GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Chris Kreider was wearing No. 19, as he did when he broke a 59-year-old NHL record last spring for scoring the most playoff goals (five) before playing in a regular-season game. Sunday, however, Kreider, 21, wasn't in Rangers blue, but Connecticut Whale green.
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Instead of the Broadway spotlight, the Boxford, Mass., native will start October busing to cities such as Albany, Providence and Springfield.
Kreider, who said his mindset or preparation hasn't changed, doesn't see his situation as disappointing. "I don't look at it like that," he said after a scrimmage with his new teammates. "It's still a huge jump up from where I played most of last year. I have to be ready and mentally focused . . . I'm still a rookie and there's a ton to be learned. It's my first pro camp."
During the summer, Kreider played twice a week in a Boston-area league and attended some informal workouts with the Rangers who are living in the New York area. "It was a little strange at first, seeing guys try to make plans [to play elsewhere] and the season's right around the corner," Kreider said. "But this is the group I'm with now and I'm looking forward to it."
While the shadow of the lockout looms, Kreider will play through. "It's not something I'm going to purge from my mind," he said. "It's something I actually kind of enjoyed learning more about. It's something that interests me but it's not something I'm hanging on to. I'm here to play and I'm here to get better."
Kreider, who skated on the left of Micheal Haley and Christian Thomas in the scrimmage, said he "worked harder this summer in anticipation of my first camp, my first game," knowing that management's eyes will be on him.
"We want to see continued improvement in all areas," Rangers assistant general manager Jim Schoenfeld said. "Some guys make the mistake of underestimating the AHL; it's a hard league. He's shown he's conscientious and works hard and it should help him develop his skills."