Chris Kreider of the Rangers Is Getting Better With Age

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“There were all the tattered nets he went through in their driveway and all the pucks lost in the woods,” Hathaway recalled. “He was a freakish athlete. We spent the summer training, working out, and then he’d want to play basketball and he’d be dunking and trying to beat his sister in a game. Then we go inside and play some board game and he would win at that, too.”

Hathaway, who made it to the N.H.L. despite not getting drafted, said that from the moment Kreider arrived at Andover, he exhibited a dedication to work — even with no coaches around — that he called, “infectious.”

One evening, after an Andover practice, Hathaway, Kreider and another teammate were headed to Kreider’s gym in the pouring rain for an additional workout, until they noticed a flat tire. Hathaway assumed the gym session would be abandoned. Kreider never entertained the thought. He insisted they fix the tire in the rain, and then they went to the gym.

“I consider myself lucky to have been around him to get that competitive push,” Hathaway said. “It helped me get better. If you surround yourself with smart, hard-working people who are friendly, that’s the best you can do.”

Later, at Boston College, Kreider was still one of the best skaters on a national championship team. But it was there, he said, that coaches first began to usher him toward the goalmouth and tutor him on the art of screening the goalie, tipping and redirecting pucks, and anticipating the exact place to be. Once he joined the Rangers, he said, that process intensified and as his professional career unfolded he continued to morph from flash to grit, from Pavel Bure into Phil Esposito.

Drafted 19th overall in 2009, Kreider has already assembled an impressive Rangers career, even if he never scores again. His 211 goals are 12th on the Rangers’ career list, where he and Brian Leetch are the only Americans in the top 20. With 625 games played, Kreider is 23rd on that team list and through Friday he was ninth in plus/minus with plus-82 over 10 years.

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