Brad Richardson went from bystander to participant with one illegal check earlier this week. Richardson went from being an extra player on the Kings’ roster, staying late after practices with the minor-league call-ups, to filling a critical role in the lineup after veteran center Jarret Stoll was injured.
Stoll couldn’t play in Game 2 of the Kings’ second-round playoff series against San Jose on Thursday night at Staples Center after the Sharks’ Raffi Torres nailed him with a shoulder check to the head in Game 1 on Tuesday. Richardson was expected to fill in for Stoll as the Kings’ third-line center.
It’s not the role Richardson envisioned, but it’s one for which he’s well prepared.
After all, Richardson played in only two of the Kings’ first 34 games, the odd man out, before returning to the lineup to play the final 14 games of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. There simply wasn’t room for him in the lineup at the start of the season.
So, he stayed late to practice his skills and stay in shape and waited for an opportunity.
“To be honest with you, I was discouraged there a couple of times,” Richardson said. “It was tough. There was a long stretch where I didn’t play. It was discouraging but you’ve got to kind of keep working and, hopefully, it turns around.
“It was big (to come back into the lineup at the end of the season) because it’s tough to step in, especially if you’ve sat out a long period of time. Like, 20 games or whatever it was. But getting back in, I felt comfortable after a few games. Now I feel fine. … I’m ready to go.”