Among the reasons my job is not completely unbearable (with all due respect to my beautiful wife): I walked into the MSG Training Center this morning to find the Knicks City Dancers gathered in an adjacent room, preparing for what I presume to be some sort of filmed production.
To be honest, they’ve been pestering me this whole time. But I suppose that comes with the territory in the glamorous world of hockey writing.
Anyway, on to the Rangers, who had a day of off-ice training after “last night’s bagel in Jersey”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070117/SPORTS01/701170395/1034/SPORTS, and who are again immersed in what is becoming a weekly spell of soul searching.
As I mentioned earlier, the Rangers made official that they locked up Martin Straka for another year, something the 34-year-old Straka said he was willing to commit to given his strong play thus far this season.
“I just wanted to go year after year,” said Straka, who is tied for a team-high with 24 goals. “If I don’t play well, then I’m stuck here and they have to be stuck with me. And with my age, you don’t know if you’re going to get hurt. Last year I thought I played OK and they like me and I like being here so I said let’s give it one more try.”
Now with two-thirds of the Rangers’ top line on board for next season, I asked Straka if this puts extra pressure on Michael Nylander, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, to sign on as well.
“I hope Michael and Shanny and Tom (Renney) and those guys will be here, too,” he said. “I hope so. I love to play with (Nylander). He’s a great guy and he’s working hard.”
Speaking of Nylander, the center was still light-headed the day after being hit hard against the Devils, but is likely to be fine for Saturday against Atlanta.
Help on the way? Not exactly. As of now, Renney said he doesn’t anticipate any moves before the All-Star break. More likely is that at least some of the players who were scratched the last two games — Jason Ward, Adam Hall, and Darius Kasparaitis — will return to the lineup, with the obvious hope that they are now newly motivated. “That’s the intent when you do that sort of thing,” the coach said. The question, of course, is who comes out of the lineup, and that part hasn’t been determined.
It sounds like the Rangers are going to relent when it comes to Matt Cullen and Aaron Ward joining their former Carolina teammates at the White House, especially since the two won’t even miss a practice. Renney said it’s ultimately his decision — although Glen Sather is “aware of it” — and that he considers it a “pretty important event.” Potential crisis: The outspoken Ward is a loyal Democrat, so in the interest of harmony, maybe he shouldn’t get too much alone time with the Prez.
Wondering what Marcel Hossa brings playing on a line with Brendan Shanahan? For one, he knows how to work the stereo. Preparing to work out in the weight room, Shanahan grabbed a CD from his locker (time for an Ipod, Shanny), but needed Hossa to get the whole thing working. You’d think of a veteran like Shanahan as a straight rock-and-roll guy, but it was actually some sort of techno-dance anthem. “Enjoy it,” Marek Malik chimed in. “No. 1 in Europe last year.”
And on that note, I decided to leave….