Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The 'Spine' Goes South

The Stealth GM came out of his hole, saw his shadow and went back in and now the Ranger fans will have to endure a minimum of nine miserable months of boring, defense first, flag hockey. The Gunfight at the 33rd Street Corral, was a solitary fight as one of the participants (guess who?) was a no show. Sean Avery, 'The Detriment,' signed up with the ranchers down in Texas, known as Stars, for $15.5 mil for 4 years and will work for his new foreman, Brett Hull, who understands all things tough, gutsy and winning about hockey. Avery has left the losers and will join the winners.

With Avery in the lineup, the Rangers accumulated 116 points out of a possible 172 points for a 67.4 winning percentage. With Avery out of the lineup the Rangers amassed 21 points out of a possible 50 for a 42% total. In 57 games last year he had 15 goals and 18 assists. His goal total was the fifth highest on the team. But that wasn't what Avery was about. Avery was about grit. Avery was about toughness. Avery was about standing up for a teammate. Avery was about getting in an opponents head. Avery was about winning. The great Joe DiMaggio, The Yankee Clipper, was asked what was his greatest accomplishment and the great Joe D responded, "winning." In 13 years DiMaggio's Yankees won 10 pennants and nine World Series.

The apologists are already there saying how he faded in the second round of each playoff series. Wow, what a rap. If there wasn't an Avery the Rangers would have never made the playoffs. My friend Rob, over at West Islip Wines and Liquors thinks there may be a locker room problem. I think so too and I think it's coach clueless who always seemed to have a problem singling out Avery for special praise. But the Rangers have the answer.They have signed two big free agents who will take over for Avery. Patrick Rissmiller and Aaron Voros, two journeymen who will be given the drive-by-media prop up job and in a combined 134 games last year scored a combined 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points two short of Avery's 33 points in 77 less games.

The Stealth had no money to give to the Spine of the Rangers but had plenty to give to Wade Redden, who has surely seen his better days and Michal Rozsival, who hasn't seen too many days. In my opinion, the Stealth overpaid for both of them. But it will be the fans who pay, with increased prices. Redden could be the answer to the power play but I don't see much improvement in the defense in front of Lundqvist, but I could be wrong. However, the joint moves are an indication of the direction of the team which will be defense first and defense at all costs. If that fails then it's defense only.

The biggest hose job, besides Avery, was given to the Ranger fans. Almost every poll taken on Ranger needs had Avery finishing on top as a must sign, even ahead of Jagr. There was excitement in the air when he stepped on the ice but alas now he has gone. Another loser is Darcy Tucker who just signed with the Avalanche and now has Avery following him west. Different division but same conference. The winners are the Eastern Conference, the Devils and Marty the Whiner. Other losers and they are big time losers, are coach clueless and the Stealth GM.

Sean, Godspeed and we will look forward to your return to MSG where your many fans await you and will greet you with an 'Eddie' type cheer. Good luck, Sean Avery.


The Dark Ranger:
Searching For A Captain To Right The Ship -- Despite Redden's play last season, I do believe this to be a solid addition to our lineup --- the Senators suffered in spotty goaltending and at a certain point in the season, everyone gives up -- Wade's track record is one of a solid top five defenseman to play quarterback to Staal, Girardi, Tyutin and Rozzy. Maybe Bobby Sanguinetti may be ready for the big leagues. Fine...
Scotty Hockey:
Happy Trails Sean -- Aside from losing the sparkplug that got the engine going, the Rangers are also losing their best public relations agent. Avery helped renew the faith of the Blue Seat faithful by spending time with them. He also helped get the Blueshirts out of the sports section in New York and got more eyes on the team. The NHL's p.r. task has been to show people who aren't tradition sports fans that hockey is pretty cool and Avery did that better than any Ranger since Ron Duguay. Adam Graves can go around and brighten the smiles of thousands upon thousands of children but Avery could get millions of girls to look at the Rangers...
Blue Shirt Bulletin:
Avery Does Dallas -- Sean Avery got his money. And Ranger fans got the shaft. The popular pest with the amazing won-lost-OT/SO-loss record in his two partial seasons as a Ranger has signed with the Dallas Stars for the four-year, $15.5-million terms that are only a small fraction less than he had been seeking. The Rangers were unwilling to give him quite that much, worried about the potential for wearing out his welcome as he has done in other cities, worried about the series of injuries that cost him significant chunks of last season, and worried about the disappearing acts he pulled off in each of the last two playoffs once they reached the second round...
Blue Shirts on Broadway:
Blueshirts Busy During Free Agency -- Acquired: RW- Nikolai Zherdev and C- Dan Fritsche *for* D- Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman

Analysis: I’m indifferent about this one. On one hand, you can tell that in our signings, our 2 big hits were Redden and Rozsival, both Defensemen- Therefore, there is a need for offense and we could get it with a guy like Zherdev, who had 61 points (26 goals) last season, by far his best year in the league. The former first round pick (4th overall) had 76 goals in 4 season with the Blue Jackets. He has potential but I don’t think he is ready to make the jump from Columbus to New York… No offense, but Nationwide Arena and MSG are two completely different places to play...
Hot Stove NY:
Thanks for the Memories, Sean -- Sean Avery was certainly one of the more interesting characters to play for the New York Rangers over the years. He didn’t have the quiet dignity of a Jean Ratelle. He didn’t have the class of an Adam Graves. He didn’t arrive as a Hall-of-Famer like Mark Messier or Phil Esposito. But he was an instigator. He was an agitator. And he was fun.

