The Secret About Enver Lisin


Written on 10/27/2009 by Jim Cerny

Oh no. Our little secret has been discovered.

That was among my first throughts when I heard that 23 year-old Enver Lisin was being bumped up to play on the Rangers top line alongside star forwards Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal.

Oh no. Our little secret has been discovered.

I had the same reaction when Lisin scored a big third-period goal against his former team, the Phoenix Coyotes, last night at Madison Square Garden.

Oh no. Our little secret has been discovered.

Yup, those same words rattled in my brain when I headed to the Rangers' locker room after last night's 5-2 victory and saw Lisin being interviewed on television as the post-game guest.

Now everyone is going to know what a great guy, and engaging personality, Enver Lisin is.

"We're going to lose him now," Andrew Gross, Rangers' beat reporter for The Record in New Jersey, said, thinking the same thing I was.

You see, since arriving in New York a week or two before training camp to skate with his new teammates after a summer trade from Phoenix, Lisin's locker stall has become a popular daily destination for beat writers like myself, Andrew, Michael Obernauer of The Daily News, and Newsday's Steve Zipay.

Stop by Lisin's stall and you are sure to be greeted with a genuine smile, a funny remark or three, and an openness and friendliness that is not often found inside the locker room of a professional sports team.

He is at the same time wide-eyed and innocent---in an endearing Yakov Smirnoff way---and thoughtful and intelligent. In one breath, Lisin will be telling you about his PlayStation skills---"I'm a really good sniper in those killing games"---and in another he will be breaking down the importance of team concept---"I am happy to play on the first line, but I will do anything they ask me to do here---first line, fourth line, whatever---because the only thing that matters is winning the Stanley Cup".

We are blessed in hockey to be able to deal with so many good people on a day-in, day-out basis. I have worked in all four major sports, and am well aware that hockey people are far and away the best, and most respectful, of the lot.

And in my many years covering the NHL I have been able to become acquainted with some very special people. Adam Graves and Mike Richter stand out from those 1990's Rangers teams I covered. When I broadcasted for the Islanders, I had the pleasure to work with and get to know Don Maloney, a real classy gentleman who was GM on the Island for a bit. Mariusz Czerkawski, Zigmund Palffy, and Robert Reichel were Islanders I was pleased to count as friends. Steve Valiquette and I forged a bond on Long Island, and now we are fortunate to be together again with the Rangers.

There are so many people I could name. But Enver Lisin is fast moving up that chart of great guys.

And there for a month or two, no one outside of our small writers' circle knew much about Lisin, a speedy winger who played in 78 games, scoring 18 goals, over parts of three seasons in Phoenix before being shipped to Broadway in exchange for Lauri Korpikoski this past July. Overshadowed by his more famous teammates---like Gaborik, Prospal, and Henrik Lundqvist---as well as other more highly-touted youngsters---like 19 year-old Michael Del Zotto and 25 year-old Matt Gilroy---plus playing 3rd and 4th line minutes, there wasn't much reason for the fans or the TV and radio media to care much about Lisin.

But we knew there was something special about Lisin. More importantly, so did Rangers coach John Tortorella. And it extends far beyond the fact that Lisin is really, really good guy.

"Lisin is a talented player, and he is getting better and better at the (defensive) part of the game," stated Tortorella. "There is upside there. And he really works at it. He's a great skater, and he has that great offensive instinct, but he's willing to work hard on the other parts of his game. And that's what is going to land him more opportunities to play and be put into more offensive situations."

Always among the last to leave the ice following practice, Lisin's kid-like features and twinkling eyes bely the fact that he is one of the hardest workers on this Rangers team. And now he is being rewarded with more ice-time---more than 17 minutes in each of the last two games---and the chance to skate with the club's top two offensive forwards.

"All you have to do with those players is work hard and listen to what they tell you to do," said Lisin, as usual with a laugh at the end of his sentence. "I learn something from them every game. There's only one way to play the game and that is to face the pressure. I am very lucky to play with them, and to be on one of the best teams like the Rangers"

Lisin, who has put up decent offensive numbers (3-5-8) considering his lack of ice-time to start the season, has a goal and two assists in two games skating alongside Gaborik (10-8-18) and Prospal (4-12-16).

Last night, with the Rangers leading 4-2 in the third period---but with the Coyotes having already shaved two goals off New York's lead---Lisin accepted a Prospal pass on left wing, skated over the 'Yotes blueline, and blistered a slap shot short-side on Jason LaBarbera that sealed the deal at The Garden. It was a glimpse into some of the possibilities Lisin brings to this Rangers squad.

The goal was followed by a somewhat-awkward jump for joy, which brought Lisin much teasing following the game. As could be expected, his response was nothing but good natured.

"I don't know why I did that, it just happened," Lisin tried to explain afterwards.

When I asked him if the goal was more special because it came against the team that selected him 50th overall in the 2004 draft, Lisin responded, "Somewhere deep, deep in my soul, I was pretty happy about it."

Classic, classic reply. The kind of answer that will have a host of media folk dropping by his locker on a more regular basis, for sure.

Oh no. Our little secret has been discovered.

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