Paul Ranger has interests that extend way beyond the confines of the 85’x 200’ ice rink where he earns his keep, playing defense for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
For one, there’s travel. That wasn’t too important for the 24-year-old until some friends went off to different parts of the world. The stories and adventures they returned with peaked his interest. He’s compiled a list of locations to visit, and it is short and succinct.
“Everywhere,” Ranger said. “Honestly, there isn’t one particular place I’d like to see; there are many particular places.”
He lists every continent on the globe as a potential destination. Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, of course, and then throw-in South America as well.
“That one is not high on my priority list,” Ranger explained, “But that’s my list and I’d like to expand it.”
So with an extensive menu of destinations like that, where has he gotten to in the summer?
“Nowhere,” Ranger sadly admitted. “It’s kind of tough to travel when you have an injury you have to rehab. Unfortunately, this summer, it’s all about my shoulder.”
The second such summer in a row.
For Paul Ranger, the off-season began on March 3, when surgery for a torn shoulder labrum shut down his season after only 42 games. It would mark the second consecutive off-season that Ranger would be forced to rehab from the same injury only on the other side this time.
After surgery in early March, the Lightning defenseman began his rehabilitation in Tampa, working with Lightning Head Athletic Trainer Tom Mulligan and his assistant, Mike Poirer. In June he returned to his hometown of Whitby, Ontario, a suburb 30 miles east of Toronto, and continued his rehab program. At this point, most of the flexibility and range is back in his shoulder.
“I’m in the strength phase now,” Ranger explained. “The shoulder still has some strength to gain back.”
And then there is skating, an activity he hasn’t undertaken since he was injured in the early part of February.
“I just went on the ice today for the first time,” Ranger said. “It’s been a while. You can feel the difference when you haven’t skated in a while. My feet felt ok. I felt like my skating was decent for being the first time in six months or so.”
Beyond the conditioning, there was a fishing trip to a lake in Quebec. The weather was not ideal and neither was the fishing, but Ranger enjoyed himself anyway.
“It’s pretty much all fishing and male camaraderie, I’d guess you’d say,” Ranger explained. “We sit around the campfire at night and do some fishing during the day. We even had a shore lunch this year, where you take the fish that you caught in the morning and clean them and have a fish fry right on the beach.”
Ranger makes a conscious effort to change his routine in the off-season, when he has the chance to be more relaxed than in the heat of the NHL season.
“I’ve actually been trying to stay away from television and movies this summer,” Ranger said. “I watch a ton of movies while traveling during the season and when we have down time. I’ve got enough of that. I’m staying away from it.”
So, for Ranger, the summer has been one of working out, repairing his shoulder, some reading and spending time with some good friends he was raised with in Whitby.
Of course, rehabbing from the same injury in consecutive years has made the daily grind tougher for Ranger, as might be expected.
“It does take a lot of work, especially doing it twice,” Ranger said. “Put it this way: I’m glad it’s over with and I’m doing my best to make the shoulder as strong as possible so I never have to go through this again.”
And why would he? There are places to visit in the off-season.