GREENBURGH, N.Y. — As a young defenseman in training camps for U.S. world junior teams, Kevin Shattenkirk has skated several times at the rink in Lake Placid, the site of the historic gold-medal upset by the American squad in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
“As a USA player, you obviously know the story. We were in our teens when ‘Miracle’ [the movie] came out,” the New Rochelle native said Sunday before the Blueshirts headed to the upstate village for a few days of practice and team-building activities. “It still kind of has that mystique to it. We stay at the training center, there’s a lot of history there.”
Shattenkirk, who signed a four-year deal with the Rangers as a free agent this summer, played seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues, whose coach at the time (Ken Hitchcock, who is now coaching the Dallas Stars) also planned annual outings for a break from the grind of camp: to Charleston, Palm Springs, Ann Arbor. “Any place that had a rink. It’s just a chance to get away, go golfing, get some team dinners,” he said.
Not only will Lake Placid rekindle some memories, Shattenkirk will have an away-from-the-game opportunity to get to be around his new teammates. “I’m looking forward to it probably the most,” he said. “We’re all kind of scattered here with our families between the city and Westchester County. For me, it’s a chance to talk to them, just let loose and have some fun.”
Replacing alternate captains
Another topic on the agenda in Lake Placid will be discussing how to replace two of the four alternate captains. Derek Stepan was traded to Arizona, and Dan Girardi was bought out. Coach Alain Vigneault has spoken with captain Ryan McDonagh several times, including on Friday. “I’m in the process of readdressing it with him again,” Vigneault said. “He gave me some good ideas. We’ll talk to the GM [Jeff Gorton] and get back to Mac, and probably have something for you on Wednesday.”
Scouting the Avalanche
Vigneault only watches some opponents’ preseason games, but with the Avalanche visiting the Garden for the home opener on Thursday, Vigneault is starting to prep. He has a video breakdown of Colorado’s last game on his laptop to evaluate Monday and Tuesday. Associate coach Scott Arniel and new assistant Lindy Ruff will review special teams; Vigneault will evaluate the Avalanche’s 5-on-5. “I watch less [games] than I do during the regular season, most of the teams are half-and-half [veterans and prospects],” he said. “I’m more focused on getting a read on our players. Exhibition [season] is really an important time for our pro scouting department. They’ve got to get a book on players, depth charts, who might be available down the road.”
The Rangers spent significant time Sunday practicing six-on-five play to simulate when a goaltender is pulled in the final minutes of a game. “We did it last year, but in a little more length today,” Vigneault said, “because we have these seven days [before Thursday’s opener]. We’re probably going to touch on it again [at practice Monday in Lake Placid.]” . . . Right wing Robin Kovacs, 20, who was selected 62nd overall in the 2015 draft, was placed on unconditional waivers for the purpose of returning to Sweden to play. Kovacs had just two goals in 72 games with Hartford last season and was an early cut in training camp. With his entry-level pact terminated, the organization is five contracts under the 50-contract maximum.