LOS ANGELES - The Rangers are enjoying 70-degree temperatures and an invigorating hot streak, including a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.
But Anthony Duclair was in a garage in frosty Quebec on Thursday, having snow tires put on his car.
"Hadn't been used in a while," the promising 19-year-old winger nicknamed "The Duke" during his 18-game rookie stint with the Rangers said in a phone interview. "And I'll be needing it."
After winning the gold medal with Team Canada in the prestigious World Junior Championships, Duclair -- the Rangers' top offensive prospect -- was reassigned to his former club, the Quebec Remparts, to get more ice time, build strength and continue developing into a pro.
So for Duclair, it is back to bus rides and school four days a week. He'll play his first Remparts game this season against the Sherbrooke Phoenix at home on Friday night.
But Duclair, who is from Montreal -- which was a co-host of the tournament in which he scored four goals and eight points -- is far from unhappy.
"That whole tournament has made me a better player," Duclair told Newsday. "At the gold-medal game [in which Canada held on to beat Russia, 5-4], the atmosphere was unbelievable. You couldn't hear yourself speaking. It was the most pressure I've ever experienced.
"At the same time, sure, I'm a little disappointed not to be coming back to New York. I mean, it was a childhood dream for me to play in the NHL. At the same time, I'm very motivated. I want to be a leader in Quebec and try to win the Memorial Cup."
Marc Staal, who won gold in the tournament in 2006 and 2007 with Canada, was in a similar situation.
"You stay longer [in New York] than you think you would," Staal said. "You go back to junior with a lot of confidence, and you use that going forward. You come to training camp and try to make a statement. When I got sent back, you're proud of the way you played up to that point. No regrets."
Having watched the tournament from afar, Ryan McDonagh said Duclair's game benefited from his NHL time.
"He got a taste of the experience, and any amount is a huge advantage," McDonagh said. "You could tell he had a little more strength and speed than before. He led the tourney in plus-minus, so obviously he'd taken note of how we play defensively, had more defensive awareness, anticipating what he needed to do."
Duclair, who scored 50 goals for Quebec last season, agreed with that assessment. "Having Alain [Vigneault] as a coach and with advice from the veterans, you definitely learn to play in all three zones," he said.
Asked about Rangers training camp next season, Duclair simply said he hopes to be there.
"Listen, he's still young," Martin St. Louis said. "Having the opportunity to go through all this makes more well-rounded players. You can't duplicate it. He may be a little disappointed, but I think everybody knows he's going to be back here."