Paul Ranger has five points in his last five games for the Toronto Marlies. Pretty impressive for a guy who left the game of hockey for nearly three years. After just eight games into the 2009-10 season, Ranger walked away from the Tampa Bay Lightning for personal reasons. The actual issue that caused Ranger to leave has never really been discussed, but it certainly came as a surprise.
Ranger was a serviceable defenseman for the Lightning for a few years. His best campaign came in 2007-08 when he had 10 goals and 31 points while logging over 25 minutes of ice per game. However, a shoulder injury cost him nearly half the season the following year and eventually required surgery. Soon after he was out of hockey.
While he was away he attended the University of Ottawa and started coaching a Bantam Triple-A team in Whitby, ON. It was during his coaching experiences where Ranger rediscovered his passion for the sport and his love for the game.
Ranger got himself back into shape and the Leafs gave him a shot with a one-year American Hockey League contract this past summer. A great low risk/high reward move with some offensive upside. Adding someone with that kind of NHL experience should be great for some of the younger players in the Marlies organization to learn from. Ranger could be an asset with the big club as well. You can never have too many experienced defenseman, so I’ve been told, and if the injury bug hits, Ranger would be a solid candidate for a callup.
It’s good to see both Ranger back on the ice again doing well, and a Leaf move that’s – dare I say it – panning out.