By Sean Hartnett
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Take a close look at the Rangers bench. More often than not, you will notice veteran center Jarret Stoll barking out directions and imparting his 13 years of NHL wisdom to teammates.

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In his first season with the Blueshirts, the extroverted 33-year-old has quickly established himself as a vocal leader. In and out of the locker room, Stoll is the sort of player that takes it upon himself to relay messages from the coaching staff and he provides the kind of feedback that allows teammates to make useful in-game adjustments.

“I like to do that kind of stuff,” Stoll told “I don’t feel like I’m into the game, playing my game, or doing my thing if I’m quiet and sitting there doing nothing. I like to chatter and make sure we just remind, remind, remind before the game on what we need to do, what type of team we’re playing and what’s important in that game for us to be successful. During intermission breaks, if we’re not doing something, or we’re doing something good, we make sure we’re talking about that and reiterating that.

“I’m very outgoing on the bench and in the dressing room,” Stoll added. “Sometimes, maybe I’m a little over the top. I just like to make sure guys are into it. There’s a lot of communication that has to go on after a shift. What I was thinking, what he was thinking, where I was, where he was. If you’re not talking and not communicating, there’s missed coverages and usually a scoring chance or a goal.”

Head coach Alain Vigneault recently pointed to Stoll’s proficiency at guiding teammates. It’s a big reason why the Rangers opted to sign the two-time Stanley Cup winner to a one-year, $800,000 contract despite his highly publicized offseason drug arrest.

“His experience and his leadership are things that we felt would help the group,” Vigneault said. “He is very vocal. Part of the homework that we had done on him was that he was a great team guy that is there to support his teammates. He does it in the locker room, he does it on the bench. Very good presence.”

Stoll was charged with felony possession of cocaine and MDMA at a Las Vegas resort pool party on April 17, six days after the Los Angeles Kings’ season ended. He later plead guilty to two reduced misdemeanor charges and successfully completed 32 hours of community service – which involved him conducting a hockey program for at-risk youths in the Las Vegas area, donating upwards of $50,000 in equipment to the program and working for the Clark County, Nevada Salvation Army.

“I know what kind of person I am, I know what kind of hockey player I am,” Stoll said during a conference call following the announcement of his Aug. 10 signing. “People around me know what kind of person I am. For the outside world to think what they think, it really doesn’t have an impact on myself or the way I play hockey. That’s not who I am. That’s not the person I was brought up to be, and anyone important in my life knows that.”

Serving as an influential teammate, Stoll has put the ugly offseason headlines in his rearview mirror. He has been every bit the ideal teammate in the dressing room, on the bench and on the ice. Center Derick Brassard remembers the difficulty of competing against Stoll during the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

“We needed his experience,” Brassard told “Two years ago when we faced them, I thought he was really hard to play against. Really good on faceoffs, really good penalty-kill guy. Now that I’ve gotten to know him as a person, he’s a great teammate and I think he’s really appreciated in our group.”

Defenseman Keith Yandle spent the bulk of his career battling Stoll and the Kings while a member of the Pacific Division-rival Arizona Coyotes. Yandle agrees that Stoll is the kind of player opponents hate lining up against.

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“When you have guys that have won championships and guys who’ve been in the league for a while like him, it’s important to have a guy like that,” Yandle told “He knows how to win. He’s a respected leader and a respected player. I played against him for a long time when he was in L.A. He’s one of those guys you don’t like to play against, but you definitely like to have him on your team. He can play all situations. He can play tough minutes, he can play on the offense, makes good plays offensively and defensively. He’s a guy that’s going to give you 110 percent every game.”

Now joined together for the same cause, Yandle has seen the benefit of Stoll’s constant communication rubbing off on teammates.

“The first game I played with him here, I noticed how much he talks on the ice and in the locker room,” Yandle said. “It really helps out young guys; it helps out older guys. There can never be enough talk. Having him helping out everyone is a good thing to have.”

Stoll possesses an analytical mind and is a quick study. That’s why he was able to grasp Vigneault’s uptempo system quickly in the preseason after having Darryl Sutter’s grinding tendencies ingrained into his mind for three-and-a-half years in Los Angeles.

“You’re just reacting because you’ve gone through it in your head — 10, 20, 30 times,” Stoll said of his pregame preparation. “These guys are a fast group. They like to fire the puck up right away and get on the forecheck. We like to swarm the puck. We’ll have four or five guys right there. Usually, the centerman is the low guy. Here, the first guy back is the low guy and we sort it out from there.”

Actually, he said his biggest adjustment came with getting used to the bustle of New York City after spending seven years in the laid-back beach environs surrounding L.A.

“Coming here, I didn’t think I’d ever drive to the game,” Stoll said. “It’s a lot of different from Los Angeles. A lot of people think L.A. is a huge city, but the whole Kings team lived in beach communities – Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. They’re both very small surf towns, very chill. Living in the city here is the complete opposite. It’s great. I’m getting used to it. I think I’ll drive most of the time.”

“I need to make sure I’m awake in the morning when I get out of my condo, or I’ll get run over,” Stoll added.

Stoll was an integral part of a group that made history when the 2012 Kings ended a 43-year championship drought by capturing their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. He’s excited by his new challenge — the chance to replicate the memories of 1994.

“Putting that Ranger jersey on, I just kinda look at it and think of all the history,” Stoll said. “It’s been an amazing history here. Hopefully, we can add to that. It would be great to win a Cup here. This team has great support. Very, very loyal support. It’s a sold-out building every single night and they know their hockey pretty well. I can’t even imagine what it would be like. It would just be a lot of fun. I’m just so happy to be here.”

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Follow Sean on Twitter at @HartnettHockey