Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some Classic Fistycuffs

So while Mike, the Ranger Pundit, is soon off to Mexico for the marriage of number 2 son, we'll relax with some classic brawls courtesy of the GoonBlog:

First up an ECHL middleweight bout, Ken Tasker (red jersey) vs. Trevor Senn (in the white). Richmond Renegades vs. Toledo Storm, March 13, 1999.


The fight in the words of Ken Tasker:
Well first of all I just want to say Trevor Senn is one of the reasons I ended up playing professional hockey. My rookie pro season I was up in Thunder Bay in the United Hockey League. We ended up going down to Winston, Salem. This little guy bumps into me and I look at him like “what you wanna go?” He looks up at me with these bloodshot eyes and just starts losing his mind. We had a pretty decent scrap and I skated back to our bench after serving my time. One of the vets beside me said “Good job kid, you’re gonna make the team for sure”. I said “You think coach will be mad at me because I fought a guy smaller then me?” He looked at me in shock and said “Kid that’s Trevor Senn he’s the leading PIM leader from the ECHL.” Pretty much every time we played against each other over the years after that, we both knew we were gonna go. So that fight you see on here, I knew he was coming into town the next night and I was so wired I could hardly sleep. My family was in town, and in front of my home crowd, I really wanted to put on a good show, and I knew it would be a battle with him. So that fight was of days of pent up anxiety. In warm-up we were eyeing each other a few times as we skated around. I said to him “So we gonna go tonight?” He said “Yep let’s give them a show”. Off the face off, we both agreed to head to center ice. He was doing the elbow cranks and what not on the way there. The one thing I remember the most about this fight was that I was thinking to myself (when I was punching him): I am hitting this guy as hard and as fast as I can and he’s not dropping. It was like hitting a wooden post and it just wouldn’t budge. The final part of the fight I got some combos going and some rhythm and was lucky enough to end up putting him down. It was fantastic for me, because I was the home town guy and my folks were there too.
Next an IHL bout, Darcy Hordichuk (in white) vs. “Mad” Mel Angelstad, Orlando Solar Bears vs. Manitoba Moose, Nov. 11, 2000. The scorecard.


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ICINGS:
Regarding the Rangers fight card for last season.

via HockeyFights.com:
2007-2008 Regular Season Fighting Majors Leaders ...
  1. Colton Orr -- 18
  2. Brandon Dubinsky -- 7
  3. Sean Avery -- 6
  4. Ryan Hollweg -- 6
  5. Jason Strudwick -- 4
  6. Marc Staal -- 2
  7. Ryan Callahan -- 1
  8. Chris Drury -- 1
  9. Brendan Shanahan -- 1
  10. Fedor Tyutin -- 1
Total: 47 fights
2007-2008 Rangers Postseason had no fights.
The 2006-07 season had 35 fights.

With the departures of Avery, Hollweg, etc., who will pick up the slack this coming season? Who does not think the Rangers will be softer? The stats say that 38.46% of NHL games during the 2007-08 season had a fight.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Special Features at the New NHL Headquarters in New York

The NHL is moving into a new headquarters in New York City.

Frederic M. Strauss of TPG Architecture of New York, helped design the new NHL offices in ManhattanFrederic M. Strauss of TPG Architecture of New York, helped design the new NHL offices in Manhattan

The NY Times reported:
A Frosty Headquarters for the N.H.L. -- Locking out the players and canceling the 2004-5 season gave executives of the National Hockey League plenty of time to think about the league’s image. By the time the dispute was resolved in July 2005, the league had decided to make a fresh start in new headquarters, where it could embrace the digital age with a panache that 18- to 34-year-old fans expect, according to Gary Bettman, the league commissioner.

Three years later, the N.H.L.’s new space is near completion: 133,000 square feet at 1185 Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan. The interior is a montage of materials and wintry colors that reflect the game of hockey, including the stainless steel of skate blades and the white of ice, said Frederic M. Strauss, principal in TPG Architecture of New York, the designers of the new offices...

picture of Wayne Gretzky Wall at new NHL headquarters, wall of 470 hockey sticks (bottom)
Interior decor of NHL offices
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However, here are some special features of the new NHL headquarters that the NY Times reporter did not get to see:

Sid Crosby Lap Pool and Diving Tank -- Commissioner Bettman and the NHL are determined to promote the new young superstars of the NHL. That policy starts at the HQ with various homages to the games current and past greats.

During the off-season Sid Crosby comes in and gives NHL staffers and their family members a weekend clinic on the art of diving. This year after his clinic Sid will be flying to Beijing where he will be doing guest commentary during the 3 meter and 10 meter events.

NHL headquarters: Sid Crosby Lap Pool and Diving Tank
Sidney Crosby: The Diver---
The Alexander Ovechkin Russian Tea Room and Tattoo Salon -- Given the influx of Russians into the NHL and also the competitive threat from the new Russian KHL 'Super League' more wheeling and dealing will need to be done with the Russians. Making them feel at home during their visits to HQ is the goal of this luxurious area just off the executive dining room. The room was recently repainted from red to a softer Putin purple, but staffers still affectionately call it 'Red Ink.'

