There were plenty of games last season in which the Rangers did not dress Steve Eminger, but that didn’t matter to the defenseman. His new one-year deal with the team is proof.
“Going into this season, it’s going to be a fresh start,” Eminger said. “I’ve been training well and had a good summer and hopefully that leads into training camp and the season. I’m not looking to sit out games and be scratched. Nobody wants to be in that situation. I’ll play as hard as I can and be competitive and we’re going to challenge each other on the defense, which will be good for the hockey club.”
Eminger is excited to be back with the Rangers after re-upping with the team on a one-year deal Wednesday. Eminger played his first season with the Rangers last year after being acquired in a trade with Anaheim on July 9, 2010 and scored two goals and four assists in 65 games.
“I had a great experience with the group of guys and the organization,” Eminger said. “I liked where the team was headed last year and it was a pretty successful year and we’re only going to get better for next year. All those things made me want to come back.”
While Eminger had stretches late in the season where he did not dress, including the five games in the playoffs, the 27-year-old said he was happy with his season last year. While he was disappointed when he sat out, he thought there was a stretch in the middle of the season when he thought he was playing the best hockey of his career. He’s hoping that he can get back to that level this upcoming season.
The Rangers have not informed Eminger what his role will be on the team this season, but it’s likely that he will be competing for one of the two spots on the Rangers third defensive line, possibly competing against third-year player Michael Del Zotto and touted prospect Tim Erixon. He’s looking forward to the competition.
“(Rangers coach) John Tortorella is pretty fair,” Eminger said. “It doesn’t matter if you are undrafted or a first-round pick, I think his whole philosophy is who comes to camp and is ready and prepared. He gives a fair opportunity to everyone.”
As he prepares for the upcoming season, Eminger has been splitting time between Philadelphia and Kitchener, Ontario, working out and spending plenty of time on the track. Eminger said he’s been running more this offseason.
He likes the way the Rangers roster is shaping up for next season.
“I felt we had a heck of a team last year and being pretty young, I definitely thought we built that identity throughout the league,” Eminger said. “It was relentless play and we played to the end. I think myself and the whole team is ready to get things started.”