Monday, June 30, 2008

Tick-Tock: 3... 2... 1

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Jaromir Jagr wants 2 years, Rangers say 1Larry Brooks updates on the Jagr negotiations. It's coming down to the start of NHL free agency (noon on July 1st) before we find out if "Captain Perimeter" stays. Is that one-year $6 million offer still on the table?

Every perimeter needs a center. But does every team need a $6 million dollar perimeter?

Larry Brooks / NY Post:
DOOR'S A-JAR TO KEEP JAGR -- THE Rangers' perfect 2008-09 world would feature Jaromir Jagr and Mats Sundin combining forces on the first line with Chris Drury moving to left wing to skate with Scott Gomez on the second unit.

It's anybody's guess why Glen Sather hasn't made the effort to communicate that vision to Jagr, who has every right to be miffed over what can politely be described as the GM's cavalier approach to the captain's impending free agency, but trust me, the Rangers will be giddy if they can retain Jagr and unite him with Sundin...

The issue is getting Jagr to buy in. Should Sundin go elsewhere, the Rangers are prepared to acquire a center to complement Jagr while moving Brandon Dubinsky into a third-line role. The idea is to have Jagr at his best, not merely to have him...
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The NY Times added their two cents:

Jagr Wants to Stay a Ranger, but He Has a World of Options -- Jagr held a news conference last weekend in the Czech Republic, where he told reporters that he did not know what would happen. “I’m not bluffing,” Jagr said, according to several translations of his remarks. “One day it looks like I’ll play in Europe, another day in America. I have always believed it will end the best way possible.” ...
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The Bleacher Report had this latest rumor:

Jaromir Jagr to Become a Leaf? -- With the free agent market opening in just a few days, there have been a lot of rumors about who is going where. For me to believe something that I have heard on TV, radio, or the Internet I need a lot of sources to tell basically the same story for me to believe it.

I have heard from several sources that Cliff Fletcher is talking to Rangers GM Glen Sather about trading Jaromir Jagr's rights to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It would give the Leafs a chance to possibly unload some of the players that they wanted, such as Bryan McCabe or Pavel Kubina.

In return, the Rangers would get something for Jagr instead of losing him to the open market.

It is also rumored that Jagr is thinking about retiring or going to play hockey in Russia, but those rumors have died down quite a bit over the last few days.
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John Dellapina summarized the 2 year vs. 1 year Jagr impasse.

John Dellapina / NY Daily News:
Jaromir Jagr, Rangers still at odds -- Jaromir Jagr and the Rangers might be parting ways once free agency starts.

Two years at top dollar. That is Jaromir Jagr's price.

One year on a bonus-based contract. That is the Rangers' offer.

Each is grounded in the logic of hockey economics. Neither is unreasonable...
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Steve Zipay at Newsday had the first report of a one-year $6 million offer for Jagr on the table.

Steve Zipay / Newsday:
Jagr not feeling the love from Rangers -- With the free-agent market set to open at noon Tuesday,

Jaromir Jagr said he wants to play in the NHL for two more years, but he remains unsure whether that will be with the Rangers, which increasingly seems unlikely. If no other NHL team steps up, playing in Russia remains an option...

Until Tuesday, only the Rangers can negotiate with Jagr, an unrestricted free agent, and a one-year, $6-million offer is believed to be on the table...
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Doug Fischer at Blue Shirts on Broadway offered his opinion:

Jaromir Jagr-Currently out of the country on vacation, Jags and Sather appear to be on the same page which means that the Rangers captain should be returning for at least one more season.

Jagr, like Evgeni Malkin have been offered lucrative deals to play over in Europe but Jagr seems poised to stay in America, specifically New York.

Sean Avery- This does not look good at all, Sather has announced that that he will not even attempt to re-up Avery before July 1st. The one man we can’t afford to lose will hit the market because Avery and the Rangers are on the outs in terms of a new contract ($$$). Avery has asked for over $3.5 million per season.

