Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Did Bob Gainey Out-Sather Glen Sather. . .?

On the surface, this evening's deal between the Rangers and Habs begs that question.

As we speak, fans in Montreal are teetering over bridges and ready to overthrow Bob Gainey for making what they deem is such a horrible trade for them.

How do I feel?




And not for not liking Gomez, although let it be said, he had two things against him:

1) His inability to live up to his contract, though not entirely his fault
2) His inability to make us believe he gave a crap and was trying hard, which is entirely his fault.

I think Gomez, in a situation that makes him happy, can be effective. Put it this way, I wish him, as a person, well in Montreal, but not too well, if you get me.

Let's face it, he was never going to live up to the contract he was given. Again, not his fault. Gomez should never have been the top $$-maker on any teeam.

BUT, he could have looked like he cared a little more. That will always be my one gripe with him.

And as for complaints of why not Drury or why not Redden?

1) Shouldn't we be glad someone was going to take ONE of Sather's mistakes. ANY ONE of them?!
2) Drury has only 3 years left, Gomez had 5 - that has something to do with it, no doubt. Plus, Mr. Renney made Mr. Mumbles the captain of the team, not that I think that really would have stopped the trade, but it's worth noting.
3) No one will take Redden. That I even believed for a second Brian Burke would take Redden off our hands tells you how hopefully dellusional I can be at times.

Take this what it is, folks. A nice trade. It drops salary, a salary we desparately needed dropped. And it steals the best prospect in Montreal in Ryan McDonaugh. I listen to Montreal radio faithfully. They love this kid.

Trust me, fans in Montreal are probably more upset by the fact that he's leaving than in the fact that Gomez is coming.

And if Sather doesn't manage to screw it all up in the next few hours or days - always a possibility - then he might have just made up for one of his horrible mistakes and given the team the opportunity to make themselves better.

Fixing one mistake doesn't make you a better person; it'll just make us Rangers fans smile a little more until you make the next one.

Torts Quotes:

Steve Zipay on Blue Notes posted some Tortorella quotes yesterday, most of which I think are a breath of fresh air for Rangers fans. Feel free to take a read here.

My favorite:

"And I’m not afraid of youth. It’s going to be done on merit."

It may be too late for many of the wasted youth on this team, but for whomever is around for next season, this is going to be a wonderful change of pace.

Accountability - hmm, what a concept!


Speaking of wasted Rangers youth, I got a "tweet" from a Coyotes fan that made me very happy today.

"I LOVE prucha. he's a hard worker and does the little things that make a team better. He's crucial to us"

See, Pete will be fine. Just fine. =)

I was already greatly looking forward to the Coyotes season to see the team in action ON the ice.

But perhaps with some changes in place, I'll be looking forward to the Rangers as

Although way, way too early to tell.

Canada Day/Free Agent Frenzy Day/Tums and Tylenol Day:
The day that knows so many names.

I usually think of July 1st in the order above.

I wish Canadians, and those of us hockey lovers, a Happy Canada Day.

I get NO work done because I'm highly anticipated any trade, especially ones not done by our GM.

And I have the two Ts - Tums and Tylenol - at the ready for those headaches and bouts of nausea.

(For the record, I now know why I was kept up last Thursday night in advance of the Draft. I preached and preached Tums and yet, where were they as I anticipated the potential bad moves of the next day and lay awake, tossing and turning?).

Back to the point. I will, for the most part, after today be on Twitter only, as I will be out of state. I will not be anyone's best source for "up to the minute" updates, so please check elsewhere and help keep me informed! =)

And I wish you all a Happy Canada/Free Agent Frenzy/Tums and Tylenol Day!!! =)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Some Reflections on NHL Draft 2009. . .

Well, the highly anticipated 1st round of the NHL draft took its time - it's sweet, sweet time - but 4 hours later it has come to a close.

First of all, I was excited as anything to spend the evening watching the draft, as any hockey fan would be. And I got my takeout =), sat down, and enjoyed myself for...the first hour and a half. I'm not going to lie though. It was very, very long. I am not the only one to mention it.

Last year, it seemed quicker, for one, and that they asked the interviewees more than a single question. I remember being so impressed with Stamkos and Schenn - =) - and all the newly minted draftees.

This year, I feel you hardly got a chance to hear much from them, with the exception of the chosen 3.

And the length of this draft. Even I lost interest towards the end. Too long. And not enough substance.

Perhaps we were all spoiled with the intense feelings of drama heading in, what with not knowing, for sure, the #1 pick, and the potential Heatley maneuvers, and any big trades.

After the Pronger bombshell, there just wasn't much else, it seemed.

Still, I'm never disappointed to spend an evening watching hockey coverage of any kind. Thrilled to be a hockey fan. Tonight is no different.

A few quick and random thoughts from Draft '09:

*Of the chosen three, mind you, Colorado's #3 pick, Matt Duchene is awesome! He designs hockey sweaters, sings, and can apparently beat anyone at a game of "Name what player uses what stick." Awesome! What a great personality. And again, always love the kids going to their favorite teams. It's a nice story.

*You know how I love when hockey people speak French? Yeah. Well Gary Bettman speaking French just doesn't do if for me. And, Gary, it's JOFFrey Lupul not JEFFrey Lupul. Please.

*On the Gary note, I have to admit something. I watched the NBA Draft yesterday. The difference between the fans reactions to David Stern and the fans reactions to Gary Bettman are so amazingly different. Stern is respected. Gary is loathed. Do you think he ever gets used to the boo-ing? Think he's jealous of David Stern?

