Monday, July 14, 2008

The Best of the Rest. . .

Hmmm....where to begin. . .

- Jason Strudwick is heading off to Edmonton. He's another guy I wish well. Filled his role here perfectly. Was a role model for the younger guys. (Even if he couldn't teach Brandon Dublinsky how to fight). A ham, for sure, I'll miss his interviews. Although not his singing!! But he did everything that was asked of him and more. When the Rangers had the chance to bring him back at the end of the 2006-2007 campaign from where he played for the Swiss, they jumped at it. Even if all he did was write a playoff blog and keep the players loose, he did it well. The Rangers had their best playoff run under that guidance. All signs pointed to him being a very good guy. I think Edmonton can use him similarly. He will offer good guidance and leadership for the plethora of young guys they have in Oil country. Good luck Struds. . .

-Ryan Hollweg. It was announced today that the Rangers traded him for a pick to Toronto. Sounds about right to me. I liked the guy, but never more than that. I'm sure he was a nice guy. Never game me the feeling he wasn't. too many times his "boarding" calls cost the team. The entire crowd of 18,200 knew that the second he took that penalty in game 3 versus Pittsburgh in this year's second round that that would spell the end of his time in Blue. But that wasn't the first time. Whether he's getting some calls on reputation (many people think he his very, very dirty) I cannot say, but I must believe that as a player he has to be extra careful that what he does get caught for doesn't happen repeatedly. And unfortunately I never felt truly safe when he was out on the ice that he wouldn't do that. And I think that's unfortunate. Because I do think he had heart. And he did have guts. But after that last game, he just did not have a place on the team. I'd wish him well in Toronto (and I will) but if he boards and injures any NYRs next season, I am not going to be very forgiving. You've been warned, Ryan!

-Meanwhile in Toronto, we've caught up with Cliff Fletcher again: "Huh? What? You said we got him for a puck?" "A pick, sir, a pick." "A puck? What is that thing?" "A puck, sir. A puck is round, rubber, and you use it to play hockey. But I'm talking about a pick. . ." "Hockey? Hockey? What is this nonsense you speak of." So it goes in Toronto. Think Luke Schenn is still smiling? :)

-The great winner of the Marian Hossa sweepstakes went to. . .The Detroit Red Wings. I was shocked. I was stunned. Many in the Canadian community were ready to award the 2009 Stanley Cup to the Red Wings immediately. I . . . well I really can't come up with an argument why not.

-Vincent Lecavalier. . .a Lightning Bolt for life. I've already sang Vinny's praises before. I think he's GREAT for Tampa Bay. I think it's fantastic he's staying. Not every team in the NHL has a player like Vinny and not every community with an NHL team has a person like Vinny. They are lucky and he is lucky. Good for him. Now. . . if only they shore up the defense to go with those fancy, pretty goalies, huh Vin?

-Ted Nolan gets fired on Long Island today. You know, Ranger fan or not, I always liked him. Or rather I didn't dislike him. Not everyone battles demons and comes back to prove people wrong. I think he did as good a job as can be expected of him. The Islanders are a work in progress, to say it nicely. And I'm not sure if anyone has any idea where to begin. I don't think it was Nolan's fault. I really don't. And Rangers fan or not, I hope the Islanders find the road back. I have too much fun enjoying the banter with their fans. But it works best when it goes both ways. There's not too much better than a truly competitive Rangers/Islanders matchup, whatever the venue. I hope they still have some of that in them.

-I didn't get to comment on the Devils bringing back familiar faces Bobby Holik and Brian Rolston. In almost all situations, I love the player-returning-home scenario. I just feels good. I like Rolston a lot and have really come to like watching him play in Minnesota these last few years. And while I really, really did not like Bobby Holik, the experiment on ice, while he was in New York, I must admit he is a nice and genuine human being. One of the nicest. And a proud person, like so many Czechs. And like Jagr who loved and respected good old Ronnie Reagan, Robert Holik appreciated America. In fact he made it his goal to become a U.S. citizen. Devil, Ranger, or Thrasher, I salute him for that. And I wish both of them the best of luck in NJ, minus the eight times a year they play the Rangers, of course. (authors note: 7/31/08 - okay, and apparently I did already comment on this. My shoddy memory deceives me. See Reflections on Day One. . . from 7/2/08)

-Mats Sundin. A man without a team. Still. I love Mats. Now that we've got fellow Swede, Marcus Naslund, I know the slightly small but very real dream of having Mats come play for NY is all but faded. I have always loved Mats. I'm really one of few Rangers fans that have always liked Toronto (despite my ribbing. . . that's all it is!) and liked their captain. I'm not going to lie about it. But Mats just kinda encapsulates great player with great struggle for great success - personal that is. I just feel that Mats was so willing to stay in Toronto and took so much heat for not being Canadian (to start) and that he proved that he was finally worthy. And I wish for him to have had success. I do think his time in Toronto has ended, and part of me finds that very sad, but sometimes teams and players get hurt by one another. (Ask Brian Leetch). Mats deserved respect. He eventually got a lot of it. But not when it counted the most. He wanted to stay the rest of his career in an Original Six uniform. He gained and held many team records. He was loved by the fans. He didn't want to be traded. He wanted to go down with the sinking ship. Mats should have been applauded. Instead he was publically ridiculed for it. It's something he might never get over. (Again, ask Brian Leetch!) Leetch, of course, was ungraciously sent out of town (ironically to Toronto) when he wanted to stay with the fast sinking ship that was the 2003-2004 New York Rangers. A lifetime Blueshirt, he was proud of his place on the team and wanted to stay there, despite knowing he might never play on another playoff team again. But he got shipped out with no warning (on his birthday!). He's now mended ties and came back for what was a glorious banner retirement ceremony. He's gotten over it. But he hasn't forgiven and he hasn't forgotten. What will become of Mats Sundin in his once loved home of Toronto? Again, I love Mats. I respect whatever he chooses. But I'd love to see him play again, no matter what the team.

-But goodness help Vancouver if he decides to stay East, and where I'd have to assume Montreal is the front runner. When did Vancouver become Atlanta and Edmonton? Of course the great and personal favorite of mine, Trevor Linden, saw it time to retire, but Marcus Naslund to New York. What next? Roberto Luongo suddenly missing the sunny skies of Florida? The Sedin twins going home to be pro golfers? So much is falling apart in once proud Canuck-ville. :( I'm not happy with what I'm seeing.

-Speaking of Atlanta. . . if one more big name leaves. . .does anyone really think Ilya Kovalchuk is loyal enough to stay? In Georgia? Alone? I feel bad for Toronto and for Vancouver, but I cannot feel worse for Atlanta if that becomes the case.

-Lastly, in sad stories of NHL careers cut short, Eric Lindros's (another good guy who doesn't get enough credit for being a good guy) story is right up there. But who else can compete with Peter Forsberg. Does a player that great deserve to continue going in and out like this?

-At least with all the other drama going around the league, I don't have time to think about how the Rangers and their new players will mold with their old players to create what is turning out to be a very. . .interesting. . .team in blue next year. If Nik Zherdev can play like he can, look out! I've seen those moves on Columbus. But I've also seen the year he was unhappy and indifferent. So I'd expect those razzle-me-dazzle moves every game, but I'm more expecting a repeat of the fate of another young Russian's role on Broadway - Alex Kovalev. The great magician of them all. The greatest talent in the world. Take a few years off. There he goes - wow, look at him go! Oh, no, the career is over. Oh, but he's back again! I tell you what, for Nik's tenure on Broadway, I'll take Alex's 1993-1994 campaign in NY and his 2007-2008 campaign in Montreal. Hopefully with less of the muck in between. (Love you though Kovs!)

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