ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Al Montoya, according to published reports, says he’s close to announcing a decision about whether he’ll sign with the New York Rangers and give up his final two years of eligibility at Michigan. But the 19-year-old goaltender has yet make that decision, and the official word out of Ann Arbor today is that the coaching staff is fully expecting him to return.
A source close to the team said that no one knows for sure what Montoya will decide, and that when he does make his decision, he’ll talk with the coaching staff and his teammates before releasing any information.
Although Montoya told the Michigan Daily on July 3 that he would have his decision “in five or six days,” he may have been just buying time with the media, said the source. “I’m right in the middle right now,” Montoya said in his Daily interview.
Montoya may be keeping everyone guessing, but he’s also been indicating his anticipation of a move to the Big Apple — whenever that should happen.
Earlier this month, Montoya told the Journal News that he’s looking forward to exploring Manhattan, because “there’s so much to take advantage of.” The Rangers — who made Montoya the sixth overall pick in June’s NHL Draft — have wined and dined him in recent weeks. The Detroit News reported last week that the fabled Carnegie Deli in Manhatten has already named a sandwich after the goaltender — the “Al Cubano,” in honor of his Cuban heritage.
And in New York, a city with a large Cuban population, much has been made of the story of Silva Montoya, the 19-year-old’s mother who raised four sons on her own in suburban Chicago after fleeing Cuba in 1963. Montoya has called himself a role model for Hispanic-American and other minority athletes. He would be the first Hispanic player in Rangers history.
Addressing reporters after his first-round selection, Montoya said, “The city of New York is waiting for something special.”
As is the city of Ann Arbor, in the form of Montoya’s decision.