I mentioned already that I spent some time with Jed Ortmeyer earlier this week, and “here’s the story that came out of it”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061110/SPORTS01/611100445/1046/SPORTS.
It’s funny, or actually not so funny, but we’ve seen plenty of Jed over the past few weeks, either at the Training Center or when he’s sitting behind us in the press box at games. For most of that time, he’s seemed upbeat, even jovial. Consider a moment last Sunday, while he was being inundated with autograph requests from fans, and I turned around and thanked him.
“Otherwise they’d all want autographs from me,” I said, trying to keep a straight face.
Ortmeyer laughed. “I can move back a few rows if you want,” he said.
I mention this because for all of his outward playfulness, Ortmeyer admits the past few months since “his pulmonary embolism”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060906/SPORTS01/609060369/1108 have been some of the toughest of his life. Even if it wasn’t intended, he’s become an outcast among his teammates, unable to practice with them, and often slipping onto the ice to skate on his own after everyone else is done. This week he’s had a chance to skate with Don Maloney’s son, Don, who’s been home from juniors. Otherwise, it’s been a lot of times skating against imaginary opponents.
“You’re just not hands on,” Ortmeyer said. “You’re not in the locker room in between periods when things are going well and everyone’s excited. Or when things are going bad and you feeling adversity and you’re looking at the guy next to you in the eye and you say, ‘I’m going to get it done.’ That kind of stuff. I can’t wait to get back to that.”
Needless to say, the Rangers can’t wait to have him back, either. Of course, he is just a checking forward, someone who added just seven points last season. But Ortmeyer’s persistence in many ways defined what made the Rangers successful in 2005-06, and his absence has underscored what they’ve been missing so far this year.
I’m not supposed to root one way or the other, but you can’t help but want to see a guy like that get back to doing what he does best.