*The Pronger trade disappoints me on many levels. One practical - Pronger is known for some cheap, dirty crap, and thusly I really don't like him as a player. I will not be thrilled to see him playing in our division. It will however potentially be fun to see the Flyers play the Penguins, Devils, and Islanders. One silly - Joffrey Lupul has such pretty eyes; it's a shame I won't get to see those six times a year.

*Evander Kane going to Atlanta is a great thing. The hockey is for everyone mantra...it's legit. And hopefully Kane will be a good reminder of that fact.

*My moment of the night was seeing Luke Schenn - in a stylish suit - giving one of his trademark grins when his brother, Brayden, got drafted by L.A. He looked so happy for his brother, even though you can imagine he'd have loved him to be a Leaf too. They "keep each other honest." You all know how much I love Luke Schenn - =) - and it's great to have another Saskatoon boy in the NHL.

*Burke's "mic'd" segments left something to be desired, but the idea was great. There just should have been more of it. Burke is just, well, Burke. I loved his talking about how he could have moved up but he would have had to give up Schenn - the future Leafs captain - to get the #2 pick and he wouldn't have gotten Tavares and, thus, would have looked like an idiot. Oh Burke.

*That Magnus-Paajarvi-Svensson kid that got picked by Edmonton has a website TSN touted. Check it out here.

*We now know that Peter Holland (Anaheim/15th) has a mini-zamboni collection. Gotta love TSN.

*This was the year of the Swedes at the draft where 7 went in the 1st round. I love Swedes. They speak English almost flawlessly, but they still have a foreign flair. And, please, we must all as Rangers fans, appreciate the country that gave us Hankie.

*The Rangers took a young'un at their #19th pick, Chris Kreider. I wanted Carter Ashton. But when they said this kid was going to Boston College and even uttered the name Brian Leetch, I was not going to argue. I'll take it. And remember, with the Rangers, it doesn't mean anything until they actually play for the team. So this name, is just a name for 2, 3, maybe 4 years.

On Rangers Report, here's a quote from the newly drafted Ranger:

“I’m just on cloud nine,” Kreider said. “I’ve been told it’s the greatest city in the world. I’ve never been there but I’m looking forward to it. I have a lot of friends who are Rangers fans.”

The official report on NHL.com on him.

As for the embarassing moment bit, thinking his team was down a man when they were really 4-on-4; if that's the case, he'll fit in really well with this team.

I jest, I jest. ;)

*And wouldn't it have been nice to have seen him interviewed, like Del Zotto was last year? Understandably though, the world stopped when the Canadiens picked a French-Canadien player. Priorities people. :)

*Carter Ashton - well-spoken, down-to-earth kid from Saskatoon - dropped to #29 and was scooped up by Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay got some niiicee players today.

*Chicken Parm Ray Ferraro said he'd most certainly cry if his son, Landon, got drafted in the 1st round. Will he cry when his son, presumably, gets drafted tomorrow? And you didn't think there was enough mystery in the draft? Hmmm.

Lastly, I'd just like to take a second to say that I thank all that is wonderful about hockey that we, three years in, are still blessed with having TSN footage of this event.

Now that the Awards show is Americanized and we were tortured (rant coming on one of the dog days of summer) with the American footage of the Stanley Cup Final, it is just nice to enjoy the days like Trade Deadline Day, Draft Day, and Free Agent Frenzy Day when we in the States are given the opportunity to see the excellent coverage that those in Canada enjoy every day.

Hockey = Life.

Night all...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Anxiety and Anticipation on Eve of Draft. . .

Hello all. Before I get to the real focus of this blog, I must apologize for going slightly awol here in the last week. Plenty of rumors and news, but not enough time. And, somewhat shamefully, it seems that it is just - at present time - so much easier to Twitter the little updates as they happen, and save the bigger stuff, or the stuff I need more space to comment upon, for the blog. So as long as I seemingly am so busy in my real life (ie: work), take a peek at NHTProductions for some more current updates.

That being established, a much belated BIG-HUGE-PARAMOUNT Congratulations to Brian Leetch, my all-time favorite hockey player. I couldn't be happier for such an amazing class act as Brian getting such a well deserved honor as to be called to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Truly thrilled. In the coming week, I'll try to get a little Brian tribute up here, but for now, just know, this made my day, week, month, perhaps year. #2 Forever.

And now, we move on to thoughts of this year's NHL Entry Draft. For those of you that have followed this blog for a year (goodness help you ;) ), you know that last year was the 1st year I was able to watch the NHL Draft live on TV. For most of you, it was the 2nd year you were able to have such a pleasure in the States, but for me, I was out of state in 2007 and could not. Therefore, Draft Day 2008 became a right of passage and an experience I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thus, I have been looking forward to June 26th, for the opportunity to get to watch this year's draft, with such anticipation. For me, it's fun to get to see the future of young athletes begin, the thrilling drama of unexpected trades, and the overall glory of the event. And in Montreal, it should be extra special.

That being said, unlike last year, I am faced with a sense of extreme anxiety about the events of tomorrow, I won't lie to you.

Usually it is Free Agent Frenzy Day, or my personal term: Tums and Tylenol Day, that makes me anxious and nervous, and popping the medicinals mentioned above.

But this year, with all the utter uncertainty surrounding EVERY-freakin-THING, I've been having mini-heart flips here.

I mean will Montreal be able to pull off super move of the century and get Vincent Lecavalier to play for the Habs? Will Brian Burke meet his goal of moving up in the draft? And who, just who, will be the #1 pick? We know enough to know we don't even know that much!

It's madness, I tell you, madness.

