Saturday, July 23, 2011

Prospal finds new home in Columbus

It looks like someone else's fans will get to enjoy Vinny Prospal's awesome goal celebrations. After spending two years on Broadway, the 36 year-old crafty veteran forward signed with the Blue Jackets this afternoon for a year, $1.75 million.

"Vinny Prospal is a proven top six forward in the National Hockey League and we look forward to him playing that role for our hockey club," Columbus GM Scott Howson said of his latest acquisition that should help offset the loss of Kristian Huselius while fitting in nicely with Jeff Carter and Rick Nash. "We are very pleased to be able to add a player of his caliber to our team at this late date in the free agency process."
Following a successful debut in the Big Apple where he ranked second in team scoring with 58 points (20-38-58) over 75 games, a bad knee limited the Czech complement to Marian Gaborik to 29 games last season. Despite the injury, one of the Rangers' emotional leaders showed guts returning to help spark the club back into the postseason. His penchant for big goals along with the coolest celebrations you'll ever see often ignited teammates. Never was that more evident during a three-goal comeback against the Bruins in a pivotal match-up at The Garden.

With the team needing to win to keep pace with Carolina, they came out flat and paid dearly falling behind by three against a stingy opponent. When all felt lost, Prosp injected life back into the bench and crowd with two big goals that cut the deficit to 3-2 after two periods. Most noticeable was his reaction after scoring the first one, doing his trademark pump of the fists and then having some pointed words of encouragement for the bench. The response was overwhelming with the Blueshirts continuing to push until Brandon Dubinsky somehow tied it late followed by Mike Sauer's finest rookie moment with under three minutes left. Derek Stepan's empty netter would seal one of the bookmark wins that got our team in.

That's the kinda rugged determination Prospal demonstrated, going to the net for garbage goals. When the Rangers needed him most, he was there on the last day of the season, scoring and setting up another in a do-or-die win over the Devils before an incredible MSG atmosphere. Without his contributions that saw him scratch out nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points over 29 contests, they don't make the playoffs. I can honestly say I never expected him to return. Everything that was said made it sound like we shouldn't count on Prosp. But the prideful man who's had successful runs in five NHL cities (Phi, Ott, TB, Ana, NYR) discounting a spare part with Florida, proved why John Tortorella liked him enough to sign him.

Thank you Prospal for two good years and best wishes in Columbus.

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