Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Prodigal Son Returneth?

The Rangers will try to get Sean Avery through the re-entry draft tomorrow for his return to the embattled Rangers. I say try because there are strong rumors circulating that two teams, the Islanders and Black Hawks may claim the fiery forward to bolster their teams.

For the Islanders it would be an in your face shot at the Rangers to take advantage of the disgruntled Ranger fans and maybe boost their sagging if not dying attendance. For the Black Hawks it could be a permanent replacement for the suspended Carcillo. Imagine the repercussions of the Ranger fans if the crowd favorite were to join a rival such as the Islanders.

Why the change of mind so soon? Many theories, but no facts. It certainly is not the coach's idea. One school seems to be that the Stealth GM, after the first two home games senses a storm brewing and before it turns into a tsunami wants to make a fan favorite move. The GM is no dummy, he doesn't want to lose his job because of an obstinate and media pariah coach.

Another theory has it that Henrik Lundqvist and Brad Richards, who are friends of Sean may have either talked to the coach or GM about the poor play of the team and what an energized Avery can bring to the team. Who knows?

But, if Sean is brought back he must be given meaningful ice time, not 5-8 minutes on the fourth line. So we shall see if this is a PR move to soothe an irate fan base or the coach is really serious about turning this team around. Tomorrow should be an interesting day and if all goes well the Prodigal Son will return on Thursday to be greeted by his loyal followers.

The Ranger Pundit says welcome home to the Prodigal Son!

Let's Go Rangers!
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ICINGS:

How has Sean Avery been doing with the Connecticut Whale?

Saturday night Avery provided the shootout winner for Connecticut, who won their fifth straight game with a final score of 3-2 over the Worcester Sharks.

Friday night Avery contributed an Avery hat trick to the Connecticut win 4-2 over the Adirondack Phantoms. An Avery hat trick, in case you are interested, is a fight, a penalty, and a goal. It was Avery's debut with the Whale.

Update 10/31 am:

Larry Brooks of the NY Post is reporting this morning that Avery will go on re-entry waivers at noon today:
Unless something unforeseen develops, Avery, who was assigned to the AHL Whale after clearing waivers on Oct. 5, will be placed on re-entry waivers at noon today that expire at noon tomorrow.

If he clears as expected, Avery would be eligible to make his 2011-12 Rangers' debut Thursday against the Ducks at the Garden, where banners and chants in his support have marked each of the first two home contests...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bad Signs

So the coach who calls a timeout on the road in the opening minutes of the first period didn't have the brains to call a timeout to blunt Ottawa's onslaught. With a little over ten minutes to go the Rangers held a seemingly safe three goal lead. Ottawa kept skating and he Rangers, led by their coach, kept watching.

Brad Richards who scored two goals and an assist said it best. He didn't expect the score to go to 8-1 but he did expect the team to keep playing. Welcome to the Rangers Brad. Welcome to what poses as hockey on the biggest stage in the NHL.

Of course Richards was wrong. Maybe an 8-1 lead on Ottawa might have won the game. Maybe. Ottawa is getting a reputation for third period comebacks. So it was the perfect storm. A comeback type team against a folderoo type team.

The line changing coach took a different tack this time. He changed them before the game. It worked. Richards had two goals and Gaborik one. But no amount of line changes win games. Hard skating and forechecking wins games and the Rangers have shown they are not up to doing that for sixty minutes.

At his press conference the disagreeable one refused to burn Wolski for his penalty. Nice change. One wonders if a certain player, no longer here, but who had his name hanging from the balcony, had committed the penalty, what would the reaction be?

There were a lot of bad signs for the Rangers in today's game. Unfortunately they can't be removed as easily as they removed the sign from the balcony. I have a feeling that the Garden personnel are going to be busy removing a lot of signs this year.

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ICINGS:

Sean Avery sign hanging at MSG during Ottawa game

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game highlights:

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Digs; Same Story

For the first twenty minutes the Rangers fooled everybody, probably even themselves. They played a pretty good hockey game, for twenty minutes. The only problem is they have these stupid rules in hockey that says you must play sixty minutes. Yup, sixty minutes and the operative word here is PLAY!

How bad were they the last forty minutes? Henrik Lundqvist says he lost concentration, he wasn't focused. Too bad he didn't say that before the game, we could of got the Wall Street Protesters to infiltrate the Garden and had the game called due to a pollution problem.

