Wednesday, 27 June 2012

In Prust we trust - if only Sather felt the same

In just four short days Brandon Prust will become an unrestricted free agent and, as looks increasingly likely, leave Madison Square Gardens for pastures new.

The New York Rangers number eight, who was so often a key cog in the Blueshirts’ wheel last season, was seen by many as the epitome of John Tortorella’s hard-hitting style.

Always happy to drop the gloves - clocking up 20 of the Rangers’ 65 fighting majors - Prust was a solid all-rounder loved by supporters for his no nonsense, committed play.

A quick skater and an adept penalty killer, Prust was a popular squad player who nestled in nicely among the team’s array of stars.

He has also improved the attacking side of his game. In the last two seasons he posted 18 goals - seven of which arrived shorthanded.

The first time I saw the Rangers play back in the 2010-11 season I was so won over by his gritty performance I went to the NHL store and got a Prust jersey printed up.

Back at the Garden two days later I looked around. Nobody else had one and, being an Englishmen in New York I worried I had splashed out $100 plus dollars to pin my colours to the mast of a player nobody liked, or rated.

A friendly local put my mind at rest, patting me on the back and saying, in that lovely Manhattan accent, “Nice pick up fella,” before explaining that Prust was the sort of player the fans would grow to love.

It seems though that while the supporters and the playing staff have grown used to using Prust as something of an on-ice rallying post, the love affair may soon be over.

Rangers’ GM Glen Sather told the New York Post that he did not think Prust would be at The Garden for the coming campaign.

He was quoted as saying, ““I don’t think we’re going to get that one done.

“I like him, the team likes him, everybody likes him...but I’m not married to him.”

No he isn’t. But then neither is my wife, but that does not stop her wishing she was and the Blueshirts will be the poorer for letting him slip through their hands.

Prust played in all 82 regular season games last term and will have no lack of options for the coming season. A move to Montreal has already been mooted.

If and, more likely when, he leaves, he will take with him the best wishes of all the Rangers’ faithful. On a trip to Montreal earlier in the year I stayed at the same hotel as the team and managed to get my jersey signed by the man himself. It has taken pride of place in my lounge. It won't be taken down if Prust leaves.

He always seemed to have time for the fans, was popular with his fellow players and revelled in the unglamorous role assigned to him.

New York is a big place. But it will be a slightly poorer one if Prust leaves.

Come on Sather. Do the fans a favour. Give the man the deal his hard work deserves.

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