Friday, February 27, 2009

Gomez, Gloves, Hats, and Where Are They Now. . .?

Help Me, Help You. . .

I just - literally just - stumbled into the living room where the PIX 11 News at 10 was finishing up to see a segment involving our New York Rangers.

A local hockey fan sent his gloves out for repair to an outfit in California. Months pass, he still hasn't gotten his gloves.

Help Me Howard, a segment on the PIX News, tries to fix the situation. Obviously, he says, he's not going to Cali to get this guy his gloves back, if that's even possible.

Next best thing? A morning in Tarrytown watching the Rangers practice. Howard says something along the lines of how interesting it is to be watching the team work on "fundamental" stuff. I laugh to myself, as I know from my blog reading today that the Rangers envisioned themselves "as the puck" and tried repeatedly to "learn" once again how to score. That must have been the most interesting practice to see all year, no?

Enter Scott Gomez, to give said guy a pair of hockey gloves, that the pros use.

Hand shake. Awe. Thanks. [Voros walks by looking very confused, for the record.]

Then - and you knew this was coming didn't you? - Gomez takes the microphone and tells everyone to watch the Rangers game on PIX 11 tomorrow evening as they face Colorado.

All kinda convenient, no? Eh. I'll let it be. It was cute enough. Heck, maybe more people will tune in that never would have. Maybe the Rangers will even score more than two goals.

To borrow another classic Angels in the Outfield quote, "Hey, it could happen."

Around the League:

**I listened to a bit of Montreal/Philly tonight. Philly went up 2-0 in the first but before the period was over, Montreal was up 3-2. It went to OT and in the end, it was some nice puck movement on the powerplay by Kovalev to set up Schneider for the game winner.

**In the Chicago/Pitt game, Hawks goalie Cristobal Huet was taken out of the game and the Penguins are trying their luck shooting at a young rookie, Antti Niemi.

Captain Jonathan Toews has gotten his first career hat trick. Goals 23, 24, and 25 on the campgain. All on the Powerplay, folks.(If that's not a hat trick with a cherry on top, I don't know what is!)

Damn can the Rangers borrow him for like a day? Please!

Oh, on update, looks like Malkin scores the GWG in overtime on the young goalie. C'est la vie, Toews. [Just ask Steven Stamkos about wasted Hat Tricks.] Kudos anyway Toews! Hightly impressive season for the captain.

**And speaking of the young Lightning rookie, Stamkos now has six goals in his last eight games, which includes a nifty one tonight, where he made a nice spin pass behind him, there's action at the net with St. Louis, and Stamkos is able to pot in the rebound. Glad to see he's picked up his game after a slow start. Caught his mid-period interview too. Still so poised, you forget he's so very young.

By the way, apparently Florida the state and Tampa Bay the team are very anti-tobacco. I saw no less than three commercials with players and coaches urging people to pledge and help make Florida tobacco free. Good cause to get involved in; great to see the athletes doing their part in local PSAs. To find out more, click here.

Apparently, game is now over. Tampa Bay still cannot get a win in British Columbia.

**Meanwhile, earlier today a mini uproar in Montreal that Steve Begin was traded away from the Habs to the Stars for Janik. PJ Stock tells all listening that it's not the 1920s. The Canadiens do not have to have every French-Canadian player play for their team. But we all know Canadiens fans are fanatical, and goodness love them for that.

I guess it stings too that another French-Canadian player Mathieu Dandenault has asked out of Montreal as well.

Hey, at least they won the game, right?

**Lastly, just how good is Mike Cammalleri? Two more goals tonight to bring his season total to 32. I knew he was good, but damn, this guy's value is just going to be through the roof if he keeps it up. Also, he's helping his team put steady distance between the Flames and the rest of the Northwest Division. Again, always a tough battle in the West; the more points they can get, the better.

In other Calgary news, captain Jarome Iginla still remains 1 point behind Theo Fleury's all-time Flames points record, with 829. If not next game, the game after, and he'll have the record. Amazing stuff.

Where Are They Now. . .?

Team Player Action Note
Montreal Alex Kovalev G(15), 2A *see what a few days off will do to one's psyche.
Montreal Mathieu Schneider G(7), 1A *fitting in well back in MTL; OT GWG
Calgary Jamie Lundmark G(1)
Minnesota Dan Fritsche A
Pittsburgh Pascal Dupuis A

Thursday, February 26, 2009

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.

Unfortunately the Rangers have still - three games and running - failed to score more than a goal. And that is just never going to cut it. Rememember, even if Hank stops everything - they are still never going to win without scoring.

The good news: They are getting a lot of shots. I keep staring at these defensemen taking quick, hard shots from the point and I'm like, where were you, where was that all freakin' year?

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.

The good news: The pace of the game has been greatly improved. The games have gone quicker for me. And in a good way.

The bad news: The team, tonight I felt even more than last night, seemed much slower in the 3rd. And you saw Florida take advantage of that, like Toronto the night before.

The good news: More movement on the powerplay.

The bad news: I don't think you need me to point this one out do you? You are smart people.

Look, it's not perfect. I didn't expect it to be perfect ever, or even better immediately. It's hard to adapt to anything this quickly.

Problem is - time is standing in the Rangers way. Time in the season. And time before next Wednesday's trade deadline. That doesn't allow much time for the team to adapt to a new coach and a new style, nor much time for the coach to assess what he has and try to take a guess at what he wants and needs going forward.

Make no mistake. Time is this team's greatest enemy.

Well, that and the very real and very serious goal drought they are in the middle of.

On Florida:

I picked the Panthers to make the playoffs. I hope they do. Surely not at the expense of the Rangers, but I'd much rather see them than Buffalo or Carolina, with no disrespect to either of those two teams. I just think, honestly, they have two goalies that have had pretty damn good years. A better than decent defense corp with McCabe and Bouwmeester. And a good chunk of guys that have come around to score this year: Booth, Peltonen, Dvorak, Zednik, Horton, etc. I think they can suprise some teams. Plus it's long overdue.

Vokoun's numbers are sick this year so far. But it's been Craig Anderson that has really done the Rangers in. Marvelous job, last game and this night especially. The difference maker, I think.

Around the League:

**If I hadn't been from the area, followed hockey, and been a Rangers fan shadowed by the accomplishments of the Devils for so long, I might have been surprised by tonight's events in New Jersey. Instead, I nod and say, yes, only Marty Brodeur can come back after not playing for months, make 24 saves, and get a shutout. One closer to greatness. But we all know he's already there. Heck, I don't like the guy (I'm not supposed to), but I'd be doing an injustice to say that there is anything less than 110% compete in that guy. Top notch talent. Great competitor.

That being said, I am curious as to what the Devils plans are for their goalies. So as to not subject Kevin Weekes to loss via waivers, they sent down their MVP this year, Scott Clemmensen, earlier this week to make room for Brodeur. Who will go where at deadline, however, remains to be seen.

**Edmonton lost a tough one to Columbus about a half an hour ago, where Steve Mason pitched the shutout and former Oiler, Raffi Torres, got the games only goal.

Gosh, the playoff push in the West is a tough, tough race, second year and running. There are a few teams fading - Colorado being one, Phoenix being another - but no one is completely out of it. Makes for great hockey down the stretch.

Where Are They Now. . . ?

Team Player Action Note
Toronto Dominic Moore Goal(12) *Shorthanded
Columbus Fedor Tyutin Assist *on only and GWG

For the record, I miss both of these guys. When Moore played with Jed Ortmeyer and Ryan Hollweg, it was a special thing. Ortmeyer was the heart. I think Moore was the talent. And it was perhaps the only time in his career that Hollweg had a role where he was not prone to putting his team in horrible situations on a regular basis.

As for Tyutin. I love Zherdev; it's hard not to. But imagine how much better Tyutin would have gotten had he been allowed to stay and develop. If he were allowed to stay and develop. Because, yes, it's always a question of "if" with the Rangers. As the many, many success stories of former players prove on an almost nightly basis.

Some Laughs (And Maybe Some Tears). . .

Apparently Scott Morrisson and PJ Stock have been referring to the Rangers five big contracts as...The Fab Five.

If you can't already guess, they mean Drury/Gomez/Naslund on the front, Redden/Rozsival on the back. The front end is a -34 combined. The back end is -25.

Tony, on Team990 Montreal, pondered, can you imagine if Glen Sather was Gainey giving those contracts away in Montreal. Oh boy, the mutiny.

PJ then cuts in to say he found out something very interesting recently. The story goes. . .

Apparently Sather only wanted ONE of Gomez and Drury. He was only expecting to get ONE guy to sign. But they both received their offers and apparently both ended up signing them at the same time.


I'm surely not defending Sather for his idiocy knows no bounds, and I'm not sure exactly who Stocker heard this from, but damn...if that is the case, they seriously need a better system. That cannot happen. That cannot feasibly happen.

Or can it?

Of Whom Do You Speak. . .?

After his team's 2-1 loss in a shootout last night in TO, new Rangers coach John Tortorella immediately said the following:

"I don't want to jump to conclusions, but I'm a little concerned about the conditioning of the club. I thought we looked tired in the third period. We're going to try and play an attacking style. We need to be in shape."

He added "I wouldn't say the whole team - I have some concerns about a few guys."


I repeat, hmm.

I really wonder who he is talking about.

On Hockey This Morning, Denis Potvin said that he thinks it was less of a reality and more of a way to call attention to the team on a whole so that he could a) get more out of them or b) push them harder in practice. Making it justifiable, so to speak.

Look I'm not Potvin, and I didn't play the game. But I find this note almost more interesting than the game itself. Maybe my thought process is without necessity, but I am thinking about it nonetheless.

