x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

NHL: High salaries can lead to a bigger cost in failure

Ice hockey's Brad Richards became the latest, well-compensated sports figure to pay the price that often comes with a high salary - public humiliation.

Brad Richards had a good seat to watch his teammates, the New York Rangers, face the Boston Bruins. He was benched.
Brad Richards had a good seat to watch his teammates, the New York Rangers, face the Boston Bruins. He was benched.

No doubt professional athletes would rather be very, very rich than just rich.

But this past week, Brad Richards became the latest, well-compensated sports figure to pay the price that often comes with a high salary - public humiliation.

With New York Rangers on the brink of elimination in the NHL's Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Rangers coach John Tortorella scratched Richards for Game 4 for the most obvious of reasons.

The star centre had one goal in 10 play-off games.

Of course, this could not pass quietly, as a routine line-up change.

Richards, 33, was signed in 2011 to a nine-year, US$61 million (Dh223.9m) contract that makes him one of the richest players in the NHL. Does that sound familiar?

Maybe because another New York superstar, Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees' $275m man, met the same fate during the baseball post-season last October.

In both cases, the demotions were as newsworthy as the games.

Richards's slump-and-scratch sent hockey pundits to their keyboards, some suggesting the team buy him out of his bloated contract. Never mind that he finished the last six games of the regular season with five goals and six assists.

Meeting reporters before the game, a downcast Richards muttered one-word responses to uncomfortable questions.

It is the reality of getting paid the big bucks - one way or another, you have to answer for it.

 

sports@thenational.ae

 

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