Corey Locke, like the rest of the Hartford players, was steamed and down last night. The team is in a playoff fight and had just lost a tough game in Portland, Me. Then his coach came in and told him he had been called up by the Rangers. "That kind of put me in a better mood," he said after practice in Greenburgh.

              Locke is a smallish forward who can score and make plays. The way Rangers coach John Tortorella sees it, if he makes one big play against the Islanders tomorrow, it will be worth having him here. The coach said the instructions to the newcomer, plunged into the tension of a playoff race, will be simple: "Just play." Tortorella will give him a basic framework of how the Rangers play, then will be set loose to use his creativity.

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               P.A. Parenteau, who played much of the season in Hartford with Locke, said Locke has the skills to contribute at any level of hockey. "Theonly thing I can tell him," Parenteau said, "is do what you do, but do everything a little quicker. The main thing with the AHL and NHL is, it’s the same game it’s just that everything is a little quicker."

       Locke played one career game for the Canadiens, in Montreal against the Blackhawks, and called the exprience "amazing," adding that it made him that much hungrier to get back.