Rangers News & Rumors: Fox Wins Norris, Eichel, NYC Gay Hockey & More

In this week’s edition of New York Rangers News & Rumors, Adam Fox made history when he was awarded the Norris Trophy on Tuesday; as Pride Month wraps up, the Rangers salute Alex Galvez of the NYCGHA as part of their Humans of Hockey series; rumors continue to swirl around a possible bid for the Buffalo Sabres’ Jack Eichel and more…

Foxy-Cleaning Up Some Hardware

Fox became the second player after Bobby Orr to win the Norris Trophy in his second season in the NHL. Fox also became the fourth Rangers player in their storied franchise history to win the award, beating out Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche).

The 5-foot-11, 181-pound defenseman from Jericho, NY, was drafted in the third round (66th overall) by the Calgary Flames. He committed to the Harvard Crimson while playing with the USA National Team Development Program (NTDP), and the Flames traded his rights to the Carolina Hurricanes in June 2018. The Hurricanes then traded him to the Rangers in April 2019 before he played an NHL game.

In his second NHL season (both seasons were shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic), Fox emerged as the Rangers’ top defenseman. He scored five goals, 32 assists and was a plus-22 rating in 55 games. He was fifth on the team in points and fell one point short of the Edmonton Oilers’ Tyson Barrie as the league’s top-scoring defenseman. Barrie, however, played one more game than Fox, who finished two points ahead of Hedman and three ahead of Makar.

Fox provided more than just stats this season. He made amazing defensive plays and great stretch passes to spring his teammates, like Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider, for scoring opportunities while also heading up the power play. Fox received the award from his childhood idol, fellow Norris-winner, and former Rangers’ captain, Brian Leetch. Fox could be on his way to becoming the next captain of the Blueshirts. 

“Finding this community was a lifesaver for me.”

That’s what Alex Galvez’s said about the New York City Gay Hockey Association (NYCGHA). Galvez was first introduced to hockey as a child watching his brothers play street hockey in their neighborhood, but he wasn’t able to play because he was “much younger.” His next experience was when his father took him and his brothers to Madison Square Garden (MSG) to watch the Rangers and NHL legend Guy Lafleur.

Galvez said this about his first time at MSG, “What amazed me was that anytime Guy Lafleur came out on the ice, without touching the puck [or] doing anything, the whole Madison Square Garden crowd would just chant his name “Guy” and it just left an impression about how someone could be so respected that all they had to do was just step on the ice and the crowd knew they were seeing someone special.”

Galvez saw an ad for the NYCGHA and decided to buy rollerblades to learn how to play. He then moved on to the ice, playing in the Chelsea Piers NYC adult hockey league, and became the captain of his team. He said that he was disheartened by the “anti-gay slurs” he’d hear at hockey games and decided to play in the NYCGHA because they provided a safe environment. Galvez also had this to say about finding the NYCGHA community, “I was able to make a wealth of friendships that I cherish.”

Eichel Rumors Still Swirling

Kevyn Adams, who’s just over a year into his tenure as Sabres general manager, likely won’t let their star center go without a giant return. He took some heat for not getting much in return for Taylor Hall, but he’s coming off a small victory after winning the draft lottery to pick first overall in the 2021 NHL Draft, and he wants to keep the momentum going. The Sabres are reportedly looking to get at least four pieces that are equivalent to first-rounders in one way or another (from ‘Rangers look into Jack Eichel’s condition in preliminary Sabres talks,’ NY Post, 6/28/21).

Jack Eichel Buffalo Sabres
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The 2nd-overall pick in 2015, Eichel only played in 21 games last season, and he has been resting and rehabbing (per team doctor’s orders) a herniated disc in his neck. Nobody has ruled out surgery to repair the disc on the 6-foot-2, 213-pound, Massachusetts native as yet.

There will be a bidding war for the injured Sabres captain, even if taking him on would mean a $10 million cap hit for each of the five seasons left on his contract. Rangers’ new GM, Chris Drury, reportedly inquired about Eichel, but that could mean nothing. Rumors of the Rangers asking about Eichel date back to before the draft last June, when former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton supposedly had a conversation with Adams about a possible deal. My THW colleague Brendan Azoff had this to say on the subject

In Other News…

The Rangers have announced some changes to their personnel. Benoit Allaire was promoted to director of New York Rangers’ goaltending, while Jeff Malcolm was promoted to Hartford Wolf Pack goaltending coach. Jean-Ian Filiatrault will join the Rangers’ player development department, while Matt Hunwick is joining the hockey operations’ player development department.

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