Henrik Lundqvist says he will put contract issue on hold if it becomes a distraction
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Goaltending, Henrik Lundqvist says, "is about adjusting to the game." But during this training camp, with the regular season three weeks away, the perennial Vezina Trophy finalist is dealing with a few issues off the ice.
His team has a different head coach. Negotiations on a long-term contract extension are ongoing. And NHL-mandated shorter pads could take some getting used to.
The 31-year-old Swede appears to have come to terms with the equipment and the coaching switch. But the contract issue might take a little longer to work out, and he warned Thursday that if it becomes even a minor distraction during the season, he will ask that the talks be put on hold.
"I know they're talking," Lundqvist said after Day 2 of camp. "All I can say is when the season starts, I want 100 percent to be focused on my game and what I need to do on the ice. And if I feel it's the slightest percentage of me thinking about my future and contract, we're not going to talk about the contract during the season."
Lundqvist, in the final season of a six-year, $41.2-million deal -- a pact that could double in dollars given his past performance and the market -- has said he wants to stay in New York, and the Rangers need to lock up their perennial MVP.
The front office is in a contract standoff with one of its valuable offensive weapons, 2012-13 leading scorer Derek Stepan, who has missed the first two days of camp. According to president and general manager Glen Sather, who has offered Stepan a two-year contract, the sides are far apart on dollars.
Lundqvist said that under coach Alain Vigneault, "it feels like a fresh start; it's a different approach. I remember when [John Tortorella], the first day he walked in here, it was like the whole room just changed. It was a cool feeling. Having Torts just changed the whole atmosphere. I enjoyed it. It was a new challenge for me as a hockey player and I'm sure that's going to be the same case now . . . Sometimes change is a good thing."
Notes & quotes: Swedish center Oscar Lindberg, who had five goals and seven points in the Traverse City prospects tournament, "caught our guys' attention as to how he played and how he competed at both ends of the rink," Vigneault said. "In training camp, you need surprises. We need some surprises. We're like any other team. We need to have guys push, and that's what I'm expecting." . . . Goalie Martin Biron, who missed both days with a personal matter, was expected to rejoin the team Thursday night, Vigneault said. Former Devils backup goalie Johan Hedberg remained in camp on a tryout . . . J.T. Miller left the conditioning session with a "tweaked" hamstring, Vigneault said.
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