LOS ANGELES -- At 35, Arron Asham understands that he is in the twilight of his NHL career. But he is not ready to go quietly.
"I'm basically fighting for my life," said the right wing, who will make his season debut for the Rangers Monday night against the Kings. "I'm not getting any younger; this possibly could be my last year. I'm going to be working for a job next year, helping this team make the playoffs, and making a good run at it. I'm going to fight my butt off."
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Asham has played for six NHL teams, including the Islanders, amassing 783 regular-season and 72 playoff games with 1,046 penalty minutes. He is getting the call because coach Alain Vigneault wants his grit in the lineup.
"We're playing against one of the biggest teams in the NHL, Stanley Cup champions two years ago," Vigneault said after practice Sunday. "They roll four lines and use their size, and Arron is one of our more physical players. I knew I was going to put Arron in the lineup sooner rather than later."
Asham, who is in the final season of his contract, played only 27 games last season, in part because of lower back pain. He scored two goals in 10 playoff games before he inexplicably was benched by former coach John Tortorella.
"I came into camp knowing I was on a thin line," Asham said. "I had a decent exhibition season and created some offense, finished checks and made it hard for the coaches to send me down. I'm going in there [Monday night] to play the same way and hopefully stay in the lineup."
Vigneault, who will scratch rookie Jesper Fast, said he and Asham had a discussion before the season started in which Asham said he hoped to stick around.
"He's at the point in his career where he wants to stay in the NHL as long as he can and contribute," said Vigneault, who will pair Asham with center Dominic Moore and winger Derek Dorsett against the Kings.
"He's one of our oldest players, if not our oldest; he's fighting to stay in our lineup, and fighting to stay in the NHL. He was put on waivers and nobody picked him up. Thirty teams passed. Now he's getting an opportunity. Hopefully, he'll be able to come in and play well for us."
Asham, who believes that Vigneault will give the trio a chance, wants to make the most of it.
"Last year, I kind of got into a routine expecting to play four or five minutes [per game]. I got that kind of mentality behind me now, and looking forward to getting some good minutes," he said. "I've still got a few more games in these old legs."