Friday, February 27, 2009

Single Digit Midgets

James Dolan shows Rangers fans his digit

One is a lonely number
One can never have fun
When I met you
I thought I lost the blues
But now I find that I'm back in
That same old boat again.
One is an unhappy number
Why do you always make me wait
One and one makes two
That's why I need you
One is a lonely, lonely number.
One is a lonely number
One is always on it's own...
-- George Jones
The Rangers are stuck on scoring just one goal a game. That's not the same as stuck on stupid. But that's just a small difference without a distinction for our heroes. For the second night in a row the Blueshirts suffer a third period collapse. David Booth and Nathan Horton scored on consecutive shots a minute apart in the third period to rally the Panthers to a 2-1 win. Markus Naslund had scored the only Rangers goal at 7:34 in the first period.

It was a spirited, fast moving and highly entertaining game. But, as a Rangers fan you had this building sense of dread as our guys kept flubbing their scoring chances. You knew in your bones that not closing the deal and getting that second goal would mean the evening would end badly. And it did.

Whatever happened to the good old days when a line stayed together for a season or more and developed a scoring rhythm? The Rangers top three lines have been a mish-mash since training camp. Ouch.

So what now? Can Torts squeeze some more goals out of his roster?

I believe he can. But, will Torts then have to worry about the defense/goaltending springing more leaks? Lundqvist has shown he's human this year. The good ship is floundering.

So for now let's dance around the poop deck, as the orchestra plays their final songs, and the women and children head for the lifeboats. The icy cold water below the 8th place water line will be refreshing. If only we could clutch to Kate Winslet before we go down.

Here's a roundup from some of the other lifeboats lowered off the USS Lord Stanley.

Scotty Hockey:
31-24-8: More Of The Same --
Ugh, do I really have to go over this one? Blah, blah, blah, more of the crappy same play, blah, blah. Some glimpses of John Tortorella's influence were shown during the Ranger 2-1 loss but they were just as ineffective as the Ranger offense was. The defense jumped up when they could, the fourth line barely played and the Rangers ventured into the tough scoring zones more often. But they missed the net wide on open shots from the wing, missed mostly-empty nets and were 0-3 on the power play, including a disgraceful 5-on-3 opportunity...
Natural Hat Trick:
This Lack of Scoring Thing Is Getting Kinda Old --
But...I'm still being more entertained. I know. I know. Way too much of Renney's passive, timid hockey for too long and ANYTHING seems exciting. But the pace of the last two games, even back to back, you have to admit was much better. Much...

The bad news: The pucks aren't going in. And the team is not getting to rebounds, which has been a problem all year long...
Rangers Review:
Come on now, let’s be real guys. Do you honestly think these guys made it all the way from mites, to juniors to the AHL to the NHL without being able to bury the kind of chances they missed tonight? Come on now, you guys are smarter than that. We know what the problem is with the Rangers. It’s NOT, I repeat, NOT, because they are unable to bury the chances they got tonight. It’s because they are so overthinking and squeezing their sticks that they can not do ANYTHING right...

More calling out the Stealth GM. A chorus is building. Will Dolan hear it inside his bubble?

Jay Greenburg / NY Post:
If the new coach thinks Chris Drury is tense, wait until the meeting when Glen Sather - who, much to the disappointment of the chanting fans, will not be fired any time soon - explains how tight the Rangers will be this summer against the salary cap...
Forgot to note that last week Bill Price at the NY Daily News also realized we had a Stealth GM. Who would have ever figured out that Sather was Stealthy? Like maybe years ago?

Bill Price / NY Daily News:
Where is Sather? --
Tom Renney and Chris Drury said all the right things after the Rangers did all the wrong things in Sunday’s dismal loss to the Flyers at the Garden.

“I take full responsibility for where this team is right now,” said the coach.

“I’m not doing what I was brought here to do,” said the captain.

As for the man who put this team together . . . nothing.

In case you’ve forgotten, he’s Glen Sather, the president and GM of your New York Rangers. Honestly, I can’t blame you for forgetting, because he’s nowhere to be found...
Who'd a thunk the Staal Bro's were jinxed?

Staal Brothers: Coach Killers? --
Of course our "Coach Killer" label is tongue-in cheek, we found it amusing that all 3 Staal brothers have had their coaches fired since the start of the season.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sean of the Dead?

Sean of the Dead: Will Sean Avery Rot in minors?I'll post this rumor from Fauxrumors for Mike's benefit. He's still in the hospital and expects to be released tomorrow. He likes Torts, but the lineup 'pig' needs something more than lipstick.

However, it's now possible that his boy, Sean Avery, might not be coming back to Broadway anytime soon. Instead 'The Grate One' may be locked down in Hartford purgatory. Financial logic may trump all else.

Sean To "Rot" in the Minors? --

1) Despite the media generated rumors to the contrary, we have learned at FAUXRUMORS that its MORE likely than not that Sean Avery will play out the season in the AHL. Of course we had to ask, why? Our sources tell us that there are several reasons, but the most likely is the salary cap in Dallas. They went on to explain how its actually disadvantageous for the Stars to bring back Sean on 're-entry waivers' this season...

What is certain is that its not a done deal that Avery will be wearing a Ranger jersey this season.

What options do Rangers fans have under the tyranny of the Sather/Dolan regime?

M Hurley / My Blueshirt Heaven:
Thirty Pieces of Silver --
What options do Ranger fans have? In this day and age, it seems our only recourse is to blog, post on message boards and hope somehow our voices get heard. Chanting Fire Sather at games certainly hasn’t worked.

I am a Ranger season subscriber. Unfortunately, I still have to go to games and watch the Judases on this team continue to play. They turn my stomach. The only redeeming thing to watch is the kids. Hopefully they haven’t been too infected by the bad example that has been recently set for them...

First For Torts Falls Short

The Rangers lost 2-1 to Toronto in a shoot-out. Some themes from coach James Tortorella's first game as Rangers head coach were:

  • The new Torts up tempo, aggressive game had some good stretches. The Rangers kept the game in the Leaf end early on.

    The Dark Ranger: "Ranger fans, your first period is sponsored by Red Bull."