The Rangers got sixteen shots on goal the first period and seven each in the 2nd and 3rd periods. Yes, two goals were waived off in the first period due to interference calls that no penalties were called. Weird? Let's see. The Ranger player gets pushed into the goalie but no penalty on him because he was pushed by a Toronto player who also did not get a penalty.

This sets up all kinds of interesting scenarios in the future. Players crowd around your goalie, push them into the goalie. No harm, no penalty, no goal. Remember when Dominick Hasek used to knock the net off the moorings on breakaways?

On the ice it was the same old story. Newbury had a fight, didn't do too well and got all of 3:07 of ice time. Same story there. Wolski, who was to be a first-liner, wasn't, didn't get a shot on goal, didn't play well and got 12:05 of ice time. Same story there.

I found it interesting this morning that most of the blame stream media mentioned that there were a couple of chants for Avery last night. You would never know that listening to the homer twins, Sam and Joe, last night. However, if last night's performance is indicative of what we can expect the rest of the year the chants will become more colorful and personal.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

BTW. The Rangers lost 4-2.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Buildup to Home Opener

Here are some random notes as we get ready for the home opener tomorrow night against the Leafs.

1. The MSG network is naturally leading the hoop-dee-doo about the new Madison Square Garden. They will blanket the network with Rangers related shows all day. The most interesting one is this new show called "Beginnings." I'll probably check out or record the 10pm premier about Ryan Callahan.

MSG.com:
MSG Network Goes Back to the “Beginnings” --

Rangers captain Ryan Callahan kicks off the series as MSG Network’s cameras join him in Rochester, NY to see how he made it from a suburban cul-de-sac to the bright lights of New York City. Throughout the 30-minute show, Callahan talks about the pursuit of his dream to play in the NHL, his experience as a member of the USA Olympic team, and what it was like to get drafted by the Rangers.

In the episode, Callahan tells a story about a pick-up game with his brother in the driveway. “Once in a while the games got a little physical,” recalls Callahan. “One time my brother got into me pretty good and we both went through the garage door. My dad got home from work, stormed into the house and said ‘what happened to the garage door?’ and I said ‘hockey, that’s what happened to the garage door.’” ...

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2. Setting all the hype aside, the new MSG will not be a bed of roses. As a season subscriber Scotty Hockey just got an email that paints a very different picture for the haves and have nots.

Scotty Hockey / Another Letter ...
The Rangers called season subscribers this afternoon to alert them that the below e-mail was coming. Essentially it says that things will be great for the people who will spend a lot of money and sit downstairs but for those folks upstairs, life will be very inconvenient...

All 300 Level seat locations on the North and South ends of the building are accessible from the 7th floor concourse. For this season, the 7th floor will not wrap completely around The Garden meaning that access from the North side of the 7th floor to the South side of the 7th floor (and vice versa) is only available by using the Madison Concourse (6th floor). As a result, for those locations on the North side of the building (Sections 328 - 341), Tower D is the only access point. Should you attempt entry at Tower A, your ticket will not scan and you will be redirected to Tower D. For those locations on the south side of the building (Sections 303 - 316), Tower A is the only access point. Should you attempt entry at Tower D, your ticket will not scan and you will be redirected to Tower A...
And so it goes.
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3. The Hockey News posted their Power Rankings earlier this week. Not surprisingly, the Rangers were ranked #23. However, the item that caught my eye was Adam Proteau's comment:


Yes, the 16-second Torts post-game press conference was an "ominous harbinger."
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4. There is apparently this website called facebook that seems to be getting pretty popular. No, the Ranger Pundit has not planted his face on facebook yet. But, for those readers who are in the facebook world here is a website where you can get your hockey facebook covers, whatever those things are.

FirstCovers.com:
Hockey Facebook Covers --

New York Rangers Facebook Cover

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5. Here is the blind-side hit by Adam Mair on Mats Zuccarello during Saturday night's (Oct. 22nd) game vs. Springfield. Blake Parlett of the Whale then goes after Mair for the cheap shot. Zuccarello reportedly suffered a 'slight' concussion and Mair was suspended for four games.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rangers Magical Mystery Tour Ends with 2-1 Win Over Jets

Marty Biron wears the 'magical' Broadway Hat after NY Rangers defeat the Winnipeg Jets 2-1

Are the Rangers lucky or good? Based solely on the 3-1 results of this Canadian road trip you would have to say they are good. But, we know that's not the true story.

The 'Broadway Hat' that Marty Biron earned for his stellar 27-save performance in the Rangers 2-1 road win over the Winnipeg Jets must have some magic in it. The Rangers are pulling wins out of this Broadway Hat like a Zombie pulls teeth out of their rotting mouth. We know there is some rotten fakery going on with this team.

