1. Did a brief training camp preview in Friday’s Newsday. Here’s a link. bit.ly/lgkmZw Torts, in fairly good mood, confirmed today that 30-32 players would make the trip to Europe on Sept. 26 for the preseason games.
2. The Rangers will wear a sticker on their helmets to commemorate the death of Derek Boogaard, and revive last season’s dark blue heritage uniforms for some home games, probably against Original Six teams, but without the 85th anniversary patch. “He (Boogaard) was a big presence,” said Brandon Prust, the tough, smaller winger with more speed and talent (13 goals and 29 points last year) who is just as willing to drop the gloves. “I’m always thinking of Derek. He was my roommate on the road before he got hurt, a good friend of mine. I hope he’s out there with me every game.” More in Saturday Newsday.
3. Michael Sauer missed the on-ice fitness testing today to rest his right knee, which has tendonitis. Not serious, but “some concern,” said Torts. Unclear whether he will skate tomorrow. Marian Gaborik, who was en route from Slovakia, will do the tests at some point, Torts said. So will Artem Anisimov, who went for an MRI after a knee issue arose in the physical, but the scan was negative.
4. Threw out the first query in what Torts conceded would be a hot topic: The type of left wing that could fit with the Gaborik-Richards duo. Natch, Torts wants to experiment.
Said Richards: “I’ve had some big left wingers in the past, up-and-down left wingers that shoot the puck well and that’s worked. It might work the same on the right wing. Sometimes, for whatever reason, sometimes it just happens. I’m happy Gabby’s a right winger, left shot. I’ve played with a lot of players like that on my right side. … We’ve got that going for us and I feel comfortable with that. After that, you never know.”
5. Wojtek Wolski will have a huge opportunity to win that spot. He believes he’s a Top Six winger and changed things this summer. “I kind of tossed everything in the garbage and started over and started working out with Gary Roberts, players like Stamkos, Skinner, James Neal, Stephen Weiss, Downie; worked once a week from the end of May to the end of August with Barbara Underhill. It was recommended, but pretty much mandatory.” Torts said he doesn’t want to hear “rhetoric”, must show it on the ice. With a $3.8 million salary, Wolski needs to. As we’vee written, the other likely candidates are Brandon Dubinsky, Derek Stepan and Ruslan Fedotenko. “I’m just competing for a spot,” said Stepan. At center or wing? “That’s a good question, I was comfortable on the wing last year, and if that’s where I’ve gotta be….”
6. Tim Erixon, Dubinsky and Sean Avery seemed to have little trouble with the six runs of three laps each. Maybe it was because Erixon was lighter. In Traverse City, where he played heavy minutes 5 on 5 and on the power play in four games in five days, “I lost a little weight….I really liked being a big part of the team.” Ryan Callahan, asked if being the new captain added any pressure to prove that he could whip through the testing without being doubled-over, said: “I think I was doubled-over.” More tests tomorrow, then scrimmages Sunday. Stay tuned here and at twitter.com/stevezipay
7. Torts is anxious to see Michael Del Zotto in next couple weeks. "Looks like he's in great shape. He has to have a swagger. I think he's going to have a very good camp."
Bonus Track: Today's LP on the dusted-off turntable at home: Brian Eno's "Before and After Science". Long time, no hear. Didja know that "King's Lead Hat" is jumbled-letters of Talking Heads? Now ya do.