"We're Appreciative Of The Opportunity"

Jim Cerny


Perhaps it was the fact that the team's boss and its head coach set such a calm tone, but the Rangers indeed seemed liked an extremely calm team Tuesday, one day before opening up the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather joked with reporters at the Stanley Cup Final media day that his biggest stress here in Los Angeles is where and when to play golf, where to have dinner, and if "Game of Thrones" is on television. Head coach Alain Vigneault, who shared the podium answering questions alongside Sather, said later on, "I really like it when you're around. I got nothing to do!"--in reference to the fact that most of the questions were aimed at Sather and not Vigneault.

Sather did turn serious when asked about the team's first chance to play for The Cup in twenty years, though.

"We're fortunate to be here," said Sather, who owns five Stanley Cup rings from his days as a coach and manager with the Edmonton Oilers. "It's not every team in the league that gets a chance to play for the Stanley Cup. I've been around a little while, a couple of years, I know what it's like. I know how hard it is to get here. We're appreciative of the opportunity."

One of the team's veteran leaders, alternate captain Brad Richards, echoed those sentiments later in the afternoon when discussing winning the Stanley Cup ten years ago with Tampa Bay and not returning to a final again until this season with the Rangers.

"I've been around a little longer and I know how hard it is to get back (to the final), I know this doesn't come around often," stated Richards. "It's hard to describe. It's taken ten years to get back, and I thought then it would be a lot easier to get back. That's what makes it so special and why you really have to enjoy it and embrace it."

When asked about juggling enjoying the moment and the accomplishment of reaching the Stanley Cup final along with the reality of the hard work and focus it takes to actually win four games in the final, Rick Nash acknowledged it is somewhat of a balancing act.

"You want to enjoy it and have fun with it, but at the same time it's so important--I mean a guy like me, I've been doing this for 12 years and this is my first crack at it, so you don't know when the next time is going to come," explained Nash, who scored three goals in the Eastern Conference Final against Montreal. "So, yeah, you want to enjoy it, but you want to be ready to give your best."

Sporting Rangers team golf shirts, with their number on the right chest, the players to a man looked and seemed relaxed on the eve of starting their final journey of the 2013-14 season. Many still spoke of the emotions of Thursday night when they ousted the Canadiens and advanced to the Cup final, a vast majority smiled and happily took in the crazy proceedings of media day, but to a man they all calmly looked ahead with clear focus on the task at hand.

The Rangers all spoke of the respect they have for a talented, gritty, battle-tested Kings team that is just two years removed from a Stanley Cup championship. In the end, though, the Rangers placed the focus on themselves.

"I've been in New York for nine years," stated Henrik Lundqvist who leads all goalies with a .928 save percentage and ranks second with a 2.03 goals against average in the playoffs. "It's been a dream ever since I came to New York to try to win and bring a Cup to New York."

Teammate Ryan McDonagh told reporters that by taking a look in Lundqvist's eyes, he knows that the Rangers star goaltender is on a mission this spring, and is even more intent than ever on winning it all.

Nash was asked about Lundqvist's high-profile and his fit in New York, and provided a very detailed answer.

"The fit is perfect for him," Nash said of Lundqvist. "He's got the style, the looks, the hair! But he's got the game to back it up which is the biggest part. He's a special person and a special goaltender, and what a better place than New York for him to be playing, and winning?"

While media day was an enjoyable one for all involved as the Rangers and Kings could bask in their well-earned spots as the last two teams standing, the time for talk ends Wednesday at 5:00 PM local time when the puck is dropped on Game One at the Staples Center.

In the words of Benoit Pouliot, "We're not done working just yet."