There are a few guys that I've said have appeared out of shape at times or all year. Nigel Dawes came to camp overweight and slow. He improved a bit, but still has questionable games. Aaron Voros, even during his good games (see October for reference), labored during intermission interviews, which occur sometimes a full 3-4 minutes after the period has ended. It got to the point where Renney - hesitantly you can tell, had to bench him for a few games and put Prucha in because Voros was laboring to get to the bench at the end of a shift.

Those are only two examples, but that cannot and should not happen in professional sports.

It's even worse when you have guys on your team that are in exceptional shape and yet, players that aren't even in decent shape, get to play instead.

Imagine if Mike Richter came to camp out of shape but they kept tossing him back out in to the nets just because they liked him better. Perhaps a bad example but one I'm using because it was always noted Mike Richter was one of the most conditioned people on the entire team, not just among goalies.

I guess what I'm dancing around here is that I find my interest slightly peeked that on a night where the coach made that statement after the game that a guy like Petr Prucha got what I can only assume to be season high ice time with 15:45. Season high.

He played more minutes in the third than he has all year, that's for sure. He seemed to be out there A LOT.

Now, is that mere coincidence, or is that the coach realizing who was conditioned and who wasn't. Because, if you ask me, after I'd realized who was who, I'd use who I knew could get the job done.

Remember, this guy has no preconceived notions. He has no favorites.

Just something to mull over today and leading into tonight and the next few games. Think what you will. But I find it very interesting indeed.

Other Game Thoughts. . .

I found the game to be more upbeat than any Rangers game I've seen in months. That was not a surprise. And for those of us expecting the team to automatically go off auto-pilot and score a ton, I'm not sure it works that way.

Key difference? They were shooting. Remember back to the first two games in Prague where the Rangers kept getting around 40 shots on goal and still only scoring 2. Well the Rangers appeared to be shooting a lot more last night. Even if it was only 32 shots, it looked notably different. The powerplay, on at least two of the four, looked like it had a heck of a lot more movement. But then a senior citizens game of musical chairs at the old folks home would have had more movement than the powerplay the Rangers churned out for much of the last two years.

And is it just me or does Hank look a lot more comfortable making saves in "real time?" I'm not sure how to even explain it but when he had to make some good saves, last night, he did. And he looked more at ease than he had been. Maybe my imagination.

I just kept noticing things last night that I hadn't seen in a while.

Markus Naslund getting into a fight. - That was different.

Wade Redden scoring a goal. - That was different.

Petr Prucha on the powerplay. - That was different.

The man behind the bench actually smiling once or twice. - That was VERY different.

Who are these people???

All kidding aside, I think it was, if nothing else, a steady step in a more entertaining direction. Now if only they could learn to pot a few goals, we'd be heading in a more entertaining AND more effective direction.

But one game cannot make a world of difference.

Hopefully it's the realizations taken out of the game that can.

Where Are They Now. . . ?

Team Player Action Note
Pittsburgh Petr Sykora Goal *GWG and only of game

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A New Day. . .

A New Day. . .

Well all I have to say is that I am really very excited for tonight's game, and that is such a refreshing change of pace. And that is with full knowledge that there might be a bit of a transition time necessary, or that they might not truly succeed at all even with the change of coach. But I'm just excited to see something different. And I'm sure it will be different.

Hockey is such a fast beautiful game - when played the right way. I want to know the Rangers can do that again. It's been a long, long time.

Additionally, it's interesting that Tortorella is getting a chance to come back. I personally feel, and I'm sure I'm not alone, that he should have been the coach after his interim duties were over. But we can't go back. (Oh though sometimes we wish we could. . . ). Therefore, it's almost now a situation of coming full circle. The names of the players have drastically changed. I'd like to see how it all plays out.

I'll follow up tomorrow. In the meantime, I decided to try a new segment to the blog. A sort of who/what/where some former Rangers have been up to. There are plenty around the league, and it's always kind of interesting to see how they've been fairing. It might be too much or too annoying to do on a daily basis, but I'm going to try it out and see. (Unfortunately I don't think it'll be formatted very nicely. I apologize).

Where Are They Now. . .?

Team Player Action Note
Boston Aaron Ward Goal (2)
Boston Marc Savard 2 Assists
Edmonton Jason Strudwick Goal (2)
Anaheim Todd Marchant Goal (3) SH - Broke 43 game goal-less streak
Calgary Jaime Lundmark Assist *called back up from Tri-City

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beacon of Hope. . .

Coming into yesterday, when I thought of John Tortorella, I thought of the one guy I consciously remember getting kicked out of a game he was coaching at the Garden - and not just once, but twice!

By last night, however, he became a beacon of hope for this struggling franchise and their fans.

No, he cannot turn water into wine - (at least I don't think he can) - so he may very well not be able to take some of these marginal players and make them what they are not. But, I think because of his different attitude and approach to coaching, we will hopefully soon know who the real players and who the pretenders are. And that's half the battle right there. Maybe more than half when you think of the present company on this team - Redden, Drury, Gomez to name a small few.

It would be great knowing whether Redden's last couple years in Ottawa really were a beginning to the end and the Rangers management saw something special in his last summer that just simply no longer remains.

It would be great knowing whether Scott Gomez can play effectively, with sensibility, and hell, with anyone besides Patrick Elias and Brian Gionta.

It would be even greater to know whether Chris Drury - with a little kick in the butt - can look ANYTHING like a guy that grew up idolizing this franchise and wanted so desperately to wear this sweater, anything like the captain he now is.

It would be great.

It will be great just to know.

So Torts becomes a beacon of hope in that he will do no less than three things in his time in New York:

- Separate the pretenders from the real players on this team.

- Hold everyone to the same standards of hard work and accountability - regardless of how much money they make.

- Make things a hell of a lot more entertaining.

I don't think anyone can disagree with at least that much.

Well, okay, perhaps those of you that thought this team - post-October but pre-Februrary collapse - was entertaining enough because they were winning, well, you may disagree.

But for the rest of us that have supported this team through winning and losing seasons, good and bad player signings, and all the rest of the tumultuous up and down that goes along with bleeding blue - for us, this is a good thing.

For the rest of us fans that found it incredibly hard to near impossible to keep watching this team that took the ice for the better (or worse) part of the last four and a half months - for us, we have deliverance.
Deliverance from boring.

And that feels SO sweet.

For I must admit, it is for the first time in what feels like a long time that I am looking forward to tomorrow's game. And to Thursday's. And to Saturday's. While it would be silly to expect immediate results, we at least can feel excited for the thought that there will at least be more to be excited about.

A new coach!

Better press conferences!


Redden NOT on the PP!

Prucha (perhaps) ON the PP!


Puck possession!

No more TOO MANY MEN penalties!

And...wait for it...

GOAL Scoring!!!

Seriously folks, we now essentially, in some great sense, have a brand new team. Sure the names are the same, at least for the time being. But the approach will not be. Attitude, they say, is everything. Perhaps a new and fresh attitude can get this team back to respectability - again.

Wine out of water?


A group of fast, decisive skaters not afraid to move UP the ice and put the puck IN the net?

Dear Beacon, we can only hope.

Monday, February 23, 2009

BREAKING NEWS. . . First Thoughts on Renney/Pearn Firing. . .[UPDATED]

A short update; I'll write more later when I have time to digest or we know more.

My immediate reaction to the news was shock. Shock because I didn't think it would happen. Perhaps shock because I got what I wanted in some way.

I know Tom Renney is a nice guy. I just don't know if anyone can convince me that he was the right coach for this team at this time. And sometimes that's all it comes down to. That's business. Even if this team only goes on a little uptick because that's what often happens when a coach is fired, that's something. Anything is something. We'll pick up the pieces later. But to cling to what is here and what is comfortable, even though it isn't working, is lunacy. For that I'm glad he's moved on.

True questions won't be answered until Wenesday, Thursday, and much beyond. This wasn't a final destination. It was a step in a direction, any direction.

Interesting though, that it was Renney AND Pearn. And for all I don't know Pearn might be a nice guy, but I never liked him. I don't think any of us know what it is Pelino does, but perhaps Sather thinks he is less at fault than Pearn was. I mean if the powerplay was really Pearn's responsibility, I'm not sure what else you can say. Keep what works - the PK - and destroy what doesn't - the PP.

It will be an interesting week and remainder of the season on Broadway. Will personnel change on ice? Will other guys get chances? Will there be accountability? A lot has to do with who the new coach is and how much Sather still needs to tinker.

We wait with baited breath. . .

I won't lie though. I was so tired after last night. This news just woke me right the hell up.

Maybe it'll do the same for our flailing but favorite team.

P.S. Joe Micheletti was on NHL Live and I caught a bit. He's saying Tom will probably stay on in the organization in an off-ice role. And that Tortorella is a possibility. Jim Schoenfeld is another possibility. I'm for Jim finally getting a chance, but damn, would things be fun with Torts around. That's one way the team will stop playing so lazy or uninspired. Whew.

More later...

Update; 4:50pm

Sam Rosen is on XM radio now with Phil Esposito.

He's saying Tom is a players coach. Very loyal. Rarely benches a guy. Never calls a guy out in public.

Sam likes him. Terrific guy to get along with. Talk hockey with.

Mostly he says the "best players have to be the best players." Said that he and Joe would shake their head that Redden would still be on the PP every game and play well over 20 minutes a night since he hadn't scored since the third game of the season. They said that Renney stuck with guys like Redden because of his six year contract. Likewise, he stuck with Drury because he was the captain. To try to get them through their slumps because those were the guys that he had and that would be there.

Sam said his loyalty and his "niceness" to his players, if you will, was actually his biggest fault. And what inevitably got him fired in the end.

