Jaromir Jagr claimed he didn't play and the Rangers still won. Fact of the matter Jagr played 17:46 minutes but for a guy averaging over 21 minutes he figured he had cheated the team. The Rangers responded with six different players, including Jagr, scoring goals and eleven players getting assists. Kevin Weekes went down in a freak accident as the goal cage fell on his right foot. The injury is not serious and he should return within a week or so. In the interim Chris Holt was brought up from the EHL to back up The Prince. Oh yeah! The Rangers beat the offensively gifted but defensively deficient, goalie starved Atlanta Thrashers 6-3.
What is also scary is that in certain quarters they are now talking up trades. Larry Brooks first mentioned in The New York Post that Petr Sykora is available from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Stan Fischler followed that up on MSG on Thursday night that it was too bad Weekes got hurt as he would be the bait to get Sykora. Why this rush? Where did it go wrong for the Rangers? Well nothing is going wrong for the Rangers. The win over the Thrashers were their fourth straight. A win over the Caps tonight would put the Rangers nine games over .500 for the first time in over nine years.
What is going wrong is now some 'Pundits' are forgetting this is a rebuilding year and are starting to overreach. Fischler even states boldly, "The Rangers have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup." OK, let's say Sykora is all that he's advertised to be. He has scored 206 goals and 472 points in 629 NHL games. Are these numbers to get ecstatic over? He has hit a high of 35 with the Devils but this year has only four goals in twenty one games. Is he another Valerie Kaminsky, all world, all bust with the Rangers? Who gets traded for him? Right now the Rangers are a very tight knit team with all the right parts in place, except for some spotty defense. The Rangers have a third and fourth line made up mainly of grinders and muckers that hasn't been seen in New York since the Stanley Cup Champs of 1993-94.
So who do we give up to get Sykora. If I were Anaheim I would ask for Petr Prucha. Are the Rangers willing to give up Prucha? I'm not. Then who? Tyutin? No way. Or dip into Hartford and trade off Nigel Dawes? Jarkko Immonen? Al Montoya? Thomas Pock? Ivan Baranka? Hugh Jessiman, now in the EHL? Who are these guys you may ask? They are our future. They are the Rangers of the future and if we stick with the plan we could still make the playoffs this year and for many years in the future where a Stanley Cup is a possibility again. Where we need help is on defense.
Ah defense! Our best defenseman is Fedor Tyutin and he is a rookie (25 games in 2003-04) and is only 22 years old. I've gone through this defense drill before. Malik is slow and immobile; Maxim Kondratiev is young, also 22, and learning fast; Darius Kasparaitis in his 15th year is slowing a bit and stills delivers some hard hits but many a time gets himself beaten by quick forwards; Michal Rozsival turns over the puck too easy and is ineffective as a point man on the power play; Jason Strudwick has been a dependable, hard hitting 7th defenseman, sometimes winger, who seems to be the teams designated fighter. And then there is Tom Poti. All I can say is why? Why is he playing? Why is he still on the team? Thank God for our goalies, Weekes and Lundqvist who have been fantastic.
Brian Leech should be on the Rangers. Can Glen Sather do it? Will Brian Leetch play for Glen Sather? Larry Brooks thinks this would be great for the Rangers and for Leetch. Positives? The Power Play will improve immediately. The Rangers will have their quarter back on the power play. The garden crowd would go nuts watching Leetch take the puck deep into his own end, fly through the neutral zone, without a red line, and splitting the defense into the offensive zone. This is the trade that must be made. Who do we trade for him? Tom Poti, who else? Poti is a Boston area boy, cheaper and younger than Leetch. The Bruins are in a free fall and would save roughly two million in salary cap. Maybe a change of scenery would do Poti some good. Throw in a couple of draft picks and that should close the deal. The Rangers are stocked with good young players in Hartford so the picks would not be a problem. So there it is. No on Sykora and yes on Leetch. Leetch would help many of our young forwards, The Kamikaze Kids, become goal scores. He is the all time Ranger assist leader with 741 and ranks second in points with 981. With Leetch, the Stanley Cup that Fischler covets, will be within reach.
Jes Gőlbez rants and raves about the Ranger's Czech Mafia-
The Czech Mafia (with the token Slovak, just like old times):
Jaromir Jagr RW 25 21-18-39 +6 22PIM
Martin Straka C 25 3-21-24 +4 14PIM
Martin Rucinsky LW 12 6 8 14 +4 6PIM
Marcel Hossa LW 24 5-6-11 +4 10PIM
Petr Prucha C 19 6-3-9 +2 6PIM
Michal Rozsival D 25 1-6-7 +8 32PIM
Marek Malik D 24 0-5-5 +6 28PIM
The New York Rangers seem to be a great place for Czechs to play. I mean, they managed to turn Jan Hlavac into a useful player.