Escaped the heat and humidity for a couple hours in one of the cooler sports north of Manhattan today: The Rangers practice rink in Westchester, where Michael Sauer and Derek Stepan were reffing a youth camp and on the morning after signing a $16.8-million contract, Brandon Dubinsky was back at a familiar spot: The workout room.
I joked with him that he would have to start reading the Wall Street Journal, then asked about any ill effects from a Manhattan night on the town.
“Had a lot of good plans and intentions, but the thing that was most exciting was my pillow,” said Dubinsky.
After some stressful negotiations in Canada to avoid an arbitration hearing with the 11th-hour, four-year deal Thursday morning, the day went downhill.
“As much as I didn’t want to be in Toronto, everything in the day goes perfectly,” Dubinsky said. “I get a great deal I want to get done; I get a flight upgrade to first class for free. After a great sushi lunch with my agent, maybe have a glass of champagne or two, we taxi out and all of a sudden, come back, mechanical problems. By the time we get a new plane, the pilots are over their hours, we have to wait; then, the flight attendants are over their hours. We get out at 9:30 p.m. for a 5:15 flight. Derek Stepan was waiting at my apartment. He says, ‘So you want to go hang out?’ I said, ‘Dude, I can’t do it, I’m exhausted’ after the last couple days.”
After all, the deal wasn't finalized until 10:30 a.m. after an overnight negotiating session.
Dubinsky, 25, didn’t lose hope in the talks. “We knew something was going to get done…talking with management, even through the tough times of the negotiations, both of us expressed that I wanted to be here awhile, they wanted me here awhile.”
The Rangers also wanted---and landed---free-agent center Brad Richards to skate with Marian Gaborik, and Dubinsky is a candidate to play on the left side. “I think I’ll get there at some point,” he said. “I think I’ll play with 12 different guys this year, that’s how it is here; things go well for awhile, but it’s very rarely that one line stays together. I’m sure I’ll get an opportunity. But with Cally and Artie, we have a pretty good combination, so if there’s somebody who can jump in and play with those other two guys and contribute, why not? It’ll make us deeper and make us stronger.”
Wherever he plays, Dubinsky knows he has to be more consistent. “I’m trying to work on my shooting, getting the release quicker,” he said. “If I do that, I think I can score more goals with the positions I put myself in.”
Here's some more excerpts from our conversation:
"Really excited, obviously relieved. Now that it’s over, really happy right now to be a part of the team for a while now. I said it right from the get go, this is always where I wanted to be and play and through talking with the management, even through the tough times of the negotiations, I think both of us just expressed that I wanted to be here awhile, they wanted me here a while, so, happy we were able to get it done and just focus on my training."
On Mike Rupp: "I was a little surprised to see him sign, but I'm excited. He’s one of those tough guys to play against and from everything we’ve heard, he’s a great team guy, and he’s just going to fit in with the way the Rangers play, hard and straightforward. And he can’t score any more hat tricks against us, that's nice."
On Richards: "With Richie, you know exactly what you get. One of the best centermen in the league and a guy that can come and help our power play which has struggled at times, somebody who can make plays that we haven’t had guys be able to do in the last few years. I think hopefully him and Gabby figure it out and make one of the most lethal combinations in the league."
On responsibility: "There’s a lot of weight that comes with the contract I just signed, a lot of expectations that come with it, I think I’m ready to play up to expectations, I think I’m improving, and I'm looking to build off success."
On Callahan: "We know each other; If I dump the puck in he’s going to go get it, if he dumps the puck in, he knows I’m gonna go get it. There’s no question of where the other guy’s going to be. We’re battling together, I don’t think either of us is one of the elite talents in the league, I hope he doesn't get mad at me that I said that, but if we work hard, the talent we have comes out."