Brooksie at the NY Post observed:
While going through customs on their way home to New York, the Rangers presumably did not forget to declare the smoke and mirrors they carried with them through this four-game tour through western Canada.

Oh, and the six points they stole, uh, earned, as well...
Scotty Hockey notes:
Despite playing utterly atrocious hockey the Rangers have earned eight points in seven road games to start this season... The Rangers were a step slow, utterly out of sorts and completely dominated for long stretches of the [Winnipeg] game...
Nick Montemagno at The Rangers Tribune is scratching his head too:
I find it amazing that the New York Rangers managed to go 3-1-0 on their road trip through western Canada considering they were dominated for large portions of every game...
Joe Fortunato at Blueshirt Banter writes:
I don't think anyone will argue the main reason the Rangers have been able to escape the West [3-1]... was because of the combined efforts of the depleted defense and the goaltending...
Yes, the magical mystery tour has been performing on a solid goaltending stage, enhanced by shot blocking roadies, on which our high paid offensive performers have stumbled and bumbled about. The disagreeable maestro just keeps changing the act every night in hopes that one night the troubadours might actually get things right.

Well now the magical mystery tour has ended and the Rangers are taking their act back to Broadway. The question is how much magic is left in the Broadway hat?
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ICINGS:

Prusty wins a good close fight.

HockeyFights.com:
Brandon Prust vs Tanner Glass -- [Oct 24, 2011 1pd 01:55]
Results: from 70 votes, 6.7 rating
Brandon Prust -- 55.7%
Tanner Glass -- 40%
Draw -- 4.3%

Sunday, October 23, 2011

No Questions

Coach disagreeable was in rare form after last night's stinker. It was all of 16 seconds and he basically told the lame stream press and the fans to shove it. No questions on the latest debacle, the 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. The Stealth should come out of his cocoon sit down with this clown and explain the facts of life. You are not in Tampa anymore. You are in New York, the media capital of the world and you have your tongue up your butt. Is this what the Ranger faithful deserve after all these years of frustration and aggravation? Of course that is not going to happen because we have the most reclusive GM of any team in the New York metro area.

It was a classic match up: coach clueless against coach disagreeable. The architect of "not playing defense is not an option" versus "you will play defense first, last and foremost". You wonder why the Ranger offense is impotent? It's by design and fear. Fear that if you make a mistake when trying to score and it results in the other team scoring, you are doomed. The options? If you are lucky they send you on the bus to Hartford where you play for a real coach. If you are unfortunate you stay with the team and get humiliated with five minutes of ice time or a trip under the bus.

He has built the team around three players: Richards, the playmaker, Gaborik, the goal scorer and Lundqvist, the goal saver. The rest of the team is there to sacrifice their bodies. Body hits, blocked shots, whatever it takes to keep the puck from getting to the net. Don't do these things then the Tortorella Travel Service is ready for you. You either take the bus out of town, or you get thrown under it.

Remember Wolski? He was supposed to be a first line player. Well he got hurt and disagreeable wondered if he was going to spend the rest of the season in the hot tub. Well he moved from the hot tub to the bench. Is the bus next? Brandon Prust took a stupid holding the stick penalty. Disagreeable banished him to the bench for almost the entire game. Brandon Prust! The guy leaves his body and soul and heart on the ice and this bum banishes him.

The Rangers are a boring hockey team with some bright stars. They have a rude, crass, impolite coach. We got rid of a coach who was all defense for a coach that was to be an up tempo coach. The only thing up tempo is his snarl and rudeness. But what do you expect from Madison Square Garden? The fish stinks from the head: The Absentee Owner, the Stealth GM, and coach disagreeable. The press should boycott the press conferences and the fans should boycott the games and maybe, just maybe we may get a change. But I doubt it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rangers Douse Flames

Talk about last second heroics. Ryan McDonagh's OT winner with 1.8 seconds left in overtime was one sweet coup de grĂ¢ce. It closed out a 3-2 win over a game and gritty Calgary Flames team that had come back twice against the Rangers to even the score and send the game into the extra frame. It also redeemed Ryan McDonagh from giveaway goathood. They say he had three cough-ups, but who's counting.

It's an especially nice win that rewards all the diehards who stayed up late to watch it. Paying the Zombie price for a late game that you lose is a kick in the ham and eggs.

Anyway, here are a few random game notes:

First, a complaint, was I the only one who had a video signal that had the hiccups all night long? Please, Verizon or MSG or whoever was stepping on the game telecast knock it off, it's distracting.

Second, how sweet was it for Brandon Prust to score a short-handed goal against his old team? He was certainly worthy of wearing the 'Broadway hat', although today I see the writers are referring to it as the 'winning hat.' I personally prefer the 'Broadway hat', it sounds more New York. The Ranger Pundit, I'm sure, remembers when every self respecting man, who went to work in a suit and tie, wore a nice hat and we're not talking ratty old baseball caps. Come to think of it why do they call a three goal game for a player a hat trick?

Lundqvist was certainly hat worthy again. But, then I guess for the King, anything less than perfection these days, isn't anything special. If this bump in performance by Henrik is due to his wearing new skates, then any drop off should require the equipment manager to immediately place a fresh pair in his locker.

Brad Richards is quietly racking up the points. His 500th career assist to Gabby on the power play was hopefully the spark that ignites that unit, to blast them out of the league basement. Right now short handed goals and power play goals are even, at one apiece.

You can put a fresh coat of paint on a condemned house, but it's still a rotting house. Let's hope that Richards is more than a fresh coat of paint on the power play unit. The team is paying for a master carpenter with some plumbing skills. A major renovation is needed.

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NY Post: Brandon Prust wears the NY Rangers 'winning hat'
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The Calgary fans were mild mannered until Tim Erixon hit the ice. Then they got all riled up. This behavior has to go in the 'very weak' category.

BlueShirts United:
Erixon Handles Boos -- Fans of the Calgary Flames were not happy when Tim Erixon did not sign with the team that made him a first round draft pick and was subsequently traded to the Rangers this past summer, and those fans loudly booed the rookie defenseman every time he touched the puck Thursday night at the Saddledome...
I heard (the boos), but I didn't really think about it. I just tried to go out there and play my game. Oh yeah, I heard it, but I don't really care about it. They didn't bother me.
— Tim Erixon
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Flames Pregame Roundup

Here are a few notes of interest before tonight's game against the Calgary Flames.

Flames.NHL.com:
Preview: Flames vs. Rangers --

Both teams are off to uneven starts, but enter this game off stirring victories Tuesday. The Rangers played two scoreless periods with the Canucks in Vancouver before scoring four times in the third period to win 4-0. The Flames looked like they were going to fall at home to the Oilers before getting two quick goals in the final six minutes to win 2-1...
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Lundqvist's great performance on Tuesday is still resonating. This excerpt from the Canucks Misconduct blog is a nice parting shot:
The [Vancouver] forwards getting lit up by Henrik Lundqvist is really nothing to be ashamed about. He's a goalie who records a lot of shutouts and is variably inconsistent between "dominating" and "pretty good goalie" and has now shut the Canucks out in consecutive games and stopped 71 consecutive shots...
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The Calgary Flames 'hit the post' blog writes a love letter to the New York Rangers:
the move you pulled last night showed me, maybe for the first time, that you really care. i'm so flattered. i mean, i presume that you made the canucks look bad for MY benefit, and i imagine that you made the home fans jeer their starting 'tender just to make me smile. oh, rangers...

i should point out that i don't think much of your coach or your GM, and you DID harbour sean avery for years.... all forgiven, of course, when i think about how you turned our prusty into a real man... we agonize about his absence sometimes, but we're really proud of what he's done for you...
We love Calgary too, any town built around a stampede sounds like fun.
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There have been a few photos coming out of the newly renovated Madison Square Garden. MSG has spared no expense and the ticket prices will reflect the reality of a $850 million dollar facelift. The MSG CEO said the fans requested to "get closer" and that's why they built this so called Delta SKY360 club for the elite 800. It really seems like the big corporate money rather than the lowly fans are the ones more likely to enjoy this new perk.

CNBC Sports Biz:

"We obviously gutted the whole place so we had an opportunity to do what we wanted," said Hank Ratner, president and CEO of Madison Square Garden. "We did surveys and fans, not surprisingly, told us they wanted to get closer. So we did this."

The area in the arena is called the Delta SKY360 Club and fans can watch the Knicks and Rangers go from their locker rooms onto the court and ice before they go to their seats. Those fans can also watch through the glass to see what is going on in the MSG studio.

There are 800 season ticket holders (sold separately for Knicks and Rangers fans) that have access to the club and they pay an undisclosed amount for the all-inclusive tickets, which include a seat just above the floor, food and non-alcoholic drinks...
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The new Rangers locker room looks great too, but the visitors appear to be getting the short end of the stick.

