SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Jarret Stoll has been around the NHL long enough to know players often find themselves playing against their former teams during the course of long careers.
But he acknowledged his situation this week is unusual even by pro hockey standards.
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On Monday, the Rangers waived him. On Tuesday, the Wild claimed him.
On Thursday morning, he skated here with the home team in preparation for Thursday night’s Rangers-Wild game.
“I should have come on the plane with you guys,” he said, jokingly, to a group of New York-area reporters.
Stoll said the strange thing about his situation is “how quick it is . . . This close, first game, within three days, or two days, of being on the New York Rangers, that’s going to be a little weird and a little different.
“I think but once the game starts, we all think the same way: We’re competitive. We want to win and you try to play your game and help the team win.”
Stoll, 33, had a brief, disappointing stay with the Rangers after signing as a free agent over the summer, totaling one goal and two assists in 29 games while struggling to adjust to playing on the wing rather than at center.
Did he see the move coming? “Not really,” he said. “It was a little bit of a shock, but I understand we weren’t playing that good of a hockey over there so maybe a shakeup was needed or whatever the mindset was.”
Stoll said he was not told when he signed that he might be asked to play wing.
“It was tough for me,” he said. “I wish I would have adjusted quicker or better in order to play better on the wing. It just didn’t happen.”
Stoll said he got the news Monday shortly after he woke up in his Manhattan condominium, then texted teammates with whom he usually carpools to practice and wrote, “Boys, I’m not coming in today.”
Did he fret over whether he would be claimed at all?
“Yeah, I think that’s normal,” he said. “I think if people said they didn’t do that they’d be lying. Yeah, you think of a lot of things. You kind of move your whole life to one city and your furniture and you’re leasing your condo, then obviously the hockey side of it. Yeah, a lot of things go through your mind.”
(Stoll is the longtime boyfriend of Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews.)
But Stoll had only good things to say about how he was treated with the Rangers.
“It was great,” he said. “I loved it. Everybody in the organization was first class, just the way you’re treated on and off the ice. Every aspect of being there, you get treated first class. The guys were great, the trainers were great, coaches. It was a fun couple of months, for sure.
“It worked out the way it worked out and I’m here and just looking forward to playing for the Minnesota Wild.”
Stoll said he had been studying video of his new team since being claimed. While he admitted a victory Thursday night would be nice, he said he would not try to overdo it to prove his old team wrong.
“You just try to mentally prepare yourself to just play, play your style, play your role, and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “I don’t want to show anybody up or whatever, so to speak, just play my game, help the team win. But I wouldn’t mind getting a win tonight.”
Stoll said the Wild’s system is not all that different from what he has seen in the past, including during his two-time Stanley Cup-winning stint with the Kings.
“It’s great,” he said of being with the Wild. “I’m from Saskatchewan, so a lot closer to home, good young team, one definitely going in the right direction, for sure.”
Wild coach Mike Yeo said he was unconcerned about a veteran such as Stoll picking things up and urged him not to go onto the ice thinking too much about the system and players.
Yeo said Stoll is what the team needed, a right-handed shot who is skilled at winning faceoffs and killing penalties. “And the fact that he’s won a couple of Cups,” Yeo added, “obviously is a nice bonus for our group.”