Journal

ninety one

In February 2008, Brad Richards came to Dallas as a Conn Smythe trophy toting savior for a team that was about to lose it's long-time super star and he's lived up to the billing in the three and a half seasons since. But, his time here, it seems, has come to an unfortunate end. Yesterday the news broke on the heals of this from TSN's Bob McKenzie,"With the ownership situation in Dallas not likely to be settled until later in summer, Dallas will not be making contract offer to Brad Richards." brad-richards-7Brad Richards takes the ice in Edmonton.

His tenure as a Star started with an incredible 5 assist outing in his first game and only got more dynamic in the 219 games that followed. In 220 games played he racked up 227 points (70 goals, 157 assists) and led the team in points in two of his three full seasons here. The dude was worth every penny he earned and, on most nights, worth the price of admission just to see him make magic happen on the ice.

brad-richards-6Richards high-fives fellow centerman Mike Ribiero after a vicotry against Detroit.

As a tribute to an incredible player & teammate, here are a few of the more poignant images that I made of Brad Richards & the stories behind them:

1. The Warrior Sword

brad-richards-1Brad Richards boards the team plane for a Western Canada road. trip.

Back in January, I had the opportunity to travel with the team to Western Canada. When Ralph Strangis picked me up, theteam was in second place in the West & fighting with the Vancouver Canucks (who are currently in the Stanley Cup Finals) for the top spot in the conference. Fandom as a Dallas Star hadn't been this good in several years. Brad pulled up at the airport just ahead of us & as he got out of the car, I noticed the Warrior Sword on his back. The sword was a symbol of what made this team special. In a ceremony that mixed ball busting and big laughs the guy who'd fought through the most ridiculous injury (like hurt feelings or a stubbed toe) would be presented with the sword after a win. At the time, the sword was a national story, so I waited in the terminal while he did an interview with a local news station and then followed him out to the plane. Everything came together in this image - the story, the light and the moment. I jumped on the plane and felt like I was joining a team destined for something incredible.

2. Brad Richards & James Neal

brad-richards-4Brad sits on the bench with linemate & roommate James Neal.

The relationship between Brad Richards & James Neal seemed like something special. Yes, they were roommates, but for Neal, Richards was also a mentor. One of my favorite stories that shows the kind of guy Brad is & the voice he was in Neal's professional life happened on a California road trip. Apparently Neal had purchased a really, really expensive pair of socks at some store on Sunset & when Richards heard he looked at Neal and said, "We don't spend $100 on socks."  It seems strange to think that a guy who made $7.8M each of his three full seasons here considers $100 socks to be extravagant, but he understood that $100 socks represented a mind-set of misaligned priorities.

But it wasn't just words. From the time Richards arrived in Dallas, he got involved with the oncology department at Children's Medical Center & supplied tickets to every home game for men & women in the military - not to mention his ongoing support of several charities in his home province of Prince Edward Island. Everyone Like many, I wondered what Neal's trade this year to Pittsburgh would mean to both players.

brad-richards-2In the 2010-11 homeopener vs. the Detroit Red Wings, Richards & Neal were named 1st & 2nd stars of the game in a 4-1 victory.

3. Cover Story

brad-richards-5

Early in the 2010-11 season, I was wanting to shoot the game differently than I had been & push myself to make ordinary situations more dramatic. So, when the Washington Capitals came to town, I brought a couple of flashes and an umbrella. The results were pretty startling - a moment, shot in my typical loose, journalistic style, but with studio-esque lighting. Apparently it grabbed some attention in the front office, because halfway through the 2010-11 season, the Dallas Stars decided to change up the game programs.

Nineteen of my images ran on the new-look covers during the second half of the season. The image on the left, from that Washington game, was the first cover to run during a Jan. 7th game against the New York Rangers. The team hadn't told me they were making a change, so when I got to my seat, I pretty much freaked. I don't care how many times you have had an image on the cover of something, it's always exciting. That use of that image really changed the way I thought about shooting during a game. I shot more in portrait crops, like the image on the right, and left room for the masthead. Sadly, with Brad Richards moving on, images like the one on the right won't be making next years programs.