NHL Headquarters: Russian Tea Room and Tattoo salon, Red Ink staff member makes Eastern Promises----
Marty Brodeur Wailing Wall -- Made from the broken hockey sticks of players that Marty Brodeur slashed when they came near his crease. Given the intense 24/7 pressure cooker environment that NHL staffers are subjected to at the new headquarters, it was thought wise to have a special quiet place where they could go and have a good cry when they needed one. The NHL's preeminent cry baby was a natural inspiration for this innovative new space; because the NHL headquarters is a people place.

NHL Headquarters: Marty Brodeur inspired Wailing Wall----
NHL Executive Washroom has high-tech Gary Bettman Bidets with enema feature -- In an effort to show that the NHL is eco-friendly and going green Gary Bettman personally worked with a sanitary engineer to design a special European style high-tech NHL branded bidet.
This limited edition NHL bidet sports features such as jets of heated air, remote controls and various water massage settings. Bidets are more hygienic than using toilet paper, and they can pay for themselves by eliminating the need to purchase the paper. Instead, bidets use jets of water and heated air to clean and dry your posterior. There are many hygiene benefits related to keeping everything cleaner and fresher down there.

The NHL bidet also features a patented enema simulation function which prompts the bowels to release completely and effortlessly. This revolutionary feature is the instant answer to constipation and provides the benefits of an enema without the discomfort. The warm water jet gently massages and cleans the colon for a release never before seen in the industry.

Advanced Carbon based technology automatic deodorizer traps unpleasant odors and ensures a pleasant bathroom experience. Deodorizer lasts up to seven years
This NHL licensed product is manufactured by Izen and is available from Amazon. Just remember to order the Bidet by Bettman.

National Hockey League Headquarters: Gary Bettman Bidet----
The NHL Executive Washroom also sports custom James Dolan Urinals -- Again NHL Commissioner Bettman took time out of his busy schedule and radio show to work with a genius urinal sculptor to create this timeless work of art. It is both beautiful and useful at the same time. Commissioner Bettman swears that his feud with James Dolan had nothing to do with the commissioning of this art work. In fact, all the owners will eventually have their own custom urinal design in the HQ.

To Rangers fans, who might be wondering if this art work will be made available to the general public: the NHL is currently in talks regarding a limited edition version in conjunction with the Franklin Mint.

NHL Headquarters: Executive Washroom sports custom James Dolan Urinals----
The Lord Stanley Licking Lounge and Cappuccino Bar -- Everyone who gets invited up to the 15th floor of the new NHL headquarters is also given an opportunity to see and get cozy with Lord Stanley's cup in an intimate setting. Alcohol swabs and chap sticks are freely provided.

NHL Headquarters: The Lord Stanley Licking Lounge and Cappacino Bar
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The Commissioner's Panic Room Box -- Or "safe place" which makes it seem a little less dramatic. The origin of such a thing goes back much further than any Jodie Foster movie. Medieval feudal lords, for example, used safe rooms as protection from siege.

The diminutive Commissioner Bettman needed a place to be safe from any possible attack by terrorists, team owners, or disgruntled fans. Staffers simply refer to it as the Bettman spider hole.

NHL Headquarters: Commissioner Bettman panic box----
The St. Wayne Gretzky Chapel -- Spiritual place for reflection and introspection — interdenominational.

NHL HQ: The St. Wayne Gretzky Chapel
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Back-up War Room -- NHL fans know that the primary NHL war room is in Toronto. The NHL war room is the high-tech nerve center where the video replay of goals is reviewed in order to insure the accuracy of the calls. The back-up facility in New York provides the added layer of redundancy that an international organization like the NHL must provide its fans, in order to protect the integrity of the game.

New NHL Headquarters: has back-up war room
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The former NBA Star Shoe Shine Stand -- The NHL has always played second fiddle to the NBA in terms of winter sports popularity. In an effort to spur the NHL staffers to kick some NBA butt Gary Bettman has hired a former NBA star, who is currently on a work release program, to work at a shoe shine stand just off their main lobby.

New NHL Headquarters: has the former NBA star shoe shine stand---
Just hope that some day you are lucky enough to work at the NHL headquarters and savor all this luxury.

Friday, July 25, 2008

10 Strangest Old School Hockey Nicknames

Great nicknames are part of the lore and legend of professional hockey. Everyone knows exactly who you're talking about when you say "The Great One." Other great nicknames like 'The Dominator' (Dominik Hasek), The Mule (Johan Franzen), The Hammer (Dave Schultz), 'The Rocket' (Maurice Richard), and 'The Golden Jet' (Bobby Hull) have become part of the colorful history of the game.

But, then there are a few old time hockey nicknames that seem quaint or even a little strange by today's standards. Here are ten of the old timer oddballs:

10. Bernie Nicholls -- The Pumper Nicholl Kid

Now we have 'Sid the Kid', but not many jocks named after bakery products.
9. Max Bentley -- Dipsy-Doodle-Dandy
Today that would be shortened to 'Triple D' and he'd be dating a celebrity.
8. Bill Juzda -- The Honest Brakeman
Back when teams rode the rails this might have had more meaning. One of the final cuts when they were forming the "The Village People."
7. John O'Flaherty -- Peanuts
Talk about a salary cap. Peanuts received his nickname when a Toronto sports writer spotted him selling peanuts at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1933. Derek Jeter has endorsed 'Skippy' peanut butter, but does anyone call him 'Skippy'?
6. Cliff Purpur - Fido
Before someone let the mad dogs of the modern NHL out, you just had a 'Fido' on the ice. If Cliff wanted to be named after a dog 'Pooch Purpur' would have had a better ring to it.
5. Frank Nighbor -- The Pembroke Peach
Getting named after a fruit wouldn't be politically correct these days.
4. Frederick Cook -- Bun
So did his teammates just call him 'Bun' or the more formal 'Bun Cook'? Back in the day a bun was just something a hot dog went on. Bun Cook was part of the Bread Line with his brother Bill Cook and Frank Boucher. There's the bakery again. Could teammates use a nickname like that today and not giggle? It would have been fun to hear it if the fans really got after him.
3. Nels Stewart -- Old Poison
Rumor was that Nels liked to eat baked beans flavored with extra lard before every game. . .
2. Marcel Dionne -- Little Beaver
It's unclear how Marcel earned this nickname. Modern announcers would be a little wary of calling a Dionne game.
1. Georges Vézina -- The Chicoutimi Cucumber (French: 'Le Concombre de Chicoutimi')
Yes, this is the same Vézina that the NHL's 'The Vezina Trophy,' awarded annually to the league's best goaltender, is named after. The A-Rod or Big Unit of his day. Maybe they should rename the trophy 'The Cucumber Cup.' The award's vegetative namesake would then have a higher IQ than this last season's winner, Marty Brodeur.

Apparently it was was Vézina's cool and calm demeanor which earned him the nickname 'The Chicoutimi Cucumber.' However, the French version of the nickname: "Le Concombre de Chicoutimi" sounds awfully romantic. And it seems a little odd that an English expression, 'cool as a cumcumber,' would serve as the foundation for a nickname of a great French-Canadian goaltender. Perhaps those wily Frenchmen have pulled a fast one on all of us.
Bonus points if you knew how many of these men played with the Rangers (answer in comments).

update: How could we have missed one of the weirdest nicknames in all of hockey, and perhaps all of sports? Glen Sather, the NY Rangers general manager besides being known by the nickname of "Slats" is also known as "Tomato Face." Glen Sather's Wikipedia entry says:
Glen "Slats" Sather (born September 2, 1943 in High River, Alberta) is a retired professional ice hockey left winger in the World Hockey Association and National Hockey League and current President and General Manager of the New York Rangers of the NHL...

Also nicknamed "Tomato Face" due to his perpetually red face during his playing days, Sather was born in High River, Alberta but grew up in Wainwright, Alberta...
You can come up with your own punchline on this one.

reference:
Wikipedia: List of hockey nicknames

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I May Be Wrong.... But

The Rangers will definitely have a different team. The question is, will it be better? From where the Pundit sits the answer is, no.

The Stealth GM blew big bucks on the free agency market and for what? There is a site in Canada that claims that the Wade Redden free agency signing is the second worst free agency deal of the year. So the Stealth finally comes close to winning something. Redden has been declining the past couple of years, but the Stealth poured out $6.5 mil/per for a six year contract with restrictions on trading him. To whom? What a deal.

The Stealth then went and signed Markus Nassland for two years at $4 mil/per and he has also been in a two year decline. The party line is that Nassland played for a team that played a defensive system and that's what held down his scoring. Defense? Nassland will now play for the coach of all cluelessness whose mantra is, "Not playing defense is not an option". Now there is a double negative if I ever heard one. Last time I checked the Rangers gave up less goals than Vancouver. Does that drop Nassland's goals down too?

The Stealth then signed Michal Rozsival to a four year deal at $5 Mil/per and the last time I checked Michal was in a declining mode last year and he won't even play on the first pair on defense. He can't play the point, can't take the body, won't shoot the puck and has a case of the fumbles when the puck is near him but he gets $5 mil/per.

In each one of these cases the Stealth payed at least a mil more a year then he had to. But the Stealth has always had a fascination for over the hill so called super stars. Yet the Rangers lost their spine, Sean Avery, for about a half a million per year. Aah, but the apologists have all agreed that Avery should have signed for less to have the privilege of playing for the Rangers alongside a cast of overpaid over the hill Stealth reclamation projects.

One thing is certain and that is that the Rangers are getting softer. Their spine, Avery, is gone. The defenseman most likely to use his body, Fedor Tyutin, is gone. The hitman, Ryan Hollweg, is also gone. Add that trio up and I will tell you that the Rangers will lose anywhere from 6-10 hits a game. Is the departure of Colton Orr at hand? Aah, but we have Sjostrom, Fritsche and Rissmiller to take up the slack. Folks, the Frankie Boucher Ice Follies of the 1940's is back.

When do you raise ticket prices at a higher percentage than the rise in the salaries of the players? When you have an Absentee Owner who is in bed with some of the top politicos in New York State and who has now reneged on that West Side project he was touting so that the Jets football Stadium plan could be killed. 'Section 335' thinks that if the owners can have a salary cap we the fans should have a ticket price cap. Not a bad idea. However, 'Down By The Seaside' may be starting a new enterprise by scalping half of his tickets to visiting team fans and make an obscene profit, apologies to Nancy and Harry, and not use the Ranger fan trading site.

