The New York Rangers are spending some time in a magical place to get to know each other before the season kicks off on Thursday.
With over a week in between the final preseason game and Thursday’s home opener, head coach Alain Vigneault and his New York Rangers are heading to Lake Placid for some team bonding. With a bunch of new faces, getting away will do everyone some good.
The trip began Sunday and continues through Tuesday. The team will have practice Monday and then the coaches have some other things planned. That includes a special guest speaker—mountain climber Ed Viesturs—who has reached the top of Mount Everest seven times.
Skating in Lake Placid is extra special to the American-born hockey players on the team. To practice where the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team beat the mighty Russians en route to winning Olympic Gold means a lot. In some way, it may serve as an inspiration to the whole team that anything is possible when you put your mind and heart in it.
For those too young to remember, that team was comprised of all amateurs—college players—and were coached by future Rangers head coach (and hockey legend) Herb Brooks.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) October 1, 2017
“Part of coming together is knowing one another a little bit more, the respect factor a little bit more,” Vigneault told Matt Calamia from the team’s website. “Anytime you come to the rink, there’s always hockey-related activities. Here, we’re going to do some other things where we’ll be able to pick up [on] who’s got leadership qualities, who are the guys that go around [together] and like being around [each other]. It’ll give us another opportunity to get a read on our team outside of the hockey area.”
Veteran goalie Henrik Lundqvist is among those excited about the getaway. “There’s a lot of guys here I haven’t spent a lot of time with. We’ve been on different teams. It’s just the last couple days here we’ve just been one group at the practice rink. To go away and sit down and talk to one another and get to know – especially the new guys – it’s very important.”
Newly acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk shared Lundqvist’s sentiment about getting to know the guys are the team. “I think I’m looking forward to it the most for that reason. Just to get away. We’re all kind of scattered here with our families and guys being in the city and Westchester. For me, it’s a chance to be with these guys for a few more days and really just get to talk to them and get to know everyone and just let loose and have some fun, which is going to be the best part.”
The trip should serve as a reminder that with good leaders, hard work and unselfish play, anything is possible. And who knows, maybe some of that Team USA magic will rub off on the team while they’re upstate—leading to their own “Miracle On Ice” in June 2018.