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Rangers alums excited for Classic contest

by Dave Lozo
NEW YORK -- Darren Turcotte had a plan for getting the 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game between the Rangers and Flyers some added publicity.

"I was hoping Dave Schultz was playing, because I was going to go after him," said Turcotte, who spent parts of six seasons with the Rangers but was never known for his fighting ability. "Just drop the gloves with Dave Schultz and you'll be on the highlight reels forever."

Alas, Schultz and his 2,294 penalty minutes in 535 career games will not be on the ice when the Flyers and Rangers get together Dec. 31 at Citizens Bank Park. He'll be serving as an off-ice ambassador, but there will be six Hockey Hall of Fame members taking part in the game, including Mike Gartner, who scored 173 goals in 342 games with the Rangers.

Gartner was traded during the 1993-94 season to the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the many deals engineered by general manager Neil Smith that brought the Rangers their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. At the age of 52, Gartner has enthusiasm for facing the Flyers but far less excitement for where he is physically a month away from the game.


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"I'm at the, 'It's late in the summer and I should start to get in shape' kind of level right now," Gartner joked before saying he's kept in shape by playing with other NHL alumni regularly while living in Toronto. "I'm actually really excited about it. It'll be the first time I'll get a chance to play with a lot of guys I played with the Rangers years ago. Playing outside will be a great experience."

He was honest with his feelings about the guys who will be wearing the orange on Dec. 31.

"I disliked them playing with all the teams I played with," Gartner said. "We always had a big rivalry with the Rangers and the Flyers. We always had a rivalry when I was with the Capitals too. I look at their lineup and I think, 'That guy whacked me, that guy hacked me, that guy punched me.' You know what? It's all the same thing. It was many, many years ago. To win the game would be the best revenge."

Ron Duguay spent parts of seven seasons with the Rangers and currently does television work for the team. He might be in the best shape of any of the players on either side, as he just wrapped up a six-games-in-eight-nights stretch while playing on a legends tour in Western Canada.

"I've got a hop in my step right now," Duguay cracked before conceding, "I'm a little tired."

That'll happen when you're playing at the age of 54 on a team that only has two forward lines.

"We're out there every other shift," Duguay said, but he's excited for playing against the Flyers. "It's just fun again because if you have enough conditioning under you, you can still play the game at a certain pace. It's the tape-to-tape passes and that relationship you have with your alumni friends."

But the most important news Rangers fans wanted to hear was confirmed by Duguay: his legendary quaffed hair will be flowing in the breeze once again.

"I don't wear a helmet," Duguay said matter-of-factly. "I still play without a helmet. I don't recommend it, but that's the way I do it." 
Whether it's with or without a bucket, all of the Ranger alumni are looking forward to taking part in the Winter Classic festivities and throwing on the red and blue jersey one more time.

"When I got the phone call, I was ecstatic," Turcotte said. "I jumped pretty quick at the opportunity. I said I'd call you back in five minutes, I just have to call my wife. There are a lot of guys played with during the course of my career that I haven't seen in a long time. It's a great opportunity."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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