GREENBURGH, N.Y. – On the first day of the New York Rangers training camp, coach John Tortorella took a different approach with his team.
“It was good, good at first. It tailed, to be expected,” Tortorella said following a two-hour practice at the team’s facility in Greenburgh.
“(Sunday) started off really well, but tailed pretty quickly. But that’s to be expected.
“We don’t want to injure (them). If we did the amount of work we did in a regular camp in our first day, today, we wouldn’t be able to play. I’m relying on the players, the leadership group, each day to let me know how they feel. It’s a different dynamic this year so I have a tremendous amount of trust in our team so I’m relying on them to let me know how they feel.”
Teams will play 48 games in fewer than 100 days because of the lockout.
A group of Rangers rented the ice at the team’s practice facility over the course of the lockout to prepare themselves for Tortorella’s training camp and the upcoming season.
And they believe their unity will pay off.
“We’re just excited to get through this week, get some work in and get (the season) started,” defenceman Dan Girardi said. “It’s pretty big (that the Rangers skated together during the lockout). Talking to most guys, some teams maybe only had a handful of guys (skating).
“For us to average eight to 10, sometimes 12 guys pretty much the whole lockout is pretty good. Stay familiar with all the guys and they all work out together is pretty good.”
Other Rangers, such as Rick Nash, Michael Del Zotto, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh and Carl Hagelin opted to play overseas while backup goaltender Martin Biron skated with a group of Buffalo Sabres near his home in Buffalo.
Girardi noted that “tons of guys” worked out in Phoenix “obviously because of the nice weather.”
Tortorella said the players’ sojourn to Europe “a double-edged sword.”
“I like (the players) under my thumb and how we play. I think sometimes when these players go over there; it’s a different situation for them. I just get concerned about bad habits. You’re always worried about injuries. We came away OK,” Tortorella said.
“But as far as the amount of skating they got, I look at (Del Zotto). I was talking to him the other day and I know he did a lot of conditioning with some triple days over there, as far as what he had to do. I think that’s helped him. To get into some sort of game shape that helps. But there’s also some other things you hope they don’t pick up.”
NOTES: Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy signed contracts with the Rangers prior to the start of Sunday’s practice session. The team did not disclose terms of the deals. “Just getting that (done) and playing hockey is the biggest thing,” Del Zotto said. “It worked out well.” … Brad Richards missed the first day of camp with the flu. … Nash has already made an impression on his new teammates. “We’re really excited to have him on our team. I know how good of a player he can be, so we’re really excited just to have him in our lineup and add a little something extra,” Girardi said of the left wing who was acquired in a July trade for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round pick in the upcoming draft.