Patrick Rissmiller will make his second appearance in the lineup tonight, replacing Lauri Korpikoski at left wing on a line with Chris Drury and Markus Naslund.
Rissmiller hasn’t played since the win in Philadelphia, when he injured his ankle.
Update, 11:38 a.m.:Â It was clear today that the Rangers were not about to disparage Sean Avery hours before facing him. This might be common sense, or it might be the direction of Tom Renney, who said he has already “addressed” his team about facing Avery and the Stars tonight.
When I asked Renney about his former left wing, I phrased the question as follows: If you had to summarize his tenure here, how would you?
The coach’s response was at least slightly telling.
“If I had to?” Renney said. “Does that mean I have a choice?”
No, I said.
“He was a good hockey player for us, plain and simple. A very effective player for us,” Renney said. “He chose to go somewhere else.”
To me, that part is at least a little misleading. It’s true, Avery signed with the Stars, but he also made clear his desire to remain a Ranger throughout last season. If the team did follow through with a contract offer, it was one that was less than the player was seeking (Brooks says Sather came in at 4 years, $12 million. The Stars paid him $15.1 million over the same tenure).
So yes, it was technically Avery’s choice to leave, but it’s not like the team bent over backwards to keep him.
But like I said, while I don’t doubt that some members of the team are happy to see Avery go, the public emphasis today was on Avery’s contributions while here. Start with Chris Drury, who many think had little time for Avery to begin with, and even less so after the notorious stick-waving incident against Martin Brodeur and the Devils.
“He was an unbelievable player for us. He quite literally played his guts out, right down to the end when he injured his spleen,” Drury said. “He competed like crazy all night, and he got a great contract because of it, so kudos to him.”
When asked what to make of so many players gushing about this team’s chemistry, Drury sought to draw a distinction.
“I canâ€™t speak for the other guys, but when I talk about chemistry and whatâ€™s going on here now Iâ€™m thinking right now,” he said. “Iâ€™m not comparing it to last year. Iâ€™m not comparing it to Buffalo. I certainly wouldnâ€™t want guys when I leave here or when I left Buffalo to say, â€˜Now itâ€™s this way because heâ€™s gone.â€™ All I know right now is weâ€™re a close team and thatâ€™s helped us win some games already.”
More in a bit..