Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The New Captain

Jaromir Jagr, #68
Nothing oficial has been announced but all signs are pointing to the fact that Jaromir Jagr will be named the new Ranger Captain for 2006-07. Its a natural fit. This team is as much Jagr's team as the Stanley Cup Champions were Mark Messier's.

This Ranger team is more Jagr's team than it is Tom Renney's team. Jagr is already speaking out on what needs to be done. There is no danger that the Rangers will not be in the market to upgrade the team for the next season. Jagr has already put Ranger management and the drive by media press and the fans on notice that the team needs at least two or three players for next year. So the die is cast and Jagr will be an integral part of the Ranger process for upgrading the team.

Jagr adds a credibility to the process that neither Sather or Renney or Don Maloney for that matter bring. Remember there were top players last year who refused to even talk to the Rangers. Jagr all but admitted that the other day. So the way he was an on ice coach for most of the season, he will be a behind the scenes GM on player acquisitions. He must be, as he is the Ranger fans last hope for being a contending team next year. After this years surprising, in some ways, 100 points and a playoff spot, the fans expect nothing less than challenging for the Stanley Cup.

There are some key free agents to be available during the summer. Five come to mind. Three are defensemen. Wade Redden and Zdeno Charo from the Senators are two blue chippers. The other is a solid back checker, Brendan Witt. Witt, formerly of the Washington Capitals, was traded to Nashville at the trade deadline. He has been in the NHL for 10 years and is 31 years old. Redden is 28 years old and Chara is 29 and both, believe it or not, were Islander draft picks.

Another key free agent is Jason Arnott who played on two Devil Stanley Cup teams. Arnott had a career year with Dallas, 32 goals, 44 assists and 76 points.

Then there is Patrik Elias, of the Devils. While it is hard to see the Devils not signing him there are problems in Jerseyland. It is called the cap. The famous new NHL cap. Is it possible that the Devils could lose Elias? No way you say. Remember Scotty Niedermeyer? There was no way he would leave Jersey right? Wrong, he left.

Imagine a line of Arnott, Elias and Sykora? That would be the second line. The first would be Jagr, Prucha and Immonen. Not bad, eh!

UPDATE: Sad news-

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) - New York Rangers defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh, who spent time this season in the NHL's substance abuse program, was arrested Tuesday on a drunken driving charge, police said.

Ozolinsh was stopped Tuesday in White Plains, where he was allegedly driving 66 mph in a 40-mph zone, police Inspector Daniel Jackson said. A field sobriety test estimated the level of alcohol in Ozolinsh's blood at 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

He was charged with driving while intoxicated and released for a May 16 court appearance. Ozolinsh was also issued summonses for speeding and driving without a seat belt, and his blue 2006 Nissan Altima was impounded.

Rangers defenseman Ozolinsh charged with DWI [MSG, May 3, 2006]

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  • az-j said...

    Do you really think Jagr makes a good captain for this team? Captains don't throw useless jabs that dislocate their shoulders out of frustration. They lead by example, and at the end of Game 1 at what I think was the worst moment during the Rangers skid, Jagr did the opposite. Maybe a C on his shirt will keep his head straight during rough times, but I would prefer a more proven leader -- if there is one out there waiting to be poached.

    On a side note, I was also proud to see how the fans reacted at the end of Game 4. It's easy to say that NY fans will respect a losing team as long as it fights hard, but it was amazing to see that that was true.

  • az-j said...

    Err, reading more news tonight, I realize he's going to be the captain, so I guess we'll have to hope he shows more discipline going forwards...

  • alyosha mcbain said...

    I told you Ozo would be hittin' the least his relapse shows that he took these losses hard.

  • Anonymous said...

    Give me a break! Jagr had an awesome season. Would the team have made the playoffs without him? In a word, no. He re-established himself as one of the best players in the world and carried the team. With an improved second line in terms of scoring, Lundquist's return to form, and the addition of a better defense the Rangers could improve on 100 pts and go deep into playoffs.

  • Anonymous said...

    I've read this blog all year, and watched almost every minute of every Ranger's game, and unfortunately, I have to agree with Az-j.

    I don't think Jagr's cut out to be a captain. His game 1 exit is evidence of that. I think his physical play is evidence of that - we've seen great captains in the NHL go out and cause a ruccous when their teams are down. Messier would get the gloves off, Iginla does the same, Thornton, even Sundin...but at 250lbs Jagr will barely even lay a hip on anyone.

    His desire to win this year cannot be questioned. His will to produce and be a part of a winning system, even playing defense, cannot be criticized either. But this doesn't necessarily make him a good captain....I guess we'll see.

  • Swede Home Alabama said...

    Did not see game 4 in person, but glad to read it here that the fans were cheering at the end.

    For what it's worth: I think Jagr should be Captain. Granted he's not Mess, but who is. When I think of great Captains I think of Ray Bourque. He was Bruins captain for 14 years second longest tenure in NHL history.

    Bourque had 1141 penalty minutes in 1612 games. I don't think I can remember him ever being in a fight or going after someone? Maybe some old timers can refresh my memory on that. Jagr is no Bourque of course, but he's closer to the Bourque style of leadership than he is to the Mess style.

    Jeter is another great Captain. Not a brawler or a rush-the-mound guy by any means, but a guy who competes hard, pushes himself, and raises the level of everyone around him. That sounds like what Jagr is now all about.

    I think it's a plus for both his game and the Rangers if he gets tapped to be Captain.

  • Wes Putnam said...

    I agree with this-
    The Courage of Jaromir Jagr by Tom Benjamin -

    "I hate the pejorative "soft" as applied to hockey players and I hate it when there are whispers about an unwillingness to play with pain. NHL players - all of them - have great courage and pain thresholds hign enough to make most of us marvel. If there is a relative difference between players it is the difference between the very courageous and those with a nearly insane disregard for health and safety. It takes courage to referee an NHL game let alone play in one. Jagr a wimp? Is any NHL hockey player a wuss?"

  • mike said...

    az-j-Everyone goes off course sometimes. See swede home alabama and wes putnam comments. The Ranger fans are the greatest, trust me.

  • mike said...

    to alyosha mcbain-lets hope he can beat it wherever he is playing.

  • mike said...

    to-anonymous-He is truly one of the best and one of the best alltime. So what kind of break you want?

  • mike said...

    To-anonymous-Too many anonymouses. You don't have to be a bull or a tough guy. See swede alabama home's comments. But if you saw many games, at the Garden, you could see Jagr directing players on the ice. I think he'll be great, but what do I know, I picked the Rangers in six.

  • mike said...

    to-swede home alabama. I've been telling my other readers to read your comments. Your comments are right on target. It was electric listening to the crowd. You would have loved it.

  • mike said...

    To Wes Putnam- Amen brother, amen!