WINNIPEG -- One of the gone-but-not-forgotten faces at WTS Centre certainly was familiar to any Rangers fan of a certain generation: "The Chief," Jim Neilson, who guarded the blue line on Broadway for 12 years between 1962 and 1974.
Neilson was a guest of Rangers general manager Glen Sather and was escorted by former teammate and broadcaster Pete Stemkowski, who was born here.
Neilson, 69, who also played for the California Golden Seals and the Cleveland Barons, finished his career for Sather's Oilers in 1978-79 as a teammate of 18-year-old Wayne Gretzky and has been living in Winnipeg for 20 years.
"Whenever Slats would come to town after that, he'd bring some sticks for my boy and I'd catch him at the hotel and maybe have a beer," Neilson said Monday while watching warm-ups.
Paired primarily with Rod Seiling, Neilson -- whose mother was a member of the Cree tribe -- played 810 games for the Rangers. His career was shortened by two serious knee injuries. The one in 1970 forced him to wear a metal brace designed by Dr. James A. Nicholas, known for operating on Joe Namath's troubled knee, and he wore the same brace for a while before discarding it as too stiff.
Rupp's achy kneeVeteran Mike Rupp, who played just one shift in the third period against Edmonton and has been limited in practice because of what coach John Tortorella described as a "cranky" knee, wore blue Rangers tights under his game shorts for the morning skate. "Got a little Reggie Dunlop going on here today,'' said Rupp, referencing Paul Newman's con man/coach in "Slap Shot." Rupp confirmed that his knee has been flaring up some days but is not a serious problem. "Just rest and treatment," he said. "It feels all right today. I hope it stays that way after the game.''
ScratchedAfter playing five of six games, C Erik Christensen was a healthy scratch . . . D Brendan Bell, who made his Rangers debut against Edmonton and committed a mid-ice turnover that led to a goal, also was scratched. D Michael Sauer (shoulder) missed his fifth consecutive game but is expected to be ready for the home opener against the Maple Leafs on Thursday.