  • The downside of this new up tempo game is that the Rangers are not in shape to play it for a full 60.

    Larry Brooks: John Tortorella says some of the troops are pooped.

  • Hoorah! Petr Prucha got some serious ice time, but...

    Hockey Rodent: Petr Prucha not only enjoyed 2:15 on the power play. He also totalled as many ticks as did Nikolai Zherdev! Pru bolted behind enemy skaters twice and looked his best early on, finding the seams others miss. His presence was not so apparent as the game matured. Stamina issues? If so, he was not alone.

  • Better movement on the power play.

  • Rangers stunk at winning faceoffs.

    Scotty Hockey: Stat of the night - Rangers won 18 of 54 faceoffs, 33%. That is pathetic, especially against the Leafs. Concede the puck, concede the momentum.

  • Dan Girardi and Marc Staal looked good together. And even Redden had his moments.

    Rangers Review: Marc Staal and Wade Redden was absolute beasts out there. Redden in particular looked built to play this style of hockey. They kept the puck in, they got the puck on net, and they were decisive with what they were doing.

  • The Rangers still can't score and their shoot-out skills have fallen off a cliff.

    The Manic Ranger: The Rangers shooters baffled me in the shootout tonight. Naslund brought in way too much speed if he was looking to open Toskala up and hit him 5 hole. Chris Drury should not partake in the shootout any longer. He just is not good at it. Give Prucha or Dawes his spot.

  • Torts in a hateful nutshell.

    Chris Nicholas
    : If you're looking for John Tortorella in a nutshell, this last quote says it all...

    "In Tampa, we'd get new players in and after a couple games, they'd ask to meet with me and say, 'I don't know what it is. Torts hates me,'" Tortorella's former boss Jay Feaster said. "I'd say, 'Don't worry - he hates all of us equally.'"

However, the bottomline is that this is still the same 2-1 hockey team we've been watching, and they are still stuck on the wrong side of that low score. What's the line about putting lipstick on a pig?

But getting a point does not hurt the cause. Or does it?

Jess Rubenstein / Prospect Park:
To Make This Tort's Team He Has to Lose Now --
The best thing for the Tortorella era would be to begin with a huge thud like 3 losses in 4 nights especially this close to the trading deadline. Do not give the playoff chase any kind of pulse because long term goals strongly say that losing today makes for a better tomorrow.

Start with losses that push the Rangers further down the playoff picture and allow Tortorella the chance to push players off the roster that hurt the team's future. With just a week until the trade deadline, wins do more damage to Tortorella's future as he will not have the ammo to say to Sather that "this guy has to go"...
Parting Shots from Classy Coach Clueless.

Tom Renney realizes a little late that the Tom Renney Defense At All Costs system might need some players with offensive skills. Duh!

Larry Brooks / NY Post:
Ask Tom Renney if he has any regrets, as The Post did yesterday afternoon, and the former Rangers head coach says he certainly does.

"I would have pushed harder for [GM] Glen [Sather] to give Jags more money so we could have kept him, and I should have pushed harder at Christmas time for Shanny," Renney, dismissed on Monday just shy of five full years on the job, told The Post by phone, alluding to Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan.

"Jaromir's situation was different, but as I told Brendan when I saw him around that time, I was the one standing in his way."...
Naslund Tries to Spark Rangers --
Thursday night’s slate of games only produced one fight. Who would have thought Markus Naslund would be involved in it?

The cause of the scrap occurred six minutes into last night’s Rangers-Leafs game. Ian White, who ironically has also fought Ilya Kovalchuk this season, took a run at Naslund along the boards. Naslund moved out of the way in time and delivered a gloved punch to White’s face before skating away. White followed him to the front of the Toronto net and the two exchanged some shoves before dropping the gloves. The fight wasn’t much, just some grappling until the linesmen intervened, and New York ended up losing in a shootout.

Even though it was Naslund’s second career bout, it was the first time that he discarded his gloves...
Markus Naslund vs Ian White -- Who won?
  • Draw -- 68.4%
  • Ian White -- 23.7%
  • Markus Naslund -- 7.9%

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ranger Pundit (Currently on Injured Reserve) Files A Report

The Pundit's #1 Son provided a recap of what is going on with Mike while he recuperates. It starts with what happened on Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 after the 3-2 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at MSG...

This coming in from the Ranger Pundit, dictated via secure phone line not owned by Cablevision Systems!

The Pundit is currently recuperating from a minor procedure, but is well enough to phone in some comments, some quick hits, if you will:

1. The Sather encounter.
Toronto game ends and Pundit is walking down the hallway from his skybox (courtesy of #2 son) and low and behold, here comes the Stealth GM. #2 son says: "When are you going to fix this problem?" Staying true to form, Stealth just ignored the comment and kept walking.

Pundit jumps over the boards and onto the ice to join the melee. "You should fire everybody on this team, and start with yourself!" To that, Stealth kept walking and with his head turned just a bit, and grumbled "Kiss my Ass" The Pundit calmly retorted, "Go back to Edmonton. You don't belong here!"

The Pundit's take on the classless comment: "When he insulted me, he insulted loyal, dedicated Ranger fans who have suffered through decades and will still be rooting for the Blueshirts long after the 'commuter GM' is back out west."

2. Coaching change: "It's what I've been calling on for the past 2 years. Renney's clueless, and is not the kind of coach to bring us to the next level."

On Tortorella: "Tough, fiery coach who has his work cut out for him. He must install confidence in the team, he must install an offense and must fix the power play. Questionable whether his stay will be very long as his personality and the Stealth's are in exact opposite. Remember Keenan-Smith? Tortorella is a doer, the Stealth is a talker (when he actually shows up to answer a question)."

3. On Toronto Game: "The old song, 'What can I say after I say I'm sorry' comes to mind. This should be sung by the whole team after their pathetic performance against a team that has given up the most goals in the NHL. And has the worst goals against average in the league."

Clueless is now gone and following an old Italian phrase "not to speak ill of the dead" but please tell me what was Betts doing on the ice during overtime? Isn't the idea to get 2 points?!

