‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
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As the Rangers prepare for their second game following the Martin St. Louis-Ryan Callahan megatrade, head coach Alain Vigneault wants his team to quickly move past any lingering side effects.
“Okay, now we’ve lost our captain. Some guys have lost a very close friend. I understand the feelings that go with that. We can’t suffer from it. The hangover was (Wednesday) and it has to be a short one. We’ve got to move on and build new relationships.”
Vigneault said he expects St. Louis to bring a fresh dynamic to the Rangers’ locker room.
“Any time you change one player, you change the dynamics of your group,” Vigneault said. “Yes, we’ve lost a very important member. But I think we’ve added a great piece and we need to let that dynamic form.”
POULIOT: ‘FANS ARE GOING TO LOVE HIM’
A number of Rangers previously played with St. Louis in Tampa Bay, including Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot and Dominic Moore.
Even though Pouliot spent only one season in Tampa with St. Louis, it was an experience he said he truly savored. And now that they’re reunited in New York, Pouliot said he expects Rangers fans to fall in love with St. Louis.
“The fans are going to love him,” Pouliot said. “I was only with him for a year. It was awesome. It was just a great opportunity for everyone. I love playing with him. It’s a big bonus.”
Dominic Moore spent two seasons in Tampa playing alongside St. Louis and said he views St. Louis as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He also appreciates the character attributes that the 38-year-old winger brings to the Rangers’ locker room.
“The guy is incredible,” Moore said. “He’s one of the best players to ever play, obviously. Nothing was ever handed to him. He earned everything he got. He’s a character player, character person and a tremendous leader. We’re lucky to have him.”
Pouliot describes St. Louis as a vocal player who commands attention whenever he speaks and often pulls players aside on the bench to impart his wisdom.
“He’s a big talker in the room,” Pouliot said. “When he talks everybody listens. He’s always talking, always telling you what’s the right thing to do on the ice.”
BRASSARD BLOWN AWAY BY MARTY’S WORKOUT HABITS
Quebec native Derick Brassard admired St. Louis throughout his youth. Brassard had the opportunity to briefly study St. Louis’ incredible workout habits when he visited the Darien, Conn., facility where St. Louis works out with renowned trainer Ben Prentiss.
“I’ve done what he’s doing. It’s pretty hard,” Brassard said. “I can keep up. It’s just the weight. I only saw Marty there in the gym one time. When I was leaving, I saw one exercise he was doing. He works his (expletive) off. You can tell, his body is his legs. Everything is huge.”
Brassard offered a new nickname for St. Louis — “Quadzilla.” St. Louis’ leg workouts have become the stuff of Internet legend. Clearly, he doesn’t skip leg days.
St. Louis said he sensed early chemistry with linemates Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin.
“They’re high-quality players,” St. Louis said. “I’m trying to bring my game play within their strengths. We had some good looks early on and didn’t connect. I’m encouraged by our first set of games we played together.”
The former Art Ross Trophy winner said he’s excited about what’s to come in New York.
“Those 14 years were great years for me in Tampa,” St. Louis said. “This is a new chapter in my life and real excited about it.
St. Louis will be back on the ice with the Rangers on Friday night in Carolina.
If his new teammates’ reactions are any indication, it won’t be long before St. Louis becomes a firm favorite among Rangers fans.
ZUCC BACK FRIDAY?
On Thursday, Vigneault described sparkplug forward Mats Zuccarello as a game-time decision against the Hurricanes. Zuccarello said the condition of his injured left hand is improving.
“It’s getting better and better. So I feel more and more comfortable with the puck and in certain situations out there. Yeah, I feel good,” Zuccarello said. “Obviously, everyone wants to play every game. You don’t want to hurry it either. I feel good now, so we’ll see.”
Zuccarello is currently second on the team in scoring, with 43 points. He was injured while playing for Norway at the Sochi Olympics.
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.
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