Oh, but if that was all there was to worry about, I wouldn't be worried. I'd be in elated anticipation of all the cool things that may happen, the surprises of the day. And I'd enjoy the heck out of it.

Why can't I?

Perhaps I can. Perhaps.

But instead of that joy-ful carefree anxiety-less day of Draft watching last year, I have spent this week, and will surely spend tomorrow, in fear that Rangers management, namely Glen Sather, will pull off the move of the draft.

The BAD move of the draft, that is.

I am just getting it out there now. There's are my thoughts. Love 'em, hate 'em, believe them or not, but here they are.

I hope - hope, hope, hope, hope, hope - there is a chance that Glen Sather could get rid of one, one of the Rangers super-loaded, super-stupid salaries. You know, the Redden, the Gomez, the Drury. If he could I'd be thrilled.


Not at the expense of the few, very, very few, players I enjoy watching on this team.

Let me tell you, if there were no Hank, no Staal, and no Callahan, I'd have been a more miserable person this past year than any of you would have wanted to know. Believe me. So I don't want Glennie baby to think he's getting any brilliant ideas and go using his Fisher Price calculator and his General Managers for Dummies book, and get rid of one of my favorite players to fix one of his colossal mistakes.

If that happens - and come on folks, with the Rangers can you really count anything as beyond the realm of possibility - you will see a Tweet with 140 undefinable characters and you'll know what I'm thinking.

I'd like to be positive. Maybe tomorrow will go off wonderfully. The Rangers will do only smart things, not tip the boat more than necessary, and I can enjoy the event with my take-out dinner like I planned.

But, still, I will keep Tums and Tylenol close at hand - and even closer for next Wednesday - in anxiety and anticipation of things to come.

I mean, come on guys, this is Glen Sather we are talking about.

Yes, that Glen Sather. The "I think Wade Redden, Scott Gomez, and Chris Drury are worth that much" Glen Sather.

Honestly, I am really just hoping he doesn't trade away our 1st round Draft pick for a bag of Twizzlers.

Although...maybe we could get the bag of Twizzlers to play for LESS than $7 million and score some goals.

I'm just saying...

**Author's Note: I'll be without ready access to computer tomorrow, so updates might not come til the late afternoon, if any need be posted or reflected upon.

Enjoy Draft everyone!**

Friday, June 19, 2009

Yotes: Petr Prucha Signs 2-year Deal. . .

Details forthcoming. This was a tag-on to an article about the Steven Reinprecht trade.

Needless to say, I am elated! =) True, he's still far away, but he will get the best opportunity to shine there.

Now, if they could only work out the rest of the hullabaloo going on there.


Here's the official announcement on coyotes.nhl.com.

“We are pleased to have signed Petr to a new contract,” said Maloney. “He is a former 30-goal scorer and an emerging young offensive talent who competes hard every night. We look forward to Petr bringing a combination of speed and skill to our lineup.”

I'm not going to go into some long-winded Prucha defense rant. At least not tonight. ;)

But I am going to say that I think this is

a) fantastic news
b) very good for him
c) very good for the team

Prucha, in his short time in the desert, brought energy and a fantastic work ethic to the Coyotes club. He was praised by Wayne Gretzky, by the broadcasters, and by his linemates for it.

I personally think that if given a full year, where he can continue to build the confidence that he had started to re-gain, I think he can be a stable, effective player for that team.

Do I think 30 goals is a lofty dream? Yes, perhaps. In my getting to see Pete play in Phoenix, it seemed to me that he'd definitely end up being more of the set-up guy to the Lombardis and the Upshalls than the guy scoring goals on his own.

I truly hope that that line is able to be resurrected in Phoenix next year. They were a joy to watch - three guys completement each other so.

Either way, and regardless of point totals, Phoenix locked up someone today who takes the ice each and every night with the goal of doing all he can do to make his team successful and setting a good example for his teammates.

If only more players looked at the game that way...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The 2009 NHL Awards: Vegas Style. . .

Last year, I asked myself if the NHL Awards had been "Americanized."

This year, I think we have our answer. A decided yes.

No Ron McLean, which for sentimental reasons, made me very sad. I used to watch him host the show before I had any idea who he was and before I welcomed him weekly into my living room on HNIC. I don't know how everyone else felt, but for me, he was very much missed.

I, too, do not know everyone else's opinion of the show. I thought it was, although different, very good. I have no major complaints, despite the obvious cultural differences. And, maybe, perhaps, with the hype of Vegas and the glow of the lights it needed to be different. I can't speak for anyone else, so I can't say for sure.

I can, however, be honest in saying, sentimentality aside, this Awards show was good. Simple, classy, and to the point. That can't be denied.

And now, my random thoughts, in order of appearance, from tonight's show:

*The Leary Opening was fantastic and I absolutely loved it. He's got a fantastic voice and you know, both in reality, and through that voice, just how much he loves our great game.

*Patrick Kane and Lucky Luc made me smile. =) Love the ability for players to laugh at themselves; it makes them human.

*I had to stop and get up for a tissue when I saw Konstantinov on the stage. Tears started flowing. Vladimir and the relationship he had with Detroit and his team is a testament to all that is wonderful about hockey. A sad, sad story, but such a humbling reminder each and every time.

*Ovechkin dedicated the Lester B. Pearson, the special award voted by his peers, to his late grandfather. He became the first player to win it in back to back years since Jaromir Jagr in 1999 and 2000.

"Nervous again. What a life, thank you."

*That pretty blonde model was an extremely good public speaker. Kirk Muller - not so much. ;)

*Datsyuk is a funny guy. I think if he could be put in front of audiences more often people would love him alone for his adorableness. His English, for the record, is much better than last year.