4. On Bathgate/Howell ceremony: "I wore my #9 Bathgate jersey (my favorite all-time player). The ceremony started out a bit embarrassing with a half-empty MSG. But those in their seats soon got into it and responded well to the old-time Ranger players and opponents (what happened to Boston's representation as part of the Original 6?). It was great to honor these legendary Hall of Famers, and as we look back over the history, we see other great names like Lester Patrick, Frankie Boucher, Bill and Bun Cook, Brad Park, Chuck Rayner and Bones Raleigh. However, does this mean that we will have an endless procession of banners? I think the next banner we should hang up should be a Stanley Cup banner, just like Stealth said he could do every year if he had the Rangers payroll. That was 9 years ago! So far, 0-9 Stealth!"

5. On the Pundit's return: I hope to return by the weekend. Thanks to all for your kind thoughts, words of support and prayers ... for the power play! And thanks to JB for stepping in and keeping the Ranger Pundit on the airwaves!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Calling Out the Stealth GM/Ponzi Schemer

I nearly fell out of the chair today. The Michael Kay Show on ESPN 1050AM radio spent at least a full hour talking about the NY Rangers, the hiring of new coach John Tortorella, and what that means for the team's playoff chances.

Also, the primary host, Michael Kay, who is definitely not a hockey guy, had what is probably the only Rangers/hockey rant of his career. He apparently just made a shocking discovery regarding the NY Rangers that he wanted to share. He teased his audience through a couple of commercial breaks before he revealed his big 'discovery' and let loose his insightful tirade.

Before that big revelation Michael Kay discussed with his co-host and hockey guy, Don La Greca, what went wrong for Tom Renney. Don La Greca, who works at the Garden and covers the Rangers, has fallen under the spell of Tom Renney. La Greca said Renney was a good coach and a nice guy, who was basically brought down by the circumstances (see Reasons #1 and #2 from the previous post). La Greca felt that Renney's defensive style was well suited to the Rangers personnel (an offensively challenged team) and their great goaltender, Lundqvist. However, if the Rangers were going to make a coaching change LaGreca said it wasn't a bad idea to go with Tortorella, the anti-Renney. This is a similar strategy to having a hard charger like Joe Girardi follow the easy going Joe Torre for the NY Yankees. That's worked out well?

But, back to Michael Kay and his big discovery. Mr. Kay has recently discovered that unlike every other General Manager in recent metro NY sports history the Rangers GM, Glen Cameron "Slats" Sather, is ducking the media and getting a big pass on his management of the team.

Every GM that Kay could think of: Brian Cashman, Omar Minaya, Donnie Walsh, Isiah Thomas, Jerry Reese, Terry Bradway, Mike Tannenbaum, Mike Milbury, and Lou Lamoriello was accessible to the New York media to discuss their decisions. However, Glen Sather was the exception. He was allowed to fly below the radar and live in some sort of 2 Penn Plaza bubble. Kay was shocked that Sather was allowed such a free pass in his job. Shocked and outraged that Sather could hide out in an 'Ivory Tower.'

Kay and La Greca could only think of one time, several years ago, when they were able to get Sather on their show. Kay could not understand why a man who is considered a living legend in Canada and probably one of the NHL's all-time greatest GM's wasn't front and center and frequently talking to the New York media about the Rangers. It would be a fan friendly, positive thing to do. Especially, since Kay said that Sather is always doing Canadian radio hockey shows.

Kay was also shocked to realize that Sather has selected five, count them, five, separate men to coach the NY Rangers during his nine year tenure. The five coaches being:

  • John Tortorella - current
  • Tom Renney 2004 to 2009
  • Glen Sather, himself 2003-04
  • Bryan Trottier 2002-03
  • Ron Low 2000-02

Most GM's get far fewer chances to pick coaches, two might be the average. Additionally, given his age (65), Sather's hiring of Tortorella might be the last coach he gets to select.

Kay and La Greca also scratched their heads over the Brian Trottier decision and wondered how Sather freely skated through that mess. LaGreca said that Sather certainly has the hockey smarts and verbal skills to logically articulate all his decisions, but he simply chooses not to. Kay said that it would certainly be nice to hear Sather's explanation of why he signed Wade Redden to a salary cap killing $6.5 million/yr for six years. But, that is not going to happen with Sather, who gets to hide out in that Penn Plaza bubble he has constructed.

Hoorah! Michael Kay found a black hole that Ranger fans have been in for years.

As a reminder, Mike, the Ranger Pundit, has been referring to Glen 'Slats' Sather as the Stealth GM for years. It is nice to see that the other pundits around New York, like Michael Kay, are finally starting to catch up to Mike and zero in on Glen Sather and his scam.

Scam I am Sather.

You could compare Glen Sather's operation of the Rangers to the infamous Ponzi scheme that Bernard Madoff ran for years. Everyone thought Mr. Madoff was some sort of financial genus who could grind out above average returns year after year. Sather has likewise hoodwinked everyone into believing that he is a hockey genus who will grind out a Stanley Cup championship like he did in Edmonton back in the 1980's. The 1980's, that's also when Bernie Madoff made his last real profit. Both men have made a handsome living while running a bogus strategy for the last decade. Therefore it's not surprising that Bernie and Glen both share a proclivity to keep a low profile while they fleece the flock.

Pundit Update: When I called the hospital Tuesday afternoon they said Mike was still listed in the ER and not allowed to receive any calls. I'm sure that the news of the coaching change lowered his blood pressure.


Glen Sather - a Con-Man Hiding In His Secret LairCon-Man Hiding In His Secret Lair

The Final Renney Roundup

listing the three main reasons Rangers coach Tom Renney was firedWhile Mike is still recouping from hopefully just a serious case of MSG agida let's review the end of coach clueless - a major milestone in Rangers history. Reactions to the firing of Tom Renney have been mixed across the NHL and in Rangerland.

The three main camps of thought regarding his firing are these:

  1. Renney was a winning coach and terrific guy who just didn't have the quality players and the personality to get his team to play good hockey this year. He was a victim of GM Glen Sather's poor decision making regarding the construction of the roster.

  2. Renney was a terrific coach and a decent, classy guy who brought respectability back to the Rangers. He was the victim of high paid underachieving veterans who didn't produce.

