By bringing back an old face, the Vancouver Stealth aren’t exactly bringing a new look to the crease, but it could be a welcomed one.
Tyler Richards is back in the NLL after signing a one-year deal with the Stealth yesterday, just over six months after retiring from the game due to concussion-related injuries. This year will be his eighth in the league after being drafted 46th overall by the Stealth in the 2007 NLL Draft. Vancouver released Chris Levis upon signing Richards.
The news comes on the heels of a strong performance by both the Vancouver Stealth defense and goaltender Eric Penney in Saturday’s dominating win over the Colorado Mammoth. The win gives them a 2-3 record but vaults them firmly back into playoff contention in the West Division. Penney stopped 40 of 47 shots and has looked increasingly confident in the net in each game, so it will be interesting to see what impact Richards will have in his return to the team. He currently has a 12.16 goals against average, two and a half goals better than his GAA last season.
With the progress Penney has made, it seems doubtful Richards will have extensive playing time unless Penney has a rough stretch of games at some point during the season. Richards best year came in 2013 when the Stealth were still in Washington, posting a .790 save percentage but fell all the way down to a .739 last season, his worst of his career. On the same token, Richards is also the most decorated goalie in Stealth history and led them to some of their biggest moments as an NLL franchise.
An underrated aspect of Richards return is he can provide the same type of mentorship Levis has for Penney, but provides more on-floor value. Levis is a great guy for the lacrosse community in British Columbia, but his time with the Stealth was merely a stopgap solution.
Vancouver did bring Adam Shute (who plays for the Coquitlam Adanacs in summer ball) into training camp and also have Cody Hagedorn, who has looked good in spot time with the Stealth.
Richards is expected to travel with the team to Rochester as they get set to take on the Knighthawks on Saturday, Feb. 13.