Forget the fact that my limo (ahem) driver, Gross of The Record, blew a rear tire on 417 West en route to practice and we had to hitch a ride from the very generous Shannon Lee Mannion, a former Ottawa Citizen columnist turned artist/sculptress who we met at the auto repair shop. (Check out her keyboard art at slmannion.com.)
Although players such as Gaborik, Dubinsky and Rozsival skipped the optional here at Scotia Bank Place, Vinny Prospal (knee surgery) was skating in full equipment with the team for the first time and felt fine afterward. "I'm punching the clock," he said after his 35 minutes on ice, which followed a 30-minute twirl with assistant coach Mike Sullivan yesterday.
Coach John Tortorella said he expects Prospal back sometime after Christmas.
"I had different expectations after the summer. Now I think I'm really on schedule, it feels good," said Prospal. "The problem I had is not happening again." Asked about a potential return after the holidays, he said, "I guess that's possible....When we all get healthy, we should have three or four really good lines and other teams will have to focus on stopping all of them."
Chris Drury, also on the trip, will have another X-ray on Sunday, and barring any setbacks with his broken index finger, hopes to be cleared for more on-ice drills. He can pass, but is still not up to par in shooting. but he said he wants to be in playing shape so that whenever he receives the OK to dress, "I won't need two weeks of conditioning."
Matt Gilroy, stepping in for healthy scratch Michael Del Zotto, simply said. "It's tough not playing. I can't control that." He said that naturally he would be pushing hard to make the most of the opportunity. "I want to stay in the lineup, but I just have to play my game."
Sean Avery and Henrik Lundqvist were named by Forbes Magazine as among of the best-dressed pro athletes. "Was I number one?" asked Avery, who was unaware of the article. Nope, Tom Brady.
Lundqvist, who will play tonight as expected, was asked to compare his fashion sense with Avery's. He grinned and said: "I'm a little more European in my style."
What were Derek Boogaard's plans for the afternoon? "I need a cherry juice and then I'm going to bed."....Besides Del Zotto, Todd White is the other healthy scratch.