  3. Renney may be a nice guy and good defensive coach, but it was obvious that he was clueless on how to coach offensive hockey, much less build even an average powerplay. His mistreatment of Petr Prucha was criminal. He deserved to be fired for his team's poor performance on the ice.
The truth of the situation is probably a mix of the above and then some.

Mike has used the old Italian expression, "The fish stinks from the head," several times (here, here, and here) at the Ranger Pundit to indicate his displeasure with how Glen Sather (The Stealth GM) and James Dolan (The Absentee Owner) have been running the team.

Ken Campbell at The Hockey News uses a variation of that expression to illustrate Reason #1 for Renney's demise.
Campbell's Cuts: Renney takes fall for Sather's mistakes --
In fact, you could easily argue that Renney has been the best coach the Rangers have had since Colin Campbell, who last was behind the Rangers bench 11 years ago. He communicated well with the players, got the most out of many of them, including Jaromir Jagr, and instilled in the team a system of disciplined defensive play.

But the fish rots from the head down and that’s the case with the Rangers. Like most unsuccessful organizations, they are top-heavy with problems starting with a meddlesome chairman and then moving down to Sather, whose philosophy since joining the Rangers in 2000 is to throw money around and see what works.
Nathaniel Baker at Ranger Blues echoes the Renney as victim of Sather's failures (Reason #1):
Firing Renney was a cop-out and won’t help this team --
It’s a shame a guy like Tom Renney has to pay for the incompetence of others. But that’s just how things go sometimes. If at first you don’t succeed, simply blame somebody else. If that doesn’t work, fire them. That’s how GMs the world over have been doing business for eons. No reason that Glen Sather’s mantra should be any different. In almost eight years as a general manager of the Rangers, Slats has shown none of the aptitude that made him one of the most successful coaches in NHL history. Far from it, in fact.
James Mirtle also scores a Reason #1 for Renney's removal:
Rangers make Renney walk the plank --
Renney's a really nice guy and a good hockey mind, but his team this season has been brutal since a great early season stretch. New York was the best team in the NHL 13 games in at 10-2-1, but has since gone 21-21-6, an 82-point pace, and have done it by the skin of their teeth. Nine of their wins this season have come in the shootout, more than any other NHL team, and without winning those coin flips, they'd be well out of playoff position right now.

And, all the while, Renney's become more and more unpopular with the team's fan base. (They're not exactly upset right now.)

That stems back to last season, when the Blueshirts were one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league, and GM Glen Sather's ugly off-season roster makeover didn't help matters much. This is a poorly constructed team playing poorly, one with more boat anchor contracts than likely any other in the NHL...
Scott Burnside at ESPN slaps Slats (Reason #1), but adds a nice dolip of (#3).
If Renney's gone, Sather should be next --
Before we examine Monday's firing of New York Rangers coach Tom Renney, let us first ponder this question: Is there a more overrated person in the entire game of hockey than Rangers GM Glen Sather? ...

Renney deserves some of the blame, naturally. Did he do enough to coax offense from this group? Should he have used Petr Prucha more? Did he use Redden too much? Was he too stuck in using Sather's highly paid players as opposed to using lesser players who might have produced more?

Sure, those might have been contributing factors. So, yeah, go ahead, fire your coach. What better way to try to cover your own mess than by placing it at the feet of someone else...
Former Rangers player Chris Kotsopoulos puts it all on the players with a variation of Reason #2.
Rangers Lose, Fire Renney --
Tom Renney has been fired. Well, now the players have absolutely no excuse. I don't want to hear about it. It's all on them now, they have to start playing and prove their worth. It's always easy to get rid of the coach and staff - right or wrong. You can't get rid of "High Priced Under Achievers" in a salary cap league. Glen Sather probably had no choice, even though anyone who knows hockey will tell you it's all on the players...

I will say this, if you believe it was Renney's fault - you're dreaming. Players play, players skate, players hit, and in the end - players have to score. I hope they prove me wrong!
A commenter at FauxRumors also takes the players to task (Reason #2).
Finally.. Renney gets The Axe! --
Renney is a good coach, although he lost this group somewhere along the way... But objectively, does anyone actually think this is an elite or even decent team right now? Without Henrik, this is a 10 or 11 seed...

Gomez has been a total bust - 12 goals! The guy is so ineffective on a nightly basis its laughable, with his toe loops and axels... Redden's skills have diminished to a point where he isn't a top 6 d-man on a good team... Naslund is a shell of his prior self, as is Drury, who has NEVER been a front line forward... Dubinsky has been ravaged by the soph jinx and Staal is looking every bit his 20 years lately... Its obvious that Renney is the victim of these circumstances... He will get another NHL job, as he knows the game quite well...
The Hockey Rodent takes out his scalpel and dissects the clueless one's demise - mostly self inflicted (Reason #3):
You Bet Your Job - Part 1 --
I'm thinking those two bench minor penalties were the proverbial straws which broke the llama's back. And I'll tell you why.

Dis-ir-regardless what Renney would have you believe, those mistakes were not the fault of any player, be he dressed or a healthy scratch...

But if Perry Pearn is indeed the architect of NYR's anemic power play since the lockout... and if his continued presence the past 18 months was due to fierce loyalty by Renney when Pearn clearly deserved to be sacked, then Tom can look at Pearn as one of the anchored chains which dragged the dapper bench boss below sea level...
Stan Fischler at MSG works on the new party line. Change was needed. Renney let things get away from him. Tom went from 'Terrific' to expendable in 24 hours (a soft Reason #3). Stan can never knock anyone at MSG.
Sather Charts New Rangers Future --
Sather seemed as perplexed as anyone over the fact that the Seventh Avenue skaters looked like a sleek, well-oiled machine in the early going and then just about everything went wrong.

I asked him if he could pinpoint what that "something" was when he declared that "something happened."

"I don't have any conclusive answer," he replied. "We lost our zip. Maybe it was an earlier game with Toronto when we blew a two-goal lead late in the game; or possibly a loss to Washington. In any event, we all have to take responsibility." ...
Inferno at Rangers Review wanted to go on the record and make it clear that Renney was clueless and had to go (a solid #3).
Ill go on record, Im HAPPY the guy is gone. Good bye, see you later, dont let the door hit you on the way out.

