SUN Hockey Pool

Rucchin, Lindros bring unexpected spark to new teams

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Of all the surprises unwrapped in the first two weeks of the NHL season, few expected the New York Rangers to look good and Eric Lindros to look great.

The previous brittle and boring Boys of Broadway, who haven't made the playoffs since Mark Messier sported some hair and Jaromir Jagr owned the world's biggest mullet, are off to a rocket start since big-league hockey decided it would be smart to play games and make money again.

In their first seven contests, the Rangers won four and lost three by a single goal, including two in overtime.

One of a couple of reasons why the Rangers are better this year is the addition of Londoner Steve Rucchin, the 34-year-old former captain of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

A lot of folks questioned New York's move to trade 26-year-old forward Trevor Gillies and a draft pick for the former Western Mustang, primarily because the impatient New York team has dealt away young talent for washed-up vets many times in the past.

But Rucchin still appears a long way from the hill, let alone over it. He spent his lockout season turning himself into a potential Mr. Universe and hanging around Thompson arena at Western cheering his old team to an Ontario title.

While Gillies is still in the minors, Rucchin has five points in seven games, averaging 16 minutes of ice time.

He has one year at $2.261 million left on his contract and has the potential to give his club what they expected overpriced Bobby Holik would provide in the past.

The London-born Big E, meanwhile, has given the Toronto Maple Leafs a helping helping hand in injured captain Mats Sundin's absence.

Lindros has five goals in six games and looks, for the first time since he was in Philadelphia, like his old dominant self. Not enough can be said for wearing a uniform you've imagined yourself in since you first chased a puck.

Of course, many Leaf fans are greeting his play with a guarded smile and a small flicker of hope his fine production continues.

Leaf fans aren't planning the parade route yet. Not with Lindros's medical history. Not with that defence, either.

Double sugar

Former smooth-skating Edmonton defenceman Paul Coffey had his No. 7 retired Tuesday when the Oilers took on Wayne Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes.

Coffey, you might recall, sat in the owners' box at the John Labatt Centre when the Knights captured the Memorial Cup on home ice over Sidney Crosby and his Rimouski mates.

In the ceremony, Coffey also shook hands with the guy he was traded to Pittsburgh for -- Oilers assistant coach and Londoner Craig Simpson.

Getting to know you

It usually takes a while for linemates to forge some chemistry, but the Washington Capitals went out and put together a second line of guys who, before this season, weren't too familiar with each other. Belmont's Brian Willsie, in his second season with Washington, is playing with Andrew Cassels and Jeff Friesen, both new Caps who were acquired this year. Willsie has a goal and assist in Washington's first seven games.

Campbell called up

Because of Gary Roberts' groin injury, the Florida Panthers called up Tillsonburg native Gregory Campbell from Rochester. Colin Campbell's kid even saw some power-play time in the second period.

In the sticks

Former Knights captain Danny Bois scored for Binghamton, Ottawa's American Hockey League affiliate, to give the Senators a 3-2 lead in the third period of their season-opener with the defending Calder Cup champion Philadelphia Phantoms. Proud Philly, however, bounced back before the home crowd and picked up a 4-3 win. Bois and teammate Charlie Stephens, another ex-Knight, both had four shots on goal in the game.


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