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Thursday, March 7, 2013
Hamrlik: NYR are a 'Stanley Cup contender'

By Katie Strang

After struggling to crack the lineup with the Washington Capitals under new coach Adam Oates, veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik is embracing his new opportunity with the New York Rangers.

The Rangers claimed the 38-year-old veteran off waivers from Washington Wednesday, a move that was discussed even before Marc Staal suffered a gruesome eye injury Tuesday night.

"Happy, excited, anxious to play," said Hamrlik about learning he'd be joining the Rangers. "This is a really good team, one of the best goaltending [teams] in league. They have some great defensemen who can skate and move the puck, lots of speed up front. I think this team is a Stanley Cup contender."

Hamrlik said he did not want to dwell on the past, but admitted he was frustrated by his limited role with the Caps this season. Before being waived, Hamrlik played in only four games under Oates.

"There's been lots of changes over the summer with the coaching staff in Washington. I wish ... they would've could'e given me a little more of a chance to play hockey but it's in the past and I'm looking more ahead," Hamrlik said. "It is what it is."

Should Hamrlik play tonight he'll be thrown right into the midst of a division rivalry that he knows all about. Hamrlik spent four years with the Islanders from 2000-2004 and said he had lots of good memories about the Isles-Rangers match-ups.

"It's huge," Hamrlik said. "Always the guys are pumped up and the excitement ... the fans really enjoy it. It should be fun."

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Brad Richards will miss his second straight game Thursday night as he recovers from a nasty hit Sunday delivered by Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta. Kaleta received a five-game suspension for the play, which sent Richards face-first into the boards and writhing in pain on the ice.

How did he feel about the suspension?

"I don't know what's appropriate, I just hope someone doesn't have to have a broken neck and get carried off by a stretcher for that to sink in, that that's jut a crazy play," Richards said.

After the hit, Richards and his teammates blasted Kaleta for what they felt was a dirty play.

"We learned that in Pee Wee. You see someone's numbers and you just don't do that," Richards said. "Hopefully, something worse doesn't have to happen [so] we have to make a point out of it."

Richards said he is "feeling better" each day but that he is being careful not to set himself back until he is fully ready to return.