"Hello again." [wave].

"Honor to be [a] Red Wing," he said. "This award is for all of us."

*Ok, NHL. If you are going to show "Goals of the Year," then SHOW "Goals of the Year." I am still dizzy from trying to keep up with that. I wanted to actually SEE them, no?

*When the Bill Masterton Award was being announced, I actually silently said "Sullivan." I think Richard Zednik is an amazing human being and his comeback was remarkable. I don't know if I could do the same. But Steve Sullivan spent years trying to come back to the game he loved and it was very well deserved he win this award.

*Line of the Night:
"Do you want me to thank your wife, Manny?" (Tim Thomas to fellow Jennings winner - Manny Fernandez)

*When the camera panned to Leetch and Mess, I laughed. See, the Rangers do have representation, I said. Well, yes, #2 and #11 and all those lovely images in montages of other players scoring against our team. Crosby, Richards, Parise...

*Pavel Datsyuk, "Now, more confident." - love this kid!

*I love Pat Kane! =) (I feel like I just throw that out at random, but I really do think he's fantastic. That 3rd goal against Vancouver for the hat trick in the playoffs - outstanding! He's so good for this game and for the United States.)

*That comedian - was so not funny to me. Mark - "with a c or with a k?"

*Uh, not sure what I thought about Glenn Anderson trying to be funny. Look, it is not a crime that many (many, many) of the best players in the league right now are Russian. I love my Canadians plenty and, again, I do not pick my favorite players by country (usually), but the Russians are writing a fantastic story. Let them tell it.

*Ethan Moreau provides a wonderful story. I was so upset when his eye was injured this year and so thankful to see him come back. But his true story. For every player that has come to Edmonton and left, Moreau has stayed on and stayed strong. It makes me happy to know they have such a wonderful captain in such an important hockey city.

*JR being JR: "I'm usually pretty good behind a mic. As most of you know."

Uh, yes, yes we do. ;)

*Seeing Tim Thomas win the Vezina was incredible. Take one look at that player, and that man. A guy who was told over and over that he had no shot. A guy who still, by many, is told he does it the wrong way. Look, there is no right way. It's about getting the job done. The only thing better than how successful he is as a goalie, is that he is doing it "his way" and that he's such a humble, and funny, human being. Fans of Boston, be proud. I love this guy!

*In another moving moment, it was so nice to see former Devils coach Pat Burns on the stage. It really was.

*I like Claude Julian. I always did. He gets kudos to me for his Jack Adams, but for also being the first person to give part of his speach in French. Merci beaucoup, Claude.

*I had mentioned previously my vote for the Mark Messier Award this year would go to Zdeno Chara, but I have sung Jarome Iginla's praises for a very long time. He is my favorite current captain in the NHL and I am well aware of how much he idolized Mark Messier growing up. I think it's perfect that he won the award and was given it by his idol. A very, very well deserving candidate.

*First of all, Brian Leetch awarding the Norris made me smile. He's my favorite player of all time, and was so amazing, I am surprised even by my memories of how great he was. The Norris was an interesting vote this year. I honestly think even if it was the unpopular vote, that they got it right. Nick Lidstrom is the classiest guy and one of the best defensemen ever to play, but I think he'd admit, this wasn't his "best" year. Zdeno Chara is lethal in every way, and a very, very big part of Boston's solid defense core. He did remarkable things and is such a likeable person and great ambassador for the game.

He thanks his teammates for their "help, trust, respect" and for making it a "family." All so very important for a team to be successful.

*I really do love Ovechkin. I know he came under criticism this year, and yes, perhaps, his acts, if taken too far, can and may grow old. But should our game not be about smiles and graciousness happiness, and joy? I think so. And OV is a perfect example of those things.

*I am really loving Malkin more that he's learning English and letting himself smile more. I mean I still won't forgive him those two slew foots against Mara last year, but I do really respect how amazing a player he is.

*Gary Bettman said the Stanley Cup represented "class, elegance and everything good about our sport." It's only ironic that as much as the Stanley Cup represents that, Gary, well...

*I can only wish that I would have had the chance to see a player such as Jean Beliveau play the game of hockey. The "epitome of class." Someone who showed such grace and humility his name is as synonymous with skill, greatness, and tradition. A very well deserved honor for him, the Lifetime Acheivement Award. What I loved the most, was that he said he always "remembered the young players coming in."

Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Toews, Kane, Mason - the league is more special because of all of you and the league is blessed - blessed - with so many wonderful and amazing young players.

*Speaking of Beliveau, someone on the Team990 compared Vincent Lecavalier to Beliveau just the other day. The one thing I can say about this year's NHL Awards is that they were decidedly less pretty without Vinny around. I'm sorry, but it's a fact.

*Ovechkin won the Hart Trophy as the League's MVP and I don't think anyone in hockey can argue. He is the Hart winner, for the second time in a row, not even because he is the best player. That can be argued. Honestly, if I had to make a statement on it, I'd say Crosby the most well-rounded, Malkin the most talented, and Ovechkin the most dynamic. Except I think they are all, perhaps, too talented to choose just one.

What cannot be denied, however, is that Ovechkin sets himself apart with every intangible. His spirit and his all-encompassing energy. His undying enthusiasm for the game. His love of his teammates. His leadership, in his own way. His passion and his dynamism. Those are all unmatched.

Many great players play this game, and many will still be remembered for their greatness long after their playing careers have come to an end.

Ovechkin's story is just beginning, but you can already tell just by watching him play and feeling the energy around him, that he is already one of those players.