NY Post: MSG Renovations - new Rangers locker room
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MSG - newly renovated visitor's locker room
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update - MSG renovation video:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

'Hanks For The Memories

On a night when the Canucks honored one of their fallen brothers, Rick Rypien, they put on quite an offensive performance firing 40 shots at Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist but to no avail. Lundqvist was superb. Brilliant. I have run out of adjectives to describe this wonderful athlete. The Canuck's never had a chance, even though they outshot the Rangers 40-19.

The Rangers who were totally ineffective the first two periods exploded for four goals on ten shots in the third period. The goal scorers were Rupp (1), McDonagh (1), Boyle (1) and Gaborik (3). But the story was and will continue to be, Lundqvist. The shutout was his 36th of his career and he is closing in on Eddie Giacomin's record of 49.

The Rangers continued to take too many penalties. However, the Canucks were 0-8 on the power play mostly due to the play of Lundqvist. The Rangers outburst in the third period was most welcome and hopefully it will get the team out of the scoring doldrums it has been in. What I found most encouraging was that only one goal was scored by a 'goal scorer'.

So now there seems to be some hope as the tour heads East back to the Garden. I would still like to see more consistency in the use of the lines and the time alloted to certain players. But Christmas is coming and who knows what awaits us from Santa.

ICINGS: Dale Weise who was cut by the Rangers played last night for the Canucks. He played on the fourth line, with the same players and got 8:37 of ice time. That was the least of any Canuck, but more ice time than three Rangers. Weise wasn't good enough to make the Rangers, but apparently has made the team that won the Western Conference last year.

Tortorella Dons 'Broadway Stockings' After Big Win

The Rangers have established some new winning traditions. Now along with the "Broadway Hat" that the game MVP will wear, coach John Tortorella will also wear "Broadway Stockings" after a big win. After the game Tortorella said: "I wanted to show the team that I'm human too, and have some fun with the guys." Reporters were asking Tortorella to cover himself, but Torts was adamant in parading around in his garter belt and stockings after the game. He said he's always been a fan of Gypsy Rose Lee.

John Tortorella dons 'Broadway Stockings' after Rangers beat Vancouver 4-0
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Lundqvist wears 'Broadway Hat' after Rangers win

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Canucks Will Honor Rypien

The Canucks are calling tonight's game: "Heart of a Canuck — Rick Rypien Night." Can't say if the Canucks honoring the memory of Rypien at tonight's game will help or hurt them on the ice, but it will certainly be emotional.

Canucks Army:
More Than Just Another Game --
Tonight's game against the Rangers has it's share of sub-plots: the Rangers are winless this season and will be desperate to change that against a "measuring stick team" in the Canucks. Ryan Kesler returns slightly earlier than most of us expected from summer hip surgery, after a nine week recovery period. The Canucks look to overcome the "Finals hangover" narrative that has apparently plagued them in the early going. Whatever. Tonight, for me, the game is a side-show. Even the return of arguably the Canucks best player is a side-show. Tonight is all about Rypper.

It seems that the ceremony won't be televised, but you can watch it live at canucks.nhl.com. I'm sure thousands, myself included, will...

Tonight is more than just another a game, it's a chance to say goodbye. It's also a chance to say thank you, to Rypien's family and his closest friends. Thank you for sharing him with us.
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related:

Vancouver Sun:
Forever a Canuck and a brother

Puck Daddy: 
Kevin Bieksa adds new layers of sadness to Rick Rypien story

Canucks.NHL.com:
Game Notes

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Tale Of Two Franchises

All night long I kept hearing from Joe Micheletti how the Rangers were so much better five-on-five than the Islanders and they had to stop taking stupid penalties. Well, the second part was right. The Rangers gave the Islanders eight PP's and John Taveras cashed in on two on his way to a hat trick that culminated with an empty netter.

So much better? How about the rest of the game Joe? The Rangers got four PP's and did their usual zipperoos. That left about 36 minutes of five-on-five and the Rangers won that duel 2-1. But part of the five-on-five was 16 minutes of dumb penalties that this team cannot shake. The penalties were part of the five-on-five and that is what doomed the Rangers.

Another thing they can't shake is their ineptitude on the power play. This unit has been terrible for years, the years of coach disagreeable's tenure. He still hasn't figured out how to get the power play to work. The constant changing of lines doesn't help either. How do you get chemistry?

The Islanders have been rebuilding and judging by last night it looks like it's going to pay off. The Rangers have been rebuilding forever and guess what? They are still rebuilding. The Islanders team is young and exciting. The Rangers are not as young and are boring. Ice time? Rupp got 3:54; Christensen 5:40; Zuccarello 7:55 and Prust, who scored an even strength goal, got all of 10:32. Only one Islander, Gillis, got little ice time, 2:47. The next lowest one was Reasoner with 12:40. Five Rangers got fewer ice time than Reasoner and a sixth, Fedotenko got 12:45.

Everyone plays on the Islanders and usually with the same linemates. Their dynamic coach gets it. The young guys get to play and develop and get praised. Our young guys get to sit and watch The Six Torts Terrors play and play and play. Oh yeah. There is another choice. Zuccarello was sent to Hartford after the game. Newbury will replace him, supposedly to add muscle and toughness for all of five minutes.

When you rebuild with young players you want a coach that teaches and respects them. You don't want a coach that criticizes them, throws them under the bus or lets them ride the bus out of town. But this is the Ranger way. Playing the young means buying a round trip ticket to Hartford to see the Whalers play. While you are there you will probably see another player who wasn't good enough to make this young rebuilding squad.

"It is a far better thing.............."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Making out like a Bandit in the Minors

Did you know that Sean Avery will get more money playing for the Connecticut Whale in Hartford, than for the New York 'high and mighty' Rangers? That is because of the "escrow clause" in the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The "escrow clause" was set up to ensure the correct revenue split between the owners and the players. This is done by placing a percentage of each player's salary in escrow. When the total NHL revenues are determined at the end of the season, the escrow account is divided among players and owners to ensure that the target has been met. The NHL players have paid into this escrow account at rates between 13.5% to 25% of their salary.

The good news for Sean Avery and Wade Redden is that they do not have to pay money into the escrow account. They also don't risk losing money at the end of the season when the owners and players do their split. So it seems Mr. Avery will be doing very well in Hartford, at least financially.

Monday, October 10, 2011

No. It's Not The End Of The World

Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post wrote a column after the Yanks lost to Detroit in the ALDS, that it's not the end of the world. Well, to Yankee fans and New York sports fans it technically was the end of the sports world. Think about it.

Most Yankee fans are probably also Giants football fans, Knicks basketball fans and depending on where they live in the suburbs Rangers, Islanders or Devils fans. My preferences are Yanks, Knicks, Jets and Rangers. Tell me. What are the chances of the last three teams winning anything soon?

The Knicks haven't won anything in what, 38 years. The Jets haven't won since 1969 and are a strong contender to smash the Ranger record of 54 years of futility between championships. The Rangers? Forget it. Two Cups in 71 years is not a ringing endorsement or encouragement for future successes.

The closest team to the Yanks in stature are the New York Giants football team. Since their inception in 1925 the Giants have been Champions 7 times the latest being 2007 so there is hope there. Hope, but not much chance in the foreseeable future. The Mets have won two World Series in four appearances so they are not entirely impotent but if they let the most exciting player in baseball, Reyes, escape to another team it will take them decades to recover.

The LI/NJ/Brooklyn Nets? They won two ABA Championships, the last one in 1976 and with new owners, new Arena and new location in Brooklyn they may surprise us all especially the Knicks. So that leaves us with our hockey heroes.

The NJ Devils have won three Cups and with their great GM they are always a threat to go all the way. The Islanders have had their moments. Four straight Cups the last one in 1983. They have a young team with a good young coach. They need a new Arena and they need it bad. Don't hold your breath waiting for the next Islander Cup.

So we are down to our heroes, the Blueshirts. The perennial also rans. One Cup since 1940 and that by the strength and skill of one man, Mark Messier. But the team is defined by the Bones Raliegh shot that hit the crossbar in the 1950 Cup finals that was turned around for a Cup winning goal by Pete Babando (who). Since then its been a parade of poor coaches, questionable decisions and clueless GM's. Surely, their Cup runneth over.

So maybe Vaccaro was wrong. From a sports standpoint it is the end of the world at least 'til next year when the Yankees make another run at the World Series. However, they better think about ridding the team of some of its overpaid super stars and getting some young blood in there. It's okay for old men to write sports blogs but not okay for old men to play pro sports if they can't perform at a high level.

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ICINGS:
Going North we see that last week Don Cherry started a verbal brawl over NHL fighting that pulled in Chris "Knuckles" Nilan. Things got personal with Nilan calling out one of his detractors, to get together with him for a "cup of coffee." Nilan's idea of a "cup of coffee" sounds like it might be spiked with some rum punch.

