise."
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Richards took less money to join the Blackhawks and become their second-line center, something he wasn't sure would be possible because of the Blackhawks' tight financial situation.
"I had earlier tossed the idea about Chicago to (agent) Pat (Morris) because I heard they might be interested in a center. He always told me, 'Don’t think so...They don’t have enough [salary cap] room.' But when he told me that [vice president/general manager] Stan Bowman called, my first reaction was, 'Oh, let’s get this done if we can.'”
The Blackhawks did get it done, in addition to securing deals with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to matching eight-year, $84 million extensions. And though those deals have created an even tougher salary-cap crunch for Bowman and the rest of the front office, it's a good problem to have for a franchise that has won a pair of Stanley Cups the last five years.
And while players may have to take less to join Toews, Kane and Joel Quenneville, if what Richards said has any merit it shouldn't be tough to convince veterans moving forward that Chicago is the place to be.