Veteran Forward Thanks Fans, Calls Owner Dolan And GM Sather 'Class Acts'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Say goodbye to Broadway Brad.

The New York Rangers have bought out the contract of veteran Brad Richards, confirmed Friday afternoon.

The 34-year-old forward, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, was expected to be a casualty, along with his $6.67-million cap hit, once the Rangers’ season ended. General manager Glen Sather was facing a June 30 deadline to make the move.

Richards released a statement Friday evening, thanking the organization and the fans.

“Tough last few days … I loved being a Ranger and living in New York and playing at MSG in front of great fans. I’ve met many new friends, excellent teammates and staff and I have memories that I will cherish for a lifetime,” Richards said. “Glen Sather, the management and owner, Mr. Dolan, are all class acts. I want to thank them for letting me be a part of New York life and the Rangers family. With this decision finalized, I can now look forward to starting the next chapter in my career.”

Richards had six years left on a $90 million deal signed in 2011. He will be owed $12.6 million over the next 12 years, but will also receive an additional $8 million over the next three seasons as signing bonuses, Sportsnet reported.

Richards, who could have been bought out last year, had 20 goals and 51 points for the Rangers in 2013-14. He added five goals and 12 points in the playoffs as the Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.

Sather said the decision to buy Richards out wasn’t as easy as some have made it out to be.

“We would like to thank Brad for everything he has done for our team on and off the ice during his time here,” Sather said. “This was an extremely difficult decision to make because of how much respect I have for him. Brad’s leadership and guidance for our young players was invaluable to the organization. We are grateful to have had the professionalism and experience he brought as an example for our team to follow. Brad has been a very good player for us and an even better person. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

A member of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, Richards has 150 goals and 339 assists during his 13-year career.

Now the Rangers have some decisions to make on impending unrestricted free agents Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman. They also have several key restricted free agents, including fan favorite Mats Zuccarello.

“We’re going to work on putting a good team on the ice, but every year is different,” Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said last week. “Next year’s team is going to be different, and you’ve got to go through the same process.”

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