People are confusing his classy nature with his ability to coach, and I see a major distinction there.

In my personal opinion, Tom Renney was a HIGHLY overrated coach here who had rode the coat tails of Jaromir Jagr these past years. Without Jagr his complete ineptitude behind the bench really showed in spades...
Renney had control of his own destiny. It was well past time for him to be ushered off the MSG stage to polite applause. We can only hope the 'sanitized soft' team that Torts is inheriting can turn over a new leaf.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Ranger Pundit Special Bulletin

I'll pass along this note about Mike:

The Ranger Pundit is under the weather, hockey fans!

Following last night's Toronto game, the Pundit checked himself into a Long Island hospital, complaining of shortness of breath. But he is in good spirits (especially after "having words" with the Stealth GM in the elevator! More on that from the Pundit himself). He looks forward to sharing his thoughts on his Sather discussion, the Bathgate/Howell evening, and another stellar performance by our heroes. The Pundit's family requests that in lieu of get-well-messages, all prayers be concentrated on our power play!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eighth Place

If the Stealth GM has any aces up his sleeves or any surprises for the remainder of the season, I believe now is the time to spring them. That is if he is awake or alive? Stop the Sean Avery Hartford experiment and bring him up now, ready or not. The Rangers are not free falling, they are crashing. They lost their eighth straight road game last night and are three points away from ninth place Carolina and four points ahead of tenth place Pittsburgh. While the Rangers are crashing those two teams are charging.

While the position in the standings is awful the play of the team is horrendous. The team is lifeless and a reflection of their coach. When I suggested that the entire team with the exception of three players be put on waivers, I was serious. Now is the time for some drastic action. Now is the time for some bold trades. The Rangers need a scorer, a bruiser up front and a hard hitting no nonsense defenseman. Most of all they need a leader, on and off the ice. They do not have an on ice leader and they most certainly do not have one behind the bench.

Tonight we will honor my all time favorite Ranger, Andy Bathgate. Forty five years ago, today, we traded Andy to Toronto for a collection of uniforms. Andy finally won his Stanley Cup with the Leafs. We will also honor Harry Howell, a Norris Trophy winner who toiled seventeen years for the Rangers. So number 9 and number 3 will go the rafters finally and well deserved.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wow! A Win!

Getting less than nine minutes of ice time, Petr Prucha, made like Sean Avery last night at the Garden as the Rangers eked out a 3-1 win over the Islanders last night. If you saw Scotty Gomez's goal trickle through the legs of Islander goalie Yann Danis you know eke was the right word. Sjostrom got an empty netter to close it out at 3-1. Henrik Lundqvist was the number one star of the game with 25 saves as he continued his up and down performance.

However, the real star was Prucha who got number two star honors. He set up the first goal of the game by Nigel Dawes, number three star, played a feisty game and got into a brawl with Sean Bergenheim, who must outweigh Prucha by at least thirty pounds. No sweat. The Pruch gave as much as he got. Who needs Avery. Actually had Korpikoski not had an injury and been scratched Prucha probably would not have played and the Rangers would have lost. Probably. But that would have made coach clueless happy because we all know that Prucha doesn't have the stamina to play more than two games in a row. There is no truth to the rumor than coach clueless was wincing during Prucha's performance. However, he could only see fit to give Prucha less than nine minutes of ice time.

Of course you know who got the most ice time. Wade Redden. Almost 27 minutes of ice time, almost 5 minutes of power play time and he delivered all of one hit and one assist, that on Sjostrom's empty netter. The Ranger's power play was 1-5 and the one was on Scott Gomez's cheesy goal. So nothing is fixed. The formula remains the same. Lundqvist must stand tall, score a goal hang on for dear life and squeak into the playoffs. Aah, the playoffs. Make the playoffs and all sins will be forgiven. Make the playoffs and the money will roll in for the playoff games. Make the playoffs and coach clueless will become Tom Terrific. Make the playoffs and we will continue to get more years of mediocrity and philosophical discourses. But, make the playoffs.

There is only one thing wrong with this formula. You have to make the playoffs. Will we, the fans, be satisfied that we made the playoffs and went bye bye in the first round? Who knows? Sometimes I think the fans aren't any smarter than the apologists on MSG and the media. After all, if in the heat of a tight game they still put more credence on the "Potvin Sucks" chant than what is going on in the game then who knows how smart they are and what they are thinking. But why be so dour Pundit? Didn't we just beat the hated Islanders? Or did we?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not Hate, But Indifference For This Rangers Team

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.
-- Elie Wiesel
This losing tailspin of the Rangers combined with their 'sanitized soft' lineup, coaching chaos, and organizational mismanagement have all whittled away at our hockey spirits. The team's future looks as bleak as the economy. The passion, the excitement, and the hope for the Blueshirts making a serious run at the Cup anytime soon have been sucked out of Rangerland. Losing milktoast hockey is all that they are serving at the Garden this year.

As Elie Wiesel noted above the opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. That is the current state of Rangerland. We are becoming indifferent to our Blueshirters. We don't care about this team like we have in the past. Sure we love Henrik, but the rest of the team with a few exceptions (Orr, Callahan) hasn't earned a chest bump, a pat on the back, or a even a beer.

But, how can you hate a hockey player for getting as much money as he can in a contract. The Rangers with the mega contracts: Redden, Drury, and Gomez are not and have never been superstars. They just have a couple of rookie awards and a handful of all-star appearances between them.

Redden, Drury, and Gomez were once above average players, who are now at best talented role players. How much more upside do they really have? They have been stirred and mixed in almost every possible combination on this team without success. So all that's left is to team them with a superstar/sniper and see how that works. But, that is not happening. So why sweat the impossible? They are what the are, slightly above average Joes.

Redden, Drury, and Gomez had fortune smile on them when they landed great deals from a senile Sather. But, who wouldn't take a long term, multi-million dollar contact if it was just handed to them like a leaflet on Broadway. Especially, when it means playing in NYC at the Garden. Name calling and booing just doesn't seem worth it anymore. Again, there is the indifference. There are so many holes in this team it seems like a big waste to focus negative energy on any one player. They all have their good moments and earn the occasional star.

