RANGERS 2, ISLANDERS 1
Quandary for Sather: Where Does Rookie Go?
By JASON DIAMOS
HARTFORD, Oct. 1 Â Coach Ron Low singled out the rookie
Mike Mottau again for his play as the Rangers ended their preseason
schedule with a 2-1 victory over the Islanders today at the Hartford
Mottau Â who had no goals, one assist and two penalty minutes in
games Â opened plenty of eyes with his play, but he may find
making the two-hour drive back up to Hartford very soon. The Rangers
have until Wednesday to sign Mottau, something both sides agreed upon
when Mottau joined the team without a contract after missing the
start of training camp.
If the 22-year-old Mottau does agree to terms by Wednesday, it is
quite possible that he will begin the season in Hartford with the
Rangers' American Hockey League affiliate. The Rangers open their
season on Saturday night at Atlanta.
"I think the kid has played well," Glen Sather, the Rangers'
president and general manager, said. "He has good vision. He's not
overly physical, but he's a smart player. I think he's going to play."
The question is where.
"He's not going to step in and be a star in the National Hockey
League right off," Sather said. "But he's certainly a step ahead of
people in the intelligence department already. He's a good prospect,
let's put it that way. I'm happy he made the decision to come to
Unless Brian Leetch's sore groin is more problematic than Low
believes, Mottau will most likely begin the season in Hartford Â
he and the Rangers can reach an agreement.
"Mottau's a guy who can go to the minors without requiring waivers,"
Low said. Neither Dale Purinton nor Jason Doig, two of the Rangers'
other young defensemen, can do the same.
Mottau said he would not oppose an assignment to Hartford. "I just
have to deal with whatever decision they make," said Mottau, who won
the Hobey Baker award Â United States college hockey's
the Heisman Trophy Â last season at Boston College. "I just want
play hockey. And if I play well and things work out, I will hopefully
be with the Rangers as soon as possible."
The main sticking point to a contract remains Mottau's guaranteed
signing bonus. The Rangers have offered $550,000.
"I'm confident we can get something done," Mottau said today. "Not
being in training camp, they don't know if you can play. And I feel
comfortable with the way I played. I showed what I can do at this
There is still a slim chance that Mottau might open the season with
the Rangers. Not only is Leetch hurt, but so is Rich Pilon, who has a
sore left thumb. And Vladimir Malakhov faces a possible suspension
after receiving a game misconduct for checking Eric Cairns into the
corner boards today.
Cairns, who crumpled to the ice after hitting the boards face-first,
escaped with just a neck strain. Malakhov insisted that the hit was
not intentional, and Low said that videotape bore out Malakhov's
JAN HLAVAC and VLADIMIR KAMENSKY scored on the power play for the
Rangers against the Islanders, while KIRK McLEAN stopped 39 of 40
shots. KENNY JONSSON scored on the power play for the Islanders. The
Rangers finished the preseason 3-4-2. The Islanders, who end their
preseason against the Devils in New Jersey on Monday, are 0-4-1, but
their last three defeats have all been by one goal.
The Rangers' DALE PURINTON, 6 feet 2, racked up 24 penalty minutes
Sunday after fighting ZDENO CHARA, 6-9, twice. That gave Purinton a
whopping 74 penalty minutes in five preseason games. Prorated over an
82- game N.H.L. regular season, that would put Purinton at 1,214
penalty minutes, which would shatter the league record.
It is quite possible that none of the Rangers' top three prospects,
all forwards, will be on their opening roster. MANNY MALHOTRA could
begin the season in Hartford, although he could be recalled at any
time. PAVEL BRENDL and JAMIE LUNDMARK look to be headed back to
Canada for another season in juniors. "I don't think they hurt their
cause with their play in camp," said GLEN SATHER, referring to Brendl
and Lundmark. "But they haven't helped it a great deal, either.
They're kids that need time. The question is whether we think they're
going to develop more here. And if they stay, they're not going to
get as much playing time as they need." As for Malhotra, Sather
said, "He's another guy who has to play to develop."