OK, lots of ground to cover and not a lot of time to cover it:
First, the most pressing: as of this writing, Paul Mara has not arrived at the Garden because of airline problems in Boston, but the Rangers are still hoping to get him in the lineup tonight. The hope is that Mara would see some time on the power play, where his shot — some defensemen actually use those — would be an asset.
Marty Straka is out and both Jarkko Immonen and Brad Isbister are in. The Straka shoulder injury likely won’t keep him out beyond tonight.
Jaromir Jagr could afford to laugh after first reading he was being shipped out of town, then finally realizing he was staying put. “That was close,” the Captain said with a smile. “I didn’t go to practice because I was packing.” Jagr said he was inundated with calls from the Czech Republic after reports surfaced that the Rangers were shopping him. “It was crazy,” Jagr said. “People were panicking.”
His laughter aside, Jagr quickly turned serious when I asked him about the perception that he was the reason Aaron Ward was shipped out of town. Reports had the two engaged in a heated argument on the bench during a game in Tampa Bay Feb. 3, but Jagr said it was overblown. Furthermore, he was adamant that Ward’s trade was more a circumstance of curious timing.
“Seriously, there was nothing between us,” Jagr said. “There was nothing wrong. He was the guy that brought it in. It was bad timing. I’ve got no problem with anybody. I love my teammates. I’d do anything for them.” Then Jagr couldn’t resist a joke. “I even sit on the bench when we’re supposed to go to a shootout.”
So just to clarify, I said to Jagr, there was never a conversation where you said Ward has to go? Jagr continued.
“Are you kidding me? I am 35 years old. I don’t know how long I’m going to play. I’m going to play one year. Do you think it’s going to bother me? I understand not everybody is going to like you. I don’t really care. I like everybody. There are so many great players, so many great guys. Even if it’s something, but it wasn’t, there are 24 other guys. It was just bad timing. I don’t think he feel comfortable here, but I don’t make changes. All of a sudden he was benched last game and all of a sudden, whatever happens last week comes into the newspaper. But he brought it into the newspaper, not me.”
OK, more to come later….