I was going to go off on a big rant about Sept. 11, but I decided to keep it simple and brief because we’re back into hockey now, and so I don’t want to go too far off topic.
But to me, Sept. 11 and the Rangers are forever connected, because I was on my way to MSG for the opening of training camp when the first plane hit — I didn’t hear about it until I got inside the Starbucks next to the Garden — and I was inside MSG when the second plane hit.
And I so distinctly remember a few things about the Rangers:
That Don Maloney lost his brother-in-law, and a friend of mine, Rob Palazzo, and Brian Leetch lost a close friend.
That Glen Sather could not have handled the whole matter better than he did, and so did Ron Low, and that the Rangers did more than any other sports team in terms of visiting firehouses and lifting spirits and hosting heroes … and without any of the cameras or media attention the other sports teams craved. They did it quietly, almost secretively. For all the right reasons.
That the Rangers were supposed to be staying in the World Trade Center Marriott for the beginning of camp, but a snag had them switch hotels at the last minute.
That the Rangers played the first sports event after the attacks, a preseason game in Detroit, and allowed the media on their charter jet, and the raw emotions when the plane flew out of Westchester and banked over the still-smoldering pile of disaster at Ground Zero.
Twenty-nine days until the Opener.
29: Jim “Catfish” Hunter, may he rest in peace. I hope Joe Girardi doesn’t wear 29 next season if the Yankees win World Series No. 28 this year.
29: Reijo Ruotsalainen, who could bring it with his skates and his shot. Caused many reporters to duck in the press box above the low glass in the old days. Grazed my scalp one night. Barry Beck was laughing on the ice.
29: Rudy Poeschek.
Got this from MSG Network, which is doing a preseason special tonight:
HOCKEY NIGHT LIVE RANGERS PRESEASON SPECIAL ON MSG SATURDAY at 9:30pm
Coach Tortorella, Chris Drury and Henrik Lundqvist Discuss the 2010-11 Season
New York – September 10, 2010 – Tonight at 9:30 p.m. on MSG, “Hockey Night Live!” presents the second installment of “HNL: Rangers Preseason Special.” Hosts Bill Pidto and Dave Maloney welcome coach John Tortorella, goalie Henrik Lundqvist and captain Chris Drury from the Rangers locker room. Below is a sneak peek at what Coach, Lundqvist and Drury have to say about the upcoming season.
“Hockey Night Live!” starts its regular preseason coverage next Saturday, September 18 at 9:30 p.m. on MSG and MSG Plus. Join Al Trautwig, Dave Maloney, Ken Daneyko, Ron Duguay and Butch Goring as they look ahead to the 2010-11 seasons of the Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Sabres.
On being back in New York:
“It’s just good to see the boys. You know, when you don’t make it in the playoffs the prior year, it’s a long summer. Everyone’s chomping at the bit to get going.”
On managing playing time between Lundqvist and Biron:
“If Marty stays healthy, he’s going to get some of these games, as I wanted to do last year. It’s just not conducive towards a playoff hockey team wanting to get somewhere in the playoffs to play Hank that much.”
“We’ve gone through a process, Hank and I, as far as what I expect out of him and the workload. I just love the guy because he wants to do it all the time and he can’t, and I think he realizes that, especially after last year.”
On rookies making the team:
“The young guys are going to get a long look. I think we still need to infuse our team with more young guys and build our core together.
On Marc Staal’s career progression:
“He’s a big part of our core and he’s still a young man, 23, played a few years in this league already. I thought he was inconsistent through the first half of the year, had a streak towards the middle of the year that he started coming on, but the last two months of the season I thought he really got it.”
“The last couple of months, he was a stud. He’s a very important piece to the puzzle.”
On the Biron signing:
“Seventy-two games is a good number if you look at a regular season, but for us, our goal should be to play in June and seventy-two games is a little too high if you want to play another two months. To add a guy like Biron, it’s gonna help us, it’s gonna help the team, it’s gonna help me, hopefully, maybe we can lower my games a little bit and have more quality and go into the playoffs feeling really fresh.”
On his offensive numbers being down:
“I think everyone wants to score, no matter what line you’re on, and I’m certainly no different, but I think as you get older you realize there are a lot of ways to influence a hockey game – I certainly can’t shoot or skate like Gabby anymore, if I ever could have – but at the end of the day you want to look at the scoreboard, hopefully your team has won and hopefully in some way you’ve helped your team win.”
Also, got this about Lundqvist making an appearance (with a disclaimer at the end) in NYC on Wednesday, from the NHL:
WHO: HENRIK LUNDQVIST, New York Rangers goaltender
WHAT: Special Q&A session with the New York Rangers goaltender, hosted by Alyonka Larionov.
Fans in attendance at the event will be able to submit questions for consideration at the NHL Store. Fans who have questions for the netkeeper but are unable to attend can submit them for consideration via Twitter. Tweet your questions for Lundqvist to @NHL between the hours of 9-11am on Wednesday, Sept. 15. Answers to questions submitted via Twitter will be posted to the @NHL account post-event.
WHEN: Wednesday, September 15, 2010, Noon – 12:30pm ET
WHERE: NHL POWERED BY REEBOK STORE, 1185 Sixth Avenue, between 46th and 47th Streets.
NOTE: Unfortunately no merchandise or memorabilia will be signed. Player availability subject to change.