Jaromir Jagr is currently skating on the MSG Training Center ice in just a T-shirt and shorts. If you think of the Rangers’ leading scorer as one of the game’s most respected players, I ask that you consider how ridiculous he looks right about now.
Anyway, readers, big doings in Greenburgh today, what with Darius Kasparaitis getting the call back from Hartford and now, Nigel Dawes being shipped the other way. As I said before, Dawes had been on the ice for practice, but at the end, Tom Renney pulled the rookie aside and the two could be seen talking for several minutes along the boards.
I asked Renney about the conversation later, and the coach said pretty much what you’d expect, that a skill player like Dawes can’t be buried on a third or fourth line where he’d get only limited minutes every night; and for now, he’s better served seeing quality time in Hartford. When Dawes will be called back up remains to be seen. Renney said he didn’t envision the rookie copying Petr Prucha a year ago, when Prucha played only a couple of games in the AHL before returning with a flourish to the Rangers. But it did sound like we’ll be seeing Dawes again sometime this season, and probably soon.
As for Kasparaitis, the situation is a little murkier. With his conditioning assignment up in Hartford, the Rangers only other option was to waive him, and it sounds like they still want to give him a better look. Again, though, what exactly that means is unclear.
“I want to play him,” Renney said. “But I wanted to play Nigel.”
There appear to be the same questions about Kasparaitis as there were before, namely that his surgeries have taken a toll on him both physically and mentally, and he hasn’t been the proactive player that he’s been. Whether Kasparaitis sees it that way is another story.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know that I went there to get some conditioning and I feel very good good and very confident,Ã¢â‚¬? Kasparaitis said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm. Now I have to have a chance to play.Ã¢â‚¬?
When I asked Kasparaitis if he feels like he made progress in Hartford, he bristled a bit, saying that he feels like “a broken record.” Furthermore, he said his goal is to play for the Rangers, but if he can’t play here, he wants to play somewhere in the NHL.
“If I can’t do that here, I want to play in the NHL,” he said. “I’ve been doing that for 14 years and that’s what I want to do. I want to retire as a NHL hockey player, not somewhere in the minors.”
Interesting stuff, and here’s the kicker: remember that Kasparaitis’ lone encouraging game this year might have been the win over the Devils last month. Now the Rangers face the same opponent tomorrow, and Renney said the defenseman’s performance in that game was a consideration in having him play tomorrow.
Then again, Kasparaitis was skating with the forgotten Thomas Pock today. And you know that’s never a good sign…