2021-22 Rangers

What was said Thursday about Zibanejad, Lafreniere, leadership and more

Gerard Gallant met with the media following today’s scrimmages and practice and said some of the following (NYR):

  • On Mika and Panarin being separate today, “I read that all summer, that you guys wanted them as a line (laugh)…no, but seriously, we put some lines together and it’s Day 1. We will see where things go with that. The first exhibition game, we don’t know what we are doing with that, it’s sort of one day at a time. Those people are familiar with each other and you put some lines together and it looks like your hockey team, but I’m not putting a whole lot into it right now.”
  • Did anything stand out on Day 1, “No. In the scrimmage, you are coaching the game and I wanted to get a feel to be behind the bench again, so that was important and getting to meet some of the players like that. You meet guys and say hello and shake their hand and then you aren’t sure, once you get on the bench and you are coaching them and you’ve got guys in front of you and you see their names on the back and start communicating with them, especially the players that you know are going to be here, that is the way I like to meet the players.”
  • On Fox having “Norris” on his practice jersey, “It’s good, it’s great stuff, guys are having fun with it. He’s a great kid and guys are showing a little respect and a little jab at him.”
  • Did anything stand out in the scrimmage, “I couldn’t say, scrimmages were good, I liked it. No one stood out to me, I wasn’t disappointed with anybody either, but I liked how the first day went.”
  • Do you know how many extra forwards you want to keep, “no, we will see later in camp.”
  • On Zibanejad’s contract status, “he goes out and plays, doesn’t affect what I do with him, he’s a great player, he’s going to get all the ice time he wants and do what he does, but I’ll never address something like that.”
  • Did you talk to Lafreniere about moving to the right, “didn’t say a word. We put him over there and he didn’t say a word. What those kids want is to play and I don’t think if I put him on defense he would say a word. They want to play a lot of minutes and earn their minutes and go out and play. He looks great.”
  • What sets Lafreniere apart, “his overall game, he’s talented, has a great shot, moves his feet well, he’s a talented young hockey player and he just needs to grow. He’s 19-years old and playing in the best league in the world and some guys take off at different times and at the end of last year he played really well. He’ll get opportunities and hopefully they make big strides this year.”

Mika Zibanejad spoke after the scrimmage today and said some of the following (NYR):

  • On his contract, “I’m actually focusing on what I do on the ice, I have an agent to deal with this so it doesn’t have to take my focus and time away from what I have to do on the ice to prepare for the season. Right now they are taking care of business and I’ll take care of my own.”
  • Would you like to get something done, “The focus is what I do on the ice and preparing for the season. I love it here, the direction we are going in. I’m just excited to be back and be on the ice again and competing with and against my teammates to prepare for the season.”
  • Where do you feel the team is now in regards to the playoffs, “We have to make the playoffs. I feel we have the team to do it and that is something we are all aiming at and that is our goal. I don’t see anything else, I don’t know why you would play 82 games not to make the playoffs or be satisfied being close, especially not with this group. That is our goal and first step.”
  • Do you feel different about this year, “I think so, look at our younger guys, year 2, year 3, they are looking good on the ice as well. It’s a good feeling around the team and locker room and training center, in terms of that, just looking around the team and locker room, everyone is excited to get going and be here. We have an opportunity here and we’ve gotta make the most of it.”
  • Have you been notified by Team Sweden about the Olympics, “we had a little get-together camp, or whatever, 30 or 36 of us, but they have that long list that you have to send in now and then there is a shorter list closer to it. At least I’m in the big list that they sent in.”
  • Is there any difference you see in Lafreniere, “Just the scrimmage, everyone knows his attributes and skill level and I think at the end of last season he started working a lot harder, he really put the work in and he did this summer as well, he’s looking great. I feel he is allowing his skillset to come out even more now, at least just from the scrimmage and even before. I’m super excited for him.”
  • On the feeling around the team about having a captain, “I feel like we have a lot of good leaders, the four assistants. I feel like it’s a long time ago since we had a captain, so I’m not sure what the difference is in that sense, but we have a lot of good leaders, different types of leaders and if we are going to have a captain we are going to have a lot of good options.”
  • Would you want to be the Captain, “we will get to that if that question comes up, but we have a lot of really good leaders and I’m sure whoever gets it is going to do a great job. The other guys who have been wearing the “A” are not going to shy away or disappear just because one guy has a “C.” It’s a group thing with the leadership group and vets. I’m not thinking about it too much.”
  • On his leadership style, “I try to lead by example, I might not be the one standing in front of the whole group every game or every practice, but I try to do my part one on one or with the young guys. It’s nothing that I’m trying to think of what I should do as a leader, I have a different type of leadership than some other guys and I’m probably not the only one who isn’t that outspoken, but as a leader. I think we have a good mix of leaders in this group where you have guys who can speak up and everyone is different.”

Chris Kreider spoke on Thursday and said some of the following (NYR):


  • On having a Captain, “I think the entire time that I’ve been here it’s been on the chest of a guy that has been a figurehead and example on the ice, but the most important thing has been the collective group of leaders we’ve had and healthy blend of young guys and vets, you can’t just have the right guy wear the “C” and not have him surrounded by vets who are going to perpetuate that message. As important as that might be, I think having a group of leaders and veterans is important. That being said, in 2014 when we made the Cup we traded our Captain right before our run, and we missed him a ton, but we had a ton of leaders in the room and guys stepped up. If he thinks it’s important then maybe it’s the right step, but at the end of the day, we need a strong group of leaders, which we have here. As long as we are on the same page and pulling in the right direction we will be able to accomplish our goals.”
  • On Lafreniere, “The most impressive thing about him is that he is unapologetically himself, day in and day out, regardless of what is happening….”
  • Who is he, “he’s a bright, happy dude, loves playing hockey, loves being here. He’s quick with a joke and very laid back until the puck drops and then he competes as hard as anyone that I’ve ever played with. He’s matured beyond his years on the ice, in the room. Being around him, last year, his first year, he doesn’t carry himself like an 18-19-year-old kid, maybe it’s him being in the position he’s been as long as he’s had, but at the same time, he’s very selfless. He doesn’t think less of himself, he just thinks of himself less. He’s concerned about winning hockey games, he’s going to do what it takes to win hockey games. He’s a guy that bought in, not that people didn’t buy in last year, but he bought in right from the get-go and understands how to win hockey games, even at this level and what he needs to do, communicative and his game continues to grow because his priorities are correct and set and just a terrific person and player and we are incredibly lucky to have him.”

Alexis Lafreniere spoke and said some of the following (NYR):

  • What was your offseason training program, “I got a little faster, that was the main thing, lost a little bit of weight, that helps too and I learned a lot last year playing with Men, it’s a lot different than playing in junior. Just having the chance to play with an against good players makes you so much better, for me that is the big thing and I’ll keep working on that for sure.”
  • On skating in the offseason, “I skated a couple of times a week this summer, in the gym too, that is where you get a lot stronger.”
  • How important is it to have a full training camp, “it’s huge, it’s my first one and my second year, so it’s weird, but just having more time to get ready and a real training camp is a good way to get to know the new guys and get ready for game 1.”
  • On playing LW or RW, “It’s a little different, much more on your backhand, but you have to be able to play on both wings and adjust to wherever you play. Me and Chris have talked about it a little bit and we both feel comfortable so we will try to figure it out and get better to start the season.”