I have fond memories of Rangers trips to Florida to play the Panthers. One is Muckler trying that Leetch on left wing thing against Pavel Bure without practicing it and without having the last change as the visiting team; and getting shut out, then declaring it a successful strategy.
Another is ex-Panther Radek Dvorak recalling the night Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the lockerroom — with a slap shot, no less — that began that whole “Rat” craze in 1996. Dvorak, in his thick Czech accent and baritone voice, would say, “big, huge Raaahhhht” and pronounce Mellanby “Mell-ON-bee.”
And there were the games in the old arena in downtown Miami, the worst part of any town in America — unless you were looking to buy crack. It was so bad that at night all the traffic lights in the area were turned to blinking lights because they didn’t want anybody to have to stop for long. God it was scary. Roger Neilson was the coach there for a while after the Rangers fired him, and he used to tell the story of when he first got down there. He made friends with a cop who told him that, when driving to the arena, “take your gun out of the glove box and put it right on the seat next to you.”
“Gun!?” Neilson said incredulously. “I don’t have a gun!”
Anyway, tonight the Rangers can do some damage to the Panthers’ ownership. They are selling four-packs of tickets, including this game, and guaranteeing the Panthers will make the playoffs or the tickets are free (I guess they’ll credit the tickets toward purchase of tickets next year; I can’t imagine they’ll actually refund the buyers).
Just got word that everybody will skate in warmups, but that the winning lineup from Wednesday will probably remain intact. That means Kalinin is out. And Prucha, for a change. And that Hartford’s Sean Avery is indeed scheduled to play vs. the Manitoba Moose tomorrow.
Enjoy the game.
Got this Rangers press release today, for those interested:
New York, February 13, 2009 – The New York Rangers are thrilled to announce the first ever winter hockey festival at Wollman Rink in Central Park on Saturday February 14th, 2009 beginning at 2 PM. The Rangers youth hockey development team has paired up with USA Hockey’s “Hockey Weekend Across America” and the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” to encourage diversity and accessibility of the sport to kids and adults of all ages. The festivities will begin with a beginner lesson for all ages with instruction from coaches from the Rangers Hockey Development Team and USA Hockey. After a brief Sled hockey demonstration, New York RangersScott Gomez and Marc Staal will lead a youth hockey clinic for kids from Ice Hockey in Harlem. Rangers alumni Glenn Anderson and Ron Duguay will also be on hand for autograph and skating sessions. In addition, the Rangers Road tour will be available with interactive games including the slap shot booth and Rangers giveaways. For further information please go to newyorkrangers.com.
FYI, the entrance to Wollman Rink is at Central Park South (between 59th Street and 6th Avenue).