"Great guy to work with in our profession. Good guys get axed in situations like this. They can't fire the players. Somebody has to take the fall."

I think I've said Renney was perhaps too nice. Everyone kept saying how nice he was. I know I said not too long ago that you can't be the players best friend and their coach. In this case, I guess he chose wrong. I just think that you can't play favorites. And players have to be held accountable. And even more so in an NHL like this where due to the way of scoring overtimes and shootouts, points are at a premium and every game does truly count. And that means that if a guy isn't cutting it, you can't not bench him. You can't afford not to. You can't afford to be their friend.

I really wish no ill will towards Tom Renney the person. I don't. I didn't agree with his coaching decisions at many times (Prucha, PP, player personnel, ice time, accountability, etc) in the last two seasons. It didn't always seem this way; but I guess if you have Jagr and Straka, and then Shanahan and Avery, and always Lundqvist, it's easier to hide the greater flaws that may someday be exposed.

So no, I wish no ill will towards Tom, but if the Rangers bring in a new coach that will play the best players, not the players with the biggest contracts, and bench those that are not pulling their weight, no matter who and for how long, I'm going to be a more satisfied Rangers fan.

We'll see soon enough.

Congratulations and Apologies. . .

First things first. I'd like to take a minute to congratulate #9 Andy Bathgate and #3 Harry Howell on their much deserved and long overdue jersey retirement.

It was a very different feeling than any of the previous retirement ceremonies I had the pleasure of attending. But, that being said, there was something both more regal and more fun loving about this one, if that is possible. Regal in that you knew you were in the presence of players who skated in a different era, who made a mark on a game - the same game we all love - but a game long before many of us came to know it. And fun loving in that these guys, this is the end of their journey, presumably. They skated long ago. They are grown men, those days merely memories, although great they may be. Their sense of life, though, through laughter and shared memories, cannot be mistaken. From all indications, not only two great and humble athletes, but two great and humble men.

Bathgate and Howell were teammates for over 700 games with the Rangers which is simply amazing. It was fantastic to get to share in a moment of history with them.

As for those currently wearing red, white, and blue, they are writing a different type of history. On that will not inspire and people will not want to remember when it's over.

I may only have been a Rangers fan since the early nineties, but this might just be my most frustrating time as a fan. And I am saying this with full knowledge that this team failed to even make the playoffs for seven straight seasons. And with full knowledge that this bumbling group may still very well make the playoffs this year. They are still, in my opinion at this present time, quite possibly the most disappointing group I may have ever seen.

The seven years this team failed to make the playoffs (eight with the more recent lockout) was a sad time for me. There were tears because I expected better. There was a sadness because I wanted more for them. They were my heroes, all of them, merely because they played a game I loved for my team. It's a type of hero worship you can only have when you are younger, when stats don't mean as much and all that matters is that you like them, because.

As I got older and the Rangers continued to disappoint, my sadness for myself not getting to see the second season was replaced for sadness for guys like Richter, Leetch, and Messier, the second time around, because players that great, I felt, deserved to play for what matters. As much as I felt cheated, I felt they were cheated much more.

Those reactions can not be further from my reactions today. I have never felt this numb to a group of players, save a select few. Never. Even in the dark years of not making the playoffs there were reason for me to be happy, players I clung to because they seemed to want to succeed, even as the team struggled. Petr Nedved and his Czech mates. Eric Lindros and his FLY line. Say what you will about those groups and the few others I can name, but they were bright moments on a dark team. And I remember them. I remember them and what they did years later. And with fondness.

In contrast, when it ends I will do seemingly anything to forget the better part of this season. Although there hasn't truly been that much any of us would want to remember.

That is the true tragedy. One would hope during the dark years you fight through as a fan that there is something keeping you going. Loyalty, sure. But a hope and tangible knowledge that things will get better. That the team will improve. That they are putting pieces in place so that a new, better team will emerge in the future.

The Rangers do not give me that hope. There is nothing tangible with this team. The seven/eight years of no playoffs was supposed to be the time to wait, the time to wait for the team to figure it out, to rebuild it from within. The great fire sale of spring 2004 was supposed to be a time of young guys playing - finally - even if it took a few years for them to gel. Bottom line, we as fans paid that time, and we are not only no further towards that excitement, that future we've all waited patiently for. We are falling, steadily and by the day, so much further behind.

Last night, and there are precious few, was one of the few nights I didn't blame Tom Renney for his decisions. Last night I blamed that group of players on the ice. If watching Adam Graves's #9 go to the rafters a couple weeks back was not enough to inspire, I truly thought that seeing those two greats from another era would be enough. I should have known better.

How - after seeing men who literally bled for this team, who wore the sweater with the pride it deserves, who got nothing - nothing - of the comforts that these players have become accustomed to - how after seeing them humbled and honored in such a achingly bittersweet way, how they could not muster up enough strength, compassion, and heart to win a hockey game is beyond my comprehension.

To me, that shows you all you have to know.

Now I wrote apologies in the title. And after last night I absolutely must say that I think Hank deserves apologies from everyone on his team. Not for last night, but for this entire season. This guy is the single biggest reason that the Rangers started as well as they did and that they are still, somehow, hanging onto a playoff berth. That guy deserves a medal. Well. . . another medal.

He is not perfect. He might not even be the greatest goalie when all is said and done. But he is great. He is important. And he is being drastically taken advantage of by this team. Oh, we have Hank. It's okay to not score goals. It's okay to not play strong defense.

Fine. But you know what. Hank will be 27-years-old next week. At this rate - physically and emotionally - he will not be able to take too much more of this. He takes every goal against very personally. He wants to be perfect. He doesn't want to lose. He's a strong, very proud man, but he's human. I watched his post game interview, and for the first time in a long time, he struggled with his words. And you could see straight through what he was saying and what he was thinking.

"We need to score goals."

That's not a man stating a fact. That's a desperate man making a final plea.

Score goals so I don't have to be inhumanly perfect with a very less than perfect team. I've helped you all year long. Can't I get a break?

He's too proud to say so, but if I had to take a guess that's probably not too far from what he's thinking.

The "we're not at rock bottom yet" charade continues for another day. . .


Renny and Pearn out in New York.

More details and reactions later as well as the other entry I was writing before I heard this!!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

This Is Getting Old Folks. . .

It is indeed getting old folks. And not just the losses. No. I've been a Rangers fan long enough to see them lose plenty - plenty! - of games.

No. It's the way they are losing. The same way, over and over. With lifelessness. With an utter lack of intensity. With what appears to be an almost unbelievable inability to score goals. And with the same - same! - stale answers from the players and from the coaching stuff.

It's getting hard to take.

Hockey is a pretty fundamental game. To win, you must score goals. Note, no team has ever WON a game without scoring a goal (And for all those trying to prove me wrong, you inevitably have to net a goal in a shootout in order to win that too. Back when there were ties, it could be 0-0 forever, but well that is not a win either).

To score goals, you don't have to be fancy with the puck. But you do have to be decisive with it. You can be simple, but not so simple that the goalie has no problem whatsoever stopping the puck.

The Rangers, it seems, have lost all fundamentals, and the most basic of all is the prime example. The cannot score. And if they do, it's four goals in a game, and then right back to struggling mediocrity the next.

I didn't watch the game. Yet I can very easily imagine, based on the last ten or so, how it went down. Fell down 2-0 early. (Sound familiar?). Fell down 3-0. TV sets around the greater NY metro area turn off because all Rangers fans know there is a one in a million chance the Rangers will come back to tie. A one in a billion chance they will come back to win.

I have no major insight as to why they are so horrible. Why they can't do the one thing so fundamental to this game we all love. I don't. I do think it's beyond comprehension that an entire team of professionals - yes professionals - would all go dry at once. I do. For let's face it, it's not just been these last ten or so games. It's been the whole damn year. And the powerplay woes. The powerplay hasn't been good in three years now. Tell me that's not a drought of epic proportions, one that is probably close to rivaling all time worst status, for any team.

And yet, same stale team. Same stale response. Same stale answers.

Look, I'm not sure what else they are supposed to say, except stale responses. But it is so rare to get one of them - any one of them - save Mara and Hank to show some emotion post game.

I like Hank. Hank is an open book. He might give post game interviews that are easy to digest, but he is one of the - if not the - most intuitive about his own performance. I feel his answers, while not flashy, are extremely thoughtful. And at times when he is angry at himself- as I've seen more often this year than in the last three preceeding it - you can tell. You can look in his eyes, hear the tone in his voice, and tell. He's still professional. But you can tell.

I'm not even going to get into Renney's repetitively stale answers and why for that reason alone this guy should not be let within 20 feet of an interview room. Accountability? For the players? We all know how well that has gone. What about himself? What about accountability for himself and his staff? Are they fooling anyone into thinking they are actually trying to fix this team? Trying anything different? Trying anything at all?

I was a few weeks behind on HNIC and caught up a bit yesterday. Kelly Hrudey and PJ Stock brought up something very interesting in their now apparently weekly analysis of the Montreal team. (And parallels between here and there are sometimes very eerie).

They talked about how a goalie's body language can affect the rest of the team and how the personality of a player or two can carry over to the rest. They showed the sequence of the 7-2 pasting that Montreal got at the hands of the Oilers. Carey Price looks defeated. They showed his eyes. Wide, staring at his defensemen. Asking, what is going on here? Staring to the bench. Defeated. A man defeated. A team defeated.

Now, they used Price as the example. There is a lot more going on there than he, that's for sure. And I'm not even trying to parallel goalies here, although in that game in - wait for it - Montreal when Hank and Renney got into a little screaming match on the bench and Hank started screaming at Gomez, I could see a parallel. Hank (and Vali) this year have been let down by their entire team. Watching the Montreal D not do anything to stop Edmonton (literally standing there) was no different than watching the Rangers D against Dallas when Vali was in net in their 10-2 diabacle. Absolute statues.

