The Rangers had their team-building exercises at West Point yesterday, which apparently included a paintball session. Should a player’s on-ice behavior be any indication, I’m assuming Brendan Shanahan fired at will while Martin Straka passed up one open shot after another.
The short trip concludes with two practices followed by lunch with cadets this afternoon, with at least one of the functions of the trip to provide players with a healthy dose of perspective.
Tom Renney made that clear yesterday when talking about his admiration for soldiers and the sacrifice they make. I know many of you think Renney’s sense of honor and loyalty are one of his weaknesses as a coach, and it’s true, he is someone who lets his heart at times get in the way of his head.
But that is also what has made the coach so immensely popular with his players, and part of the reason why Scott Gomez and Chris Drury are at West Point right now and not in L.A. or New Jersey or Buffalo. Moreover, in a sports world that is so often lacking proper perspective, it’s hard not to respect Renney’s sense of the bigger picture. If you think that’s a fault, so be it.
Meanwhile, hard as it is to believe, tomorrow finally marks the start of the preseason, and yes, that means the unveiling of the new uniforms. Again, don’t expect to be blown away. I think when the notion was first introduced last year, we were expecting some space-age concoction featuring a jet pack and moon boots. Instead, all it is is a little tighter-fitting and quicker to dry. No word yet on how it handles blood. This being hockey, that’s not something to be discounted.
As far as cuts, a few more are expected to be made before tomorrow night. If last year is any indication, I’m assuming the Rangers will allow a lot of the kids to play in the first few exhibition games, and then use the last few as full dress rehearsals for the regular season.