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Chip On The Shoulder Drives New Ranger Gerbe

by Jim Cerny / New York Rangers

Nathan Gerbe has proven himself over the past six years to be a reliable, solid National Hockey League player, so you might think he would have long ago stopped focusing on the fact that, at 5-feet-4-inches, he is the shortest player in the league.

You would be wrong.

Gerbe not only thinks about it, he continues to use it as motivation each and every day of his career.

"I carry a chip on my shoulder every day still," Gerbe explained to earlier in the week. "In the back of my head I go out there every day looking to prove everybody wrong. That will never leave me, it's just a part of who I am. It makes me really aggressive out on the ice. I love to compete and I hate to lose any battles. I've always been a smaller player, even when I was younger, so I have tremendous drive and competitiveness, and, yes, a chip on my shoulder."

Now the soon-to-be 29 year-old Gerbe will bring that fiery attitude and style of play to the Rangers in 2016-17 after agreeing to terms on a free agent deal last Friday.

"To get the opportunity to play for the Rangers, I am extremely thrilled, beyond thrilled actually," offered an enthusiastic Gerbe. "I can't wait to get started, get around all of the guys and get it going."

Enthusiasm and high-energy are two more trademarks of Gerbe's game and personality. An extremely popular teammate in previous NHL stops in Buffalo and Carolina, Gerbe also has established himself as an on-ice spark plug, who can play up and down the lineup on all four lines.

"I think with my personality and my playing style I can give the team lots of life and energy," said Gerbe, who has recorded 58 goals and 138 points in 394 career games. "Now coming into a great organization I have even an extra boost of energy because I am extremely excited to be a New York Ranger."

Last year Gerbe was limited to only 47 games with the Hurricanes due to injury issues. However Gerbe, a two-time 16-goal scorer in the NHL, continued to be a solid two-way player, in particular excelling on the penalty kill..

That penalty killing expertise is another prime reason the Rangers were so interested in signing the speedy former Boston College star.

"I am an explosive skater, a utility player who can jump into any role you ask of me," explained Gerbe. "Penalty killing has become my specialty. That's something I take a lot of pride in, a craft I have learned. It's a huge part of the game because a good PK can give your team a lot of confidence in being more aggressive."

Having faced the Rangers the past six-plus years--especially as a division opponent with Carolina the past three seasons--Gerbe has a good idea of what to expect playing under Alain Vigneault; and he believes the uptempo style the Blueshirts deploy meshes well with his strengths as a player.

He has also gotten a taste of what the Rangers are about by training the past several summers alongside Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard and Martin St. Louis with Ben Prentiss in Connecticut.

The combination made for a fairly easy decision last week when Nathan Gerbe decided on where he wanted to play this upcoming season.

"I just think I fit with the Rangers," stated Gerbe. "I am very excited. They play with speed and move the puck, and that's my game. Plus expectations are high in New York, and I want that. I've only been to the playoffs twice in my career and the worst thing is not reaching the post-season. I want to carry on a great tradition in New York; and the ultimate goal for all of us is to win the Stanley Cup. Can't wait to get started."

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