In his first year with the Arizona Coyotes, Brad Richardson was a staple of the lineup. He suited up in every single game, chipped in 11 goals and 31 points and averaged more than 15 minutes of ice time per night. But his 2016-17 campaign appears as though its taken a turn for the worse.
Midway through the second period of Thursday’s game between the Coyotes and Canucks, Richardson and his line were attempting to keep the puck in the Vancouver zone against the left wing boards when he slapped the puck deeper into the Canucks’ end. As Richardson moved the puck along, though, he was met with an incredibly awkward hit by Vancouver defenseman Nikita Tryamkin, that saw the towering, 6-foot-7 blueliner use an almost downward hitting motion that caused Richardson to crumple. The result of the contact was hard to watch.
The moment he was hit by Tryamkin, Richardson flipped off his gloves and was writhing on the ice, and within seconds of going down he was signalling for help from the bench and struggling to keep his head up off the ice. The medical staff on hand eventually brought a stretcher onto the ice, Richardson — and his right leg — were stabilized and he was taken off the ice:
From a reverse angle, you can see Richardson’s right leg bend awkwardly under his body, almost disappearing underneath him as he’s folded back by the hit. It almost goes without saying, but Richardson didn’t return to the outing and the outlook was bleak post-game.
“He was taken to the hospital and we’ll get a full report tomorrow,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “We’re looking at a pretty significant injury, I think. So we’ll update everything tomorrow.”
Tippett said the injury could have some implications in the long-term, and pointed to the team’s lack of depth down the middle as something that made an impact in Thursday’s overtime loss, which came in a game Arizona was leading 2-0 at the time of Richardson’s injury. Without Richardson, lines had to be shuffled and Laurent Dauphin and Dylan Strome saw huge increases in ice time, with Strome skating 15-plus minutes in his first game following four-straight scratches and Dauphin seeing a six-minute increase in ice time from Wednesday night’s outing.
It’s a terrible bit of luck for Richardson, too, considering he looked as though he was set to have a career year. Through 16 games, the 31-year-old had chipped in five goals and nine points, including the game-opening goal Thursday, and was on pace for the first 40-point campaign of his career.
This could also mean the recent rumors surrounding Martin Hanzal, apparently available to be had for the right price, are probably going to quiet at least a little. The Coyotes will need as much help as they can get down the middle right now, and losing Hanzal from the lineup might be too big a loss to suffer.
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