· Rangers announce 2006-07 schedule
· Complete 2006-07 Rangers schedule
Brendan Shanahan made his first public appearance as a New York Ranger on Wednesday afternoon, meeting with the local media representatives at Madison Square Garden.
The seven-time NHL All-Star discussed his reasons for signing with the Rangers as free agent earlier this week, as well as his hopes for the upcoming season and what he feels he can bring to the Blueshirts.
Asked about the decision to play in New York, Shanahan said he was attracted to the Rangers' rich tradition and still had vivid memories of playing against the Blueshirts when he began his NHL career with the Devils.
"I think there are teams you want to go," Shanahan said. "I love hockey history, and I admire teams like New York that are Original Six teams. The fact that I played in this area when I was 18, 19, and 20, the arena, the fans here, and the rivalry we had really made a mark on me. It was my first introduction to a historical hockey place, and that's why I always thought the Rangers organization was always a great one."
Shanahan, who ranked 10th in the NHL last season with 40 goals, said he chose the Rangers over an opportunity to join the Montreal Canadiens or return to Detroit. The Rangers' mixture of youth and experience ultimately tipped the balance in their favor.
"I don't think you ever want to have a team with just young players, but you also don't want a bunch of aging veterans," he said. "You need a balance and you need chemistry, and I think back to Glen Sather's comments recently about leaving spots open to players who were in Hartford last season, and give them an opportunity. I think this is a situation where, like I said, you have to have your eye on the future, but you certainly also have to take care of the present. It's a balance and chemistry I'll be looking for when I get on the ice with these guys."
The Rangers are looking for Shanahan, ranked first among active NHL players with 598 career goals, to lead both on and off the ice. The chance to be an example for others in the locker room is a role the 18-year NHL veteran embraces.
"Aside from what I do on the ice, I thought that I could add to this team," he said. "I owe a lot of veteran players my career -- guys who helped me when I was 18, 19, and 20, when I got off track. They nudged me back on. My first job is to come out on the ice and perform to my ability with what I do and what I bring to a team. I know myself as a hockey player, and I know what I bring. I am physical, make players accountable, and stick up for teammates.
"I don't go out there running around looking for trouble, but I try to take care of the players on the ice, and I like to think that over the years I have produced big goals and scored game-winning goals. Those are things I have always prided myself in. That's first and foremost. If you don't feel good about yourself as a player, it's tough to be a leader."
Shanahan also said the team's recent signings of two Stanley Cup winners played a role in his decision.
"I think signing Aaron Ward and Matt Cullen sent a great message to the core group of players," said Shanahan, himself a three-time Cup champion. "It's a reminder of what the ultimate goal is when you sign guys like Ward and Cullen that have just come off the ultimate high. Some might think it makes you complacent, but I think it makes you hungrier. You have tasted it. You just want to be out there and can't stand to be out of it. You feel like you have ownership to it and that it belongs to you. I think those signings really help."
On Wednesday, Shanahan took time to try on his new No. 14 Rangers jersey as he looked forward to an opportunity that was simply too attractive for him to pass up.
"I really have my eye on delivering on the ice and doing what I can to make the team better, even ultimately having an impact on some of the younger players," said Shanahan. "But I also need to make sure I have an impact on the ice myself. I had an impact on the ice last season, so there is no reason to think that I won't be able to do that in New York."