Before I get too far from where I was going with this, I have thought and perhaps I have alluded, but I think now, more than ever, this team has taken on the personalities of each other.

Look perhaps Drury, Redden, and the crew were always softspoken men with out the ability to dazzle. Maybe on that we should not be shocked.

But surely Naslund had more life in his years in Vancouver. We've all seen Gomez with more life. Zherdev. Dubinsky. The list can go on and on.

This team admits they like each other - they really like each other. That's all fine and good. But...if they have fallen - as it desperately appears they have - into this hole of complacency, this world of free-fall of which there seems to be no cure, then it is not fine. It's NOT fine.

And the only thing that makes it worse is how every player (save a precious few), has taken the same exact nosedive. At the same exact time. In the same exact way.

One passionless player can affect a team. Look no further than whatever the heck was going on in Montreal with Alex Kovalev.

Kids on a team look to the leaders. Teammates on a team look to those that have done it before.

Maybe Gomez worked in NJ, because the team fed off personalities like Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko. Perhaps Drury worked in Colorado because he had a team of big talent and everyone followed the Joe Sakic mold. (Goalie troubles understood, but that Colorado team is a shadow of it's former self without Sakic to look up to, I feel).

Then take those two players - Gomez and Drury - and throw them into a situation where they have to lead, they have to inspire. Look at what happens! There is no heart. There is no passion. It's a sad group of non-leaders leading this team right back into obscurity. I really feel the whole damn thing has been contagious. I really do. Not everyone can possibly be this bad.

And if it's not the teams "leaders" and their stale personalities that are poisoning this team, perhaps it is the other man in charge that let it get that way.

If this is the team you wanted, Tom Renney, congratulations. They keep doing the same thing over and over, and failing miserably at it. They keep displaying boring and vanilla to the point that it's become the norm. And to justify it, they keep throwing out the same stale worthless answers - "We've got to be better. I thought we played well. We need to get back to winning." - night after night.

Sound familiar coach? Don't tell me you haven't heard it before.

I have no more words than that. No more pressing thought that that. This team's troubles are at an all time worst, and there is no one - no one on this team right now - that can fix the personality crisis that is so obviously poisoning this team.

Gomez was right though, in what he said after the Dallas game earlier this month. That was not rock bottom.

The only thing sadder than that realization of truth: there is not that much further this team has room to fall.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Endeared to Fans, Beloved By Teammates. . .

I listened to Dan Carcillo's Hockey Confidential on the way to work this morning and he described fighting in hockey as "lovely." Definitely not the first word I would choose, but one fight at the Garden last night certainly was a thing of beauty.

Petr Prucha, the player possibly most "beloved" by his teammates, came to the defense of teammate Erik Reitz after he knee-ed Sean Bergenheim. A scrum ensued and out of the pile popped "pepperpot" Prucha who was tied up with Bergenheim.

Was it the world's best fight? No. But I was utterly entranced. Entranced for the fact that this kid, this kid just never gives up. And entranced for the fact that he was actually standing his own.

Where his fight against Maxime Lapierre earlier this season was less a fight and more a takedown, this was a dance. An actual dance of give and take. And as much as Prucha took, he gave right back.

My thoughts ranged from curiosity to anxiety at first, to joy and excitement by the end. And my next conscious thought was, "gosh, he even fights better than Voros."

And he does. He does many things better than anyone and for better reasons too it would seem.

No one can tell Pete Prucha he is too small. And when it comes right down to it, he really isn't. He's a strong, strong, - strong! - guy. No fat, all muscle. And he obviously has a core of strength in him, beginning right with that giant muscle on the left side of his chest.

A strength to say, "I'm not a small man," when first told so years ago.

A strength to stick up for his teammates, any and every day.

A strength to do anything - anything even beyond that expected of him - to stay in the lineup and to make a difference.

A strength to battle for a puck he has lost and almost always get it back.

A strength I can guarantee half his teammates just do not possess.

And it is rare, very rare, to have a teammate so brave to do battle and so unafraid to pay any price. His teammates are lucky to have him, and they apparently know it.

When he exited the box after his sentence, his teammates patted him, tapped him, acknowledged this was more than just a regular fight. This fight was him standing up for everyone - his teammates and himself.

The fans who gave him a standing ovation after his fight, cheered him on with chants of Pru-cha, Pru-cha - they know it too. Many have always known it and have certainly missed it when he doesn't get the chance to play.

His teammates know this guy wanted to fight, wanted to have their back, just as he always had.

Why the coach, his words about how Pete is such a good teammate notwithstanding, has been so sickeningly hesitant to realize the same, will baffle forever. There is no reason. Face it, guys like him don't wear down - they build up. They build up their teammates and the fans.

I might be getting ahead of myself. Maybe I'm not. But I'm sensing, very much, that on a team where no one has truly distinguished themselves, that this might be the perfect year to get back to what the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award truly meant. When it was won by Adam Graves or Matthew Barnaby or Sandy McCarthy or Jed Ortmeyer. Not the guy that scored the most. Or made the most saves. But the guy that was the best teammate and the guy that literally went "above and beyond the call of duty."

His teammates don't ask that much of him beyond being a good teammate. Over the last couple of years they might come to expect it, but they don't ask for it of him.

The coaches certainly have proven they don't expect anything from him.

The fans love him, serenading him with chants of his name like only Hank and Avery have seen in recent years at the Garden.

The media see fit to give him star of the game recognition (2nd star last night for a fight and an assist) because they know - they know - how much this kid has been through and how much he truly does mean to this team. For example, here's Larry Brooks in today's Post:

"Petr Prucha wasn't tense. The Hart Trophy winner played with moxie and spirit, just as he always does when given a chance, and engaged in a second-period fight with Sean Bergenheim that brought roars from the crowd."

Hart Trophy Winner. I think I know who Larry voted for last night.

And you know what. If I didn't already convince myself, that just did. When it's time to cast my Extra Effort Award ballot, I'm voting for Petr Prucha. The true unsung hero of this team who without hesitation or need for recognition bleeds red, white and blue because that's just the kind of guy he is.

Other Game Thoughts:

Obviously that was the moment of the game to me. But it was great to see Dawes/Drury/Prucha together on a line because they picked up where they left off, when the coach inexplicably separated them when they were hot late last month. Drury, who I'm obviously not the biggest fan of, I believe truly has turned a corner (for the time being at least) since the Flyers massacre on Sunday. He has looked much more determined and is skating like it.

Gomez's goal was as absolutely lucky as they come. No denying that. Minus an empty netter, it's 2-1 (I am starting to hate those numbers in any sequence, I won't lie), and without the flukey goal, the Rangers are looking at potentially the game going the other way, or going into overtime.

But the goal did go in, and the game didn't go to an extra frame. Cartwheels, however, I am not doing. I was happy for the energy displayed, and happy for Pete, but there is a long way to go and absolutely nothing in my mind that makes me think Saturday in Buffalo and Sunday versus Toronto will be easy games. This might be a flash in the pan. And not so much as a flash as a little moment of luck. Perhaps that is all it was. We'll see more this weekend.

**Note: I'm at work and I don't have have time to do the hyperlink thingie right now. So I took quotes from the following. I will make more sense of it later.**

Andrew Gross Ranger Rants:

Larry Brooks New York Post:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Around the League: More From Montreal, Snaps for Stamkos, and A Promise of Interesting at MSG . . .

Can I Get Bread With That?:

Speculation out of Montreal (courtesy Team990) includes a theory that Alex Kovalev has been traded to Pittsburgh, but that Gainey will not let Kovalev go until after the two teams play tomorrow. Any truth to it? We'll have to wait til Friday to see, I guess. It's just a little more than mildly interesting the way everything has played out there in this the Habs 100th season, no?

If you can care less about the Canadiens but still want to know what's up in Montreal. I found out today you can go to Bocci Resto Cafe for the Max Pat sandwich. Named for Habs young-un Max Patioretty, it has sausage, steak, pepperoni, mushrooms and peppers - all for your enjoyment.

Only in Montreal. I mean seriously, where can I get my PowerPlay Unit sub here in New York? The one named for the Rangers now infamous super unit. You know the one with stale bread, moldy eggs, sardines, mayonaise, and chocolate sause? Because just like the powerplayers in New York - those random spare parts go together all so well!

(Giving everyone a two second break to try not throw up).

Stamkos Likes Vanilla Ice Cream:

Young Steven Stamkos did something anything but vanilla last night, scoring three goals for his first hat trick (might I add it was Natural). We at Natural Hat Trick Productions appreciate hat tricks whenever we can find them (preferably not against the hometown Rangers, but, eh, we have no such control over these things). Therefore a special kudos to someone who likes vanilla but does not play that way.

Unfortunately Pat Kane and Jonathan Toews ruined his moment as the Blackhawks ended up beating his Lightning.

New York, New York:

I'm really (really) trying to avoid saying anything today about the team so I don't go on another long rant I don't have time for. And would it really be much different; that can be debated. So I'll keep it short and sweet. Korpikoski is injured, which means approximately 50% of the Rangers scoring over this slide is now not in the lineup. Rut roh!

Honestly, I do not know what to think of tonight but that it will be interesting. Interesting in a shocking way if the Rangers somehow find a way to win. Interesting in a disgusting way if they get blown out. And interesting either way to see how much longer the present team (players, coaching staff, management) continue as is. Interesting. . . it's almost a guarantee tonight.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mandatory Vacation Time For Kovalev. . .?

I have only one question. If Gainey can do this in Montreal...can Sather do this in New York?

