Blackhawks

Former Blackhawks forward Brad Richards announces retirement

Former Blackhawks forward Brad Richards announces retirement

After 15 seasons in the NHL, Brad Richards is calling it a career.

The former Blackhawks forward and two-time Stanley Cup champion announced his retirement on Wednesday afternoon.

Richards released this statement on his decision:

“I want to thank the fans and the five organizations I have played for: Tampa Bay, Dallas, and the three original six teams — the New York Rangers, Chicago, and Detroit. During my time with those teams I met many great people. I also want to thank the staff and management in those organizations for all the help and support they gave me. I appreciate all the trainers who did tireless work to help me play and keep me healthy. I had many amazing teammates and made many great friendships along the way that I truly appreciate, and I will never forget the great times we had together. Thank you to all my coaches for pushing, teaching and giving me the opportunity to play this great game. Winning the Stanley Cups in Tampa Bay and Chicago was the best part of my career and I will never forget those moments. Nothing compares to enjoying that night with your team and knowing what you have accomplished together."

Richards, 36, was a vital part in bringing the Stanley Cup back to Chicago for the third time in six years in 2015. 

In his only year with the Blackhawks, he registered 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) in the regular season and tacked on three goals and 11 assists in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

One of Richards' most memorable moments with the Blackhawks came in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, his former team.

With the Blackhawks up 1-0 with a little over five minutes left to play, Richards fed a 2-on-1 pass to Patrick Kane — which he buried — to extend the team's lead to 2-0. The score held and the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup on home ice since 1938.

Kane tweeted this Wednesday when informed of the news:

In 2004, Richards helped bring Tampa Bay their first Stanley Cup. He ranks fourth in Tampa Bay's all-time scoring list with 489 points.

In 1,126 games played, Richards finished his career with 298 goals and 634 assists (932 points). In 146 postseason games, he has 37 goals and 68 assists (105 points).

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear here]

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

2-24_blue-jackets_matchup_nhl_chi_blank.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

2-23_berube_schmaltz_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass β€” who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube β€” have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last β€” and only β€” appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."