*Jeremy Roenick said earlier tonight that to be a hockey fan was "a calling and a way of life." There were years I never thought I'd agree with anything Roenick said and years that I found myself realizing how unique he was and how much he should be respected for that. He's right again though. Sometimes I think I didn't have a choice in being a hockey fan. It's something that becomes you. It's something you just are.

I am forever grateful to the game of hockey and thrilled each and every moment I get to celebrate that reality. Tonight is no different.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2009 NHL Awards Show - Pre-Show Thoughts. . .

So tomorrow night the NHL's best will gather in Las Vegas for the annual Awards show, breaking a long time tradition of the show being in Canada.

I'm not going to lie here; I'd still be watching the Awards show if it was being shown from Nashville, Tampa Bay, or even Santa Fe, for that matter. It's not the location that makes the show. It's the people. The presentation.

However, I will be curious to see how and if the show differs. I already noticed a questionable "Americanization" of the show last year. I wonder what that can mean when the show is actually being filmed in America.

Or Vegas.

Which many would argue are not even the same thing. ;)

That aside I have, as long as I can remember looked forward to these nights. A chance to see so many of the players - in suits =) - and hear what they have to say when they aren't being asked questions in a lockerroom/gametime setting.

In the days before Centre Ice, youtube, et al, there was no other time I'd get to see some of these players, so the show still holds a special place for me.

As for the Award nominees and all that, I'm not going to be so bold as to make predictions or so wordy as to give my opinion. (Thank yous all around I'm sure). I will save that for an after-show reflection.

All I will say is that:

I still think its a two man race for the Hart and that I'd be happy if either Ovechkin or Malkin won it.

I hope Tim Thomas takes home a well deserved Vezina.

and that,

While I think the concept of the Lady Byng might be somewhat outdated, I think any player that can go through an entire NHL season and take less than 20 minutes in penalties is amazing and deserves some sort of kudos.

I mean, come on, some of the New York Rangers can't go one minute into a game without taking an unnecessary penalty! Let alone a half a dozen games or so!

So with popcorn or beer, friends or alone, Natural Hat Trick Productions wishes you much enjoyment in watching the 2009 NHL Awards live from Las Vegas, Nevada.

And you know, if I am in position to do so, next year I might just plan a trip to Vegas to coincide with the Awards show.

Some slots, some sun, some (of the NHL's best) scorers.

Seriously, why not? ;)

Radio Ramblings: The Debate of Sweet Caroline

There was a wonderful surprise waiting for us fans in the 1:00pm hour of the Team990. PJ Stock made a surprise appearance on the show bareing his name, after 2 months of staying in hotels and working on the CBC for the playoffs.

As thrilled I was PJ was back, I was even more thrilled when it became a vintage PJ day. Vintage how? In that another one of the days that you'd never be able to get away with on radio in the States. =) And I loved it!

The debate of the day, literally, was whether it was proper to, when singing along to Sweet Caroline, sing "Sweet Caroline - bom, bom, bom" or "Sweet Caroline - Oh, Oh, Oh."

The rest of the Team990 gang felt it was definitely of the "bom, bom, bom" variety and that PJ had obviously been going to the wrong type of weddings.

Andie was the only Team990 member to agree with PJ. They others said it was only because she missed him.

They went to the phones and 3 of the first callers immediately sided against PJ.

Not to be outdone - is he ever? - PJ continued, on and and off for the next hour and twenty minutes, to have them play, pause, stop, re-play "Sweet Caroline" and sing along.

He even asked Vinny Lecavalier's brother, an agent and guest on the show, his opinion. Phil agreed with PJ.

On the Sweet Caroline debate:

"Are you going to give this up?"

PJ: "Not until I get everyone in Montreal to change it to oh, oh oh!"


Thatta boy PJ.

Other highlights included some of PJs assessment of the playoffs:

*In the "hat-trick game" Ovechkin's goals were "sexier" than Crosbys.

*Chelios got a very nice send-off after warmups during the Finals in Detroit/Chelios was one of PJs favorite players growing up (I will not hold this against him).

*He didn't agree with the Crosby not shaking hands of all Detroit but said from his pearch in the arena he saw he was being overwhelmed from all angles. He said if he were Crosby he would have gone over to the bench to say his remarks. And that there is "not a more classy guy in the game than Lidstrom. I would have gone over to him." He hopes there would be a text message or a phone call later to apologize, even if it was circumstances.

Plenty more but I can't even do justice to today's show.

Again, I love it.

As PJ would say:


Monday, June 15, 2009

Jumping on the Wordle Bandwagon. . .

Well, all the cool kids are doing it ... =)

Stick Salute to Mike @ Blueshirts who hat-tipped to The Dark Ranger.

This was very original - thanks for passing along the idea guys.

**Note: link can be found here. Couldn't get their html to work.**

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Can It Have Been 15 Years. . .?

For years after the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, I used to watch Oh Baby! or the Official 1994 Championship tape every year on the anniversary. It felt fun to re-live the memory, when it was nice and fresh. It felt important.

As the years went on, this anniversary ritual stopped. I honestly can't remember the last time I watched any of those tapes.

There just came a time when it felt different. And I honestly don't know if it was somewhere during the seven playoff-less years, the second lockout, or when, exactly. But something changed.

Perhaps it was just inevitable that there'd be a time when 1994 stopped being something that just happened and something you wanted to glorify, and more became a reminder of what once was and what, now, seemed almost impossible to be again.