Letting him go is a mistake because I can assure you that all 31 teams will be lining up to talk with him. BUT I can’t see another team giving Avery the dollar amount he asked for- which could give the Rangers a shot to get him at a cheaper price...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Back To The Future?

I've been getting some inquires on why I haven't posted anything on the draft. What is there to report?

Every pick the Rangers make will be a sure-fire star. The Hartford graveyard is loaded with them. Sure, Marc Staal is the real deal. However, Staal is the exception and not the rule. There is Thomas Pock, Ivan Baranka and Dave Liffiton, three pretty good defensemen who could not crack the Rangers light hitting, porous defensemen. Baranka, supposedly gave it up and went to Russia.

There is Hugh Jessiman, selected number one by the Rangers and 12th overall, in the 2003 draft. He has yet to play a single game for the Rangers and is the only first round pick from 2003 not to play in the NHL. Of course there is Dan Blackburn, drafted number one by the Rangers, the tenth overall pick in the 2001 draft. He played all of 63 games for the Rangers, overplayed and misused and eventually injured beyond repair causing an early retirement.

So now we have Michael Del Zotto as the first round pick and 20th overall and he is the power play quarterback of the future. But wait. I thought Bobby Sanguinetti, first round pick in 2006 was the quarterback of the future? Or is it Marc Staal, that is the quarterback of the future? Of course, Sanguinetti is going to have to fight his way out of Hartford and the clutches of Jim Schoenfeld to get to the big stage. Regardless of how it turns out one day we can drool with a blue line pairing of Del Zotto and Sanguinetti, now that will be music to my ears.

I actually saw the Stealth GM on TV the other day. However, it was at the draft in Ottawa. Do you think he would show up if the draft was held in New York? But he is busy according to the New York drive-by media. He is supposedly working on bringing 37 year-old Mats Sundin, who has never won anything in the NHL, to New York to team up with the 36 year old line-mate Jaromir Jagr, who hasn't won anything since 1992. Since 42 year-old Gary Roberts is now a free agent wouldn't he be a steadying influence on the other two kids on the line?

But no talks on Sean Avery, who seems to be heading back to LA, where he can continue both of his careers. What a wonderful move bringing in Sundin. This will cause a one year, at least, setback to Drury, Gomez, Dubinsky, Dawes and any other young player on the horizon. But no sweat. Gomez still has six years left and Drury has four and any hope that the Dark Ranger has of Drury finally taking over this Ranger team will vanish for another year. Back to the future?

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Welcome to Hartford all you fine Ranger prospects----

ICINGS:

A-very sharp internA-very Sharp Intern

MensVogue.com:
Breaking the Ice -- New York Rangers left wing and Mensvogue.com guest editor Sean Avery shares his thoughts on interning for Vogue ...

What did I learn over the last month? Or, as everybody seems to want to know, What's working at Vogue really like? Here's what it comes down to: I make millions of dollars a year at a "job" that I consider to be pure fun. The people at Vogue don't have that kind of salary. What they do have is a group of people working creatively and relentlessly because of their strong passion and love for fashion. I would challenge you to find another workplace — outside of sports or nursing — that has that.

I hope to play hockey for several years to come. But after that I want to be a part of something creative — either styling or editing at a magazine. Being guest editor for Mensvogue.com this week is really the first time that I've been responsible for putting content together myself. And it's opened up a new interest that I didn't even know I had...

VIDEO MV DAILY BLOG The Outsports.com blog had an interesting reaction to Avery's work at Vogue: Sean Avery, still gayer than me. So 'outed' just might be the operative word, because it does not look good for Avery staying with the Rangers. John Dellapina of the NY Daily News recently reported "Rangers on verge of letting Sean Avery go to free agency"
Rangers GM Glen Sather spent the entire, 30-minute seventh round of the NHL draft sitting with Avery's agent Pat Morris Saturday...

