Sports Hockey

Asham ready to play for familiar face 0

Kevin Hirschfield, The Graphic

Portage la Prairie's Arron Asham celebrates a Game 7 goal against Washington back in May.

Portage la Prairie's Arron Asham celebrates a Game 7 goal against Washington back in May.

Arron Asham is looking forward to having a little bit more fun this upcoming NHL season.

The New York Rangers forward and Portage la Prairie product will head into the final season of his two-year deal with the Blueshirts, eager to return to a solid young lineup and anxious to play for a familiar face as well.

New head coach Alain Vigneault was behind the bench coaching Asham for parts of two and a half seasons from 1999-2002 with the Montreal Canadiens.

"I know him a little bit, so hopefully he knows my game and knows what I can do and hopefully he gives me a good shot out there to get some ice time and pot a few goals," Asham said.

And he's also looking forward to entering what he thinks will be a looser environment in the Rangers dressing room.

Former coach and current Canucks bench boss John Tortorella, known for his fiery demeanour, took a lot of heat for the team's underachieving superstars which led to a second-round exit last season and he was canned soon after.

Asham says he enjoyed 'Torts', but says some of the players were getting fed up with his act.

"He's very intense and he wants to get the most out of his players," said Asham. "He does a decent job of doing that, but when you're in the same spot for a certain amount of years and you have the same players, the guys seem to get fed up with all the screaming and stuff.

"Having a new face coming in and having a little more fun will be good. It was pretty intense in the dressing room, guys were a little uptight, but now we have a new guy and we can start laughing and having some fun."

In 27 regular season games last season, Asham scored two goals and added two more in ten playoff games including the game-winner in the seventh game of a first-round series against the Washington Capitals.

After having been put on waivers earlier in the month and going unclaimed, Asham says, barring a trade, he'll be at Rangers' training camp battling for a spot on the team's fourth line.

"It was more of a salary thing for signing guys in the next year. They haven't given up on me. I'm still going back and playing for the Rangers," he said.

"Sure, I would have been happy if somebody picked me up. But it's just part of the business. I wasn't hurt or upset or anything like that."

Asham is in the city for a couple of weeks as his Chance 2 play charity holds several events, including its annual golf tournament Friday at Portage Golf Club, this year sponsored by Scotiabank.

"It's something that I look definitely forward to," he said Thursday evening. "I'm back home and I get to spend two weeks with family and friends and raise money for a good cause."

The charity, which provides hockey opportunities for families in difficult economic position, is in its ninth year and has helped more than 160 children.

He says things could not be going any better.

"We have a waiting list for sponsors and golfers," Asham said. "Next year will be our 10th anniversary and hopefully we can keep this going for many years."

And for those looking forward to Asham hitting bombs off the tee come Friday, he says don't hold your breath.

"This year, I'm struggling," he laughed, saying he tries to tee it up once a week. "I've lost my swing. I usually hit it better later in the season, but hopefully it will be straight (Friday).

Last year's tournament raised $30,000 for the charity and is expected to bring in a similar amount this year.

Two cheques were given to the charity Thursday evening: First, the $30,000 from the 2012 edition of the golf tournament was accepted by Simmone Fust of Child and Family Services and Jody Fletcher admin of CFS Foundation which administers the charity.

The July 13 Chance 2 Play softball tournament also raised $700 and organizer Jodi Sigurdson presented a cheque as well.

kevin.hirschfield@sunmedia.ca

twitter@pdghirsch

 

 

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