Who is in favor of Wade Redden, Scott Gomez, and/or Chris Drury taking a nice long vacation to think about what their roles are on this team and how they want to be remembered here?


*I owe a longer blog than this. Last night was, let's say, not fun, and I'm still trying to process a lot in my head. I've also been too busy to do so. Which may be a blessing in disguise. More later.*

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Random Unapologetic Statements. . .

Okay, I am going to apologize once and exactly once here. I am not fully responsible for all I am going to say. I still love the Rangers but sometimes you just have to let a bunch of random thoughts fly. Therefore:

-To start, the Rangers are not a good team. Anyone - ANYONE - that was fooled by this at any time (and I'm even including me in this because surely at certain brief moments this season I was indeed fooled) deserves to snap themselves with a rubberband - hard! They are NOT a good team. NO WAY!

- This team has no defense. They have no offense. And if anyone was lulled into a false sense of "okay, sure, that makes sense" by Tom Renney's solid defense will transition into good offense excuse, is severely dellusional. They are - at best - half a hockey team. At worst - they are not a team at all!

- I am not going to sit here and claim that Hank or Vali are the BESTest goalies ever - but to say that either of them are at fault on this team would be an injustice. They are maybe at fault less than 5% of the time. I'm not even looking at bad goals let in so much as I am looking at them being the sole reason that the team loses. Because, face it, most of the time it's the other 18 guys doing it for them.

- Wade Redden - almost suddenly it seems - has become public enemy #1. At the Garden, boos were never louder than today. The media is now taking extra time and space in their columns to point out this fact. I want desperately to say HELLO! I was sick - physically ill and revolted - on July 1st of this past summer when the Rangers signed him. Signed him at all, let alone to this disgusting and immovable deal. For all those just figuring out how horrible he is - they should have figured this out 30 games ago! The guy's career ended 3 years ago. I'm sorry to have to break it to you all.

- The only hesitation I have in saying that Wade Redden's is the worst contract of recent history by Sather - although I admit that it undoubtably is - is the fact that Wade Redden was once, not even that long ago, truly a really good, big name defenseman in this league. He was. He is no longer, but he once was. But Chris DRURY and Scott GOMEZ were never, ever - NEVER, EVER - exceptionally good or big name anythings. They were pieces to the greater puzzle of championship teams in two very different worlds. I'll give you that. But Drury's Mr. Clutch routine was running thin even in Buffalo, and Gomez apparently can only play with two people in the totality of the National Hockey League. So...Redden might be horrible, horrific, and an embarassment, but at least at one point he was marquee. Drury and Gomez are merely two are-nots and never-have-beens, who are both making an amazing amount of money for it.

- Together, those three, along with the collection of other smaller name, smaller players with no distinction what so ever, make up the horrific situation known as cap suicide. The Rangers played that game, summer to summer to summer. And they lost. Badly. They are screwed for any forseeable time in the future. It will not magically go away. I don't see how. Unless the league, as we know it, fails to exist.

- Guys like Prucha - even though it was great to see him play because goodness knows it was beyond time and well desereved - and Avery - even though I am counting the days til he arrives - are not going to fix this team. One or two guys cannot fix this team. What's embarassing is - after tonight - there are only a small, small handful of guys I'd want to keep around - Staal, Prucha, Callahan, Korpikoski, Mara, Naslund, Zherdev, and our blameless goalies. Other than that. Blow the whole damn thing up!! Nothing good will come to this team at present with the amount of salary tied up to so few. It is impossible. The best thing to do is blow it up. I sadly came to realize that today. What's even sadder, I realized how impossible that would actually be to do.

- I remember, not that long ago really, how fun Flyers/Rangers games were. How back and forth. How competitive. Unfortunately, the Rangers have sunk so hard, so fast, that this is no longer possible. When the Flyers went up 2-0 it was bad. When they went up 3-0 it was scary. Then they went up 4-0, it was impossible to comprehend how the Rangers would even try to come back. That - in itself - is so saddening to me. How far have the Flyers risen from 2 years ago. How far have the Rangers fallen in that same time? As much as you can shred and tear apart - justifiablly - Glen Sather and Tom Renney, you have to give mad props to Paul Holmgren and John Stevens. Worst in the entire league one year to Eastern Conference finalist team the next. They did well. They are still doing themselves proud.

- I will continue to watch the abomination that is the Rangers, if not all the time, then from time to time. But do not confuse the watching with interest. Call it what it is - blind devotion. Devotion because I am loyal as anything to this team, despite its glaring and painful faults that I will, unapologetically, call out here. And blind because you'd have to be loving them on blind faith right now if you were loving them and watching them with a blind eye if you were indeeed watching them. They are a team that only a confused and hypocritical coach and a senile and stubborn GM could love.

-My country for Jaromir Jagr.

-My country for Martin Straka.

-My country for Sean Avery.

-My country for anyone with heart. Anyone with passion. Anyone who knew what it meant to wear the sweater. And anyone who left it all on the ice any given night.

That is all. . .

Friday, February 13, 2009

Around the League: Memories and Dreams. . .

In honor of today being the 10 year anniversary of the last NHL game played at the fabled Maple Leaf Gardens, I thought I'd take a minute and share my experiences.

As a hockey fan, it is one of my greatest senses of pride to know I got the chance to go not once, but twice, to this "Original Six" arena. It is something I am truly grateful for and memories I will never forget.

Even if those memories are somewhat limited.

See my first hockey game at Maple Leaf Gardens was only my third hockey game - ever. So at a young age, and still at the beginning of what would hopefully be a lifetime love of the game, I got to experience something that was probably too big for me at the time. I know that now.

Instead of anything to do with the game itself, my memories of that night are of the corridors around the arena. The smell of popcorn. The feel of the arena as the lights dimmed. And the way that it felt almost spiritual to hear the fans sing the Canadian national anthem. I stood there, with my parents, almost afraid to breathe in fear that even that might disrupt the ethereal moment.

As for whatever happened that night on the ice, I am truly not sure. The Leafs played the Capitals that night and won 6-1. As the goals were scored, It was easy to stand and cheer, being pulled into the energy of the crowd.

Presumably (unless they were injured or otherwise out of the lineup), I saw a team captained by Doug Gilmour, and all-time great players, such as Mike Gartner and Mats Sundin.

According to what I've since found out, Tie Domi got a game misconduct that night for fighting Kevin Kaminski.

I remember years later being in Toronto the summer after the Garden closed it's doors, and driving by it one more time. The idea that it was going to become a supermarket upset me. I guess it upsets me even more that it's still caught in limbo, a full decade later. All the other Original Six arenas closed and went away. Even though a shadow of all its former glory, the Gardens still stand.

The Maple Leafs may be what they are - a team in a perpetual state of rebuild and hoping on the promise of what tomorrow brings - but they had a proud history in that building. Legendary players wore the blue and white sweater in that building. Countless greats skated on that same sheet of ice.

True, there are some things I'll never remember about my trips to the historic Gardens. But the feeling I get when I think about the opportunity I had to be there will never go away.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In The Wake of The Rangers Scoring Four Goals. . .

I'll try to give them a little bit of a break today.

Look I have not apologized (too much) this season, and I am not going to start this late in the year. I'd rather tell the truth, as I see it, day in, day out. Whether it's harsh or happy, I'll at least try my hardest to be honest in my feelings and my opinions. Of that you can be assured.

That being established, a few thoughts came to mind as I watched the game last night and reflected on it into this morning.

The question has been raised over and over recently - has Tom Renney lost this team? Many thought yes. Others thought no. The players keep saying we want to play, we are behind him, blechety blah, bleckety blah.

Yet why, last night, when they essentially stopped playing Renney-style hockey, skated to win, skated with energy, did they finally find a way to score, and inevitably come away with a win? More importantly, I ask myself, was this decision made by the players? Was tonight's different energy and momentum just a result of their going against the coach's wishes? Because please don't tell me the coach of garbaly-gook disguised as highly intelligent analysis actually said to them, go out there, go play wide open hockey, and go play to win?

Am I the only one that has trouble believing that?

Is it not more likely that this, like the last 10 minutes against San Jose and like the last 10 minutes against Boston more recently, was just the players realizing that they had to abandon the system in order to score and consciously knowing, in the wake of their late embarrassing games, they had no choice but to score. In San Jose and in Boston it was to push the tie. Players essentially said, when they were down, they had no choice but to do anything to try to score. Including putting unrelenting pressure on. Including letting up on defense.

Is it not so hard to believe that last night was simply a larger magnification of the same thing. After going 0-4-1 in their last five games and scoring a total of five goals during that span, was it not just an utter need to score, and score at all costs, that made the Rangers, umm, score.

I truly think so.

I'm still baffled and amazed that this team was capable of scoring four goals. I am.

But maybe I shouldn't be. Maybe I really shouldn't be. Maybe, if they were to fully skate, fully let go of the defense-first, win 2-1 or bust mentality, maybe they would have won more games. Maybe they would have scored more goals.

Look I am not for a second saying that this team's one game has made me reconsider any of the disgustingly inexcusable and horrificly embarrassing play of late - or definitely not the lack of defensive responsibility, lack of energy and heart, lack of urgency, lack of offensive prowess, lack of consistency, lack of powerplay production, and lack of accountability that plagued this team all year.

The jaded me, the part of me that usually wins out, still thinks that perhaps last night was just a drop in the bucket. To borrow a line from a Angels in the Outfield, that it was "merely a blip on the screen of a terminally ill patient."

Don't forget, this team still cannot and did not - in its four goals - score on the powerplay last night. That including a string of four consecutive Washington penalties in the third, one being a four minute double minor. Also not to be forgotten in the excitement over the team scoring four goals was the fact that they gave up four goals as well. Ovechkin, although hitting everything in site - twice - had a relatively quiet night on the scoresheet. Beggars can't be choosers, but I'm just stating facts here.

