Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Youth Movement?

So there we were in an exhibition game against the Bruins and while the Bruins were playing their young ones (no Thornton, no Leetch) the Rangers were playing Jagr, Nylander, Straka and Rucinsky. So what happens next? Yesterday Josef Balej and Nigel Dawes were sent to Hartford. They joined Hugh Jessiman and Chris Holt (G) who went to Hartford previously. Dawes, 50 goal scorer in the Western Hockey League played all of 5:25 minutes against the Bruins. Shades of Pavel Brendl and all the other young prospects who can't get ice time. But we continue to talk like we are serious about a youth movement but we load up with the likes of Steve Rucchin, Martin Straka, Marek Malik, Jason Ward and Ville Nieminen. The Rangers still have some fine youngsters in Kondratiev, Tyutin and Pock on defense. There are still good young forwards like Jed Ortmeyer, Dominic Moore, Ryan Hollweg and the big (size also) surprise Petr Prucha. Add young goalie Henrik Lundqvist and you do still have some fine young players. But they have to play. Renney is playing these exhibition games to win but we need to see the young guys in there. Most Ranger fans would rather see the young players and suffer through some minor disappointments than see the veterans play and suffer major disappointments. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Captain Exits

Mark Messier raises Stanley CupHe arrived in 1991 with a record of having won 5 Stanley Cups and one of them without Wayne Gretzky, which solidified his reputation as a big game player. He would lead the Rangers to the Presidents Trophy and win the Hart Trophy (MVP) and the Lester R. Pearson Trophy (outstanding player). But it would be two years later 1993-1994 that he would cement his reputation and enhance his credentials as a big game clutch player.

Down 3-2 in games against the Devils in the Conference Finals he uttered his now famous: "We'll Win Tonight." When the Rangers did win 4-2 and he scored a natural hat trick and assisted on the first goal by Alexi Kovalev, his place in Ranger history and folk lore are etched forever in the hearts of Ranger fans. He is without a doubt the greatest Ranger ever. He talked the talk and walked the walk. Besides the hat trick against the Devils he scored the game winner in the finals against Vancouver.

But he was more than big goals in big games. He was Captain Krunch, as tough a power forward that existed in hockey. And a leader unsurpassed. Quite possibly the greatest Captain in the history of sports.

Endurance - he played 25 years and 1756 games second only to Gordie Howe's 1767. He scored 694 goals which puts him 7th all time and his 1887 points puts him behind only Wayne Gretzky's 2857. He also accumulated 1193 assists placing him third behind Gretzky and Ron Francis. And his playoff goals of 109 are only 13 less than Wayne Gretzky. Add to this 6 Stanley Cups, two more than Gretzky and you have the third greatest player in the history of the NHL. Gretzky and Howe are the other two.

His last seven years were downers but still don't detract from his record. In 1996-97 reunited with the Great One they upset Florida in five, the Devils in five before bowing to the Flyers in five. It was after that there was the off season nonsense with Neil Smith over a one year contract which led to Marks departure to Vancouver for three years of futility and then back to the Rangers with Sather and four more lean years.

But he was always be The Captain. He was always The Messiah. He brought the Rangers out of the desert after 54 thirst filled years. The future? How about a bench coach, ready to take over the reins. Gretzky is now an owner/coach and Mario Lemieux is an owner who may be a coach someday. The fans will love him, his honesty, integrity and toughness. No one will be mailing it in with Mark Messier as coach. Thanks for the memories Mark. We will never forget you. I will be there January 12, 2006 when the Rangers play the Oilers and we lift #11 to the rafters. God bless you.

ICINGS:

Mark Messier's NHL career statistics:

Year    Team                 GP   G   A   Pts   Pim
1979-80 Edmonton Oilers 75 12 21 33 120
1980-81 Edmonton Oilers 72 23 40 63 102
1981-82 Edmonton Oilers 78 50 38 88 119
1982-83 Edmonton Oilers 77 48 58 106 72
1983-84 Edmonton Oilers 73 37 64 101 165
1984-85 Edmonton Oilers 55 23 31 54 57
1985-86 Edmonton Oilers 63 35 49 84 68
1986-87 Edmonton Oilers 77 37 70 107 73
1987-88 Edmonton Oilers 77 37 74 111 103
1988-89 Edmonton Oilers 72 33 61 94 130
1989-90 Edmonton Oilers 79 45 84 129 79
1990-91 Edmonton Oilers 53 12 52 64 34
1991-92 New York Rangers 79 35 72 107 76
1992-93 New York Rangers 75 25 66 91 72
1993-94 New York Rangers 76 26 58 84 76
1994-95 New York Rangers 46 14 39 53 40
1995-96 New York Rangers 74 47 52 99 122
1996-97 New York Rangers 71 36 48 84 88
1997-98 Vancouver Canucks 82 22 38 60 58
1998-99 Vancouver Canucks 59 13 35 48 33
1999-00 Vancouver Canucks 66 17 37 54 30
2000-01 New York Rangers 82 24 43 67 89
2001-02 New York Rangers 41 7 16 23 32
2002-03 New York Rangers 78 18 22 40 30
2003-04 New York Rangers 76 18 25 43 42
NHL Totals 1756 694 1193 1887 1910

Individual Trophies:

Hart Memorial Trophy - 2 (1990, 1992)
Conn Smythe Trophy - 1 (1984)
Lester B. Pearson Trophy - 2 (1990, 1992)

Championships:
Stanley Cup - 6 (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1994)