He likes actresses. He doesn’t like Canada. He likes fashion. He doesn’t like radio broadcasters from Toronto. He likes shooting his mouth off. And he really doesn’t like Martin Brodeur...
The Blue Line:
We hardly knew ye: Avery goes to Dallas -- It's a dark hour in Rangerland, as Sean Avery has signed with the Dallas Stars for four years and $15.5 million.

In hindsight, the rapid signing of Aaron Voros should have been an indication that Avery wasn't coming back. Voros, of course, may have some grit, but he ain't Avery...
Hockey Rodent:
Face Lift -- In Wednesday's 6 PM telecon with beat reporters, Slats indicated his work is far from done and that his upcoming tasks may well include a trade or two in addition to unilateral recruitments of the free agent kind. So I'll reserve judgement of this summer's overhaul until the results are in and sealed with wax. But so far the direction is intriguing, unless your sole criterion for satisfaction was Cup Contention. Get real.

2008-2009 won't see a return to The Cup Finals. Not gonna happen. But depending upon the disarray of The Eastern Conference, a fourth consecutive trip to the postseason is not beyond the realm of rationality...
Hockey Bird:
Tyutin gone.... -- If the reports are true, the Rangers have traded Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman (WHOO HOO!!) to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche.

This is a steal of monumental proportions, if this is all the Rangers gave up. I like Tyutin a lot, but Zherdev is 23 years-old and fits into what I hope the future of this team is . . . young Russian scorers. (Cherepanov, Anisimov, Grachev).

Fritsche seems to be a throw in center, 22 years old, versatile two way player. Think Dom Moore, I guess....
Here's the Columbus knock on Zherdev

Light the Lamp [Columbus Blue Jackets]:
Live Bloggin "2008 Day 2 Edition" -- Zherdev is/was not in this team's long term plans. You have to remember that when evaluating this deal. If there is any doubt about that he was it was answered this afternoon.

He has been rumored to be on the move looong before today. The biggest knock on him was his inconsistency. He was a dis-connected player that did not fit the mold that this team moving towards. He razzled he dazzled but when the game got tough he disappeared most nights. The Jackets loved his talent - hated his competitiveness. He was never going to be re-signed after his contract expired next season and he certainly did not have the value that many think he did.


I really like this deal as I've liked Tyutin for quite a while. It makes sense as long as we fill the vacant holes on offense because as much as I won't miss Z he did score 60+ points for us last year on a team that couldn't score goals. That production needs addressed.

I'll have much more on this trade later tonight with some analysis on Backman (i.e salary dump) and the departure of Fritsche (i.e. hard worker that no longer fit on team).
The Neutral Zone Trap [Blue Jackets]:
Tangled up in Blue -- I’d said on here before that it would neither be shocking nor be the end of the world to see Zherdev traded this summer. He has talent to burn, but we all know there are a lot of question marks around him. And with some of the kids in the system like Voracek and Filatov seemingly having Zherdev-like talent without the Zherdev-like drama (yet), it was a fair gamble to trade away the enigmatic one in order to fill any of the glaring holes in the roster...
Blue Jackets Buzz:
What the Zherdev Trade Means -- I’m starting to come around to the Zherdev trade. Yeah, I said it. You know what, Z didn’t fit Hitch’s system. He’s too flashy, a liability on defense, and is one of the most temperamental players that I’ve ever seen. (I should have read my Tampa post before going nuts) In order for a team to build a true winner, they have to develop an identity. Zherdev didn’t fit into that identity - so we chose to use him as an asset to secure players that we could use.

The thing still stings though is how little we got for him in return. I wish him the best of luck. Hopefully he is able to find that spark in his game that allows him to turn it up. ...
Andrew's Dallas Stars and NHL Blog:
The Avery signing -- So what to make of the Sean Avery signing. Let me start with Avery the player. I like him. I don't judge him by what I see on some highlight show or on YouTube. That's a small piece of the overall puzzle. I judge him by what I've seen the past year-and-a-half or so when I've watched him play with the Rangers. Each and every time I have watched him play I have always been impressed with the way he plays the game. He's all over the place. He's got skill. He's responsible in his own end...
A natural Avery fan

Five for Fighting:
More on Avery -- Hey kids,
Still getting folks on the phone (Avery will be talking to us all in about two hours), but the more I'm writing about this deal, the more I'm liking it...