For if the Rangers had a moment since 1994 (or past 1997) of truly making we, as fans, feel that it could, indeed, happen again for them - for us-, perhaps maybe I wouldn't feel so separate from that night, now 15 years ago.

But, yet, I do. Especially after watching a year of hockey where I embraced so few of our players and enjoyed so few of the moments I onced loved and longed to remember.

I hope, as do we all, that this team, our team, can turn it around someday, and hopefully someday soon. I hope, as we all do, that 1994 was not the only glory we'll see.

But you know what. I've always said, if it was, at least I got to see it, even if I was only a new fan, unsure of much, except the fact that I was drawn to this team. The devotion, the loyalty, and the full range of emotions that go along with bring a fan of a team, that came later. When things got worse, when you built favorites among the many, when you were still waiting for things to get better.

But 15 years. . .

I really can't believe it's been 15 years.

I Tivoed the replays on MSG Network tonight just in case. Maybe before I go to bed, I'll just fast-forward to those last moments. To the words now ingrained in all our memories. To the celebration images we've all seen so many times.

And thank silently, or perhaps aloud, each of the players that made that championship possible.

Thank them for standing together and giving us that one, true, glorious moment we still, consciously or unconsicously, find ourselves clinging to tonight.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Reflections on the Stanley Cup 2009. . .

First of all, I said last year as I happily watched the Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup that it would only be a matter of time for the Penguins. That they'd be good for the better part of the next decade, and that they'd win it someday.

As it turns out someday came only a year later for the Penguins and maybe it's fitting that it all happened the way it did.

As a Rangers fan, the Penguins are not my favorite team, as can be expected. Like the Penguins, the Rangers were bad for so many years. But unlike the Rangers, the Penguins were able to draft pieces to build a better future - Fleury, Staal, Crosby, Malkin. The Rangers, as we very well know, just haven't been able to wrap their minds around how to go about this.

Now, we can say the Penguins got lucky with these guys, had it too easy, made too quick a turnaround. Say that any team lucky enough to draft so many good players in so short an amount of time had it made.

But you know what, today, a dozen hours after their Cup win, I am going to stop for just a minute and give them some credit. Give them credit because even though they had the pieces handed to them, to some degree, they still had to put it all together.

True they have some of the best young players in the NHL play for their team. But they also had a few question marks and a heck of a bumpy road this season.

I didn't even know if they'd make the playoffs, the way things were going. I had them going out in the first round to Philadelphia because I just didn't think they had it. They fired their coach. Their goalie suffered endless criticism for not being able to "get it done." Their super-stars, at times, looked pedestrian, if possible.

But they made the playoffs, never looked out of control for too long, and they made it happen.

As much as Detroit wins on their endless supply of talent and system, in machine-like execution, Pittsburgh is a team that can never be counted out. As many times as I thought they'd fall - to Philadelphia, to Washington, to Carolina, and to Detroit, they just kept coming back.

That's a credit. A big credit to them. And they deserve congratulations for that.

As hockey fans, when our team is out, all we can hope for it to be entertained by the hockey teams that remain. I thought a Detroit/Pittsburgh Final for the second year in a row would be boring.

I think I can safely say I was wrong. I think of all the four-game sweeps I saw in the Finals (NJ over Detroit, Detroit over Florida), and I was always disappointed because it wasn't a closer match-up, it wasn't enough games.

Look, it might not have ended exactly how I wanted it to, but,...give me a Game 7 in a Stanley Cup Final and I will gladly take it.

Random Thoughts:

*I thought, as of last summer, that the Detroit Red Wings would probably win the Stanley Cup again. I saw no reason why not. Yet, I picked Detroit to go out in the first round, their most vulnerable time of year, and they went on to make it within one goal of another Stanley Cup victory. Perhaps because they did not win this year, the conversation of Dynasty takes a break. But you know what, Detroit's machine like execution, that we've seen for over a decade now, is amazing. Literally amazing. That they didn't win it all will hurt them, I'm sure, but to me it hardly takes much away from all they've been able to accomplish. Sure, I don't think we'll ever see 5 Cups in 7 years like in Edmonton, but Detroit surely has made their mark on this game.

*I don't "love" all the Penguins, but I will tell you who I am happiest for. Jordan Staal, because I respect his brother so much and I know that he'll be happy for him. And Marc-Andre Fleury, because he's such an interesting character. He seems like things roll off his shoulders, in winning and in defeat, but you can tell how horrible he must have felt after game 5. He came back to rebound in game 6, and then, perhaps once and for all, silenced his many critics by shutting the door, even in the closing seconds, and winning the Stanley Cup on the road for his team. I'm happy for the kid.

*The one thing I think we can all think about - Pens fan, Wings fan, Rangers fan, Blue Jackets fan - is just what exactly was going through Marian Hossa's mind during those final seconds and the celebration that followed. As much as I wanted to cry, somewhat jokingly, because the Penguins had won the Cup, I had little reason. He, he has every reason. You make a decision. Your coach says the important thing is that you made a decision and that makes it good - the fact you made it. You must live with the consequences. I can't see very much in life being more poetic than what transpired for that man. The team you battled with heart and soul, you leave them to go to the team that beat them. The following year, you, on your new team, are facing your old team. Your new team is favored but your old team is the one that beats you in the end. I can't imagine many more things being as ironic and as sports storybook as that.

*That's all I have for now, but I'm sure more thoughts in the next few days and in leading up to next weeks NHL Award's Show and the following week's NHL Entry Draft. Also, a short look back on the NHL season on a whole. It was filled with some amazing moments.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Looking Back One Year. . .

Somehow in all the craziness of late, I missed the anniversary of my first ever post here at Natural Hat Trick Productions - June 3rd, 2008.

