Richards Finally Healthy; Lemaire Exploring All Line Options

So apparently Dallas Star Brad Richards had shoulder problems much of last year. Richards had mono the season before, meaning he’s never been 100% healthy for Dallas.

That’s expected to change this season and Mike Heika says it could represent a return to the Richards of 2005-06. Or at least a little closer to that form.

Of course, Richards’ performance has always been solid enough. The real issue has always been his insane salary ($7.8 million/year). If you took his best season, he still simply isn’t worth that much money. Dallas is going to need a lot out of Richards to get their money’s worth.

Meanwhile, over in Devils training camp, Brendan Shanahan spent some time practicing on the top line. Coach Jaques Lemaire says it was just because Jamie Langenbrunner wasn’t available in the morning session.

You can read two things into the move, though. The good news reading is that Lemaire is open to different line combinations and isn’t going to yet someone’s previous role dictate their current one. In other words, a spot on the top line will be earned, and if someone is hot, they’re going to see time up there. The bad news reading is that Lemaire is just going to trust familiar names and not give less familiar players the chance to see meaningful ice time.

I think it’s the former, though, and a sign that Lemaire might surprise everyone this season, with an updated approach to his usually heavily regimented coaching style.