The Rangers returned from Washington for an open practice and a luncheon with sponsors, and fortunately for them, they did so fresh off two wins. Had the function been staged earlier in the week, you wonder if anyone would have bothered to show up.
But the outlook has changed for your beloved hockey team by virtue of two impressive wins — one against a surging Tampa Bay team, the other in overcoming the crooked engineering at Washington’s Verizon Center. The uneven boards from last night remained a popular topic of conversation with players and especially goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, all of them equally outraged that it could have cost them a win, and grateful that it didn’t.
Naturally one player who didn’t have much of an opinion on the matter was the newest Ranger, Pascal Dupuis, who took part in his first full workout with the team, and said afterward he was happy for a new start in New York.
“Obviously it’s a shock right away but I was expecting it a little bit,” Dupuis said of the Friday trade that brought him in from Minnesota in exchange for Adam Hall. “The last month or so there were rumors of me moving….It’s a new beginning for me, so as a hockey player I’m happier.”
Dupuis said contrary to reports, he had an amicable split with the Wild and coach Jacques Lemaire, and made sure to refute reports that he drew the coach’s ire by walking out of a practice in December. As Dupuis said, he had been given the option to leave by Lemaire, and took the coach up on the offer because he had been sick. Furthermore, two other players left the ice that day as well.
“We came back from a seven-day road trip and I was sick on the road, getting IVs between periods. I lost seven pounds on the road,” he said. “We played at home the next day and at the morning skate, Jacques said, ‘If you guys have had enough, you can take off, or you can stay and we’ll have a good practice.’
“So I was sick. I figured I’d keep my energy to play that night, so I left. Obviously the media made a big deal of it, but it was no big deal in the room. Jacques didn’t mention anything about it. I don’t know who sent that over there.”
Curiously enough, when we told Dupuis that the report of his abruptly leaving practice had been in one of the Twin Cities papers, it was his new teammate Sean Avery — another player who arrived in New York with some unflattering stories around him — felt compelled to chime in.
“Don’t believe everything you read, guys,” he said.