Yes, it’s hump day.
But it’s also the first day of training camp for ya boys … or at least the day they officially report for physicals.
The Rangers begin training camp today with a new head coach, but minus their new No. 1 center.
Derek Stepan, 23, who emerged as the No. 1 center last season, remains an unsigned restricted free agent who will not attend without a new contract.
Standing in the way are that Stepan has no leverage as a restricted free agent who had no arbitration rights – unless an unlikely offer sheet comes from another team, which could force the Rangers to do something drastic – and that the Rangers have only $2.18 million to spend under the salary cap, according to capgeek.com.
The Rangers can go 10 percent over the cap until the end of the preseason, and they will gain approximately $1.7 million in space if/when, at the end of camp, they waive Arron Asham and Darroll Powe, who already were waived once in July. They could also place Ryan Callahan and/or Carl Hagelin on long-term injured reserve for some temporary cap space since both are coming off shoulder surgery. But once placed on LTIR, a player must miss 10 games.
Coach Alain Vigneault and his new staff, including Ulf Samuelsson, Scott Arniel and Dan Lacroix, will not get the players on ice until Thursday. Physical exams are scheduled today, and on-ice testing Thursday. Then the players will skate in groups starting Friday.
The Rangers open their six-road-game preseason Monday and Tuesday, in Newark and Philadelphia, respectively, as the final phase of Madison Square Garden’s renovation is completed. They open the regular season Oct. 3 at Phoenix, starting a nine-game road trip.
Here we go. Dale’!
Photo by Getty Images.
On a much more serious note, please say a prayer or take a moment to reflect on the 12th anniversary of that most horrible of days and what it meant to all of us, what we lost, what we learned, the heroes we discovered.
I know I will think back to that day, which was also the day the Rangers were to report to camp in 2001, when they almost stayed at the World Trade Center Marriott. (I was inside the Garden when the second plane hit). And especially the way the Rangers conducted themselves in the days and weeks after, the way they helped people heal, and unlike other sports teams, did so anonymously, without inviting the TV cameras to follow.
They did New York proud, the Rangers did.