GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- There's always a sense of uncertainty in NHL locker rooms as the trade deadline approaches. Players in the final seasons of their contracts frequently check in with their agents. Some ask writers if they've heard anything new in the rumor mill.
But most of the time, players try to block the distractions of the possibility of being sent to another club, or of dealing with teammates rumored to be on the block.
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Although the first full-squad, post-Olympics practice for the Rangers isn't until Wednesday -- and the trade deadline is March 5 -- the feeling of uneasiness at the Blueshirts' practice complex cannot be ignored.
Captain Ryan Callahan, who is at an impasse with the front office on the term and dollars of a new contract and could be moved, appears tenser than usual. Defenseman Dan Girardi, in the same spot, hasn't spoken to the media since practices began on Thursday. The two, who have been Blueshirts their entire careers, know that a crossroads is approaching.
"As soon as we get by it, the quicker the better for us in the room, and hopefully [Callahan] stays, him and 'G,' " Marc Staal said. "We've been playing great the last month. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way. I think everyone knows how important those two guys are to our team, you don't have to profess that to the front office or the coaches. It comes down to the individual. It's tough for teammates to tell someone what to do, because you don't know exactly what they're going through."
Callahan, who will practice for the first time Wednesday after returning from Sochi, Russia, where the U.S. team went medal-less, said that his mindset coming back "is doing what I can to help the team win, same as when I left. This is where I want to be and I can only control what I can control, and that mainly is what I do on the ice. That's not going to change."
Notes & quotes: After practice, the Rangers recalled J.T. Miller from Hartford. The center/winger has 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in 18 games after being reassigned on Jan. 11 . . . Backup goalie Cam Talbot will start against Chicago, although Henrik Lundqvist said he is ready to play, and presumably will play both games against Eastern foes this weekend, in Philadelphia Saturday and at home Sunday against Boston . . . Staal, who skated for the first time since Thursday when his back seized up, hopes to play Thursday after a full-tempo practice Wednesday.
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