And somewhat ironically, that first post came in the middle of a Detroit/Pittsburgh Stanley Cup Final, in between Games 5 and 6.

It was entitled "The Power of a Goalie's Pads" and hilighted how Marc-Andre Fleury had silenced some of his disbelievers with a stellar game 5 performance.

So now, a year and six days later, we find ourselves in a very similar situation. The same two teams battling for the Stanley Cup. The same team heading into the same road arena for a Game 6 with a chance to win the series.

The only difference, on the surface, is while Fleury's heroics stole game 5 last year for his team, his less-than stellar performance in game 5 this year has his team one game away from elimination.

Surely there are different stories this year than last.

No feel-good story of Dallas Drake for Detroit.

Marian Hossa is wearing red and white rather than black and gold.

Niklas Lidstrom has already become the first European to captain his team to a Stanley Cup.

Instead, this time around, Hossa chases that elusive Cup and on his mind, certainly, is the question of "did I make the right decision?" although his coach eloquently feels he has.

Players like Fleury, Malkin, and Crosby are searching for their 1st Cup, while stalwart Detroit players like Lidstrom, Draper, Holmstrom, McCarty, and and Maltby are seeking their 5th.

Pittsburgh is looking to win the Cup for the 1st time since back to back Cups in 1991 and 1992, while Detroit is looking to win back to back Cups for the first time since 1997 and 1998.

The stories vary slightly, they always do, but there are certainly parallels between last years and this years showdown.

We'll find out in two and a half hours (or more) if it ends tonight.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rangers Season in Review/Part Four - The Final Countdown. . .

You want to know the sad truth...

I am tired of rambling or even thinking about the Rangers right now! I should have known when I was struggling to fight myself through writing those blog entries (those excessively long blog entries) a month back or so, that perhaps there wasn't even a point to devoting that much time to those details. I mean I still think there were some good points in there, but perhaps this season was just too long and too hard on all of us to even want to recapture that much of it. Best to try to enjoy the existing hockey as much as we possibly can and save the Rangers thoughts for another day. That has been my plan at least.

So, in the final installment of my season in review (aka rambling thoughts) we'll do the opposite.

I used to use this format when I was growing up and I'd sit down to write a Year in Review every New Year's Eve. (woah - self disclosure!!) Well before I grew up and had more important things to do with my time. Is that better? ;)

Anyway, let's have at it and let me wrap the 2008-2009 Rangers season up once and for all. You know. So I can move foward and ramble about other things. =)

The Good:

-The Rangers opening the season as well as they did was undeniably good. They set a franchise record for most points in their first 13 games with 21, when they opened up the 2008-2009 campaign going 10-2-1. That fast start and record, despite all that followed, cannot be taken away from them.

-The Rangers playing the two pre-season games in Bern and the first two regular season games in Prague was a good story. It was fun. Something different. Unfortunately, I didn't get to watch the Prague games live that weekend and had to watch them later, which took some of the mystique away from it. But the once in a lifetime type feel remained, even if the plethora of Czech players that would have made it all over the top amazing no longer were present come the start of season. And even though I sneakily watched and listened to the Bern games at work, I still loved it. The whole season felt so fresh and new, as it always does, and the Rangers had a magical glow about them, a glow that, as it turned out, never seemed to glow so bright away from European soil.

- The Rangers penalty kill. For years, and years and years and years, I said that if the Rangers were going to be so good at taking penalties, they should really learn to kill them off better. The last few years have been stepping stones to that goal and this year, they really, really impressed everyone. Many guys on the team deserve credit for being great PKers, or for working within the system of the PK, but probably none more than Blair Betts, Fredrik Sjostrom, and Hank Lundqvist. With these three, et al, the Rangers boasted the #1 or #2 ranked PK for most of the season, and ended up at #1 in the entire league, which, given the teams movement away from or lack of ever having a strong defensive core in my recent memory, I am not sure any of us would have ever believed it be possible.

-Sean Avery's return put a smile on my face. I'm not going to lie. Was it perfect? Was he perfect? No. But the idea that someone we thought was gone to another team for good, the idea he could come back was uplifting for me. On October 20th, Avery and the Stars came to New York and he said, maybe someday he'd be a Ranger again. I don't know if anyone knew - except Sean perhaps - that such a day would come less than five months later. Regardless, it's his spirit and his drive in the game that made me glad to have him back. I may not understand all he does or will do, but the guy is a very good hockey player and he tries harder and makes a bigger difference than many of his teammates. We've seen that, twice now. I hope against hopes that Sean is able to maintain a balance and remain an effective player for the Rangers going foward. Not everyone gets a second chance. Hopefully Sean will make the most of it.

The Bad:

-The system, or lack thereof, was bad. Not many would deny it was flawed. Sure, in the months since Renney’s departure that Februrary morning I’ve wondered was that really the best way. Was it really as flawed as I thought it was? But, you know, I still hold true that it was. Whatever Renney did to change a team from an exciting, fast, puck-possession squad to a team that put people to sleep on a nightly basis was a bad thing. This team may not have been perfect – goodness no – but I still refuse to believe that they would have done any worse had they been allowed to go forth and play to win, rather than play not to lose.

-I’ll call it the lack of the 60-minute effort, but it really came down to the lack of anything cohesive. I said it once earlier in the season, that if this group was cohesive in anything it was cohesive in not giving full efforts and looking utterly lifeless in doing so. As much as they had a great start and as much as Tortorella and Avery picked them up in the end, this season was chock full of half efforts. And that is really inexcusable. For the players themselves and for the coaches for letting it go on. (Few exceptions notwithstanding).