He's got a deal that's going to keep him in a place for a while, which is stability he hasn't had in the last few markets. Yes, he's got a nasty little side to him, and some of his antics are anywhere from funny to borderline. Still, can you honestly say you're not interested at all in watching what he does here? ...
Look out Tony Romo

The Pens blog:
.... We Believe This Knife Is Yours. -- Sean Avery to Dallas. 4 years. He'll be dating Jessica Simpson in a week.
Evgeny "Slew Foot" Malkin re-signs with Pittsburg

Malkin signs five-year extension; Orpik gets six-year deal -- The Penguins signed the MVP finalist to a five-year extension worth $43.5 million on Wednesday, a deal that will keep him under contract until 2013-14. The 21-year-old forward still has one year left on his initial three-year entry-level contract. His deal is equal to one signed last year by teammate Sidney Crosby that begins with the upcoming season...

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  • blow-me-down said...

    I'm gonna miss Sean, whatever his detractors say. The only way I feel halfway good is that he is not in the East. Only a week ago, I figured if Sather could use some wiggle room, the 2.75 - 3.0 Mil range would do it. I was mistaken, like a lot of people.

    What do you think Mike; another contract clash and ensuing labour strife on the horizon?

    I do like the fact that Jagr has not accepted, and my fingers are crossed so hard they may never straighten that it stays that way. Seriously, I don't care about anything else, going into this whole free agent circus, all I wanted out of it was a Rangers team without Jagr. Let's be magnanimous and show generousity of spirit to Sather in congratulating him once JJ goes elsewhere.
    If he resigns him, commence with all manner of vitriole directed toward him! Gotta have something to b!tch about.

  • mike said...

    blow-me-down-I have 70 years of agita to bitch about.

    I do believe that the Stealth has the rest of his eggs in the Mats Sundin basket. His hope is that the new guy, Nikolai Zherev is the real deal and will pick up the offense. He looks promising.

    Avery will be missed and be a big plus for Dallas.

    No labor dispute on the horizon, both sides are too greedy.

  • Section 335 said...

    Slowly I am seeing the picture in Sather's mind. It is not about next year. It is about 2011, two years after next. This is a puzzle and he is putting in the pieces.

    He has given us a strong puck mover in Redden on defense, to add to Stahl and Bobby Sanguinetti. He has a rock of a goalie in the Prince. We will be getting out of our zone fast.

    Center is covered in Gomez and Drury now and Anizimov soon. To that mix we add Russian forwards, Lauri Korpikoski, Nikolai Zherdev, and Cherry.

    I hate losing Avery. At worst, we should have signed him for two years and traded him for a few picks. Sather did this badly. Hull made a wise choice in picking him. I sense this was Sather doing what Renney wanted. That was a mistake. Avery fits on every contender.

  • jb said...

    Reading some of the Blue Jacket blogs thoughts about Zherdev has to make you worry that mentally he might find it hard to adjust to playing at MSG.

    For some reason former Yankee bust Hideki "I rob you" Irabu comes to mind.

    This tidbit is telling... Dubi at Blueshirt Bulletin spoke to Zherdev back in the '06-07 season and said:

    [Zherdev] was in awe of the noise level at the Garden, but annoyed at the way Ranger fans booed their own players.

  • mike said...

    section 335-I believe that clueless was behind Avery's departure. Every Cup contending needs an abrasive sort for the dirty work. Who is going to do that for the Rangers now?

  • blow-me-down said...

    When you no longer want somebody on your team, there is no better time to accomplish that than the mid-summer free-agency circus. It can be cloaked under many things, but mostly it can just become part of the confusing blur. I think that was the plan with Avery from the start, so I now hope that we also part ways with Jagr under that same wink-wink-nudge-nudge pretense of confusion. For the GM in charge of the so called negotiations, it requires acting skills no greater than those available to a high-school thespian; obviously within Sather's grasp.
    I just hope Sather doesn't have cold feet and start wooing Jagr hard now because we are missing the impact winger we thought we'd have, and there's no one left to pick.

    One more magic trick please, Mr. Sather.

  • glcdqkpe said...

    Well Mike we agree on Avery 100%, right down to why he is gone. I hope that Jags is gone too. He is not the kind of player who makes those around him better. He is selfish.

    My sense is that Sather has a few tricks left, and Jags will be back only for cheap and only is there is no better place to spend the money.

  • mike said...

    blow-me-down-The Stealth has been doing nothing but acting since he came to NY, with that haughty know it all attitude, looking down on all New York, fans and media alike.

  • mike said...

    glcdqkpe-For once the Stealth has it right. Jagr will only come back on the Stealth's terms which is surprising considering the Rangers will open up in the Czech Republic.