Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Ex-Ranger Revitalized in Phoenix" - By Larry Brooks/NY Post

This article literally made me shed a tear so it was worth posting here again in its entirety. Can't thank Larry enough for taking the time to write this story for such a deserving guy. Brooks knows a lot about Rangers hockey, more than so many others that are around the team. He wasn't fooled by what happened here. Thankfully for all of us, the Petr Prucha story did not end, it just got a new location to continue. Great article. Simply great.

Ex-Ranger revitalized in Phoenix
Last Updated: 3:34 AM, October 27, 2009
Posted: 3:18 AM, October 27, 2009

Ten games into the season including last night's match at the Garden against the Rangers, and not one time has the Coyotes' Petr Prucha been a healthy scratch.

"Finally!" Prucha exclaimed before the match, accompanied by a trademark smile as big as the desert. "It's good again."

Prucha, who burst onto the Broadway scene in 2005-06 with a 30-goal rookie season, and captivated the Garden crowd with his frenetic style and relentless work ethic, had that smile wiped off his face last season. Tom Renney made Prucha a healthy scratch in 27 of the Rangers' first 38 games and in 36 of the 61 he coached before he was replaced on Feb. 25 by John Tortorella.

"It's unbelievable; it's the best feeling," said Prucha, who played in three games for Tortorella before being sent to the Coyotes at the trade deadline with Nigel Dawes in a rental deal for Derek Morris. "I can't complain about anything."

Prucha never complained as a Ranger. He just wasn't given much opportunity to play. He followed his rookie season with a 22-goal sophomore campaign despite being removed from the power play, but then scored seven goals in limited time in 2007-08 before getting four goals in 28 games with the Blueshirts last year.

"I would say that I lost a lot of my game here," Prucha said. "Even when I got in the lineup, I wasn't allowed to do what I like to do.

"They just wanted me to chip it in and chip it out. Now I can make plays again. I'm just trying to get it back to where it was, but I feel much more comfortable and much more confident with the puck."

Prucha scored in his final game as a Ranger, Feb. 28 at the Garden against Colorado, but Tortorella had determined the club needed to go in a different direction.

"I only had him for about a week, so I really don't know him well, but Petr is such an easy guy to like and root for because he plays so hard," Tortorella said. "The thing that hurts him is that he's on the small side.

"He's a good kid. I wish him the best. I pull for him because of the way he plays."
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Prucha, who went into last night's match with three points (2-1) and a plus-two rating, said that he didn't view Tortorella's hiring as a fresh start. But it's clear that's how he regards Phoenix.

"I wasn't thinking it was a new start, only that I was going to do whatever it took to stay in the lineup, but then I got traded almost right away," he said. "Now, I feel so much better about hockey."

Still, the 27-year-old, who played an important role on the 2005-06 team that ended the Rangers' seven-year playoff drought, remembers his Broadway tenure with nothing but fondness.

"Older players always tell you that this is the place to be and that this is the place to play hockey," he said while standing in the Garden corridor between locker rooms. "I'm happy I got the chance to play here.

"It was perfect, but then I wasn't getting the chance to play, so it was time for me to go. That part of my life is behind me and I have a new life in front of me.

"I want one more season like my first one here."



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