I don't know. The game in Florida on Friday and the game against Philadelphia on Sunday will both be very telling to that question of whether this was a corner turned or a moment of sanity in an otherwise insane run. The Rangers have been a team of good and bad this year, mostly bad it would seem, so whether they build on scoring four goals and beating a very good Washington team or quickly resort back to the futile past efforts will tell you what this team can and is willing to do going forward.

At the very least - and this is what I will take away from last night - it was more entertaining on the part of the Rangers than any game I've seen them play in a month, perhaps longer. Starting with the Orr/Brashear fight that was quite remarkable really, filling in with a beautiful goal by Callahan off a feed by Korpikoski (did those two have a nice night. Just imagine them getting - or giving themselves - the green light to go free more often) , and topped off with a shootout victory that didn't feel as forced or undeserved as some of the others this year have.

I said if they were going to win, let them win by trying. They most certainly did that.

Around The League:

Capitals defensemen Mike Green scored two more goals last night - his 20th and 21st on the year - to tie an all time record for defensive scoring in consecutive games (7). I don't get people that don't like good players from other teams doing something cool, something that hasn't been done in a long time. As it turns out, Green's goals really had nothing to do with the outcome of the game either way. They were not game winners. They did not eliminate our team from playoff contention. Let the guy be congratulated. He's been a marvelous player to watch.

As I drove home late last night and put on the Calgary/Anaheim game, the announcer told the score of the OTHER late game - Montreal/Edmonton. Me guessing the bowling idea didn't work out quite as planned, huh Guy?

Rut Roh.

But seriously, let's not kid ourselves. The only true difference between Montreal and the Rangers right now - cause trust me the comparisons between the NYR fans complaining on the blogs and the Montreal fans complaining on the Team990 are so eerily similar - is that the Rangers won last night and Montreal's losing streak continued.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Around The League: Flashback One Year, Bowling for Wins, and Renny's Illogical Prucha Theories [UPDATED]. . .

Somtimes one year does indeed a difference make. Just ask Florida Panther's Richard Zednik.

It was one year ago last night he almost lost his life, let alone his career, in a freak accident where teammate Olli Jokinen's skate met his neck.

I happened to be watching that Buffalo/Florida game that night at that moment, even though I'm still not sure why. (I also, somewhat eerily found myself tuning to the Red Wings game right as Jiri Fischer collapsed and was revived on the bench years earlier.)

Zednik's situation was so incredibly scary. I'm sure no one on the ice could stop thinking about it. The fact that the game continued almost surprised me because who could really think about hockey when they'd just seen one of their fellow players go through something so horrific.

Credit all of the medical staff on hand and those in hospital for turning what could have been a tragic story, into an inspiring one.

For Richard Zednik returned to the game he loved, seven months after his injury I'll be honest. If I were him, I'd have a serious fear of getting back out on the ice; a constant thought in the back of my mind of what if. But Zednik apparently had no such fear, or if he did, he worked hard to overcome it. That's a great testament to the person and his love of the game.

And last night, exactly one year later, in Florida's game versus Toronto, he scored both the game tying and game winning goals.

I guess some stories do write themselves.

Les Habitants:

Things have gotten so bad in Montreal that apparently, rather than practice on ice, they've taken it to the lanes. . . literally. Instead of an on ice workout yesterday, the Habs went bowling.

Yes, bowling.

You heard it here first. Unless of course you hear it elsewhere.


In random Rangers news Andrew Gross's at Ranger Rants teases that he'll have some "interesting" quotes on Prucha from Tom Renney.

I wait with baited breath.

The Update:

I'm not shocked Larry Brooks got the ball rolling on this conversation, as he's been Prucha's most ardent supporter this year. But BIG kudos to Andrew Gross at Ranger Rants for typing the entire conversation with Renney out. It is much appreciated. Gross often takes the extra time to write tidbits and convos you don't always see on other blogs. Thank you for that!

However, since what Renney said is so completely and utterly moronic and nauseating, I am going to hold off all comments in hopes of not getting violently ill at work.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

There Are Times You Just Have To Laugh. . .

I'm not meaning to be repetitive here, but damn, Larry Brooks has been ON this year in his comments. Another brilliant line (or more specifically three) from today's NY Post:

"Scott Gomez has lost his game. Chris Drury can't find his. Wade Redden hasn't had one for a couple of years, so you'd need a search party led by bloodhounds to even have the most remote chance of finding a scent, if not a heartbeat."

HAHA. Come on, Rangers fans. You have to laugh at this point. You really do. To do anything else would be insanity. This team right now, they aren't worth the tears or the high blood pressure. So breathe, relax, and read the above again.

And hope against hope that they lose again on Wednesday (which is very probable against a great Washington team) and again on Friday (which is again very probable against a Florida team the Rangers have not played well against as of late) and that by Sunday's afternoon tilt versus the Flyers that this is not the team we see on ice.

If that doesn't work, well, at least the Rangers are an entity that will continue on. They will exist five years from now, ten, fifty, unless situations beyond that can be comprehended come to pass. They are an original team here for the long haul. There will be better days. We have to hope that.

Come on now, seven years out of the playoffs, three back in. We wouldn't want to get greedy now would we?


"A search party led by bloodhounds."

Haha. You really just have to laugh folks, unless you seriously prefer crying over this.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Remember When I Said I Didn't Want Brendan Shanahan Back. . .?

I do. It is the topic of one of my favorite posts of mine, "With Apologies in Advance to One of Hockey's Greats."

For those who missed it, I pretty much went on a long tangent (I know, what else is new) about how I didn't want Shanahan on the team this season because:

a) He was asking for a limited role but I feared they would play him first and second line minutes and use him on the powerplay because he was Brendan Shanahan and that is how it had been in New York.


b) In doing this, he would take away spots from the young guys, like Prucha, or Korpikoski, or other players from Hartford.

In retrospect, I could not have been more wrong, eh?

But how could I have known this. In a normal world of rebuilding a team after key departures, one would think that the coach would look to a player who had been there before and had success with the team before to fill in the blanks. One would think.

But we all know Rangerland is anything but a place where normalcy lives. Prucha does not play - hardly at all this year and certainly not anymore. Other young guys stay in Hartford and have great seasons, only to come up, get a sniff, and get sent back down as soon as their regular/overpaid/ineffective/lazy/horrific/blunder-ridden replacements are ready to come back into the lineup.

So if my reason for not wanting the Rangers to sign Brendan Shanahan truly was to protect the chances of the youth on this team - and please believe me that it was - I owe Brendan Shanahan one heck of an apology. I should have known better than to assume that the Rangers coaching staff and management would do anything that made sense. Do anything that was the logical or the right thing to do.

Brendan, I am sincerely sorry.

You have no idea how much I wish you were on this team instead of [fill in blank with name of one of the Rangers random overpaid underachievers]. NO IDEA!

I must admit though, it brings me a sense of satisfaction that I did not know it could to see Brendan have immediate succcess with his new team, even if that team is New Jersey. Good for him. Sincerely. Good for him. A class act; I never did or would deny him that, for it's the truth.

As for those Rangers, they did indeed get shutout by New Jersey tonight. Their 2nd time being shutout in their last four games. [And we aren't even counting the almost being shutout against Atlanta on Graves night].

Start raising your hands if you are shocked?

*For the record, my hands have not left the keyboard and will not for next five minutes or so. No hand raising going on here.*

Look, I had no intention of watching the game tonight, and for the most part I didn't. I had on the first period while I ate dinner and checked back from time to time. But I did not "watch" any of it. I didn't need to, which should make me sad, but I am beyond feeling guilty for not enjoying this team and am not going to begin trying to make apologies for them.

I mean, sure, this team might have accidentally scored a goal. Anything is possible. But Renney called it a "watershed" game. [Gosh how I hate that term.]. Some players were quoted as saying they were ready to come out, put the game in Dallas behind them, play hard, play committed, get the job done or whatever other crap one says when they don't know what to say and they are programed, like robots, to say whatever PC thing they've been spewing all year.

I didn't believe it for a second.

I'm still - still - of the belief this will not magically get better. This team is not good enough. The last half dozen games should have done nothing if not raise that fact in 3D lights. They don't have it in them. They never did.

This team is not a playoff team. Hell, at this rate of decline they might not even make the playoffs.

Which brings me back, for a moment to the man of the hour [day, week, month?]

Does Sean Avery change that? Make this team a team. Make them better? I am not sure. I certainly do not think he alone can do that. I repeat again - he has no one to help him score goals. He has no one to help him do anything really.

I will also stop and say that I heard a few player interviews while I was in the car Friday night. One by Blair Betts saying stuff like, I'm happy with the team as is; we have a great group as is. Another one by Marc Staal, pretty much saying, he liked Avery, don't know what happened in Dallas, but liked him when he was with the Rangers and would welcome him back if he came. [I'm summarizing, but I was driving and didn't have a pen.]

Two very different opinions. And yes, we are all entitled to opinions - players too.

But after yet another loss - another SHUTOUT loss - these players do not get to say what they want or who they don't want.

We tried it their way. The team led by Captain Drury the quiet and Gomez the vacuous. The one that opened up an impressive lead in the conference playing low scoring hockey, then transitioned down the path of boredom and lifelessness, that currently finds themselves falling, slowly and painfully, into a heartless and scoreless level of despair.

That team? I say blow it up.

Now we do it Sean's way.

It might not work at all. It might be a monumental failure. But at least I know someone on the ice will be truly caring about his team. And, who am I kidding, it should be entertaining as hell.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Around The League: Schenn's 1st, Montreal Boos, Another Win @ Verizon. . .

