Center Jed Ortmeyer signed with the Rangers in 2003 as a 24-year-old out of the University of Michigan, and would arrive on Broadway during the 2003-04 season. His first full year with the club came during the organization's resurgent 2005-06 campaign, and he'd spent another half season with New York in 2006-07 before leaving the Big Apple for Nashville.
NYRangers.com caught up with the Omaha, Neb.-native recently at Madison Square Garden to talk about his time with the Rangers, what he's up to in retirement and his piece in The Players' Tribune when he opened up about his medical condition.
You were a member of that 2005-06 season that kind of shocked the hockey world with a 100-point season. What stands out for you from your first full season in New York?
JO: I think the identity of the team changed and kind of was more of a family. My first year, we were kind of more of individuals and the rebuilding process started. I think that was a big step for the organization.
If you had to choose one moment from the three seasons you spent in the NHL with the Rangers, what would it be?
JO: There's quite a few. The big one for me is when I came back from my pulmonary embolism and scored the penalty shot goal on Tim Thomas. That was exciting. That was fun. It was kind of nice to feel like I was part of the team again and contributing after being gone for so long and have the guys embrace me. That's something I'll always remember.
You recently opened up about your condition in a Players' Tribune article. What was that experience like sharing your story with the world, and telling it the way you wanted to?
JO: It was great. It's a really unique platform to share our stories. It was a way for me to kind of bookend my career. I never really officially had a retirement or anything like that, so it was my way of walking away from the game and being happy with what I was able to accomplish, and continue to play while I was injured.
The response was unbelievable. I got a lot of messages just about it being inspiring to people and to try and help out some other people that had gone through the issues and were looking for help and answers. Just trying to help out any way I could.
How are you spending your time now that the playing days are over?
JO: My wife and I started a head hunting firm recruiting exclusively for retired professional and Olympic athletes. I retired and realized there's a lack of resources for guys like myself that wanted to work, so we set out to create one. We launched about a year and a half ago, so we've been busy doing that.
Are you still following the Rangers?
JO: The Rangers have always had a soft spot for me. It's been like a family to me. I still keep in touch with a lot of people here and try to get back once a year or so since I've retired to watch a game. I took a little break when I retired to be a dad and then just been getting back into it. Watching as much as I can and staying involved.
How fun is it coming back to the arena?
JO: It's awesome to come back to see what they've done with The Garden. It's an excitement and an energy in this building that you can't compare to anywhere else.