Now, after months of anticipation, the new season is about to start, and all eyes will be on the two newcomers. That's certainly fine with Gomez, who knows the New York area well from his years in New Jersey, but it's also OK with Drury, whose connection to Madison Square Garden stretches back to his boyhood in Trumbull, Conn.
Drury performed admirably during the preseason, notching his first goals in a Rangers uniform and showing his willingness to stand up for teammates during a scuffle in Philadelphia.
In many ways, Drury is the perfect blend of skill and grit that Rangers fans embrace. What makes him really special to New York fans, however, is his knack for winning. He has won at every level, including high school, college, and the NHL. Five months ago, his goal with 7.7 seconds left in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Buffalo all but ended the Rangers' hopes of reaching the conference finals.
In other words, Drury is the kind of player everybody wants on their team, and the Rangers are fortunate to have him. He recently sat down for this exclusive five-minute interview with newyorkrangers.com.Question:
You spent last season with a Buffalo team that was expected to win the Stanley Cup from the start. Did those expectations from fans ever become a distraction and do you worry about similar pressures in New York?Drury:
It's different, because Buffalo is such a small town. We had a big year the year before that we were coming back from. So right from the moment when we lost the previous season, people were focused on winning the Cup. There's obviously a lot more that goes into it than just having the fans excited, and I think towards the end it probably did become a little too much for us to handle as such a young team. We did hit a wall, a little bit, early on in the series against Ottawa. I think it really took a negative toll on us and we couldn't get out of that funk, and then the season was over.Question:
Was the Conference Finals loss to Ottawa even more devastating because of what those playoffs meant to Buffalo?Drury:
I think internally, for the most part, myself and the rest of the guys included gave everything we had as far as focus and determination and effort. So it's hard to get too disappointed. Sure, we weren't happy we lost, but we really gave everything we had at that time. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.Question:
The Rangers gave the Sabres a tough time in the playoffs last season. Did that experience influence your decision to sign here?Drury:
It definitely influenced me. In my opinion, one of the most important positions in all of sports, including the quarterback in football and the pitching in baseball, is a goalie. And seeing how well Hank (Henrik Lundqvist
) has grown into his role as the No. 1 goalie over here and how well he played against us in high pressure games certainly was a factor. In terms of the things that I wanted, I knew I wanted to be on a team with a great goalie like I was in Buffalo.Question:
Was it very important for you to join a winning team?Drury:
Clearly, yes. There was probably a few other teams where the dollar could have gone a little higher, but I didn't want to be part of a rebuilding or a team that was just trying to figure out. I didn't want to join a team where they were saying "Let's take a couple of years and see where we go." You know, you never know what year's going to be your last, so you always want to be on good teams.Question:
What else attracted you to the Rangers?Drury:
He (Lundqvist) was just a start. After that it was all their good young defensemen. (Dan) Girardi played well against us in the playoffs. So did (Michal) Rozsival, (Marek) Malik and Paul Mara. And then obviously all the big-name talent up front. I didn't think they were far away from beating us (Buffalo), and I think they would have given Ottawa a good run. So there were a lot of positive things here.Question:
Is it weird to be playing for a team you went against in the playoffs?Drury
Once it's over, it's over. On July 1, there were a lot of guys switching teams and addresses, so it was a pretty smooth transition.Question:
Did hearing Scott Gomez had signed with the Rangers influence your decision on July 1?Drury:
Yeah, that's a great point. A team that's willing to go the extra mile to lock up a guy like him early for a number of years and still talk to me and show me how serious they were about winning the Cup and moving forward. I was very attracted to that.Question:
What do you remember about the Game 5 goal against the Rangers with 7.7 seconds remaining last spring?Drury:
It was an exciting game. I know it was 1-0 to that point, but I felt good all game. I felt like I had my legs under me and I was going pretty good that night. I just kind of had a feeling as the game went on that I was going to be out there for something good. Not necessarily that I would score, but that my line or whoever I was out there with could get a good scoring chance as the clock wound down. We actually had two good scoring chances, because the save Henrik made on (Tim) Connolly was huge. It was such a good save that he couldn't control the rebound, and then I was in the right place at the right time for that goal. And that was definitely exciting.Question:
Before you arrived in camp, did you expect to talk about that goal with Henrik?Drury:
No, and I knew I wouldn't unless he brought it up. I remember when Brett Hull signed in Detroit they asked him he was going to talk to (Dominik) Hasek about the crease incident, and he said only if Dom brings it up, and then he still didn't think he'd talk about it. So, that's the way I feel. It's not something I'm going to talk about.Question:
As a Connecticut native, you are well acquainted with the Rangers fans. What strikes you as special about the fans at MSG?Drury:
Just how passionate they are and how loud they can be. You can just see the regulars day in and day out. And, you know, just how intense it is. Even when we beat them, just how much fun people had with this team and have with this organization right now. It just seemed like a place that a player would want to be.Question:
Do you worry about not living up to the fans' high expectations?Drury:
I think it's a good thing for me, because I always want to give more and I always want to be at my best. As a New York fan -- Rangers fan, Yankees fan, Knicks fan, whatever it is -- they always expect more, 110 percent. And they always expect you to be at your best, and that's where I always want to be, so it's a good match.