Chris Nilan / Knuckles Nilan blog:
Email of the Week --
I have to say the support and the emails and messages I have received is pretty overwhelming. Although 99% of them are great support there is always a couple that wish to let me know how they feel. I have blacked out some of the inappropriate language so I have attached for your viewing pleasure. Oh by the way I replied asking JIM for a cup of coffee to talk it over and the email came back. Gutless Jim already canceled his email. Pretty Big coward to send this garbage and then hide. If Jim has a pair he should email me again...

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Stinker in Stockholm

The NHL is playing games in Europe to showcase its product. A few more games like todays and they may have to move the games to Asia, like Siberia maybe. Maybe it's not the teams but The Team, like the Rangers. For the second consecutive night they put on another show of ineptness and futility that defies the imagination.

In the 2-1 shootout loss the Rangers got all of 15 shots on goal. They got all of 10 shots on goal at even strength. Henrik Lundqvist again was the star, fittingly, with 27 saves. While the trip was a waste for the team with their performance it was a triumph for Lundqvist in his return to his homeland.

For those looking for a change in Ranger fortunes it was not evident in these two games. It's samo, samo. The power play is non-existent. There is no meaningful forechecking. There is very little puck control. There is no chemistry as the lines get changed constantly. The good news lies in the back-end. The defense has looked good and when Staal returns it will be even better.

And of course there is Henrik Lundqvist. Long live The King.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Another Opening, Another Loss

The Rangers opened their 86th season in far off Sweden and it was a 3-2 OT loss to the LA Kings, who were the home team. It was a traditional, familiar game and loss for the Rangers. Too many penalties, including the back breaker in OT which led to the winning goal by defenseman Jack Johnson.

The PP goal scored by Johnson was the only PP goal the Kings scored in six tries. The Rangers were 0-1 on the PP and that was indicative of the type of non-aggressive game the Rangers played. The Kings out hit the Rangers 26-23.

Ranger goals were by Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik. Brad Richards and Brandon Dubinsky assisted on Gabby's goal and they were the first line and seemed to get better as the game went on. They had ten shots on goal but Callahan had eleven shots on his own. That was the good news. The rest of the forwards had two shots all told. That was the bad news.

Henrik Lundqvist was, Henrik Lundqvist. He made 17 saves in the first period when the Kings could have salted the game away. I'll say it to start the season and try not to say it again. The Rangers will only go as far as Lundqvist will take them. Today he gave them a point.

BTW, Wolski and Rupp each got a little over ten minutes. Neither got a shot on goal nor took a shot. Zuccarello got less than ten minutes and also took no shots. You know who had the growl face on for the news conference and while he referenced two stupid penalties no one was thrown under the bus. But it is only game one.

ICINGS: My sources have told me that the Rangers were deluged with all kinds of calls blasting management and supporting Avery. My source says the calls were in the thousands. It follows what we have seen on the blogs.

Do the Rangers have enough dogs?

The Rangers just got rid of their best junkyard dog, but will they find out they still need more dogs?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Sean Avery - RIP

Since controversy has always surrounded Sean Avery, it should come as no surprise that his departure from the Rangers has caused controversy as well.  Nor surprising that it has resulted in controversy about him right here on this blog.  But, to those of you who think Mike and those of us who write with Mike at this blog are wrong about Sean being unfairly driven out of town, I ask you to look at the most unlikely of sources for support for Sean - Larry Brooks.

Make no mistake, Brooksie has never had great love for Sean - but Brooksie has also had no great love for Torts or Slats.  In this instance, Brooks is actually calling things as he sees them, and he sees it the way Mike, jb and I do.

This morning, Larry called it right, Avery was never given a chance by the coach - even though he would have been a very valuable member of this team.
 
If you read between the lines, Sather likes Sean, but the coach would not play him.  So, Sather did what was best for the salary situation now that he needed cap space for Mara or someone like him with Staal hurt.  He let Sean go since the cap space was better used to get a player the coach would play.

We need be honest.  The coach had his reasons.  While Sean has the talent of a first line left winger, he is not consistent and attracts negative attention.  The refs hate him and penalize him.  But, in my view, Torts could not see beyond the negatives.  The positives were overwhelming.

In a difficult playoff game, when going into the corner for a puck means you are going to get hit hard, would you rather have Christensen on your line or Sean?  When you play Philly or Boston would you feel better if Sean were with your team or Christensen, Wolski and Zuccarello?  

