Roll the tape back to last November 28, to the final minutes of an 8-3 thrashing of the Rangers at the hands of the Penguins. Sean Avery dropped his gloves and grabbed Ruslan Fedotenko from behind, triggering a wrestling match that earned Avery 17 minutes in penalties.
"I didn't even have a chance to bump him, or anything like that, during the game, so whatever happened, I have no clue," Fedotenko said at the time. “He kind of jumped me from behind. ... I wish he'd given me a heads-up, but that's his kind of game."
Today, with Avery on the ice at pre-training camp workouts, where Fedotenko is trying out for a roster spot, and also across the locker room, the 31 year old Ukranian, said he held no grudge. “Whatever happens on the ice, I put it behind me,” he said. “I have a little history with him….He’s an effective player that way, that’s his game. He’s a teammate right now….”
How long that will last, who knows?
The Rangers have numerous of left wings, including Alexander Frolov, Brandon Dubinsky, Vinny Prospal (who can also play center), Brandon Prust, prospect Evgeny Grachev, Avery and free agent Fedotenko, who played for coach John Tortorella for four seasons in Tampa and won a Stanley Cup.
“I feel like there’s a lot of free agents still waiting,” he said. “I got an invitation from the Rangers and I don’t want to sit at home and wait; I want to play in some exhibition games and show what I can bring to the team. Four, five teams seemed interested, but not ready to make a decision, so….I know what he demands, I know what to expect. I think if you play well, you play and if you’re not playing well, you’re not going to play, that’s what I learned from him before. I’m assuming he’s still probably the same way. I briefly spoke with him, he said it’s an opportunity to show what I can do…The bottom line, if I deserve to be on the squad, I will be there. It’s up to me.”
Fedotenko, who has been working out the last five weeks in Montreal, said if he could not hook up with the Rangers or another club for his 10th NHL season, Russia or Europe is a potential destination.
“I feel like I’m in my prime, there's still a lot of games left in me; I want to win another Cup. Europe and Russia will still be there in another year. If nothing happens here or around the league, I will still play hockey, I’m not ready to hang it up…. I can be a 25-goal scorer, bring a physical game and I’ve shown I play better in the playoffs.”
Last season, with the Penguins, Fedotenko called “my downside”, with 11 goals and 30 points in 80 games. The previous season, when the Penguins won the Cup, he had 16 goals and 39 points in 65 games, and was 7-7-14 in 24 post-season games.