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Richards signs to play in Russia

TOM JONES
Published October 30, 2004

Lightning center Brad Richards loves golf. He plays all the time. He plans to hang out at the Chrysler Championship all day today.

"But you can only golf so much," Richards said.

Tired of holding a driver instead of a hockey stick, Richards has decided to play (hockey, that is) in Europe while there is an NHL lockout. Richards has agreed to terms with Ak Bars Kazan in Russia. He might be joined by teammates Vinny Lecavalier and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.

"I play hockey, it's what I do," Richards said. "I need to play."

Richards said he is to report by Nov. 25 and will stay in Russia until the end of the lockout. It is believed he will receive $300,000 a month to play.

Richards, winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs during the Lightning's Stanley Cup run, has been working out in Canada and Brandon for the past two months, but intends to pick up his conditioning in preparation for actual hockey.

"I've been skating, but nothing too serious," Richards said. "I need to get into a hockey routine again. I miss it. I love to play. So I will start training harder so I'm ready to go when I get there."

Richards also considered offers from teams in Sweden and Switzerland, and knew he would end up playing somewhere before long.

"I love the feeling of playing and I miss that feeling," Richards said. "I'm a hockey player, so I'm going to play hockey."

Lecavalier and Khabibulin are considering offers from several teams across Europe, but could be swayed to join Ak Bars Kazan now that Richards has agreed to terms.

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