Sean might be a character, but he has character.  In losing him, the Rangers lost more than a good man, they lost a piece of their soul.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Odd Man Out

So the facade is almost over with. It has been perfectly orchestrated. Some meaningful ice time, not much, but some. Periodically some praise, but nothing effusive to guarantee a spot. He reserves that for his boys. As predicted in this space a while back Sean Avery will be a Ranger no more, culminating a three year campaign by the disagreeable one to rid the Rangers of this scourge to society.

I know he is still on the team. He is fighting for the last spot with Erik Christensen. Huh! Imagine a player like Avery losing a spot on the team against the likes of names like Christensen, Wolski, Zuccarello and Fedotenko. He is probably the fastest skater on the team. The first to step in for a teammate, who half the team don't appreciate. Only four forwards on the team had more assists than he did and when you consider the limited ice time he got that says something about the rest of our forwards.

It won' be a clear cut. It will be one of those slow releases. It will be the Rangers version of waterboarding. This time one of Avery's biggest boosters, The Stealth, will not interfere. He will be told by the Stanley Cup winning coach of yesteryear that this is what is needed to get this team on track to the Cup. Nonsense.

This team is on track for another fight for 6th, 7th and 8th or maybe 9th or 10th. The ghosts of Frankie Boucher and his ilk are smiling broadly on this team as they head in the tradition of the ice follies of old. But when personal vendettas are more important than team performance that's what you get.

So now the columnist Larry Brooks, who never issued an apology for his smear article on Avery, will get in bed with the devil himself. And they say politics makes strange bedfellows. He will have to start stroking the disagreeable one and then maybe he will answer his questions and then he will become one of the most knowledgeable men in hockey again. Until then we will only see the smile when the Rangers win and the smugness, nastiness and rudeness when the Rangers go down. We are in for a lot of rudeness.

But don't feel sorry for Sean. His restaurants are both thriving and the way things are going he may be to hockey what Toots Shor was to baseball.

Sean Avery, we hardly knew yee!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

The King Returns to his People

Let us get one thing straight. It's Henrik Lundqvist's world and we just happen to live in it. Henrik's triumphant return to Gothenburg, Sweden, to play a preseason game against his old Frolunda Indians team, was a celebration of a hometown hero.

The fact the Rangers won the game 4-2 was a complete afterthought.

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There once was a Prince from Frolunda,
Who was loaded with goalie chutzpah,
He traveled far west,
Where he became the best,
He returned as King to much hoopla.
-----
Look, we are so overcome by emotion that even the steely-eyed cynics here are composing verse about the King's return. Tears for sure would have been rolling had we made the trek ourselves. But, we will rely on the young guns like Scotty Hockey to do our leg work.

Here's a roundup of some various perspectives on the King's return. It's lead off by the aforementioned Scotty Hockey, who takes this blogging game to another level when he travels with our Blueshirts.

Scotty Hockey:
Preseason: Rangers 4, Frolunda 2 
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Their passion for the boy they watched become a King was rewarded on Friday when the Rangers came to town. Hank turned back into Henke as the Frolunda folks were able to bask in their pride and joy one more time. They sang, they clapped, they made him hop. And they had a helluva time doing it. That their team lost was utterly inconsequential. That our team won was just as inconsequential...
Bill Rosen / NHL.com:
Lundqvist gets hero's welcome, win in return --
They chanted his name, gave him a standing ovation, awarded him a certificate that made him an ambassador to the city, and even played the song "You're a Superstar" after he made a key save halfway through the second period...

Lundqvist, though, was the only star on a night he made 32 saves that all pale in comparison to the sensation of being greeted with a hero's homecoming welcome.

"I've been thinking about this for a long time," Lundqvist said during his third round of postgame interviews. "Over the summer I saw all the boys and this last week it's been a lot, and almost every hour the last couple of days. I wasn't sure how I would react to it, and it was very emotional. I didn't cry, but I was close...
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Rick Carpiniello / Rangers Report Blog:
Rangers-Frolunda in review --
just a very cool day all around for alternate captain Henrik Lundqvist, not to mention Joel, and their family.
The Henrik Lundqvist blog:
Henrik & Joel Lundqvist Swedish Post-Game Video Interview -- [in Swedish, with translation in comments]

Jesse Spector / The Blueshirts Blog:
Happy homecoming for Henrik Lundqvist as Rangers beat Frolunda

Bill Meltzer / NHL.com:
Premiere's European teams have storied traditions

Rangers TV:


----
ICINGS:

We are not worth O' Lun-Kan

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