Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.
Re-post: After Europe, Bell eyes NY roster spot
GREENBURGH, N.Y.---While playing for EHC Biel in the Swiss League last season, defenseman Brendan Bell had time to re-assess his career. The Ottawa native, who had played 101 games for the Leafs, Coyotes and Senators and more in the minors, re-discovered an appreciation for the NHL.
“I enjoyed Europe, it re-ignited my passion for the game and I spent the summer doing what I thought I had to do to get back to being here,” Bell said yesterday after an informal practice with the Rangers. “One thing about being over there, you’re by yourself a lot, so you’ve got a lot of time to think. I spent a lot of that time reflecting and taking a look at my game and what I need to do that I can change.”
On Aug. 9, the 28-year-old free agent signed a one-year deal and is expected to begin the season in the AHL with the Connecticut Whale. But Bell is happy to have a shot at the big club. “I’m not going to be given anything, but if I can earn my spot, that’s all I can ask for,” Bell acknowledged.
A shortened camp, with the team leaving for four exhibition games in Europe on Sept. 26, “may be a disadvantage,” Bell said. “But I’ve got the mindset that I want to impress everyday with something, whether it’s on the ice play or leadership in the room. This is a young group, especially on the back end. Right now I’m the oldest guy here on the blueline.”
The Rangers have several young defenseman vying for one or two open spots: Michael Del Zotto, Tim Erixon, Pavel Valentenko and Tomas Kundratek. Some could be mid-season injury callups, as could Bell, who is 6-1, 205 and has shown he can contribute offensively in the AHL. In 2009-10, he had 10 goals and 35 points in 49 games with Syracuse. Defensively, there were questions: He was a minus-18.
Besides providing some perspective, Bell said playing on the larger ice surface in Europe was a worthwhile experience. “You learn to be a little more patient in your end; it’s a lot of keeping guys to the outside---maybe not as physical as here---but I think it helped my game,” he said. “You skate a lot more and you’ve got to be a little more careful about not getting out of position.”
Tags: Brendan Bell