I was up at the Rangers practice facility today for another informal group workout, the last one before the center is shut down for the next three days due to the Labor Day Weekend holiday.
Several of the players, like Aaron Voros, are contemplating heading to Randalls Island for a music festival this weekend, while some others, like Marian Gaborik, are intrigued by the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament over in Queens. Funny, no one, except for PR Director Brendan McIntyre, had any interest in checking out the Mets and Cubs at Citi Field. Can't imagine why....
Had a nice get-to-know-you chat with winger Ales Kotalik, who told me he is very much looking forward to playing and living in a big city like New York after spending his career so far in Buffalo and Edmonton.
"I really liked both Buffalo and Edmonton, the people were very nice, and I liked the cities," said Kotalik. "New York is much bigger, and I am looking forward to it as a great life experience."
Kotalik looks to be in tremendous physical condition; and he told me he is not worried about John Tortorella's expected grueling training camp. He also said that playing for Tortorella should not be too dissimilar from playing for Lindy Ruff, his coach in Buffalo, because Ruff was quite the intense leader, as well.
On a side note, the hard-shooting winger became a big fan of American Football while playing in Buffalo; and he says he will remain a Bills fan, with no plans to switch allegiances to either the Jets or the Giants now that he is in NYC.
"It was amazing how that city shut down at 1:00 every Sunday! The city would be completely dead. They really love the Bills up in Buffalo!"
I'll have a feature on Ales Kotalik up on the Rangers official web site by Monday.
A couple of other quick hits with the Rangers:
*Henrik Lundqvist arrives in town this weekend, but likely will not meet the media until next Thursday due to several obligations he has in representing the league early next week.
*John Tortorella is off to watch the youngsters take part in the Prospects Tournament in Traverse City. He will hold a pre-training camp media briefing late next week, with camp set to open on Saturday the 12th.
*Aaron Voros is champing at the bit to win a spot on the team. He has remained in New York virtually all summer, working out at the training facility, and said "I'm probably in the best shape of my life".
* Defenseman Corey Potter is impressed with the talented group of young defensemen---like Matt Gilroy, Bobby Sanguinetti, Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh---the Rangers organization has assembled. He, of course, will be battling those players as well as several others like veteran invite Kyle McLaren for one of the top seven spots in camp. The 25 year-old Potter told me that he gained "extra confidence" from his five-game exposure at the NHL level a year ago.
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