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Drury buyout shows Rangers committed to youth

Thursday, 06.30.2011 / 2:34 PM / NHL Insider

By Emily Kaplan - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Drury buyout shows Rangers committed to youth
Drury buyout signals youth movement has gained traction in N.Y.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- A reporter began asking Rangers coach John Tortorella if he's hopeful that Chris Drury's leadership skills rubbed off on some of the team's younger players during Drury's tenure in New York.

Tortorella didn't let the reporter finish his sentence.

"I'm not hopeful, I know it did." Tortorella said. "And that's why it's a hard one. It's not an easy thing for us just as it isn't for Dru. Dru gave everything he possibly could give to this organization."

Tortorella addressed the media Thursday afternoon, commenting on a myriad of topics including New York's recent buyout of Drury, and the team's philosophy entering free agency, which begins Friday.

Tortorella, speaking at the MSG Training Facility during the team's annual prospect development camp, spent the first half of the press conference discussing New York's decision to buyout Drury, the Rangers' captain for the past three seasons.

"I know [General Manager Glen Sather] and the whole organization feels OK, there's the kids, there's our foundation, now let's go see where we can add and try to get better. And there may be a situation where, well, that didn't work. Let's not add for the sake of adding. Stay with it. That's a key come July 1 because it turns in to such a frenzy that you get a little crazy. If it isn't what we need and it isn't the right piece for us right now, we have to stay pat and continue to develop." -- John Tortorella

"Dru is Dru," Tortorella said. "I love the guy. But you still have to make decisions that you think are best for your hockey club."

On July 1, 2007, Drury signed a five-year, $35.25 million contract with the Rangers -- which would have run through next season.

The 34-year-old Drury missed 58 games in the 2010-11 campaign because of finger and  knee injuries. He finished the season with just 1 goal and 4 assists.

On Wednesday, the Rangers bought out the final year of Drury's contract, meaning the team will save $3.3 million against the salary cap next season.

Tortorella said it was hard to part with the 34-year-old center, but it was what the team needed to do to stick to its philosophy of infusing youth into the club and developing the current assets.

"That's just the way this works here," Tortorella said. "When you're looking to go in a direction, we're trying to stay with the plan here, as Dru has gone along here, we felt this was a decision we needed to make for our club."

Drury's salary reduction will help free cap space for the Rangers -- notorious high spenders -- in the free-agency period, which begins Friday at noon.

Brad Richards, who is considered the cream of the crop in this year's thinning free-agent market, is believed to be on the Rangers radar.

However Tortorella did not comment on Richards -- or even mention his name in the 15-minute press conference -- as he said those types of decisions are left to the front office.

"I have no idea what's going to happen," Tortorella said. "Come to July 1, it's such a frenzy, you never know what's going to happen."

The coach reiterated New York's commitment to its youth, with young stars such as Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi mainstays in the Rangers lineup.

Tortorella said he hopes the Rangers' youth-first philosophy will be the theme of any discussion regarding free agency.

"I know [General Manager Glen Sather] and the whole organization feels OK, there's the kids, there's our foundation, now let's go see where we can add and try to get better," Tortorella said. "And there may be a situation where, well, that didn't work. Let's not add for the sake of adding. Stay with it. That's a key come July 1 because it turns in to such a frenzy that you get a little crazy."

He added: "If it isn't what we need and it isn't the right piece for us right now, we have to stay pat and continue to develop."

Quote of the Day

It's such a privilege to be one of these 80 great players to do this milestone, and it doesn't get better than this doing it where I started. It means a lot to me. A big thanks goes to all the players tonight who helped me to achieve that and also all the players through my career.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa after scoring his 1,000th career point on Thursday night in Ottawa
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