|RANGERS ON DEMAND
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Aaron Voros proved his loyalty to the New York Rangers long before inking a multi-year free-agent contract with the Blueshirts this past summer.
|Aaron Voros' love for the Rangers dates back to his boyhood in British Columbia, when he taunted Vancouver fans after the Blueshirts defeated his hometown Canucks in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. |
As a boy growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Voros was a die-hard Rangers fan, eschewing the local love affair with the hometown Canucks, even during the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals between the two teams.
“I was about 10 or 11 when I first started liking the Rangers; and I was 12 when the Rangers made their great run in ’94,” recalls Voros. “I was probably the most obnoxious 12-year-old in British Columbia that spring when the Rangers won the Cup! Everyone just hated me!”
Voros certainly did not increase his popularity when he carried a homemade Stanley Cup made out of tin foil into school the day after the Rangers thrilling Game Seven victory over the Canucks.
“I didn’t care what anyone else thought,” says Voros. “I even used a marker and put all the players’ names on my Cup. That was such a great team, and such a great memory for me as a kid.”
Now, the 27-year-old Voros has the opportunity to help the team he rooted for as a youngster in Vancouver attempt to ascend the championship ladder again this season.
“As a kid growing up, I always wanted to be a Ranger,” says Voros. “And now signing for three years here, it’s a dream come true. You wouldn’t know how many text messages and e-mails I got when I signed because this is such a crazy dream for me. As a kid, I was just nuts for the Rangers!”
Originally selected in the 10th round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils, the rugged forward elected to first hone his game at the collegiate level, playing three seasons at Alaska-Fairbanks. After collecting 16 goals and 132 penalty minutes in 2003-04, Voros turned pro with the Devils organization in the spring of 2004 and played in nine games (posting 2-1-3 scoring totals) with Albany in the American Hockey League.
Combining a gritty, edgy style along with a knack for putting the puck in the net, Voros spent the next two-and-a-half seasons playing in the minor leagues for the Devils before New Jersey traded him to the Minnesota Wild for a future draft pick on March 1, 2007.
Though he remained in the minors for the remainder of the 2006-07 campaign, the trade to Minnesota proved to be beneficial for Voros, who finally broke into the National Hockey League last season.
Voros appeared in 55 games with the Wild in 2007-08, recording seven goals and 14 points, while racking up 141 penalty minutes. He also added a goal and 16 penalty minutes in a first-round playoff series loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
“I am grateful to say that a great coach like Jacques Lemaire gave me my start in the league,” says Voros. “He taught me so much, and gave me the opportunity to play on a line alongside great players like Marian Gaborik
and Pavol Demitra. Now I have to take all of that learning and bring it here to New York and be a better player for it.”
Lemaire often played Voros on the top line with Gaborik and Demitra, including time spent on the power play. Voros’ job was to crash the crease and create room for his two speedy linemates. The 6-foot-3, 178 pound forward also played on the third and fourth lines, filling whatever role was asked of him.
“I obviously play a tough, solid game,” says Voros. “But I can skate and score goals, too.”
Combining an energetic playing style with an engaging, outgoing personality, Voros quickly became a fan favorite in Minnesota, and he hopes that The Garden faithful will take to him, as well.
“I play a style of game that I’d like to think the working man really enjoys watching,” says Voros. “I might have an entertaining, attractive style of game, but I don’t necessarily do it for that, it’s just the way I play my game, and if the fans enjoy watching it and it helps the team, then that’s perfect.”
When it came time this summer to decide where he was going to take his exciting style of play, Voros’ heart screamed out for the Rangers, but his head told him to make the best decision for his future. After meeting with Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather and head coach Tom Renney, Voros knew that his head and his heart were in agreement that Broadway would be his next destination.
“I did definitely want to come to New York, but I also wanted to make the best step for me and my career,” says Voros. “Everything Coach Renney and Mr. Sather said made sense to me. They said they didn’t want me to change a thing about my game, just continue to do what I do to help make this team tick.”
To further prove his commitment to his new team, Voros arrived in New York in early August to get himself situated in his new locale. He became a regular at the Rangers’ practice facility, working out with his new teammates prior to the start of training camp, clearly excited to get the 2008-09 season underway as soon as possible.
“I wanted to make it as easy a transition as possible heading into the season since I am coming into a new organization,” explained Voros. “I wanted to make sure I would not be the fish out of water, so to speak, and now I can’t wait for our first game!”
When Aaron Voros pulls that Rangers sweater over his head for the first time before an NHL game, it will turn the dream of young boy into the reality of a grown man.