Antti Raanta hadn’t even gotten to the visiting locker room at the United Center when Blackhawks vice president Al MacIsaac pulled him aside.
“He came to me when I came through the hallway and just said, ‘I have something for you,’” said Raanta, who got his Stanley Cup ring from MacIsaac. “It’s gorgeous. It’s beautiful. I don’t know if I should put it on my finger because it’s so heavy. I don’t know if I can carry it. It’s unbelievable.”
Raanta was his usually cheerful self on Wednesday morning, a few hours before his new team, the New York Rangers, faced his former team in the season opener. It was an interesting summer for Raanta, who got married, got traded and got some flack for heat-of-the-moment comments he made to a Finnish magazine about late-season angst he was feeling here. Raanta said he hopes people understand he was just expressing how he felt at that time.
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“I didn’t want to say anything bad about the Hawks," Raanta said. "I understand the fans can be little disappointed in me. But hopefully they understand I wasn’t thinking that the whole playoff time. It was one hour in one day. When you’re frustrated, you have a lot of things going on in your mind. Hopefully everybody understands that and hopefully after this night everybody can forget that. We have a new season and new team here, so I’m focusing on that now and going every day, trying to be better.”
When the Blackhawks staff and player names on the Stanley Cup were unveiled a few weeks ago, Raanta’s wasn’t there. Raanta said he found out about that from friends.
“I didn’t know what to think about that,” Raanta said. “There are a number of how many names you can put on there. It’s not there so it’s not there. I know I was part of the team, so that’s good enough. What are you going to do about that?”
Asked if getting that Cup ring is consolation for no name on the Cup, Raanta laughed.
“Yeah, it’s pretty nice,” he said with a smile. “It was nice to see Al and Mark (Bernard, Rockford IceHogs general manager). They were happy to see me and gave me the ring. I have to keep an eye on that ring now.”
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Raanta is settling into life with the Rangers now. He’s learning from Henrik Lundqvist and is looking forward to the backup opportunity in New York. In two NHL moves he’s gotten to live in two of the biggest and best cities in the nation. Not a bad deal, really.
“I had a great two years in Chicago. Now it’s New York. I was first thinking, ‘I can’t get any bigger than Chicago.’ Then you get a phone call that you’re going to New York and I thought, ‘OK, that’s a little bigger,’” Raanta said. “Everybody’s been helpful there. Everyone was helpful here. I’m a pretty lucky guy.”