Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Del Zotto Working Hard This Summer To Regain Past Form, Roster Spot

Al Bello/Getty Images
According to Andrew Gross of NorthJersey.com Michael Del Zotto is looking to put his forgettable sophomore season behind him and look ahead to being an impact player for the Rangers during the 2011-12 season.
“Last year was last year and I’m not thinking about it,” Del Zotto said. “I have to move forward. It was just a bump in the road. I believe that I have a long career ahead and I want to help this team out. I have to come back with confidence and the mind-set that I do belong in New York. I’ve got to come back with that swagger. I kind of lost it but I know I have what it takes.”
It was clearly early on last season that the swagger he had during his successful rookie campaign of nine goals and 28 assists was missing and Del Zotto never found a way to capture it again during the year.  The fact that he believes that he can get it back, that he belongs at this level is something that will be critical to him actually proving those things are the case again.  He will not be handed anything this time around and it is good to see that he recognizes that fact.  
 Asked if he felt he would get a fair shot to reclaim his roster spot in training camp, Del Zotto said, "I believe so, but, you know what? Who knows? It's a business out there. I'm just coming in with the mind-set of trying to make the team."
Fair or unfair there are those who believe that his rookie season left Del Zotto with a sense of entitlement to his place in the lineup and caused for a lack of effort last summer to prepare for this year.  I do not know if that is true, but it certainly appears that some of the struggles this year, and his demotions to the minors, have shaken him of any of those notions and the effort will be there this summer.

The fact that Del Zotto is going to spend time this summer studying some of the best point men in the league in Nicklas Lidstrom and Dan Boyle is an exciting prospect for his future, especially for those who have questioned his desire or work ethic.  The only issue that could come out of that negatively is that Del Zotto continues his pattern of attempting to do too much on the ice.  In that sense he could learn a lot from watching and studying the guys within the Rangers organization.  None of them have the offensive skills of a Lidstrom or Boyle, but before Del Zotto tries to imitate some of the best to ever play the position he needs to learn to play the simple game.  If Del Zotto can take the step of just taking what the opposition is giving him whether it be handling the puck, making the simple outlet pass or shooting when he has the lane, then he will make significant progress in his development and his natural talent will take over from there.