Just because I was out of state didn't mean I didn't do as much as I could possibly do to catch some hockey games.

First I went to a bar that promised support of the Washington Capitals. Heck, I didn't need support, I just wanted the game to be on. So I was happy, on Saturday night in football/basketball country, to find the hockey game on three screens.

The game was nothing overly spectacular. Another home win for the Caps at Verizon, where they are just outright dominating this year.

I had a few other random thoughts. Washington might not just contend for the division, as I previously predicted, they might take the East too. I still like Boston - who wouldn't - but if Boston slows down and hits a bad stretch, the Caps have something outragous like 14 out of 16 of their final games in division. So that's 2-3 games against the likes of Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta. They have to like those odds.

The game, which ended in a 3-1 final (empty net included) was closer than appeared. In fact, again, I'm holding on to the thought that Florida, if a few things fall into place, are looking pretty good right now. Again, another team I predicted to make the playoffs back in October.

Zednick avoided the check of Tom Poti (do I hear faint boos in here)behind the net, to make a nice pass to Ballard for the team's only goal.

And Mike Green scored two goals, which brought his goal scoring streak to 6 games, a Capitals record. It's also something, folks, that hasn't been done by a defenseman since Ray Bourque in the early 80s.

Talk about company.

The Caps are special. Yeah it's Ovechkin, but it's really so much more than just him. Though you can understand why we sometimes forget.

Also on Saturday night, in Leaf Land, the boos reigned down on the hometown Habs as they fell 5-2 to their rivals from Toronto.

But not before one Luke Schenn got his long overdue and very well deserved first NHL goal:

Congrats Luke!! :)

However, as the Leafs, despite a few bright spots this year, still struggle overall, the GM has said all players except for Schenn, Grabovski, and John Mitchell, are up for grabs.

If you haven't yet had the chance, read the rest of Brooks today. I think it's hilarious that Bettman and the league really thought they had any power at all regarding the Olympics. It's really comical.

I, for the record, am a huge fan of NHL players in Olympics. The entire 2002 display was some of the best I have ever seen, and something I will always remember.

And while I'm not doing any sort of agreeing with Scott Gomez lately, I do agree with what he said above. If the Olympics are being played, with or without NHL players, I'm still going to watch the Olympics over that two week period. No doubt.

Avery, Avery, Avery. . .

Even though I was not able to write a blog entry (and oh how I wanted to on Friday night!) and was out of computer-land, I had a blackberry that allowed me to slightly keep up with the hockey world. So the news of Sean Avery's potential return is not completely unknown to me. (And as if a bunch of us weren't curious the moment it came out he'd never play another game for the green, black, and gold).

If anyone wants to go back in this blog and search "Sean Avery", they will find that I was a fan of his and went so far as to defend him at times during this season. I won't belabor that fact, but you can feel free to check up on it.

Therefore, if Sean Avery does indeed become a New York Ranger - again - as it appears may very well happen, I for one will welcome him with open arms. Here's why:

Sean Avery will never be the best hockey player. Not on talent. Not in points. But he, like many of the others cast aside by New York management in recent years, got it. He got what it meant to wear the sweater. He got what it meant to stick up for his teammates. He got what it took to win and did everything he could for that cause.

The Rangers sorely lack much of the above. The fact that even with Colton Orr, Aaron Voros, and anyone else who has ever "fought" for this team let Zherdev's broken nose go unpunished (clean hit or not) is unacceptable. The fact that this team, with those same players, has let its goalie get run without so much as a dirty look all year is disgusting. I like Colton Orr just fine, but I really thought that was the reason he was here. Please tell me it was not just to fight Eric Godard 3 seconds into a game because he wanted to. And please don't tell me it was to score goals.

When I heard that no one, save Dubinsky, really said anything to Steve Ott after that incident on Friday, my first thought to myself was, well, Sean Avery would have.

So essentially I want Avery on my team because I think he, in a perfect world, will bring back all the great things he once did for this team and all he meant.

The fans loved him. He loved the fans. The Rangers, in every capacity, were a better team with him than without him. I was, indeed, sad to see him go.

Notice, though, I said "in a perfect world."

Here-in, fans, truly lies the rub. The Rangers, right now, are not a perfect anything. Team, destination, situation. To think that adding one person, even Sean Avery, will make a difference, is silly.

I personally think Avery has the potential to score more goals than many on this team, but on a team that so lacks the ability to put the puck in the net, I don't know who would help him do so.

He's not going to help the defense. He's not going to be a miracle. That much I do believe.

Also, and potentially more importantly, we are getting a possibly "re-created" Sean Avery. While I do not believe that he has been re-constructed to the point that he is not the Avery that I love anymore, I would be lying if I didn't admit that in the back of my mind I did have some small fear that he will not (not cannot, but will not) play the same way he did up until his lacerated spleen last spring.

That is a risk that anyone takes. After injury. After something unprecedented like this. You never know what you are going to get.

Look, some people are going to be very mad if Avery is a New York Ranger again. Some people think he's a jerk. Hell, maybe he is.

But just like Tom Renney can't be his team's coach and their best friend, Sean Avery doesn't have to be everyone's best friend, he just has to be their teammate. A good teammate.

I really don't believe all his teammates hated him, just as I'm sure not everyone loved him. But on the ice, I think they all know he had their back.

For that reason, and the fact that I am still holding - very firmly - to the fact that I think he can be an effective player in this league, I want to see him come back and prove it.

If nothing - if nothing! - else, the Rangers that lack almost any form of passion, excitement, pulse, and drive, should hopefully get all that and more from Sean.

That alone will be reason for many who have, and understandably so, turned off their TVs and stopped watching this team play dead, to come back this season.

I'm sure as this potential situation comes closer to reality, I'll have more comments. We all will. But for now, I'll think back to Larry Brook's quote from late June 2008 in The Post that I commented upon:

"The Rangers can pay Avery now . . . or they can pay for the next four years for not signing him. The choice is theirs. They have approximately 48 hours to make it."

Gee. I mean I honestly wonder which self proclaimed "good game" or "dominating" performance Sather saw that convinced him that he needed to rectify this horrible mistake that he was once warned so clearly against making. . .?

"The Rangers Were Chew-Toyed Tonight. . ."

Those were the words the Dallas Stars radio announcing team used after the final buzzer sounded ending the Rangers humilating 10-2 defeat at the hands of the Stars on Friday night.

Even though I was out of state, I listened to about 70% of the game on the radio.

I listened to the first period, where they called Gomez's pass that ended up in the back of the Rangers net for the first Dallas goal "vacuous."

For those of us who want to know exactly what vacuous means, tells us:

1. without contents; empty: the vacuous air.
2. lacking in ideas or intelligence: a vacuous mind.
3. expressing or characterized by a lack of ideas or intelligence; inane; stupid: a vacuous book.
4. purposeless; idle: a vacuous way of life.

Now if that does not perfectly describe what the majority of the NY Rangers were during the majority of that game, I don't know what does.

The announcers continued to say that the Rangers did not seem ready to contend or challenge Dallas' forecheck.

As the night went on, it became apparent the Rangers could contend with very little.

The announcers continued to say that they made silly/stupid passes to nowhere and turned the puck over on almost every shift.

I left the car after the 2nd period (4-2 Stars) and did not return until 4 or so minutes to go in the game. At which point I believe Dallas had just scored their 9th goal.

9, I said. Well, they certainly outdid themselves.

Look, after Renney's absurd comments that I wrote about on Thursday about dominance, I almost wanted this team to have Dallas hand it to them. I almost really did. Hear what the coach had to say to defend himself if they had another "dominant" game.

Well, it happened. I listened for the 10th goal - "and they score again!" - the 10th and final one.

I felt bad for Valiquette, because I knew, even without watching, this was just another showing of the go and play dead routine the Rangers have shown over the last year or so. One or two goals go in, they lose it, fall apart, and can't do anything to stop the bleeding. The goalie is left to just try to stay afloat.

They've done it before. Many times. But in this case, it was worse than ever before. Well almost.

Dallas, for the record, had not scored 10 goals since 1992. If I'm remembering what I read in the paper this morning, the Rangers had not given up 10 goals since around the same time. It was slightly before my time, so I had never seen it, I'll admit.

I'd have been sick, if I didn't know that this had the possibility of happening. If I didn't expect it. And I didn't kind of hope for it. Not because I like seeing/hearing/reading about my team - a team I do love and remain loyal to - lose in such a horrific manner. But because I hoped it might set the stage for changes so long necessary and overdue, I can't even put it into words.

For the saddest thing of all. While many were cheering and lauding this team for it's great start, I remained hesitant. Because there is very little - VERY little - that differs on this team now from that started the season. They had a little more luck, perhaps. They had a little more timely-ness.

But they always lacked cohesiveness. They always lacked offensive ability and defensive prowess. And they always lacked character, heart, and the ability to stick up for themselves.

The only thing that changed in the last game, the last week, the last month or so plus - they stopped fooling people.

If there is anyone that is still thinking this is a team on the right path, a team that can contend for the Stanley Cup, a team that can even make the playoffs, a team that we can even call a team, period, well then they are sorely mistaken.

"The Rangers were chew-toyed tonight."

I couldn't have put it better myself.

P.S. The bright spots, it would seem and if one could be found, were Nikolai Zherdev's two goals. Fun fact: If he scored one more goal, he might (MIGHT) have been only the second Ranger to score a hat trick and break his nose in the same game. Anyone remember Jeff Toms?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cause For Concern. . .! [Slightly UPDATED]

Breaking News!

Seriously, this just in. Rangers coach Tom Renney's thoughts on the game two days ago:

"I thought we were dominant against Atlanta."




