Rangers Alexis Laffrinier for unique NHL debut


This will not be a garden party played by Alexis Lafreniere when the Saint-Eustache boy made his NHL debut on Pingpong’s ball in the second week of August, impressing the Rangers’ logo.

His people will not be in the building. His sister will not live in the building. Nor will the 19-year extended family and its friends be members. What’s more, even Lafreniere’s closest and dearest will not be able to gather to watch on television from a centralized location in his native province.

COVID-19 restrictions in force are tight in Quebec. There is a curfew from 8 pm and indoor gatherings at 5 pm are strictly limited.

“Everyone should be different, of course,” Lafreniere said of the club’s opener against the Islanders on Thursday for the final on-ice prep. “I’m sure everyone will be watching, my friends, my family, sure it’s going to be exciting for them too.

“I can’t wait for my first game.”

The absence of media at the camp, along with the absence of exhibition games, has probably dampened the hype since Laffrenier was set for his debut. In fact, as the camp developed and K’Andre Miller played not only on the roster, but also on a matchup pairing with Jacob Troba, 21-year-old Wisconsin became a shiny new toy.

Still, it does not dim the spotlight that will be trained on Laffrenier, the first No. 1-overall draft pick drafted by the Rangers to play for the Rangers. In 1965, Andre Weileux, the franchise’s only other franchise-first pick, did not make it to the NHL.

“Obviously there are a lot of nerves, but I’m really excited and looking forward to my first NHL game,” Lafrinier said. “It’s something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time, so it’s going to be a special moment, definitely.

“My first innings, maybe, I’ll try to hurry up and then we’ll go from there.”

Alexis Laffrinier Rangers debut
Alexis Lafreniere
Nick Holmer / NY Rangers

Lafreniere is ticketed to play in the third line with 21-year-old Phillip Chitil, who has 144 NHL regular-season games under his belt, and 23-year-old Julian Gauthier, a veteran of 17 regular-season big league contests. Children in the forest. But they are hardly alone.

Actually, the blueshirts will open with eight players who are 23 or older and another half dozen who are 24 or 25 years old. Training centers in Tarrytown and Gardens have turned into youth centers. It recounts a pair of earlier eras in the history of the franchise in which a group of children developed as a unit and was instrumental in the team’s origins.

In the 1970s, the group included Ron Greshner, Ron Dugay, Don Murdoch, Dave Maloney, Don Maloney, Pat Hickey, Mike McEwen, Luisin DeBliss, Dave Frisch, John Davidson (acquired in a trade after their second season) and Nick Fotiou Represented.

Post’s Ranger Podcast, “In the Blue Seat,” With its season premiere on Thursday.

And then through many banners of 2010 were Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stefan, Mark Staal, Dan Girardi, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Enisimov, Matt’s Zuccarello and Henrik Lundakwadi.

All those ages ended with a trip to the final of the Stanley Cup, the first in 1979, the next in 2014. The group was augmented by the likes of Artemi Panarin, Micah Zibnazad, Chris Kreider, Troba and Ryan Stommer, with the aim to eventually take over. This is for the next stage.

But first things first. A Lafreniere debut. Kappo Kakko, the second-overall pick of 2019, on the second line, starting last season with Kreider and Strome. Igor Shesterkin is making his first NHL to start the night. The fight against the conference-finalist Islanders. In the empty arena.

“We’re going to be one of the youngest teams in the league again, but the older people we have and the ones we experience are really helping young people and I think that’s great. Aries in a way, ”said Kreider, a senior member of the club in terms of service. “I noticed that there are people who could be 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds last year and in their first year some people seem to be a lot more comfortable in the snow and room.

“I think the group has been together for a long time that everyone is comfortable with. New people are being welcomed and they are fit right now. The exciting thing is how many possibilities are there in this group and everyone’s There is potential for day to day growth through the pass season. ”

Laffrinier, who shared an apartment with Miller this season, said that he made adjustments as the camp developed and as he and his teammates got acquainted with each other’s instincts.

“I think I improved since day 1,” said No. 13. “Guys are very quick on you and you are ready to take a quick decision and so you have to be ready to do a play as soon as you get the puck.

“That’s the thing I’m working on and I’m still trying to improve it. I try to do better every day and do better. “

Thursday is Day 1 for Lafreniere and Day 1 for Rangers. Parties in Manhattan will be postponed, but there is a possibility that a Rais or two will be heard ’round Quebec’.

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