Rangers Training Camp News and Notes

By Brandon LeBourveau
The Rangers kicked off the month of September with a three game rookie tournament held in Kitchener, Ontario. A team of Rangers’ prospects and hopefuls competed against rookies from three other teams, which included the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes. The Rangers had a roster consisting of 14 players who were there on a try-out basis, and two big guns in Jamie Lundmark and Barrett Heisten did not play. They easily had the weakest team in the tournament, although they finished with 1 win and 2 losses.

To open the tournament, the Rangers fell to the Boston Bruins by a score of 4-1. Ryan Hollweg, an 8th round selection by the Rangers in this past entry draft, scored the only goal. Undrafted free agent Scott Meyer split time between the pipes with Dan Blackburn, the Rangers 1st round pick this year. Both goalies gave up 2 goals each in the loss.

The next day the Rangers were back on the ice, this time to face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They were overpowered by a strong Leafs’ team that consisted of a few top young players, including Brad Boyes. The final score was 7-2 in favor of the Leafs, with defensemen Filip Novak and Jason Jaffray (playing on a try-out basis) netting the only two goals for New York.

The Rangers finished the tournament the following day with a 6-5 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, a game won in a shootout. Petr Preucil, drafted this past year from the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, scored the winning goal. Garth Murray, a 3rd round pick this year, chipped in a goal and Juris Stals, the Rangers 9th round selection, had 2 assists. Dan Blackburn was credited with the win.

After training camp was over, the Rangers made a few roster moves. First, they released prospect Patrick Leahy. Leahy was drafted in the 5th round of the 1998 Draft, and just finished up his collegiate career last season with Miami of Ohio. He came to camp fighting to earn a contract, but I suppose the Rangers felt he wasn’t developing the way they had hoped and he didn’t have much NHL potential. Word is Leahy is trying out for the Philadelphia Flyers minor league affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL. The Rangers also invited a few rookies to the main camp who participated in the rookie camp, including Dan Blackburn, Garth Murray, Ryan Hollweg, Juris Stals, Fedor Tyutin, Leonid Zhvachin, and others.

After a few days of practices, the Rangers sent 31 players down to the Hartford Wolf Pack’s training camp. Among them included Petr Preucil, Fedor Tyutin, Leonid Zhvachin, Garth Murray, Ryan Hollweg and Juris Stals. Those players practiced with the Wolf Pack for the last few days, and they are all expected to be returned to their junior teams soon except for Garth Murray. Murray has looked impressive in camp and the Rangers might bring him back up to New York to get a second look. Preucil will head back to Quebec of the QMJHL, Tyutin and Zhvachin to Guelph of the OHL, Hollweg to Medicine Hat of the WHL, and Juris Stals to Sarnia of the OHL. If Murray is returned to juniors, he will be sent back to the Regina Pats of the WHL, where he is expected to be named the team’s new captain. Rookies who survived the first round of cuts include Jamie Lundmark, Dan Blackburn, Mikael Samuelsson, Barrett Heisten, Filip Novak, Mike Mottau, Petr Smrek, Martin Richter and Johan Holmqvist.

The Rangers opened up the pre-season with a game against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night. After two scoreless periods, the game opened up in the 3rd and the Rangers edged the Red Wings by a score of 3-2. Andreas Johansson had 2 goals in the game, while Martin Richter tallied the other goal. Dan Blackburn looked very good in net, stopping 25 of 27 shots to get the win. He relieved Petr Skudra, who played the first half of the game, stopping all 16 shots he faced.

Tonight the Rangers face off against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. Dan Blackburn and Johan Holmqvist will split time between the pipes. This game will be a significant one, as it is the first sporting event held in New York city since last Tuesday’s cowardly terrorist attacks. Expect Eric Lindros to play in the game, marking his first game as a New York Ranger.

I will be back probably during the weekend for more news concerning Training Camp for the New York Rangers.

I would like to take this time to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the families who have had friends or relatives hurt or killed in the attack of the World Trade Center. I also wish the best of luck to the families still searching for their missing loved ones, and hopefully things turn out okay. I have been deeply touched by this and I am praying we can continue to live on with our lives and not have to worry about more cowardly acts of terrorism.