The same logic applies to Renney. Why waste any more energy bashing the clueless one? Here at the Ranger Pundit we have been doing that for at least two years. Hammering Renney is now as much fun as going to the Special Olympics and booing the laggards. We just have to accept that we have a coach with special needs (like a PP). Ditto the GM and the owner. There simply is no adult supervision or accountability in the Rangers organization. A situation Knicks fans have known for years.

This pervasive indifference is perhaps why the idea of the Grate One, Sean Avery, returning to the Rangers has sparked the animal spirits. Avery, love him or hate him, doesn't leave people indifferent. That is probably why a few fans are still paying attention to this team.

However, this team and organization is way past getting our love or hate, they are now only earning our indifference.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another Nail In The Coffin

The Rangers took another step toward oblivion last night with a listless 2-1 loss to the hapless St. Louis Blues. There is that 2-1 score again. There are only eight teams in the NHL who have given up more goals than the Blues yet the Rangers could only get one and it was by Lauri Korpikoski (6). The Rangers have now one win in their last nine games and are 0-6-1 in their last seven on the road.

Despite the nonsense spewing from players and coach that their play improved, the Rangers were terrible. Improved? They were wiped out by a good team, the Flyers, the day before and were eked out by a terrible team, the Blues. For some strange reason coach clueless called a timeout at 10:25 of the second period and two seconds later Carlo Colaiacovo scored off of a faceoff on a shot that Lundqvist seemed to go down too soon. If this was a turn around game how come the Rangers got all of four shots in the third period and all of twenty for the entire game? How come?

But the wagons have been circled around coach clueless and it is almost unanimous among the drive-by media that coach clueless is blameless for this debacle. It must be Prucha's fault. Anyhow, media or no media, the die will be cast Wednesday night at home against the Islanders. Maybe clueless can resurrect the ghosts of Beukeboom, Leetch, Messier, Larmer and Kocur to pull out the miracle on 33rd Street. A loss to the Islanders will surely force "the faithful" to change the Potvin chant to Renney or Sather or both. But then again who knows. It can't be coach cluelesses fault, it must be the ghost of Denis Potvin.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Free Fall

The Rangers now have one win in their last eight games after an embarrassing and humiliating loss to the Flyers today, 5-2. It was there for all to see on national TV and all to hear as one commentator after another, Pierre McGuire, Mike Milbury and Eddie Olczyk all blasted the Stealth GM for the overpriced, under performing team he put together. It was awful. The Rangers fell behind 5-0. Richards scored a shorthanded 5-on-3 goal, his third five-on-three shorthanded goal of the year. The shorthanded goal was the Flyers 14th of the season and the 11th the Rangers have given up. Lundqvist was yanked after the fourth goal giving up two softies. Even the Refs stunk. They gave Colton Orr a ten minute misconduct penalty for looking menacingly at a Flyer. Even Pierre complained about that one. The one bright hope for the Ranger fans was sent to the sin bin.

While the implications were that if this Rangers losing trend were to continue the Rangers coach would be fired, it was also clear that all the commentators believed that the Stealth GM was more to blame for putting this team together. The so called stars of this Rangers team have become invisible. The names are familiar: Redden, Rozsival, Gomez, and Drury. Now Lundqvist is starting to crack. Mara re-injured his right hand and if it's bad that means the return of of the very minus Kalinin. What's that old line about things will get worse before they get better.

It's going to take more than Sean Avery to save this season. What gets me is that the same idiot fans who booed Avery in October will be cheering him soon. But I remember that most of these fans have been cheering coach clueless, or Tom Terrific as the Maven and Al call him, most of this season. Hmm. Maybe these fans deserve this team. You think.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Prince Steals A Point

The Rangers played for the shootout and sometimes you get what you asked for. They got the shootout but they also got another loss and are slowly slipping toward ninth place and elimination. Henrik Lundqvist made 42 saves and three in the shootout but couldn't stop Zednick and the Rangers lost 2-1. Ah yes. We are a 2-1 hockey team and are now seven points ahead of the Hurricanes and Penguins who are tied for ninth pace.

The offense continues to do nothing and the power play reeks. However, with minor exceptions the usual suspects get rounded up and continue to be put on the ice. Notice, I didn't use the word play because I didn't see any of importance out there. Drury, Gomez, Redden and Rozsival should contribute their salaries to the Rangers Stimulus Package to bring in some young players, who play with a purpose and desperation so lacking in their games. Also a new and dynamic coach would help as also would an enlightened GM. But Christmas is gone and why hope for lost causes.

This is as boring, as dull, as non-productive a hockey team that the Rangers have ever put on ice. I'm looking forward to the Andy Bathgate, Harry Howell night and after that who knows. Maybe I'll find the Roller Derby channel and watch some good body checks and hard skating. Of course it's fixed but maybe that is what is wrong with this new brand of hockey. Maybe it should be fixed. But how do you fix a game where the coach plays for a 2-1 result? I need a break from hockey. Let me rephrase that. I need a break from Rangers hockey. Wait. I need a break from coach clueless hockey. Give me a break.


Renney hockey is a swift kick in the wobbly partsThe pure joy that you receive when watching Tom Renney Hockey
(pic via
NHL Snipers)
Fun facts from Puck Daddy:
Did you know?: Montreal played the 5,998th game in franchise history, but only the second ever on a Friday the 13th. The Canadiens might want to schedule more of them considering they've won both.

Dishonorable mention: The Boston power play is just 2-for-31 and have failed to produce a goal during seven of the last eight games. … The Rangers have lost six straight road games....
The tragic Buffalo plane crash came close to some Sabres, FanNation reports - Sabres heard plane crash, called 911:
Teppo Numminen had gone to bed on Thursday night when the sound of an airplane caught his ear. "I heard the plane coming," ...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Now Is It Time To Leave?

The Rangers were shutout again by another backup goalie, Scott Clemmensen, who made all of 27 saves in posting his first shutout since 2004, a span of 57 games. The opening and winning goal was scored by Bobby Holik off of a pass by Brendan Shanahan. Names sound familiar? Both were Rangers at one time. Holik was deemed a locker room distraction and Shanahan was deemed too old and slow for this upbeat tempo team that I believe ranks 25th in scoring in the NHL.

