The 2002-03 season started with such promise, many sports writers had the Rangers listed as an outside shot at the conference title while others had them atleast making the playoffs. Names like Lundmark, Blackburn and playoff experience dotted the headlines and dreams of Rangers fans across the globe. But what happened was and has been the opposite. The Rangers have faltered as per usual, injuries, a new coach, coaching changes etc. have turned this season upside down. However for the first time in recent memory the Rangers faithful have been treated to atleast catching the likes of a prospect gaining ice time in a Rangers jersey.
Throughout this disappointing season we saw Dan Blackburn take over for the oft-injured Mike Richter. Blackburn played 19 straight at one point and gave in to exhaustion and more importantly to the pourous defense in front of him. Blackburn who has posted a decent 7-14-4 record with a 3.22 GAA was relieved by Mike Dunham who came aboard when Mike Richter was officially listed as out for the season. Dunham has been up and down in the nets. Blackburn has eaten some humble pie but be patient and next year he will likely play 35 games and gain valuable experience.
Rico Fata became a regular with the injuries to Bure and others. Fata posted 2 goals and 6 points in 30 some odd games. Fata was later dealt to Pittsburgh in the Kovalev deal. John Tripp came onboard and posted a 2 assist nite to kick off his NHL career. He scored his 1st NHL goal a few games later and is now in Hartford but may have a shot for next years roster. His big frame is well liked in NY who are so desperately seeking a winger who can bang. Jamie Lundmark finally has received decent amounts of ice time after being on the NY-Hartford and back bus several times. Lundmark has shown decent skills and quick feet. His stats 7 goals and 15 points are respectable and a bigger season is expected next year. Free agent Ronald Petrovicky has filled a void as a solid defense-first winger. While he does not have the offensive skill he has brought some tough corner work skills to the big club. Others seeing ice this season have been Billy Tibbetts a tough journeyman winger, Gordie Dwyer and Richard Lintner (now gone to Pittburgh) as well as Johan Holmqvist and Mike Wilson and Joel also in Pittsburgh.