It looks like the Detroit Red Wings will be short another forward on Friday night. Veteran forward Brad Richards will not be travelling with the team to Buffalo, instead leaving town to attend the funeral of his grandfather.
Richards went home for two days for grandfather’s funeral. Will miss Friday’s game at Buffalo and return for Saturday vs. Anaheim.
— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) January 21, 2016
From a hockey perspective, losing Richards for the night doesn’t mean as much to the Red Wings as it would have to, say, the Dallas Stars of five years ago or the Tampa Bay Lightning of a decade past. Richards has provided solid two-way value to the Red Wings in his first year, but is hardly the offensive stalwart that he once was, putting up just 12 points in 33 games and scoring at a rate of just 1.1 points per sixty minutes at even strength. Losing any positive contributor hurts, but it’s not like the Wings can’t afford to lose him temporarily.
Ultimately, though, this is about more than hockey. At times, we forget that this is a game that’s played for fan entertainment, but at the end of the day, a major family situation should automatically take precedence over missing one night of 82+. Our thoughts and condolences are with the Richards family, and he’s more than deserving of any time off that he needs.
From the looks of it, he won’t need a bunch of it anyway; he’ll be back in Detroit in time to take on the Ducks.
Beyond Richards, there were a few other updates from practice this morning. Brendan Smith, who got to take on a bigger role than usual on the powerplay last night, took the day off for maintenance today. He’s still expected to play tomorrow, as is Tomas Tatar, who is battling through the flu. Petr Mrazek will likely stay between the pipes.
Tomorrow’s game against the Sabres starts at 7:00 PM at First Niagara Center.