"We had an interesting dialogue, and there appears to be disagreement over what Sean's value is to the New York Rangers," Morris said...

“Their record is 50-20-10 with him in the lineup and 9-13-3 without him in the lineup,” Morris said. “And he can skate, which is needed in today’s hockey. He can hit. He can fight. He can score. He plays with passion. He would like to remain a Ranger but is prepared to leave if Glen feels differently.”

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Evil Of Two Lessers

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The Evil Of Two Lessers: James Dolan and Gary Bettman
'Down By The Seaside' is concerned that The Pundit has not commented on the Cat Fight between the NHL and Commissar Gary Bettman and The New York Rangers and their absentee owner. The NHL wants to control every aspect of marketing and the Rangers want to control their own marketing and destiny. It's the big federal government versus the states rights, and in this case its an overreaching NHL against a storied franchise that once again is being mismanaged. It's the large conglomerate with the controlling dictator, Bettman, against the large conglomerate with the controlling dictator, Dolan. Hey, did I repeat myself? How can I get excited by this spat. I can't stand both groups. This is Stalinist Russia against Hitler's Germany.

We all know how Bettman has controlled the NHL. Dolan ranks second to none when it comes to controlling. Besides the Rangers, there are the hapless Knicks, the Liberty plus theaters like Radio City and the Beacon, among others. His dad, Charles Dolan, is head of Cablevision, which includes cable TV, the Internet and phone service. So this is no David that the NHL is up against, this is a giant that will put up one hell of a fight. One wonders why it is even in the courts. Why air out the league's dirty linen? Maybe the NHL figures it will get some publicity out of this. Whether its good or bad at least the NHL is in the news. In case you are interested, the draft is being aired on Versus.

However, the action by the NHL is a continuation of its often hostile behavior toward the Broadway franchise. What other team in the league was responsible for a new rule in the books coming during the playoffs of all things. Have you forgotten the Avery Rule? Chances are that no matter how this ends the animosity of the league and Bettman will continue against the Rangers and Dolan. You have to wonder that on the eve of the draft the NHL is imploding. I'm no Dolan fan but I'm even less of a fan of Bettman. OK kiddies, go at it.

ICINGS:
Fox Sports:
NHL wants to be rid of Rangers' owners -- The NHL wants to put Jim Dolan on ice.

The Cablevision boss could lose ownership of the Rangers after accusing league officials of violating antitrust laws in a federal lawsuit, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman warned yesterday...

The Dark Ranger:
The Bettman Cartel -- It seems like this is just further evidence of a Bettman cartel in the NHL where Bettman will do everything he can to get pro-Bettman owners in the league (see Williams ”Boots” Del Baggio) and do everything possible to keep independent minded owners out of the league (see Jim Balsillie). With this action the NHL is trying to send a statement to all other owners in the NHL: “Do what we want or you’ll be gone”. I am no lawyer but it seems to me that this must break some sort of anti-trust laws...

CBS Sports:
Who cares who's right? Let's see Bettman, Dolans drop gloves -- mind you, but because the NHL hates the Rangers. And the Rangers hate the NHL. And the two sides are going to court to prove it...

Bloomberg:
NHL Threatens to Oust Rangers' Owners Over Lawsuit

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stealth Loses Top Prospect

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Blake WheelerIn a move that was not surprising, top prospect Blake Wheeler, a 6'4" 200 pound forward from the University of Minnesota has signed with the Boston Bruins. The reason? Wheeler liked the Bruins youth movement in general and particularly the way they handled rookies David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Mark Stevens. Supposedly twenty teams including the Rangers were hot after Wheeler's body but he chose to dance with the Bruins. Wheeler is all of 20 years old.

David Krejci, 22 years old, had 27 points in 77 regular games and played all seven Bruin playoff games scoring 5 points. Milan Luci, 20 years old, had 27 points in 77 regular games and two goals in seven playoff games. Mark Stuart, 24 years old, a defenseman, got 8 points in all 82 games and one point in his seven playoff games. The thing to look at here is that these guys played meaningful ice time.