Once Holik scored the game was effectively over. Not only can't the Rangers score, five goals in five games, they don't know how to score. Their power play, 0-5, also ranks near the bottom of the league. They have been trained not to score. So they don't. They have been trained not to make mistakes, but they do. They have been trained to play defense first, at all costs, and they do this to ad nauseam. Isn't it past time to remove the architect of this failed strategy? Isn't it past time to remove the noose that has strangled this offense?

It is also time for the the Stealth GM to step down. Fire coach clueless and then resign. If clueless is the architect of the failed system the Stealth is the architect of this failed team. He jettisoned Jagr, Shanahan and Avery all strong players and all strong locker room personalities to please a coach who demanded a sanitized locker room. The Stealth then went out and overspent on three marginal defensemen, Redden, Kalinin and Rozsival, who have not performed to expectations. Redden is a continued embarrassment with his soft, careless play, but this was known by people in Ottawa so how come our genius GM did not know that.

The Stealth has assembled one of the softest teams ever to don Ranger Blue and opposing forwards relish the thought of entering the Ranger zone. This is all well known. Listening to the commentators on Versus last night they constantly cited the Rangers being out hustled and out toughed by the Devils. Sure there were exceptions. Orr sending Rupp to the locker room with one punch and newly acquired Erik Reitz squaring off with David Clarkson. But how much ice time does Orr actually get and Reitz will sit once Kalinin gets ready to return. Does Redden ever sit? The only one who sits is Petr Prucha, who at one time had excellent offensive skills. Before he leaves, I would like coach clueless to explain why Prucha sits and Voros plays.

It should be interesting tomorrow night at the Garden against the Caps. The way the Caps hit and score it could get ugly. For the first time this year coach clueless may hear the wrath of the Garden crowd. I think I might make it tomorrow night. It could be historic or it could be hysteric. What do you think?

ICINGS update:

The Grate One is now in Hartford. Parents lock up your daughters and hockey fans stay tuned to your blogs. The circus is coming back to town.
AHL's Wolf Pack bite on Avery --

Sean Avery is set to resume his playing career after the Dallas Stars assigned the winger to the Hartford Wolfpack of the American Hockey League.

"I would like to thank Glen Sather and the Rangers organization for giving me the chance to resume my hockey career by affording me this opportunity with the Hartford Wolf Pack," Sean Avery said in a statement. "I am looking forward to getting back on the ice, working my way back to the NHL and playing the game I love. While I appreciate the many interview requests, at this point in time, I would like to focus on hockey and will not be making any further statements while with the Wolf Pack." ...
2nd update:

NY Post:
Avery, who left the Rangers to sign with Dallas after last season ended in the second round of the playoffs, skated with the Wolfpack for 70 minutes today at the team's practice facility in Cromwell, Conn. He wore a red practice jersey and a helmet with his customary No. 16 on it.

"I felt good, it's great to be back," Avery told The Post. "My lungs and legs are not as good as my head. But I'll take a clear head any day. It was good to skate, it's great to be back on the ice, great to be back with the guys. It's refreshing. It feels a little bit like I'm back in juniors."
NY Post: Sean Avery worked out with the Rangers' AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolfpack, Tuesday, Feb 10th

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Rangers See Stars****

You think Sean Avery may have second thoughts about joining the Rangers after seeing his ex-mates, the Stars, slaughter his ex-mates the Rangers? You think this ruffian who plays with an edge can fit in with this sanitized collection of softies and Lady Byngers? Do you think Avery can 'fit in' and not disrupt the chemistry that coach clueless and the Stealth GM have developed? Do you think Avery still has his edge; or has attending the Gary Bettman School of Charm and Wusses morphed Avery into a turn-the-other-cheek type of player? These and other questions will all soon be answered as the Stars and Rangers try to manipulate the maligned Avery through the NHL's waiver system. My God! What if the Islanders or Devils claim him?

The Rangers, who were punished by their fearless leader the night before, retaliated by punishing their fans and anyone who has a liking for hockey. It was brutal. No one should have to pay to watch that kind of so called hockey. So the punishment drill really worked, eh? But, pray tell, what were the Rangers being punished for? They lost a hockey game in a shootout 2-1. Isn't coach clueless constantly proclaiming that the Rangers are a 2-1 hockey team? Trouble with being a 2-1 hockey team is sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Why were they being punished for playing defense first hockey when the mantra is, "Not playing defense is not an option." In a sense they were being punished for playing exactly the way coach clueless wants them to play.

So the Rangers, who are now reeling with a four game losing streak, are closer to ninth place, six points, than they are to first, 21. Of course, first place was never a consideration, unless you were one of the ass-kissers at MSG or the many apologists in the newsprint. So now it's a fight to make the playoffs and the Rangers seem ill equipped for that race as other teams behind them are getting stronger as the Rangers become more philosophical. At this stage it's questionable whether Avery can actually make a difference. Will the boo birds who greeted him in December cheer him in March? What about the reception from his ex-mates who are more concerned about their locker room chemistry than they are in scoring goals?

So while coach clueless may have stopped the Ranger team punishment, the punishment of the fans continues unabated. Poor off season decisions of a lot of money for over rated talent and and misuse of what little talent the Rangers do have by a clueless coaching staff have led to a season that could wind up as the worse of the Stealth GM regime. The man who once said, while working away in Edmonton, that if he had the money the Rangers had he would win the Cup every year, is now 0-8 and counting. Now, that's punishment!

ICINGS Update:

Mike Heika / Dallas News:
Avery is back on Stars roster --

The NHL does not make a big deal about this stuff, so he sort of snuck on there [Stars roster] this morning.

That means the suspended winger has completed his anger management therapy and is cleared to resume his NHL season. The Stars own his rights, so he has to go back on their roster, where he will take up a roster spot and salary cap space.

However, Avery will never again work out with the Stars, let alone play. The Stars have made that clear. Avery has already been placed on waivers by the Stars and will clear at 11 a.m. on Monday (assuming no team takes him at his full salary).

At that time, the Stars can assign him to an AHL team. They are working on which team that will be, but had not come to a decision on Saturday morning...
2nd update:

Brooksie wants Avery back. His stories will write themselves if that happens.

