GREENBURGH, N.Y. - It happened with Henrik Lundqvist and Dan Girardi.
The Rangers' No. 1 goaltender and first-pair defenseman entered last season -- the final year of their contracts -- without any agreement on an extension.
Negotiations continued as the season progressed, the players tired of the media queries about updates, and the business side of the game became a distraction. But Lundqvist signed a seven-year, $59.5-million extension last Dec. 4 and Girardi, on March 1, was retained with a six-year, $33-million pact.
Next up: Top-four defenseman Marc Staal, who is seeking a long-term deal and hopes for a quicker resolution.
"You want to avoid that type of situation," Staal, 27, a first-round draft choice of the Rangers in 2005, said Friday. "I don't think it's helpful to anyone. Hopefully we can find some common ground and move on. Right now, it's open dialogue."
Staal, who is believed to be discussing a Girardi-type contract and could command more as a free agent next summer, said the backdrop of the talks "doesn't change anything for me right now. I approach training camp in the same way. I'm excited and optimistic about the season."
There's no acrimony at this point. Staal has been sidelined by concussions and a severe eye injury in recent seasons, but the Rangers appreciate him and really have no immediate replacement for the alternate captain in their development system. And the native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, repeatedly has said he wants to remain in New York with his family.
Staal also is looking forward to a season with "a sense of normalcy . . . there's stretches where we have three or four days off. With the lockout [in 2012-13] and the Olympics [last season], we didn't have that, a normal 82-game season."
And there's some extra motivation, having come within three wins of the Stanley Cup. Said Staal, "You want to get there again and finish it off."
There are two main 22-player groups in camp and a third composed of 18 prospects, recent draftees, AHLers and invitees, and coach Alain Vigneault indicated that one of the main groups will play against the Devils on Monday and the other in Chicago on Friday.
There are four more preseason games to follow. A rookie game is scheduled for Wednesday. Some of the 63 players will be reassigned after that rookie game, with additional cuts to be made next weekend.
Injured defenseman Ryan Graves did not skate Friday and was received treatment . . . Vigneault didn't mind seeing some on-ice chippiness between defenseman Conor Allen and Derick Brassard around the net Friday. "Boys being boys," he said . . . In most cases, the forward lines mixed veterans and youngsters. Oscar Lindberg, for example, centered Marek Hrivik and Lee Stempniak; Kevin Hayes was between Mats Zuccarello and Chris Bourque; Dominic Moore centered Ryan Haggerty and Nick Tarnasky.
Dolan donates $100,000
Lundqvist joined Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan, whose band opened for The Eagles at the Garden this week, onstage Thursday along with Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, John McEnroe and Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh as part of the kazoo challenge with more than 7,400 fans. Dolan then pledged $100,000 to the ALS Association. "I'm honored to make this donation to ALS, and very proud that Eagles fans came together to make this moment happen," Dolan said in a statement. "I want to thank Carmelo, Amar'e, Henrik and John for taking the time and having so much fun with us on stage, and to the fans at the Garden on Thursday for making this such a memorable event for an important cause."
The Dolan family owns
controlling interests in the
Rangers, Madison Square
Garden and Cablevision.
Cablevision owns Newsday.