by Timmy Corbett
Dan Blackburn, the Rangers goalie slated to play in the number one position in Hartford this season, has suffered a pinched nerve in his arm. The arm was bruised in prospects camp in Calgary and has now been aggravated in a routine scrimmage. The injury appears something Blackburn can overcome, but there is currently no timetable for his return.
Also injured in the routine scrimmage, was recently resigned defenseman Brian Leetch, who re-injured the foot that kept him on the shelf for over 30 games last season. The foot has a steel plate and pins in it and should have a protective casing over it, but Leetch was trying to break in a new pair of skates and had elected not to wear any protection. Bobby Holik shot the puck from less than three feet away and was stunned at the injury.
The Rangers can not expect Ales Pisa to fill in the temporary gap in the squad’s defensive corps, he signed to play in the Russian league as reported by the New York Post. Whoever fills in may expect more of a workload when Brian returns, as he has been logging monster minutes over much of the last few years and has seemed to be running on an empty tank later in the season.
Another veteran who may see limited time, is re-signed captain Mark Messier. The “moose” has logged heavy minutes per game, which would seem not to represent his advanced age. Sather is a longtime coach and friend, if anyone can reign in the colossal pride ( and ego ) it would be Sather. Messier is a world class player, despite his years, on power play and one of the smartest players currently on the penalty kill. Despite flashes of his former self last season, his five on five play is showing he is missing a step or two.
Sather may be counting for Eric Lindros’ play to improve to fill in some of the minutes Messier will be losing, he is quoted in The Hockey News as saying Lindros is going back to a two-piece wood stick, for better puck handling and passing. The one-piece graphite sticks, are said to make your shot more powerful, but because of the spring the puck takes leaving the stick, it takes away from the finesse passing game. Early in Eric’s career he was known for such skills as people marveled how such a big man could have such soft hands, a return to that form could be a great plus for the Rangers as he has been little more than a fringe player and incapable or unwilling to go into traffic. By improving his passing, Lindros has the chance to go into traffic unchallenged and with luck remain healthy and produce high numbers again.