2006-09-22 / Sports

A Special Night At Shea As LoDuca, Green Became New Yorkers

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

The Mets celebrate their NL East Division title at Shea Stadium. Photo By Pete Borriello.The Mets celebrate their NL East Division title at Shea Stadium. Photo By Pete Borriello. GREENBURGH, NY - The last week couldn't have been better for new Ranger center Matt Cullen. Not only did he join his new team, but also welcomed a new addition to his family when his wife gave birth to a 7 lb boy last Wednesday.

"It was tough to leave [home]," Cullen said but then seemed happy about his new surroundings. "I like it here a lot. I am in the middle of finding a place, which is never fun. I never knew it was such a beautiful area. But there are great facilities. Great guys, good staff. It's great and I love it."

The former Carolina Hurricane is one of the new Rangers expected to bring winning experience to the club. Last season, he tallied career highs in goals [25] and points [49] helping his team to its first Stanley Cup. He can be a good second line center on this team, which was tested the first day of camp, when he lined with Brendan Shanahan and Marty Straka.

"It was fun," he said. "Shanahan is one of the best players in the game and the other guy, Marty Straka, has been a great player for years. He is so crafty with the puck. He makes things happen when there is nothing there."

It's not know if Cullen will center those teammates, since coach Tom Renney has made no decisions as of yet. No matter where he plays or whom he plays with, Renney does feel the Rangers have a good player on their hands.

"He's a good skater, no question about that," said Renney about Cullen. "He can distribute the puck from both sides of his stick. He's one of those guys who can influence a shift offensively and defensively because of his speed. We wanted to increase this team's speed, not just today but for years to come, and I think he gives us what we're after in that respect."

At the same time, the Rangers are what Cullen was after. Making the center feel wanted, the Blueshirts signed him right as the free agent light was lit on July 1. He said he was impressed with the strides the organization made under Renney after the lockout.

"It's such a good team," he said. "We were talking about these guys last year. You never heard of some of these guys, but they were playing so well. [Petr] Prucha, for example. There is a long list of guys."

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