The Rangers’ first practice back from their West Coast trip was the first chance for the team to address definitely forging ahead without Mats Sundin.
The reaction: Oh no! We’re doomed!
OK, no one said that.
“We would have loved to have him join our team, there’s no doubt about that,” Markus Naslund said. “But you never knew what it would take. We never knew if we had to lose a couple of guys and who knew what the chemistry would have been. I like what we have going on here. Guys are playing well off one another. It’s a close-knit group. I think it’s a positive that we get to keep this group together.”
While Tom Renney said the Sundin possibility was little more than “speculation and innuendo”, more than one player admitted it felt like the passing of a trade deadline, with an anxious build-up giving way to a sense of relief. And as Scott Gomez said, even if the Rangers would have benefited from Sundin, it never felt right to him to openly campaign for it.
“It’s something you can’t do,” Gomez said. “It’s not right to the next guy to think that you want someone. You don’t want to sit there and talk about it. It’s something you learn early on. If it happens, it happens. Great. He’s one of the best players. But to talk about it is not even fair to the next guy.”
Some other notes:
<li>Corey Potter was returned to Hartford after making the three-game swing through California as a spectator. Renney allowed it was a possibility Potter can be recalled, but it’s clear that the coach isn’t ready to sit down any of the current six defenseman while they’re healthy.
I’m reluctant to proclaim Potter as a savior. He’s a young defenseman who is likely going to make some mistakes while making the adjustment to the NHL. But he certainly wouldn’t be the only one. And I maintain that his presence on the roster could create a needed sense of urgency in the other six.
<li>As for one of those other six, Dmitri Kalinin, along with Nikolai Zherdev, missed practice with an illness. Both are expected to play tomorrow, however.