Rangers Training Camp Report
In just the first inter-squad scrimmage of the season Johan Witehall netted a pair of goals in a 2-1 win. Witehall who has been so close to making this club for the past two seasons opened up some eyes with his “smarts” and knack for the net. Erstwhile Mark Messier skated on a line with Adam Graves and Theo Fleury in hopes of adding some grit to the Rangers four line unit and resurrecting Theo Fleury from the “Graveyard” called 1999-2000. Messier commented to the New York Post and Hartford Courant on former “hate target” Petr Nedved. Messier one time “no fan” of the “heart transplant” candidate Petr Nedved, noticed how Petr had matured over the past seasons and played with heart and pain last year. Nedved in 99-00 was on the one unit with countrymen Jan Hlavac and Radek Dvorak that showed excitement last season. Nedved was constantly the target of opposition`s hit and run tactics as were many of the Rangers. Hopefully the addition of Sandy McCarthy and the eventual and needed promotion of Dale Purinton from Hartford of the AHL will provide a line of defense to the backs of the forwards like Nedved and Mike York.
Speaking of Purinton, who just signed a new hitch with New York, just three minutes into the first scrimmage, he went toe to toe with WPHL heavyweight Marty Melnychuk (6.02 210) of Arkansas who had 375 penalty minutes last season and no fewer than 275 since 1996 while with Wichita of the CHL. Purinton not only bloodied the face of Melnychuk but dropped him with a flurry of punches. Afterward many expletives were heard from Marty Melnychuk about Purinton showing a fiery competitiveness that may have even earned the loser of the battle a shot at the Rangers ECHL affiliate and something not seen in New York in some time. Glen Sather, G.M. stated that more and more players from the Hartford affiliate would gain NHL ice in New York during the coming season… but the question is where?Mike Mottau was the only no show in Vermont. Sather and coach Ron Low expected him in camp as a “try out” which would either help or hurt his bargaining position depending on his play. Mottau was close to signing a contract with Sather earlier on Friday but the final terms could not be reached. Mottau remains in Avon, Massachusetts practicing on his own. With Mike Richter down for at least the first two weeks of the season and Kirk McLean already conceded the no.1 job the battle rages on between newcomers Vitali Yeremeyev, Johan Holmqvist, Jason Labarbera and AHLer J.F.Labbe. Labbe looks to be leading the race by default (experience) but all four will have a full shot at the camp.
Notes:Todd Hall recently signed a 2 year deal with the Rangers thus keeping the 210 pound forward/defender in the area for the next couple years. Hall was recently married in Connecticut and under Sather / Low his work ethic will finally be noticed. Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments. Post all comments on the Rangers Message Board! Further articles as warranted!