Shannon a big hit with pals in Big Apple

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

NEW YORK -- Last night was a homecoming of sorts for Ryan Shannon.

The Senators winger had the date circled on his calendar because he grew up only an hour away by train from New York City in the suburb of Darien, Conn., and spent a lot of time at MSG as a kid -- including going to a Stanley Cup final game in 1994 and seeing Wayne Gretzky's last NHL game on April 18, 1999.

While Shannon, 26, played six minutes for the Senators in an exhibition game at MSG in September, he was calling last night his debut with more than 30 friends and family on hand because he's been getting a regular shift under coach Cory Clouston since being called up from Binghamton.

"I'm trying to relax and not get too nervous. It's a big thrill playing in front of everybody," said Shannon. "Not often in the NHL have I had the chance to be back east. I played in Boston, but that's pretty much it."

Shannon's father Patrick worked in New York and his mother Maureen was also on hand last night, along with several aunts and uncles. Jessica Goldmark, Shannon's fiancee, and her family were also on hand.

"I'd like to think of this as the first time I've played here. I've got friends here who grew up in New York and live in New York," said Shannon.

Fittingly, the winger gave his fans at MSG plenty to cheer about when he scored the game-winner in the third.

Around the boards

Former Senators coach Perry Pearn, the well-respected assistant, is back home in St. Albert, Alta., after being fired earlier this month, along with former Ranger coach Tom Renney. It's the first time in 30 years that Pearn hasn't been behind a bench at this point in the season. "I've always been in the playoffs or getting ready for them," Pearn, a member of Jacques Martin's staff for eight years in Ottawa, said yesterday. "This has been a little strange for me." Pearn spent a weekend helping out at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where former Ottawa LW Shawn McEachern is working as an assistant. Pearn would like a chance to be part of Team Canada's staff at the world championship in Switzerland. He is on a list of names being considered by Hockey Canada. "I think it would be a good fit for me," said Pearn, who has a wealth of international experience and has won three gold medals with the world junior program. "I've mentioned to some people I'd love to be there." ... Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien was along for the ride on the Senators' short trip to the Big Apple. Accompanied by his two sons, O'Brien bought the three seats on the charter in an auction at a charity function earlier this year and had a chance to take in last night's game.

On Broadway

The Senators haven't given up hope of making the playoffs, but they're not going to get involved in any deep discussions about the possibility. "There is hope we can do it, but I'm not going to talk about it," said captain Daniel Alfredsson. "We're going to take it one game at a time and, hopefully, we can just keep going. We've got to make sure we prepare ourselves for every game. If it happens, great for us. We've just got to make sure we give it everything we have. We can't worry about what happens if we don't. All we can control is our effort. It's been good lately, and we need to keep it going." ... Sign of the times: The giant Virgin Records store in Times Square is closing in seven days. Everything is 50-80% off. Sad to see it go ... Rangers pest Sean Avery gave Senators C Mike Comrie a shot when he was talking to the media before the game. "He should stand on a box," said Avery. Comrie said they have mutual friends in the Los Angeles area, but didn't work out together last summer. "He was busy designing women's purses," Comrie said jokingly. "You can write that. That's on the record. He's harmless."

Off the glass

The Rangers have embraced the system brought in by new coach John Tortorella, who was 7-3-1 behind the club's bench going into last night. "I have a philosophy of how a team should play, and whether they accept me or not, I'm going to put that philosophy to them. It's up to them to accept it," Tortorella said. "I'm not here for a popularity contest. I'm here to develop a team concept that I believe ... and try to find the right recipe to win hockey games. If some guys don't accept it, I really don't give a damn." He has gotten the defence involved in the offence and the club is having success. "Since we made the changes, I feel the team has played better," said G Henrik Lundqvist. "We're getting involved in the games, we've started playing faster. They've done a great job, the coaches here, in giving us confidence." ... Senators C Mike Fisher had a goal and a fight in Saturday's 5-2 victory over the Isles and was only an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, assist and fight). "I know, I know," said Fisher. "I was bugging Shannon because I would have had (an assist) if he'd scored on that breakaway (in the third). I think that would have been the first one of my career. I'd have to check that, though."

Parting thought

Nothing like the MSG faithful yelling in unison: "Ruutu sucks!" Must have been music to his ears in the first.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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