I always believed that the key to the Rangers was the trio of Jagr, Avery and Lundqvist. Lundqvist is now the lone Ranger. I thought that Jagr should go and the team rebuilt around Drury, Gomez and the youngsters. Little did I realize that when Jagr and Avery went the team would be built around the Stealth GM's million dollar cast offs. But hold on. It's not over. Sources claim tha Mats Sundin has turned down Vancouver's massive offer. Could another Stealth golden parachute be on the horizon and instead of the Czech Mates we will have the Sweet Swedes. The good news is that it is too late for the Absentee Owner to raise ticket prices this year. The bad news. They will be raised again, next year.

There is more but we will have to do it another time. This is too depressing.

ICINGS:

Allan Muir / Inside The NHL, Sports Illustrated:
Finger signing a mind-blower in a mad market -- The Rangers have to hope they bought six years of the pre-2006 Redden, a player who could fill the void in their transition game and add some punch to their power play. If they get the Redden of the past two seasons, they'll be stuck with a second-pairing defender whose passion for the game appears to have ebbed. The Rangers have to believe that a change of scenery may cure what's ailed him, or this deal might look nearly as bad as the Finger signing in short order.

James Gordan / Hockey Capital:
Set Wade Redden free -- Wade Redden is to Ottawa Senators fans what the band Simple Plan is to music fans. You love 'em or hate 'em. A lot of people inexplicably love Simple Plan, despite the band's faux angst, irritating tunes and excruciatingly whiny vocals.

Unlike the worst band in the world, Simple Plan, there are a lot of things to like about Wade Redden. He's a competent puck-moving defenceman (formerly great), he's a good guy and he does a lot for the community.

Yet, as long as I've lived in Ottawa (about 8-9 years), there has always been a strong division in the Sens Army over just how good he really is. Many argue that his chronically soft play, badly-timed giveaways and massive salary outweigh any benefits he brings to the table.

AJ Basile / Bleacher Report:
NHL Free Agency: The Head Scratching Moves -- New York Rangers: While the Holik signing was strange, unlike their major rivals, at least the Devils can't say they got worse. After New Jersey beat them out for Rolston, the Rangers turned around and gave $39 million to defenseman Wade Redden (the most overrated and now overpaid defenseman in the league) along with $20 million to Michal Rozsival. Last season, they each had 38 points...

random Rangers fan / The Blueshirts Blog:
Redden is about the worst signing Sather could have made today. WHY?? He is soft. He had 6 goals last year. Given power play time, Paul Mara could've put up the same numbers. Ridiculous...

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Lord, Please help Wade Redden live up to his NY Rangers contract

Friday, July 11, 2008

Radulov: Nashville Nyet, Bashkortostan Da ....

I spent 20 years trying to get out of this place
I was looking for something I couldn't replace
I was running away from the only thing I've ever known
Like a blind dog without a bone
I was a gypsy lost in the twilight zone
I hijacked a rainbow and crashed into a pot of gold
I been there, done that and I ain't lookin' back on the seeds I've sown,
Saving dimes, spending too much time on the telephone
Who says you can't go home — John Bon Jovi
There is that rainbow beaming with a big pot of gold waiting in Russia again. Who will be the next NHL'er to go East?

No sooner did we put up a post on the rising of the KHL hockey league, with their signing of Jaromir Jagr, then we have another story today of a NHL player defecting to the Eastern front. This time the defector, Alexander Radulov, who was still under contract to the Nashville Predators for the coming 2008-09 season, decided to exit stage East for more money. Can a Russian defect back to Russia or is he just going home? Was he a hockey gypsy lost in the NHL twilight zone or just a blind dog without a bone?

The lure of $13 million US tax-free over three years sent Radulov packing to play for team Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the KHL. Nashville was only going to pay him $918,587 this coming season. Team Salavat Yulaev plays in Ufa, which has a population of 1,042,432 (2002) and is the 11th largest city in Russia. The team is named after Salavat Yulaev, a national hero of Bashkiria, in case you were wondering.

Note the tax-free angle again that came attached to the Russian offer. The NHL is going to find itself at a serious competitive advantage for talent if Russian petro-rubles and state sponsorship keep getting pumped into this new KHL. Who thinks that the young, 19 year-old future star Alexei Cherepanov, who will be playing with Jagr next season, will want to come West and play for the Rangers at a discount to his value in Russia?

However, not so fast Mr. Alexander "spit on your stinking contract" Radulov. The NHL and KHL supposedly reached an "anti-poaching" agreement yesterday (Thur, July 10th). So you might have to slave away in the Nashville Gulag Archipelago for another year at starvation wages before going home.

The NHL website had this article about the NHL - KHL détente. Gorby and Ronnie would be proud.
NHL, Russians make progress, but still no transfer agreement --

ZURICH, Switzerland - The NHL reached an agreement with a new Russian hockey league Thursday that temporarily ends the threat of players being lured away by big-money offers.

The pact to respect player contracts across all borders followed offers made last month by teams in Russia's Continental Hockey League - which begins play in September - to entice Evgeni Malkin out of the final year of his deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It was reached at a meeting of the NHL, the NHL Players' Association and international hockey leagues in Zurich, the home of the International Ice Hockey Federation.

"Everyone in the room agreed that for the foreseeable future everyone will respect everybody's contracts," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

Players' union director Paul Kelly said all parties recognized the need for "clear respect between leagues."

The deal was brokered with Russian league founder Alexander Medvedev, who had given his teams a green light to approach players like Malkin...
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But, remember that one of Ronnie's favorite sayings when dealing with the Russian was: "trust, but verify."

