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New Rangers Drury, Gomez get heroes' welcome

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather and Head Coach Tom Renney, were the first to greet Chris Drury and Scott Gomez at the MSG Training Center on Monday.
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The newest members of the New York Rangers, centers Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, faced the media on Monday afternoon at the Madison Square Garden Training Center, less than 24 hours after both players signed with the team.

For their introductory press conference, both Drury and Gomez appeared in No. 23 Rangers jerseys. They were ushered onto the New York Knicks practice court by Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather and Head Coach Tom Renney, who introduced them to the local media and posed for photos with the newcomers.

Recognizing that both players had a preference for No. 23 -- which Drury wore in Buffalo and Gomez had in New Jersey -- Sather flipped a puck to determine who would get the number with the Blueshirts next season.

The winner of the puck flip was Drury, who called heads prior to the flip. Getting his number brought a smile to the face of the 30-year-old, who grew up a Rangers fan in Trumbull, Conn., and has described the opportunity to play in New York as a dream come true.

"As a kid this was the team, where I'm from there's definitely nothing better than the Rangers," Drury said. "Watching them win the Cup, I was a little bit older, but Madison Square Garden, Brian Leetch, the Rangers, this is just the place."

Drury and Gomez, teammates on the 2006 U.S. Olympic hockey team, both have strong ties to the Tri-State area. Drury spent his childhood in Connecticut, attending high school at Fairfield Prep, and Gomez spent the past eight years across the Hudson River with the New Jersey Devils.

The dual signing of Drury and Gomez on Sunday got the 2007 free-agency period off to a grand start for the Blueshirts, who managed to capture two of the top centers on the open market. Drury and Gomez are both Stanley Cup winners who combined for 50 goals and 129 points last season, and they have a history of scoring clutch goals for their teams.

"It's really nice," Drury said of the success he's enjoyed in both college hockey and the NHL. "I've been pretty fortunate to be around some great players, and hockey is a team sport."

Both players are also known for having a dramatic impact with new teams. When Gomez arrived in New Jersey in 1999-00, he promptly scored 70 points to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year. Drury also had instant success as a rookie, winning the Calder with 44 points for Colorado in 1998-99. When Drury arrived in Calgary in 2002, he posted his fifth straight 20-goal season, finishing the year with 53 points. The following year, Drury scored another 53 points in his first season with the Sabres.

Gomez said he wasn't just excited about playing for the Blueshirts, but also in having Drury as a teammate. The two played together at both the Olympics and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. They were also opponents in 2001, when Drury's Colorado team beat New Jersey for the Stanle Cup.

"His track record speaks for itself," Gomez said of Drury. "Everything worked out perfect yesterday, but he is such a winner, he is a great guy, being in the locker room with him, just the presence around him means so much. He took a Stanley Cup from me. He is a playoff guy. To come to New York with him and try to be a piece of the puzzle, it just doesn't get any better than this."

Gomez also said the decision to join the Rangers was an easy one to make because of the direction in which the Rangers are headed.

"New York offered everything -- the city, the atmosphere, everything you would want," said Gomez. "But most of all I think this team is ready to win, you can just feel the buzz around them and that starts with the goaltending, I think. Playing against them they just have so much confidence. Out of the other teams I felt like this was the place I could win in."
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