Larry Brooks / NY Post:
This is a minimum-risk, maximum reward move for Rangers GM Glen Sather. Avery knows that this is his last gunfight. He undertook his therapy seriously. I can understand there might be trepidation on the part of some Rangers, but they need his energy, his edge, his passion and his presence...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Man Amongst Men

Adam Graves, number 9, joins Rangers legends in MSG raftersAdam Graves sweater now flies along his 1994 Stanley Cup Champion buddies and while his numbers pale in comparison to theirs his stature as a player and more important a person is no less great. The warmth shown at the Garden last night was genuine and as great as any imparted to any other player who has been so honored. The most impressive part was his entrance working his way through a crowd of ex-team mates, former Ranger greats, adoring fans and more importantly the children. Especially the children from The Garden Of Dreams. The look on their faces and in his face was worth the price of admission.

You have to meet Adam Graves to get the true sense of the man's sensitivity and warmth. It has been my pleasure to have met him on two occasions. Both occasions have involved my grandson, Nicholas, attending the Rangers one day camps in Tarrytown, New York. He walks into the arena, spots you and makes a beeline toward you with his hand extended and greets you with a firm handshake. You learn a lot from a man's handshake. How many so called celebrities initiate a hand shake? Donning hockey gear, he comes out to greet the kids and tells them, "Let's hit the ice", and hit the ice they do, smiling and skating hard. Hmm, maybe he should be coaching the Rangers.

It was a great night and it should not be marred by the Rangers pitiful performance against the lowly Thrashers. Awful. There was a great shot of the Ranger bench during the ceremony. Aside from the goofy laugh of Gomez the rest of the team looked liked the cast of the old movie, "The Night of the Living Dead." Then a shot of the chief mortician, Coach Clueless, who in the last nine games has seen his team score all of 17 goals. And it was the same platitudes after the game. Aren't you tired of hearing them? I am. But maybe we can retire the numbers of the rest of the 1994 team and if I'm not mistaken that should take up the rest of this drab season. Or, let's put the entire team, with the exception of Lundqvist, Staal and Zherdev on waivers. Or, let's fire Clueless, but then we would have to fire The Stealth GM, but then we would have to get rid of the Absentee Owner.

A lot of ifs, ands and buts but unfortunately that is the condition of the good ship, New York Rangers, which is now completely adrift. We have reached the point where we are becoming obsessed with the past and don't give a hoot about the present. Sad.

God bless Adam Graves.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Toxic Assets and the Rangers need a Stimulus

Every bank in the country seems to have some form of "toxic assets" on their books. The NY Rangers are in a similar position. Three of their highest paid players: Scotty Gomez, Chris Drury, and Wade Redden are all playing well below their par value. They have had their prime triple-A rating downgraded, certainly to Alt-A, perhaps even subprime status.

Additionally, there are no teams in a position to take these toxic assets off the Rangers books. Like a besieged bank CEO, GM Glen 'Slats' Sather can't afford to take the massive writedowns that loom in his future. Could the government step in and help out? Doubtful, it looks like they have bigger fish to fry.

Washington is all geared up to do some form of stimulus to help jump start the economy. Again, the Rangers are in the same boat. They need a stimulus, a jump start, or most of all a swift kick in the pants.

So this move of bringing up the big Russian center, Artem Anisimov, from Hartford could be viewed as part of a Slats Stimulus plan for the team. Will the Fritsche trade for Reitz count as part of a stimulus package? Or is it just taking a small writedown?

Andrew Gross at Ranger Rants had this take on how the AA move could play out, Anisimov brought up:

In a move that's been expected the past couple of weeks, certainly since Dan Fritsche was traded to the Minnesota Wild, the Rangers have promoted Russian center Artem Anisimov. The 20-year-old, the 54th overall pick in the 2006 draft, has 21 goals, 29 assists and 38 penalty minutes in 48 games for Hartford (AHL) this season.

Anisimov's arrival will bump either Chris Drury or Brandon Dubinsky out of a pivot position. Most likely, Anisimov will be paired with right wing Nikolai Zherdev. It also likely means Petr Prucha's ability to get into the lineup has just hit another road bump...

update: Gross / New-look Lineup? -- skating together this AM: Voros-Anisimov-Korpikoski, and Mara-Reitz.

This morning Larry Brooks at the NY Post wacks the toxic assets and says the Blueshirts Need Personality Fix:
The ceiling seems low for this group of Rangers, earnest as they may be...

So what are he [GM Sather] and New York doing with this class of players that seems more like a busload of tourists determined not to get separated from the group than they do citizens of the city the way Jagr was and Avery was and Messier, Leetch, Richter and Graves were? ...

... as bad as Wade Redden has been, Scott Gomez has been immeasurably worse when weighing team need against contribution.

And Chris Drury has been every bit as big a disappointment in his year two on Broadway.
I would substitute the word stimulus for "personality fix." Sean Avery, for example, was a great example of stimulus package that worked, when he was signed. But, not again for the Grate One. We need a "scoring-ready" plan, and quick.

Of course, that old reliable house organ, The Maven, Stan Fishler, goes to bat for the 'toxic assets,' The Maven Responds:
David: Hi Stan, I guess the Rangers didn't need Brendan Shanahan's scoring (three goals already, including the power play). With this putrid offense, how come they didn't sign Shanny? What a shame to have these kids play so well only to lose 1-0 to the Bruins. Scott Gomez is horrible. (What happenned to his game?) Sather better make something happen and get us a sniper! or we're one and done.

The Maven Responds: Dear David: The Brendan Shanahan Question has been a perplexing one. My belief is that Sather interpreted his lineup in need of more youth and the evolution of Ryan Callahan, Nigel Dawes, Brandon Dubinsky, et. al. proves the point. I disagree with your assessment of Scott Gomez; at least at the moment. Let's see what happens in the next couple of weeks. The club still is better now than at this time last year. Thanks.
Some financial experts have said that if the banks can hold on to their toxic assets until maturity they might get better value for them. Likewise, the Ranger might be stuck with their toxic assets and end up hoping for a brighter future. Let's hope the Slats Stimulus plan is scoring-ready and not shovel-ready.

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