Perhaps Wheeler, who had 42 goals, 54 assists and 96 points in 127 games for the University of Minnesota, took a look at the Ranger record of how they treat their young players and decided that coach clueless's conservative, defensive approach to the game was not for him. Perhaps he took a look at what has happened to young players like Prucha, Dawes, Callahan and Baranka, who is going to Russia, and he decide to go with a forward, young looking team rather than one being Czech mated to its past. Perhaps he knew that a long stint to Hrtford was in the cards for him to 'develop' into a Ranger and that did not excite him. Perhaps!

Before you all bombard me with how coach clueless 'developed' young players like Dubinsky and Staal, let me remind you that coach clueless was forced into moving both into key slots due to the inability of some of his vets to perform and the inability of clueless to know and understand what he had. This is the first shot of what promises to be a very disappointing off season if the Stealth GM pursues in his attempt to sign Jagr and disregards the spine of the team, Sean Avery. Let the games begin.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mr. NHL Fixer-Upper

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Gary Bettman is booed at the 2007 NHL entry level draftGary Bettman: Mr. NHL Fixer-Upper. Do you trust this man?
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Gary Bettman worked for the NBA from 1981 until he became the commissioner of the National Hockey League (NHL) on February 1, 1993. During his twelve years in the NBA Bettman rose to third in command of the NBA, spending many years as the league's general counsel and senior vice president. He is credited with bringing the NBA's model of how to run a league to the "new" NHL. Does that apply to the fixing of playoff games?

Many share the feelings of Section 335, who said:
I have posted here before that the Refs have always helped Pittsburgh. I have not said they lack talent. I have said that they get extra power plays and get away with flagrant fouls. The Rangers could have beaten them with fair and honest refs. The Red Wings beat them because they were so much better that a few extra power plays were not enough (although they lost a game because of them).

The Delaney submission to Federal Court on how the NBA uses Refs to improve TV ratings and help teams it wants to have win because it is good for the league says exactly what I and others have always thought. The games are fixed. I believe that the NHL is no better.
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NY Post: Foul Play, NBA Ref blows the whistle, games riggedThe NY Post's front page says it all about the way, that many have suspected, the NBA has worked for years.

NY Post:
DIRTY REF CALLS PLAYOFFS BIG RIG -- Top NBA executives rigged playoff series to pack arenas and pump up TV ratings by ordering officials to shamelessly make calls that benefited favored teams, disgraced ex-ref Tim Donaghy charged in bombshell court papers today.

"Tim gave information on how top executives of the NBA sought to manipulate games using referees to boost ticket sales and television ratings," lawyer John Lauro wrote in a letter to Brooklyn federal Judge Carol Bagley Amon, detailing how his client has cooperated with feds since being busted last year.

MORE: Letter From Donaghy's Lawyer (PDF)

Donaghy faces up to three years in federal prison when he is sentenced on July 14. He is detailing how league execs used referees to manipulate games, and is hoping his cooperation will get him off with just probation.

"Tim explained that league officials would tell referees that they should withhold calling technical fouls on certain star players because doing so hurt ticket sales and television ratings," Lauro wrote...

Tim Donaghy - crooked NBA refTim Donaghy
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related:

ESPN:
Delaney: NBA, feds have not contacted me about claim -- NBA referee Bob Delaney, one of three referees to work Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference finals, told Bob Ley in an interview for ESPN's "Outside The Lines First Report" that he has never been contacted by NBA or federal investigators concerning allegations by former referee Tim Donaghy that two referees in that game intended to assure that series went seven games...

LA Times:
Tim Donaghy's claim reopens an old wound for Sacramento Kings fans -- "We was robbed"

Huffington Post:
Tim Donaghy, Disgraced Former NBA Referee, Claims Officials Fixed Playoff Series
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Curt Shilling: Every SINGLE play up and down the floor has MULTIPLE fouls being committedCurt Shilling [Boston Red Sox pitcher] / 38 Pitches blog:
. . . NBA Finals -- Ok, so I get some ridiculously good tickets for Game 2 of the NBA Finals last night. This was the 2nd chance to see the Celts up close. A few observations...

Every SINGLE play up and down the floor has MULTIPLE fouls being committed by multiple players. These guys are in close, every play. They are beating the crap out of each other, and the refs see it. That makes me think that the game is called and paced exactly how the refs want it to be. I wondered aloud, a few times, how in the hell calls weren’t being made against the Celts on a ton of plays in the paint where there was some serious pugilism being committed. There were a ton of ‘non-calls’ in my incredibly amateur opinion...
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Good analysis Curt. I think we can now guess the reason why there were a "ton of 'non-calls'." You were prescient. Pure and simple, the NBA refs decide the outcome of games. As you said: "the game is called and paced exactly how the refs want it to be." The Celtics-Lakers Game 2 was played on Sunday, June 8th. The recent Donaghy allegations story broke on Tuesday, June 10th.

Is the NHL refereeing that much different from the NBA?

If an NBA game can be described as "serious pugilism," then an NHL game is like cage fighting.
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update:

David Stern: NBA officials get 90% of the calls correctNBA Commissioner David Stern tries to throw water on the Donaghy game fixing brush fire, but it might have been just more gasoline.

He said that NBA officials just get 90% of the calls correct.

Take that "correct call" percentage to baseball and the game would collapse.

It can be argued that in the NHL the the impact of a bad call (or biased call) is much more serious than in baseball or basketball. Bad calls lead to power plays, which directly decide the outcome of games.

AP / Courier-Post:
Stern: NBA referees don't manipulate games -- [Stern] said referees get about 90 percent of the calls right -- and none of the ones that are missed are done for any illegal reason...

NBA.com:
David Stern Press Conference Transcript --
... the subject of officiating. It's something that we decided five years ago that we would track literally every call in order to help develop our officials and make them better, and they really effectively are the most measured and metricized group of employees in the world.

That said, they get about 90 percent or so of the calls correct...
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NY Times:
Stern Unconcerned About F.B.I. Inquiries of Bavetta -- Commissioner David Stern restated his unwavering support for his referees on Thursday and said he was not concerned that at least one referee, Dick Bavetta, had been the subject of inquiries by federal agents...

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Parting shots.

Ranger Pundit / June 29, 2007:
Salary Cap Shenanigans -- "It seems very clear that Bettman's financial forecasting was wrong. The 2004-05 [lockout] season did not have to be sacrificed like it was by Mr. Bettman."
The 2008-09 NHL salary cap is projected to be $56.3 million. It was $39 million for the 2005-06 season. It has been increasing at a 13% annual rate. No teams have filed for bankruptcy.
YouTube:
The Gary Bettman Song

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Best Seats in the House

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Andrew Murstein leases VIP Luxury Box No. 1 at Madison Square Garden for $600,000 per year - the best seats in the houseThe NY Post profiled the man with the "Best Seats" at Madison Square Garden in their Sunday Page 6 Magazine [sorry, no link to the article]. He is NY taxi tycoon, Andrew Murstein.

The Blue Seaters can only dream as they scrape together next season's annual tribute to the Dolan dynasty.
He's got the BEST SEATS in the house

Whether it's the Rangers or the Knicks, the Westminster dog show or Pearl Jam, one man has the most covetable, luxe perch at Madison Square Garden. Meet Taxi tycoon Andrew Murstein, who pays $600,000 a year to be sitting pretty.

When is a luxuary box more than a luxury box? When it's so close to the action - in fact, centered over a tunnel leading out of Madison Square Garden's arena floor - that Rangers players exiting the ice hand your children their just used hockey sticks. When its six leather chairs are available to you and your guests for any event - game, concert, circus, monster-truck pull - all year long. Or there's the short answer: A luxury box is redefined when you're taxi-cab medallion scion Andrew Murstein.

For $600,000 a year Andrew is the proud owner of MSG's VIP Luxury Box No. 1, a group of six seats perched just off the floor at center court, with three televisions, waiter service and access to a private restaurant (called Suite 200). Sampras vs. Federer, Stanley Cup play-offs. Madonna. No matter the event, Andrew has the best seats in the house. VIP Luxury Box No. 1 has its own private entrance that only the Dolan family, who own MSG, and Andrew (and his guests) get to use. "It's at 4 Penn Plaza," Andrew explains. "When you enter, you have an escort who meets you and walks you underneath the Garden." Walking through the bowels of the arena provides a unique backstage perspective, says Andrew. " ....

MSG last year [turned] a former radio play-by-play area, positioned just above a tunnel leading out of the arena floor, into the $600,000-a-year VIP luxury Box No. 1. (Murstein has the lease for three years.) ...

"I took a client and his son to a Rangers game. After the first period a player handed his stick to the kid." ...

When MSG offered to put leather captain's chairs in the box, he said no. "It was too showy." When they suggested turning his area into a jury box during hockey games by putting a spotlight on the seats and asking his section to give a thumbs up or down on whether or not to pull the goalie, he said, "No, I don't think fans should be making those decisions." It's hard to say what's more jaw-dropping: That MSG offered, or he turned it down...
God bless the Cab King.

MSG is truly for royalty. A king in VIP Luxury Box No. 1. A Prince on the ice guarding goal for the Rangers. And a flock of sycophant court jesters working at the MSG channel.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hockeytown — How Swede It Is

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Detroit Red Wing fan tradition: The OctopusFor the fourth time in the last eleven years and for the eleventh time in their storied franchise history, the Detroit Red Wings have won the Stanley Cup. While they took the series four games to two it wasn't easy and the Penguins almost pulled out a miracle finish in game six. Marian Hossa had an attempt go right across the goal line at the buzzer.

While Hockeytown is revelling in its victory it was the Swedish contingent that brought the Cup 'home' to Detroit. For the first time in NHL history the team winning the Cup was Captained by a European. Hey the Rangers and Jagr were supposed to do that according to the drive-by's and the apologists. Anyway, the Swedes were great. Nicklas Lidstrom, three-time Norris Trophy winner, becomes the first European to ever Captain a Stanley Cup winner. Henrik (what a name) Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the series and was tied with teammate Johan Franzen for the most goals in a playoff with thirteen. It was a trifecta for the Swedes and well done.

Some feel good stories. Dallas Drake, a fifteen year vet, hoisting his first Cup after it was passed to him by Lidstrom in a real class act and Chris Osgood taking the place of "The Worlds Greatest Goalie" shone brightly getting two shutouts in the finals. Osgood had a 1.67 GAA in the finals and was 14-4 in the playoffs after taking over from Hasek in the first round. Great move by Red Wing coach, Mike Babcock, who installed the puck possession style of attack. A lot of teams boast of puck possession but the Red Wings is possession with an edge, not the soft perimeter style of the Rangers. Plus, the Red Wings try to make sure they hit anyone who touches a puck.

The Penguins have nothing to be ashamed of, they played well but were up against a team that had already won the President's Trophy and were very well coached. They go into next year with a goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, who has quieted the critics, at least for now, and could be one of the top goalies in the league. They are definitely the team to beat in the East and with the improving Caps and Flyers it should be quite a donnybrook in the NHL East next year. The salary cap will determine how many of their non-star players they will retain. Of course, that goes for most teams. The salary cap will determine the fate of most teams. The cap has already determined the fate of the NHL, the parity league. Bring on the off season.

Congratulations, Red Wings and Hockeytown.

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