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Monday, September 18, 2006

Nigel Dawes, Media Darling

Nigel Dawes (Chris Rutsch photo)

Nigel Dawes has seemingly become the Rangers rookie of the moment, judging by the number of times he's been written about in the papers lately.

From Larry Brooks and the New York Post, "Dawes Has Shot To Make Rangers":

Dawes, a 21-year-old sniper who scored 35 goals last year for the AHL Wolf Pack, made an impression on essentially every one of his shifts yesterday. He has a goal-scorer's instincts (and shot), with the ability to carve out good ice around the net. It is not inconceivable he could earn a spot playing left wing with Michael Nylander and Jaromir Jagr while Martin Straka skates with Matt Cullen and Brendan Shanahan.

"Nigel has gotten our attention, as we would have expected of him," Renney said.

From the Asbury Park Press, "Dawes, Prucha Ready To Rock":

The New York Rangers held their first formal workouts of training camp Friday, and the ice was again dotted with broad-shouldered skaters who look like they could double as NFL tight ends.

But there also was a 5-foot-8 Nigel Dawes darting in and out of traffic. And a 170-pound Petr Prucha streaking up a wing toward the net. Neither is the type of player who is going to turn heads when entering the rink in a T-shirt and jeans. But in the new NHL, they are the type of players who cannot only survive, but flourish.

"In the whole league before there were maybe four or five guys who were smaller, but now there's maybe one or two a team," said Dawes, 21, who had 67 points for Hartford of the AHL last year and is considered a candidate to land an NHL job this year. "I think it just shows there's room for smaller players now. You've got to be able to play the game and be able to skate flat out. I think it's more fun to watch, and it's definitely more fun to play."

While at 190 pounds he is thick enough that he's still difficult to knock off his skates, Dawes is accustomed to questions about his height. It was like that at the bantam level back home in Winnipeg, and it was like that through junior hockey. But he admits that when the NHL announced its radical rule changes in the summer of 2005, he wasn't particularly teary-eyed.

"It definitely wasn't a sad day in my life," he said. "But I've never been discouraged in my life. You just have to find other ways to stand out."

From New York Newsday, "Dawes Making Noise":

It's a numbers game in more ways than one for Nigel Dawes.

The Rangers have two or three roster spots open and a swarm of young forwards trying to impress the coaching staff in a compressed training camp.

Dawes, 21, a quick left wing who had 35 goals and 32 assists in 77 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack last season, was given the No. 10 jersey, not a number in the 60s, 70s or 80s, which are generally distributed to prospects.

But Dawes doesn't see any significance in that. "I just think they ran out of other numbers," he said with a laugh after another impressive day. "I wore No. 9 last year, so maybe it was the closest one to that."

Dawes skated yesterday with veteran center Michael Nylander and Marc-Andre Cliche, and scored on a penalty shot to add to his handful of goals in the past four days.

(From a separate CBS Sportsline story:

The only blemish in (goalie Al) Montoya's Saturday performance was a penalty-shot goal scored by Hartford teammate Nigel Dawes, who found the net a few times during the day.

"He owes me," Montoya said. "I got him going."

If Dawes plays well in the preseason games this week, it may be difficult to return him to Hartford. "You can't just go out and have one big game, or half a big game. Consistency is one of the hardest things to do in the game," he said.