CBC Sports had the Radulov story:
Predators' Radulov tests NHL, Russian pact -- Alexander Radulov has told a Russian media outlet he has signed a contract with club Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the Continental Hockey League, but his ability to leave the NHL's Nashville Predators may not be clearcut...

Radulov is due to make just under $1 million US in 2008-09 with Nashville, but as a potential restricted free agent after that season figured to be in the running to fetch a much more lucrative offer with another productive campaign.

The timing of Radulov's declaration is curious, at best.

Ufa is one of a number clubs in the former Russian Super League that will join with teams in Belarus, Latvia and Kazakhstan to play in a reformed league, known as the KHL in Russia.

On Thursday, it was announced the NHL, KHL and International Ice Hockey Federation had reached an agreement that leagues would respect existing player contracts regardless of borders.
So for now the KHL will be playing like the old AFL to the NHL's old NFL. And then Joe Willie from Beaver Falls, PA came along and signed with the Jets in 1965 for the princely sum of $400,000 and the rest is history.
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ICINGS:

Fame is calling... and so are the Russians.

Anyway if we can't beat the Russians, maybe we should join them.

Does this KHL league have team jerseys for sale yet? Wonder what a Salavat Yulaev jersey goes for? Buying one would be a good inflation hedge against the falling US dollar.

Now if you want to be the next MSG sensation follow these instructions. First, you should buy a KHL team jersey, anything from the league would work, and wear it to every Rangers home game. A cossack coat would be another option. Also buy and wear a Russian Cossack fur cap. We'll have to skip the sabre, probably can't get that into the Garden.

Next, every time a Russian, preferable a Rangers' Russian, touches the puck on Garden ice go ahead and cheer in Russian. Now if a Rangers' Russian scores a goal jump up in your aisle and do a Russian kick dance, something like the following:



If the Russians aren't scoring then dance every chance you get. It will be a long season. You could also bring a bunch of your pals to MSG to perform. Do a group dance:



Dancin' Larry who?

Lastly, make sure to give yourself a name like the 'Cossack Kid' or the 'Section 322 Nutcrackers.' If you make it big you owe the Ranger Pundit a dinner at the restaurant of his choice.

Удачи!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jaromir Jagr: New York Nyet, Siberia Da ...

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Avangard Omsk: Siberian Hockey TeamJaromir Jagr has decided to play professional hockey in Siberia rather than New York. The kicker is that he's going to make more money playing in Siberia than in the Big Apple. Once upon a time getting exiled to the 'Eastern Front' was the end of the line; the gateway to hell. Write home and mail your obituary before you get on that trans-Siberian railroad. Now Siberia has become the end of the rainbow with a pot of gold waiting in the pasture for an aging NHL legend.

Newsday reported:
Less than 24 hours after Jaromir Jagr was told that the Rangers couldn't wait any longer to try to negotiate a new deal, the 36-year-old Czech right winger signed a lucrative two-year contract to play for Avangard Omsk, a Russian team that is part of the new Continental Hockey League.

No terms were disclosed Friday, but the offer is believed to be the equivalent of $7 million U.S., tax-free, per season to play in Omsk, where Jagr had skated in the former Russian Super League during the NHL lockout in 2004-05. The team's general manager, Anatoly Bardin, had been publicly wooing Jagr since March...
The Siberian team, Avangard Omsk, offer of $7 million U.S., tax-free, per season for two years was superior to the reported New York Rangers offer of $6 million for one year, which would have been triple taxed (federal, state, & city). Also, which city do you suspect has a higher cost of living?

CBCSports.com reported
: That if Jagr does suit up for Avangard Omsk, he could be playing alongside one of the future stars of the Rangers, 19 year-old Alexei Cherepanov. Also signed to the team are longtime NHL goaltender John Grahame and Jakub Klepis, former first-round pick of the Ottawa Senators.

The Avangard Omsk team is based in Omsk. Omsk is the 7th largest city in Russia with a population of 1,134,016. It is a little smaller than the 9th largest US city, Dallas, which has a population of 1,213,825. Omsk is in southwest Siberia and it is the administrative center of Omsk Oblast (Russian federal region). It is the second-largest city in Russia beyond the Urals. The distance from Omsk to Moscow is 2,700 kilometres (1,700 miles). The city is much closer to Mongolia than Moscow. Omsk is also the administrative center of the Siberian Cossacks (that would be a good team name). It is about 65 miles from the border with Kazakhstan.

Jaromir Jagr will play hockey in Omsk, in Siberia Russia
The Avangard Omsk hockey team plays in the Omsk Arena, which was newly built in 2007 and seats 10,000. The team is partly financed by Russian oil company Gazprom Neft, but the majority of its budget reportedly comes from province (Omsk Oblast) tax money. That would help explain why Jagr's salary is tax-free. He will be on the public payroll.

Avangard, which translates to "advance guard" in English, was established in 1950. The logo features a stylised hawk. The club has changed names several times, with previous names including Spartak Omsk, Aeroflot Omsk, Kauchuk Omsk, Khimik Omsk, and Shinnik Omsk. Avangard Omsk won the Russian Super League in 2004.

Avangard is now in the Continental Hockey League. The Continental Hockey League, commonly abbreviated KHL, is a new open international ice hockey league with 24 teams spread across Russia, Latvia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. The KHL replaced the Russian Super League (RSL) after the 2007–2008 RSL season. The championship trophy of the league is the Gagarin Cup, which is named after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

Omsk Arena seats 10,000
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Jaromir Jagr will not be the last NHL player to be wooed to the new Eastern Front. Some have suggested that the KHL might give the NHL some competition.

Pro Fantasy Sport:
NHL--Skating Across the Pond -- Over the last several months, the new KHL league in Russia has been viewed as a potential threat to the NHL, as several Russian teams banked by powerful owners are all trying to land that “big star” from the NHL - ala Bobby Hull’s conversion to the WHL in the early 1970’s. The belief was that many players would eventually follow and cause an influx of players jumping the pond to play overseas as another option. That possibility has always existed, but not to the extent it is now, as the KHL league can offer contracts that rival NHL salaries. So far, the impact has not been as big as many suspected, but last week the KHL may have landed its biggest coup to date with Jaromir Jagr singing an offer sheet believed to be in the neighborhood of $8-10 million per season...

mlive.com / Snapshots:
Assessing the KHL threat -- Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to the Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek after the NHL Entry Draft concluded in Ottawa, and the two discussed the threat that the follow-on to the Russian Superleague, the "Kontinental Hockey League" (it's a K in Russian as there C = S in Cyrillic), poses to the NHL's best players...

AOL Fanhouse:
KHL Ready to Declare Player War on NHL -- From time to time, FanHouse has the distinct pleasure of getting English translations of stories that appear in the pages of Sovetsky Sport, Russia's leading sports newspaper, courtesy of Sovetsky's Washington correspondent, Dmitry Chesnokov. Most recently, we obtained the following translation of a story that will appear in tomorrow's edition of Sovetsky, an interview of Gennady Velichkin, the general director of Mettalurg Magnitogorsk, by Sovetsky reporter Pavel Lysenkov...

Anyway, Good Luck! J.J. -- udAchi! ---Удачи! (Russian for good luck)
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ICINGS:

The Ranger Pundit is in a Round 1 Battle Of The Blogosphere over at "TheNHLArena.com." Someone forgot to tell Mike to lace up his skates - just found out about the contest that apparently started several days ago.

The Ranger Pundit is also getting hammered in the first period by our opponent, The Rivalry, blog. It's an NY Islander/Rangers oriented blog with a lot of support over at 'The NHL Arena." It looks like we'll have to pull the goalie soon or do something drastic (sorry, no flopping allowed) if The Ranger Pundit is going to have a chance.

Our opponent, Bryan, is pandering for votes. But, the Pundit will keep skating to where the puck is going to be, not where it is, and leave the pandering to those fellows running for higher office.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The 'Craven Unshaven Maven' is Slaven for MSG

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The Craven Unshaven Maven, Stan Fischler, is Slaven for MSGThe "Craven Unshaven Maven" likes to talk about "The Maven" in the 3rd person. And he likes to spin things regarding the new Rangers team, coach Tom Renney, and the exalted GM Glen Sather in the best possible light. A discouraging word is never heard regarding these new improved Rangers. Stanley Cup here we come.

You would think that a long-time hockey analyst like Stan Fischler, who is nicknamed 'The Maven,' would have a detached analytical view of all things hockey? Wrong.

Stan Fischler / MSG Game On blog [July 7th]:
The New, NEW Rangers Culture --

Permit me to let you in on some truly AMAZING things:

I. The Maven NEVER has received more comments (almost a thousand at last look) than he has for the last two blogs about the dual emigration of Jaromir Jagr to some place we call "Yenevelt" (The Other World) and Sean Avery into the heart of Texas. In my blogosphere, that was breathtaking. THANKS!

II. The Maven -- painful, as it may be -- never hesitates to admit he was wrong. And I WAS sadly mistaken about the two ice bedouins, Jagr and Avery. My conviction -- and I was convinced for different reasons -- had it that The Captain and The Great Gabbo WOULD return next fall as Rangers.

That said, let's get down to the business of what their exits (Stage Left and Stage Right) mean to the Broadway Blueshirts in the months ahead. Here's a hint: the password is CC.

Translated for Tom's Renney-gades, it means Culture Change with a pair of capital Cs. Or, to put it another way, the Seventh Avenue skaters move from a Jagr-run monarchy to a Renney-led democracy...
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  • God Bless the Stealth GM, Coach Clueless and their "new, improved upbeat style of hockey." Sorry, if MSG has been cheating the fans the last ten years with that old downbeat style. Stan, we hope this quote comes true: "The Maven sees only positives coming out of the transformation." When is the last time 'The Maven' reported a negative?
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Stan Fischler / MSG Game On blog [July 7th]:
The Maven: The Newest New York Rangers -- The New York Rangers are really NEW. Glen Sather's rejuvenation of the team for 2008-09 is almost complete — not only minus Sean Avery, but minus Jaromir Jagr as well.

The Rangers' boss made it clear to me in a Thursday afternoon conference call that he had exhausted negotiations with not only Jagr, but also with Martin Straka.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO SATHER'S FULL COMMENTS ON THE CONTRACT TALKS WITH JAGR AND STRAKA

The new-model Blueshirts next season will feature Markus Naslund and Dmitri Kalinin, both of whom were revealed as additions to a roster that also includes the acquisition of forwards Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche.

"We're going to play an upbeat style of hockey," says Sather. "We were disappointed in our playoff loss to Pittsburgh."

The new, improved style promised by the high command tickles Naslund's fancy. "I like the direction the Rangers are going," he says. "And I'm looking forward to playing the kind of game that made Detroit the Stanley Cup Champions."

Although the departures of Avery and Jagr, in particular, will disappoint a bloc of fans, The Maven sees only positives coming out of the transformation.

No matter how you shake it, Jagr was a questionable captain with a capital Q. This was evident when he turned down the leadership role after the lockout, only to eventually change his mind...
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  • If 'The Maven' didn't have "faith in Tom Renney's insights and Sather's as well" would he still have a job?
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Stan Fischler / MSG Game On blog [July 2nd]:
See Ya, Sean, It Was Fun While It Lasted -- I have faith in Tom Renney's insights and Sather's as well. For smart money, it would have been wise for the Rangers to keep Avery, but his demands had to be weighed against what influence he would have on a team building around such youngsters as Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal...
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  • Regarding 'The Maven's' prognostication skills, let's just say your average Blue Seater is probably better equipped to predict what management will do. Where would Stan be without having the inside track at MSG? Here were the two recent examples when the Maven's future vision went haywire:
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On March 3rd , Fischler wrote:
The "issue" of Jaromir Jagr's return to the Rangers next season appears to us to be a non-issue. Our prediction is this: The Blueshirts' captain will be back because: A. He wants to remain a Ranger; B. Management wants him on Seventh Avenue, and C. JJ still is effective in his senior citizen role...
On March 5th, Fischler wrote:
Is Sean Avery Going To Leave? No Way!

The cataclysmic reaction to the negotiations breakup between Sean Avery and the Rangers is reaching "Where's Britney Spears?" proportions.

Chances are that Sean -- alias The Great Gabbo -- will be around a lot longer than Britney, the pop bop.

Fear not, Rangers fans, Avery is going nowhere when his contract expires; not to Philly, not to Chi-town nor Beantown nor Toronto from where he comes...

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  • The only thing we need to fear is a MSG shill posing as a hockey analyst.
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The MSG Cheerleader, Stan FischlerLet's Go Tom's Renney-gades

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Where's The Beef?

Since the end of the year, and actually during the year itself, the Rangers needs were quite well known. Get a big forward who could put the puck into the net. Get a power play quarterback. Get some big moose's on defense to keep the area in front of Lundqvist clear. And, oh yes, get the young kids into the lineup. So how did we do and how is it looking for 2008-09?

I think the forwards and the offense are improved, the power play is improved, the defense still looks soft, and it's a mixed bag on the young kids especially on defense where Bobby Sanguinetti will be trying to crack the squad. The young forwards will have to battle the five new additions for a lineup spot otherwise it's another year of waiting for the kids.

We picked up seven players. We have ourselves a power play quarterback, Wade Redden, overpriced and on the downside of his career. You think he missed Chara? My own personal feelings are that the Islanders got a better power play quarterback, Mark Streit, at a cheaper price. Redden, 6-32-38, got $6.5 Mil/year and Streit, 13-49-62, and ranked 11th in power play scoring in the league, got $4 Mil/year. In fact, Streit got as many points as the highly sought out Campbell at half the price Campbell was paid by the Hawks. But why quibble with the Stealth, at least we have a guy who can run the power play, play some defense, but I don't know if he has any crease clearing ability. But we do have someone to run the PP. We also picked up injury-prone, Dmitri Kalinin, 27 years old and he will probably be on the third pair on defense, and is not especially known for being a bruiser. No beef on defense.

The forwards are where the Rangers seemed to have 'beefed' up a bit in talent and prospects. Markus Naslund, 35 years old, 25-30-55, is a five time all star, who is also on the downside of his career. However, young Nikolai Zherdev, 23 years old, could be the find of the off-season. Zherden, 6'2" and 205 lbs, had a 26-35-61 record last year and the reports are that he hasn't hit his stride yet. So here we have the old vet and the young sniper both with as many or more goals as Jagr scored last year so we do have offensive threats, both young and old. Also picked up was Dan Fritsche, 22 years old. with a 10-12-22 performance last year. Fritsche looks like he would be a good replacement for Blair Betts, the hardworking penalty killer, who has a difficult time putting the puck in the net. The other two forwards are journey man, Patrick Rissmiller, 29 years old, who is a hitter, and wound up with 8-9-17. He could be a challenge to the Ranger hit man Ryan Hollweg. Finally, there is Aaron Voros, 26 years old who compiled a 7-7-14 record in his rookie year.

So there are five forwards added to the mix. Gomez, Drury, Dubinsky, Betts, Hollweg, Orr, Sjostrom, Dawes, Callahan, Prucha (you remember him), Korpikoski, Moore, maybe Cherepanov, and possibly Shanahan will be the returning Rangers. That's a lot of forwards. Hartford will be crowded or swing a big deal for a big tough defenseman.

The Stealth GM wants a high powered, high scoring, pressure type offense which will be a big change over the passive perimeter offense, defense-at-all-cost team. Has the Stealth talked to defense-at-all-cost's, coach clueless, who really knows next to nothing about putting together an offensive scheme? Where's the beef in the coaching staff?

