For all that the Rangers have tinkered with this season, the one constant has been Thomas Pock. And if you’re Thomas Pock, that is not a good thing. After signing a two-year deal worth $1 million last April, the defenseman is the only Ranger who hasn’t dressed for a game this season.
“I signed with the reasoning that I’m going to get an opportunity, a real chance to play for the New York Rangers,” Pock said after practice. “That’s the team I want to play for, but they don’t want me to play. I really don’t know what my role is, to be honest with you.
“I’m looking forward to playing, I didn’t practice my whole life to make it to the NHL so I could sit in the press box. Every player wants to be out there. At some point something’s going to happen, I guess. I don’t think he’s going to keep me here all year and have me sit on the back burner. Who knows? Maybe they will.”
Now, it’s worth noting that Tom Renney has talked about the need to get Pock in soon because he doesn’t want him to sit too long. It was something he reiterated today, although Renney still had Pock skating in practice with Jason Strudwick, which doesn’t bode well for Thursday in Atlanta. I also asked Renney if a conditioning assignment for Pock was a possibility. The coach said that it was, although it hasn’t really been discussed.
The problem is, it doesn’t sound like it’s something Pock is interested in.
“Would I?” he said. “I don’t really have an answer for you. I understand last year there were a couple of old guys in front of me and they deserved the benefit of the doubt. But I’ve already done that.”
What mystifies Pock most is that he hasn’t been given a definitive answer about why he isn’t playing, saying that the feedback he’s received has all been positive.
Of course, feel free to draw your own conclusions. With the emergence of Dan Girardi and Marc Staal in the past year, those two have clearly bypassed Pock on the depth chart. Paul Mara is more experienced, and Strudwick has the nebulous “sandpaper” to his game that Renney likes.
Then there’s Marek Malik, whose missteps of late would seem to provide a perfect opening for Pock. That might still happen, with the theory being that Renney wouldn’t make clear that he was going to sit Malik until the last possible moment. But as we’ve also seen with Renney, the coach might also want to go back to Malik in hopes of boosting his confidence.
Which is admirable, except in the meantime, another player’s confidence is sagging. In our conversation, Pock stopped short of saying he wanted to be traded — he also said an Austrian newspaper story that said he wanted just that was “mostly made up” — but he does want to play. And at some point, something is going to have to give.
As for other news from practice: