Rangers Rumors & News
This entry was posted on Friday, January 26th, 2007 at 7:55 am and is filed under Hockey, Rangers Rumors & News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Rumblings of a major personnel shakeup have been swirling around the New York Rangers since the New Year. With the team limping into the All-Star break, it seems that changes are finally on their way. On Wednesday, the club placed veteran defenseman Darius Kasparaitis on waivers with the aim of demoting Kaspar to the AHL affiliate Hartford Wolfpack and promoting defensive prospect Dan Girardi. Though Girardi was selected to play in the AHL All-Star game, he’ll be suiting up for the Rangers on Saturday instead.

One could forgive Kasparaitis if he doesn’t feel he’s getting a fair deal here. Unbeknownst to many fans at the time, the hard-hitting defenseman played in the 2006 playoffs despite tears to his shoulder and groin. Both injuries required surgery in the offseason, and as a result, Kasparaitis reported to training camp in sub-par physical condition. The defenseman was stripped of his alternate captain’s ‘A’ by head coach Tom Renney, and in November submitted to a conditioning-stint in Hartford. Upon his return to the lineup, he struggled to keep up at the NHL level, and recently was a healthy scratch in the Rangers’ last three games.

In past seasons, Kasparaitis’s offseason preparation and conditioning were so superior, Rangers brass had encouraged their younger prospects to train with the veteran and learn from his work ethic. Kaspar has also frequently been praised by coaches and players alike for being a great teammate, and a jovial, positive influence in the locker room. Given all of the above, it could be argued that the Rangers have been less than loyal. However, there is also the argument that if not for the teams’ loyalty, Kasparaitis would have been waived in September.

If the season were to end today, the Rangers would miss the playoffs. The team is 9th in the Eastern Conference, and trail the division-leading Devils by 13 points.

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