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ICINGS:

John Dellapina / NY Daily News:
Tom Renney revved for Rangers, even with loss of veterans -- "It's an exciting time and I'm good with it," Renney told the Daily News. "Obviously, I'm disappointed about certain people. But I can't dwell on that.

"As a coach, you've got to consider both sides of the street. And when you give your input, you have to be fair. Certainly, it's an exciting time for the Rangers."

Don't get Renney wrong. As one of the most influential voices in the room when GM Glen Sather convened the organization's brain trust for its planning meetings in late May, Renney was among those pushing for the club to get faster and younger...

Bottom line: There is no money to sign Shanahan. Which means Renney will preside over a team with a new captain and two new alternate captains. This truly does become Gomez's and Drury's team...
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HF Boards:
Next captain of the New York Rangers -- Chris Drury 90%
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Larry Brooks /NY Post:
WILD BLUESHIRT YONDER -- Renney, indeed, laid out his vision not more than 10 minutes after the Pittsburgh series had ended, saying, "We're going to have to play the type of hockey that suggests pressure, skating and physical energy if we want to go forward."

The execution is going to be the tough part. Ronald Reagan would ask, "Where is the rest of me?" if he were around to amble into the Rangers' room on the first day of training camp. The departures of Jaromir Jagr, Sean Avery, Martin Straka - and who knows about Brendan Shanahan? - will leave a huge void in the club's collective personality.

Without Jagr to both blame and lean on all at once, everyone will come under more scrutiny; the coaching staff and the players, alike...
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Hockey Rodent:
Moving On - Part 3 -- My point of this entire rant is to demonstrate that under the best of conditions - as presently constituted - your Rangers project to end the season no better than 15th in team offense or thereabouts. That would be an improvement - though not by much. The club finished 2007-2008 tied with Vancouver for 23rd averaging 2.60 goals per game.

What this means is that success in the W-L columns will require (yet again) for Renney deploy defensive stratagems to ensure the goals against are among the best on the circuit. And that demands durability of Henrik Lundqvist.

Failing that, you'd better pray for the playoffs because it could be argued that every other team in the Eastern Conference has improved since last year if for no other reason than Sean Avery is now in Dallas.
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John Dellapina / NY Daily News:
Former Rangers star Jaromir Jagr signs three-yeal deal with Omsk -- Upon leaving the Siberian town when he finished the NHL-less 2004-05 season there, Jaromir Jagr vowed to one day return to Omsk. He just hoped that day wouldn't come as quickly as Friday.

However, having taken several hours to collect his thoughts after being informed by GM Glen Sather that there was no more room for him on the Rangers, Jagr early yesterday morning signed a letter of intent to accept the two-year, $25 million offer from Avangard-Omsk that had been awaiting his signature for weeks...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Jagr: End Of An Era

The signing of Markus Naslund to a two year deal, reportedly at $4 mil per year, was the final piece that put an end to Jaromir Jagr's career with the New York Rangers and quite possibly his career with the NHL. So the Jagr Era comes to a close. It lasted a little over three years and it was quite a run. He led the Rangers to three straight playoffs. He took the Stealth GM off the schneid after seven unsuccessful, non playoff seasons. He made coach clueless a coach of the year nominee for two years. He brought life and hope back to the Garden Faithful. The first year after the lockout he set a season Ranger record for goals (54) and points (123). But he wanted a two year deal at a yearly rate that was twice the rate the Rangers paid Naslund, hence the departure. For once the Stealth got it right. It was time for Jagr to go.

But I am not here to dis Jagr. The main stream, drive-by-media, and some blogs are doing it. They are harping on the fact that Jagr admitted that he didn't give his all the entire season and was saving it for the playoffs. Wow! The only thing Jagr is guilty of is admitting what hundreds of players do at one time or another. They mail it in. The next thing you know is that The Maven, Stan Fischler, will do a piece on him like he did on Avery. You know the drill. Locker room detriment. Putting himself above the team. No long term commitment. Should have taken less money. Fischler's piece on Avery showed Fischler as the ultimate shill. It didn't take long for the Rangers to throw Avery under the bus. But Fischler had backup to put across his point. His wife. So that's where the Maven gets all his facts from. Reminds me of the time during the 1980 Presidential debate of Reagan and Carter and Carter brought up the fact that his 8 year old daughter, Amy, had discussed nuclear proliferation with him prior to the debate.

One thing the shills of the world like Fischler don't understand. On and off the ice Avery is news. Whether it is in the sports section or on Page Six of the New York Post he creates excitement, news and he keeps hockey in the news. He made hockey a little bit more than a sub basement sport. He was a celebrity and he knew celebrities, especially female celebrities and this got hockey in the news. Avery accomplished what Bettman, the Absentee Owner, the Stealth GM and an assortment of NHL clowns could not. He put hockey in a favorable light and we will miss him.

But the Rangers are going forward with a new crew and hopefully with a new philosophy. Can they be successful with an 'old' coach clueless? I will write more on the new players and the new hope. For now, good luck and the best to Jaromir Jagr who brought professionalism, class, excitement, candor and outstanding performance in his brief Ranger tenure. He is perhaps the greatest European hockey player of all time.

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.

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ICINGS:

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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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....
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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).
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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...
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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. ...
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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...
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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? ...
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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.
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Evgeny "Slew Foot" Malkin re-signs with Pittsburg

AP / ESPN:
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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