Great. So not only is the coach lying, pulling at straws, hypocritical in his words and actions, damaging to youth, and apparently unyieldingly biased against Europeans. . .

He's now outright DELUSIONAL!

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse on Broadway, you read something like this. I mean I know Renney has a big vocabulary but I now get the idea that he has no idea what the words he uses mean.

Playmaker. Sustainability. Dominant.

You know what. I might just begin my boycott of this team with tomorrow night's game from Dallas. Where Voros - yes that Voros, who led the Wild in penalty minutes last year I'm sure you'd be shocked to know - will be on the first line with Naslund and Gomez.

Seriously, is there medication I can take for this?

Author's edit - 9:44pm. As of tomorrow I am going to have a two and a half day computer hiatus. And unlike last time I said it, this time I literally mean it; no computers in sight! Whether I listen to the Rangers game tomorrow on the radio is up for debate, but I am going to try to catch the Caps game on Saturday from a bar. We'll see. Everyone have a good weekend!

The State of the NHL: One Canadian's Perspective. . .

I'm posting the below less because I share the opinion and more because I think it's something all hockey fans should ponder.

It's written by Canadian media - and again, reminder folks, it was no mistake Bettman was booed at the All-Star Game; they hate Bettman with a vengeance - so it is perhaps slightly biased, but I think it presents a bunch of good facts.

Don't hold me to the specifics, but is it not true that the six NHL teams (6 of 30) are responsible for 30% of the entire league revenue? So much for a business man, right? Numbers don't lie. Bettman, apparently, does. Because for financial reasons, it only makes sense for more teams to be in Canada.

I won't say I'm for contraction, although as a Rangers fan that knew how few people went and supported the NJ Devils, I was all for them moving to Nashville when that was discussed over a decade ago. And even after Nashville didn't pan out, I tried to petition to have them move to New Mexico and become the Santa Fe Dancing Hats.

But I regress.

I don't like Bettman. I never did. And the truth is, there is nothing he can do at this point, save push me out of the way of a moving vehicle, that would ever make me think of him any differently. His views are skewed and I'm not sure his actions are in the best interest of the game I love. If he can't see the painful truth because he doesn't want to, that's just not good enough for someone who is supposed to be impartial. The league, commisioner included, is anything but.

Anyway, read, think. Make your own judgements.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Word Disgrace Just Doesn't Even Come Close. . .

I don't mean this to be overdramatic in any sense, but I refused to comment on the game last night played by the current Rangers in the same space as I commented on the honoring of one of the great and former Rangers. Therefore another blog entry for my other thoughts on last night.

As I watched the wonderful ceremony for Adam Graves last night, I cringed every time they showed the players on the bench. For one it was always Gomez and Drury, front and center, and they all looked about as moronic as can be. I kept saying to myself, really, Drury, keep looking up, keep smiling. There is no way in hell you will ever be among the greatest Rangers ever, so keep dreaming. You too, Gomer.

The fact that those three (sorry Markus, you get lumped in by default) got to go and help unveil the banner for Graves - something for the record I have seen done numerous times in Montreal but was not done once for the other three retirement ceremonies in New York - made me ill. To me, this is something that should not have been done at all (unless Graves personally suggested it, which I doubt) and the fact that it was done for the first time with those untalented and uninspiring yahoos was disgusting. I kept thinking that if it had been Jagr or Straka, players with the type of long and substantial careers worthy of it, I'd have been fine with it. But not Gomez and Drury.

And when they showed Renney, smiling and clapping, I was lucky I skipped dinner. I mouthed "keep f-in clapping moron." Which I'd apologize for, but in all honesty, I really shouldn't have to. The guy has nothing to be proud of. His team is an embarassment and he's apparently chosen to lie right through his teeth about it.

Those complaints, however, were small compared to the bigger picture.

As the ceremony ended, and I wiped my eyes, I said, my gosh, if there is ever a reason for this team to find a way to be pumped up, it is for this night and for this great man. They always say on nights like this, play in a way that would make the man proud.

Adam Graves is too nice a person to ever admit so, but if he were any other man he'd be forced to say the Rangers did anything but honor him and the way he played last night.

In fact, it looks like they, with Renney at the helm, went out of their way to play the most boring, uninspired hockey yet. On a night when they should have been inspired, they were inexplicably flat.

There is no excuse.


I'm not going to comment on Hank or on any one player in particular in regard to the above. Rather I'm going to say that the only two people that looked alive and like they cared at all, were Erik Reitz and Artem Anisimov - the two players who had never before last night ever worn a New York Rangers sweater.

True, that could all be accounted for by saying it was their first games, they wanted to impress. Credit them all you want for that. Reitz looked fired up and was quick to throw the body. Anisimov might just have had the best scoring chance of them all, and he, unlike half this team of drones, actually looked angry when he did not score!

But as much as you can credit them, you have to shake your head at every other player that took the ice last night. If there were one or two examples to the contrary, fine. But overall they were horrific.

If it weren't for an accidental goal with 11 seconds to go in the damn game, they would have been shut out again. And not to the BEST team in the conference, but to the second WORST team in the whole league.

Read that again if you have to. A 1-0 loss to Boston, if played the right way, I'd be willing to say is acceptable. Almost losing to one of the worst teams in the league, in your building, on a night you are honoring one of your all-time greatest, is a disgrace.

And that word doesn't even come close.

Look, you probably saw the game. I won't bore you with details. Of how they made not even Johan Hedberg, who plays well against New York, but Kari Lehtonen look like a king last night. I won't waste time going back into my rant of how this team will not and cannot be anything more than what it is considering they can't play defense like they think they can and now they can't even score one damn goal! But I will say this.

If there was ever a day for this team to get back into any of my graces, they blew it last night.

You just watched a ceremony for and were reminded of how wonderful a person Adam Graves was. That needed no reminder. What perhaps got lost in the thousand of wonderful things we hear about him, though, was the fact that he was the perfect teammate. Not lost to me; I couldn't forget. But apparently lost on those players that dressed last night.

Tell me. Does one of them go out there with that attitude? That passion for the game? That respect for the sweater they don?

Does one of them go out their and protect their teammates, or their goalie as he gets run? Does one of them stand up for themselves? For their team?

Does one of them play like it is their greatest honor in the world to play for one of the most honorable and traditional franchises in professional sports?

I'm sure there are occasions where the answer is yes. But does any one of them do this on a regular basis? Or every single time?

Adam Graves was THAT player. It is a disgrace to me that we don't even have ONE player who I can honestly say does that with even 10% of the grace, humility, and dignity that Adam Graves did.

He made no apologies, but he did not once need to.

And that is why the word disgrace doesn't even come close.

Instead of a marvelous display of what they can do, it was just another boring, uninspired effort from the most boring, uninspired team I have ever come to know.

I spent one year of my life (lockouts not included) not watching hockey. I regret it to some degree, even though I had my reasons. In the wake of last night, I seriously considered boycotting this team. Taking a break, not from hockey, but from them. Instead of spending my rare free nights watching this team, I'd love to watch any other team right now. A team that skates. A team that cares. Forget watching a team that scores. How about a team that understands what it means to play a game they love for a sweater they respect.

At least half the Rangers team just does not get it. That much was apparent last night. The Rangers is a "way of life" to them. The nights out. The paychecks. And yes, there is some hockey thrown in there. If that is not the truth, they are doing a great job of convincing me it is.

To the Rangers, the true RANGERS, like Adam Graves, the Rangers were it. All of it. Putting on the sweater night in and night out was a priviledge. It was a priviledge to play for a team with such pride, passion, and tradition. A team that had been around since the beginning. A team that had some of the greatest players of all time lace up skates and call themselves Blueshirts. They got it. And Adam Graves was the epitome of that.

It's a shame not one person could try, even for one night, to skate with the passion, smile with the pride, and play the game with the conviction that we grew accustomed to seeing during Graves' time. A shame.

I'm not going to spend more than a few sentences on what I am going to say next. And forgive me in advance.

Want to know one player that I think, gets it?

And this is not a soapbox speech here. I'm speaking from what I truly believe.

Adam Graves was the one player always sticking up for his teammates. Adam Graves was the one player that was always smiling. Adam Graves was the one player that got what it meant to play here, and wanted to be here more than anything, and even when things got bad for him personally.

Sound familiar at all?

Petr Prucha, despite his lack of size, always sticks up for his teammates. As much as I love the image of Avery knocking Brodeur down in the crease and Marty falling with all the drama of an Academy Award winner, I love Prucha to his right pummeling Colin White to the ice even more.

And always smiling. There is no other person I know of - and it has been said by almost everyone - that does that more than Petr Prucha. And that is despite all he's been through, personally and professionally.

Prucha, it is often forgotten because he watched from a far, was a Rangers fan. Watched the Stanley Cup Final in 1994, staying up late and falling asleep in class. For him to be a Ranger means more than it does for half of this team, I can guarantee.

That's probably why he doesn't want to leave, and is clinging so desperately to a team he loves and respects, when the people behind the bench have not loved and respected him in the same way.

For the record, and I'll close my argument with this: Petr Prucha is 2-0 in jersey retirement ceremonies. In addition to an assist on Petr Sykora's goal, he scored what might arguably be the most beautiful goal in his career in New York on Mark Messier Night. A goal, it must be mentioned, Jagr had nothing to do with. It was all Pete.

Think Tom Renney thought about that?

There is a list a mile long of players who have played for the New York Rangers.

Some for a single game. Others for many hundred.

Some were booed. Others will be forever loved.

Some would give up when the pressure is on. Others would rise admirably to the occasion.

Some didn't get the chance to be remembered. Others will never be forgotten.

It is quite evident which type of Ranger got honored last night, and which others missed the mark completely.