Like I said, things happen fast around here. Not three hours after shipping Adam Hall off to Minnesota, there was already a red and blue bag in the hallway outside the Rangers dressing room with the name Dupuis on it.
No, the team’s newest acquisition won’t be in the lineup tonight against the Lightnining, but he is flying directly to our nation’s capital to join the Rangers tomorrow against the Capitals. Tom Renney said he envisions Pascal Dupuis in a third-line-type role, capable of playing both wings, and that he is an immediate upgrade in terms of team speed.
“This game is about speed and transition nowadays, and you have to have a certain amount of character to maximize what you have in terms of team speed,” Renney said. “We believe we’ve improved ourselves on the speed side of the equation. The degree that he displays character remains to be seen.”
Ah, yes, the character issue. The Rangers already dealt with this question once this week when they brought in the outspoken Sean Avery. And they’re dealing with it again with Dupuis, who had fallen out of favor with Doug Risebrough and Jacques Lemaire, and had hence been deemed expendable. Some of this goes back to Dupuis holding out for more money after his 20 goal season in 2002-03, and it even carried into this year, when he walked out of Lemaire at practice on Dec. 19.
So maybe we’re not talking about the next Adam Graves. But we’re still talking about an upgrade from Adam Hall, a perfectly nice guy who was a mediocre NHL skater, and who never seemed comfortable in New York. It’s worth noting that when the team signed Brendan Shanahan and traded for Hall, they were emphasizing the need for more size. Now they’re realizing that size alone only goes so far.
“I’m not sure this is how a coach should talk about situations like this but I also made it clear (to Adam) I felt responsible for his situation….That’s the way it goes. You have to make the most of your opportunities. As your season evolves opportunities slip away from some people and other grab it,” Renney said. “Adam might not have delivered on the speed component the way we had hoped for. And had he been able to, his numbers would have been different.”
As for the other new Ranger, I bumped into Avery on 8th Avenue when we were both walking into the Garden (he was alone, sadly), and it was obvious it had been awhile since he had set foot in the World’s Most Famous Arena. First he asked me if he was going through the right entrance, then after getting off the elevator, he made a right turn instead of a left toward the team dressing room.
He eventually got there, so don’t worry about Avery missing the game while wandering the bowels of the Garden.
And the other good news is Avery has a decent sense of where he’s going once he’s on the ice.