Date of Last Contract:August 25, 2000
Signed Through: 2000-2001 Season
In Power Play, Caps Sign Veteran Richer
By Jason La Canfora
The Washington Post
Saturday, August 26, 2000; Page D06
The Washington Capitals signed unrestricted free agent Stephane Richer to a one-year deal yesterday in hopes of jump-starting a stagnant power play. Terms of the deal were not disclosed at the player's request.
Richer, 34, has more than 400 goals in his 15-year NHL career and has topped 25 goals for seven straight seasons, twice surpassing the 50-goal plateau. However, the right wing has bounced around with three clubs the last four seasons, producing 41 goals in that span while earning a reputation as a difficult player to skate with and coach.
Last season, Richer (6 feet 3, 226 pounds) underwent something of a renaissance, scoring 15 goals and 37 points in 56 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Louis Blues. He became a solid contributor for the offensively potent Blues, scoring eight goals and 25 points in 36 games. Richer scored five power-play goals last season and 92 of his 407 career goals have come on the man advantage, which could be a vital ingredient in Washington.
"Our club is good in a lot of areas," General Manager George McPhee said. "Five-on-five scoring we're as good as anybody in the league. Our goals against is top of the league. Our penalty killing is excellent.
"The one area we've lagged is on the power play, and Richer has the skill to play on the power play and run a power play and he can play different positions on the power play down low or in the slot or on the point. It's a manager's hunch. This could be a good fit and we'll see how it goes."
The Capitals scored on just 15 percent of their power-play chances last season, 21st among 28 NHL teams. Richer also adds playoff-tested experience to the team. He is one of three Capitals with a Stanley Cup ring (Chris Simon and Joe Murphy are the others), winning with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986 and the New Jersey Devils in 1995.
McPhee said he is not too concerned about Richer's reputation. Last season, Washington claimed much maligned Murphy off waivers following a disagreement with the Boston Bruins' coaching staff, and Capitals Coach Ron Wilson has had success working with individuals who have had difficulty fitting in with other teams.
Richer joins defenseman Sylvain Cote and enforcer Craig Berube as the club's significant offseason additions.
© 2000 The Washington Post Company