Lights, camera, and plenty of action have the New York Rangers movie stars this past week. With cameras and players comingling, the Rangers every move is being documented on film. Coach John Tortorella reminded his crew to play hockey and not play up to the cameras. For rookie Carl Hagelin, he’s celebrating being noticed and a recent promotion to the top line.
AS the Winter Classic approaches, the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers are the subject of the HBO documentary 24/7 chronicling the weeks leading up to Jan. 2. For the Rangers, this is an opportunity to showcase what the team has been building for years. With cameras rolling 24/7, the Blueshirts of Broadway are celebrities on a different stage. Hagelin should play Jan. 2 as injuries still keep some key Rangers down.
Swedish-born Carl Hagelin is no stranger to playing outside under the bright lights. Called up by the New York Rangers, Hagelin scored his first NHL goal Thanksgiving night and has been scoring since. The 22-year-old former University of Michigan Captain began his first professional season in the Rangers organization this fall.
He has impressed the fans and the coaches with his speed and skill. Though his time with the Rangers has been short, the chance to play under the extravaganza of Madison Square Garden has prepared him for the national media blitz of the Winter Classic. Hagelin has been under another big show and performed well for seasoned coach, Red Berenson.
Touted as the “Big Chill at the Big House” the Michigan Wolverine and Michigan State Spartans faced off before a record-setting college hockey crowd of 113,411 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Hagelin posted two goals. His senior year, Hagelin, paced Michigan in all offensive categories with 18 goals, 31 assists, 49 points, 158 shots on goal, a plus-21 rating, seven power-play goals, and 15 multi-point games in 2010-11. His 49 points ranked fourth in the CCHA and tied him for 14th in the nation in scoring.
Under Coach Red Berenson and the Michigan staff Hagelin gained invaluable competitive spirit and developed his own routine including leadership:
“The coaches taught us the importance of jumping back, checking hard, being in puck lanes and blocking shots,” he said. “I am a much better defensive player than when I first came over from Sweden. When I got named captain of the team it was obviously a great honor,” he said. “There have been so many good captains throughout the years that have played for Michigan, so I knew it was really special. It was the guys on the team who named me captain, which made it even more special. “
The New York Rangers finally made the call-up after eighteen games for Hagelin as the fans have been calling for since training camp. Because of his self-discipline attitude, the experience of playing for Tortorella has made the transition smoother. Coach “likes Hagelin’s speed and he makes the Rangers appear quicker.”
Though Hagelin’s debut has gone well, there is caution in pushing him too hard. Torts stresses, “He’s still a young man who is going through the proper way of the process. I had a tremendous amount of interest in him when the season started, but we felt that he needed to go down (to Connecticut) to play, and he has grown—especially the past couple of weeks down there—and he certainly has played very well the first couple of games with us.”
Hagelin also was a representative of Team Sweden at the 2008 World Junior Championship. He played with current NHLers Victor Hedman, Patrik Berglund, and Magnus Paajarvi and earned a silver medal after losing to Canada in overtime in the championship game.
Whether the rookie plays in the Winter Classic or not, he most likely will spend more time in the AHL with The Connecticut Whale as the season continues. Rangers fans are hopeful on Hagelin as he takes a big leap as a professional hockey player and has stepped into the spotlight once again.
Heidi has been a Rangers fan since the Gretzky years. While focusing on The Blue Line and hockey’s stalwart defenders, Heidi also connects with the human side of hockey. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or at her blog Don’t Cross My Blue Line.