The Unforgivable:

- The Rangers had a lot of dismal moments on ice this year, but none was probably as consistently dismal as their powerplay, - their "$30 million" powerplay, as I liked to call them to start the year. I mistakenly - oh, oh, so mistakenly - assumed that the Rangers powerplay could not possibly be any worse than it was the past couple years. But boy, was I ever wrong! The powerplay failed to shine, yet again, and this time spent much of the season between 26th and 29th in the league, ending the season at the latter. It is interesting to note that the teams with the 29th and 30th ranked powerplay both made the playoffs - NY and Columbus. But even though it didn't kill this team, it did, in reality, handicap them beyond repair. Imagine, if you will, scoring even one powerplay goal per game, how many more games that may have gone in the Rangers favor. But the Rangers usually got a healthy enough number of chances and would sometimes go 0 for 8! You can't win hockey games doing that. If you are winning in spite of that horrific stat, you are very lucky. And, as we all saw, it can catch up with you in the end.

Again, the Rangers had a big scoring problem, period. But just because a team might not be the best at even strength, one would like to think they'd be a hair better with a man up, right? Well, no. Not in the Rangers case. The two worst parts of the powerplay beyond its own ineptitude was a) the failure of the coaches to change or fix any of it, all season long, continuing, instead, to roll out Redden, Rozsival, Drury, Gomez and Naslund for much of the year, despite seeing no viable growth in goal production and b) the team's ability to not only not score on their own powerplay, but give up way too many shorthanded goals to the other team. For a while, I thought the Rangers had the 1996 Avalanche's record beat. They fell short in the end, but the many games where they gave up not one but two shorthanded goals, even some 5 on 3 shorthanded goals, will not be forgotten.

-The constant issue of accountability from day one was unacceptable. To a certain degree, I can buy that Renney had to play who he had on this team. But, he, at times, failed to take into account that a) he was part of the managerial head that brought them here in the first place and b) that by being so loyal, he was destroying this team's chances, slim though they may be, of being more successful.

Players like Redden were dreadful 90% of the time. Not only were they never benched, not only for a period or a game, but they were given endless powerplay chances, a reward for most teams, or at least given to people who warrant being on it. Drury, Gomez, Rozsival, and co, all had more than their fair share of moments for deserving the bench, but yet they never saw it. And they continued to play top minutes.and underperformed. Over and over and over.

Meanwhile, guys like Dubinsky and Zherdev, for example, were not given such infinite patience. Renney had no problem benching them for making a bad play, skating too slow, or taking a bad penalty.

But Voros. No, his 3 penalties in one game were productive, because he'd learn from them.

And Nigel Dawes, remember, he was a playmaker.


No matter what anyone says, I still think it had a lot to do with favoritism, who a coach liked and didn't like. Ask Danny Fritsche. Ask Petr Prucha. And if there is anything that infuriates me, it's that. I only hope that with Tortorella at the helm for a full year he comes into training camp and lays into anyone who is not going to come ready to play. And if the season starts and there are players that don't have that attitude and conditioning, I hope he benches them, whoever they are.

- Now in going with the theme of unfair treatment, I'd be remiss in not mentioning, again, two of the worst cases that happened this year. Two guys who ironically share the same first name. Two guys named Petr.

I'll save everyone the chance of asking, seriously, she is still not over this, and I'll be short with what I am going to say. (There are many long summer days to ramble endlessly about what was and would not live to last here, so I'm sure there be other thoughts on this, especially the second player I’m about to mention.)

It all started in training camp, remember? The team was miserable, even then. No one looked put together. They won one game 2-1, on this continent, before going to Bern. The number one star of that game was Petr Nedved. One of the, if not the best player in training camp was Petr Nedved.

But no, Petr Nedved didn't get a spot o this team. Even though he looked to be one of the only guys that could score a goal.

And not because he was too old, which we might have understood, and not because they already had a plethora of centers, even though they did, and not because he wasn't good enough, because, face it, he was.

It was because he was Petr Nedved and not Blair Betts.

Beautiful example to set to start the year, no? Send the best player in trainiing camp home for no reason. At least he wanted to be here, wanted to play, and would have costed only about 6.5 million less than the rest of your top two centers.

Makes sense to me.

As for the other Petr, our favorite Petr, he is the ultimate example of unfair treatment.

The guy came into training camp the most in shape of anyone in anyone’s furthest memory of this team. He was in amazing shape. Everyone touted him for it.

Renney was quoted as saying that he'd be a big part of this team this year and get significant time to do so.

Which was a lie. Inevitably a lie, and from the beginning a lie.

Prucha's face may have remained in the opening segment to Rangers hockey on MSG until the day he left and Sean Avery returned, but let's be honest here. He was simply not going to be given the chance to be a Ranger here. Not anymore.

For Prucha stayed in the lockeroom more than he saw the ice. He often didn't get the chance to play and when he did he played with guys struggling worse than he was.

He didn't get the chance to play the powerplay, the one area the team desperately needed help on and an area that he could have helped them out with.

He didn't get the chance to play more than two games in a row, at many times, because he just couldn't "sustain."

And yet the guy had the same wonderful, patient and loyal attitude, each and every day, after weeks and months and even years of this same nonsense with this team. The same great attitude whether he played or not, sat or not. The true teammate in every sense of the word.

He loved his teammates. When asked to name his best friends in the league, his answer: all my teammates.

His teammates, loved him. Gomez was quoted as saying if you were a parent and you wanted your kid to be a hockey player with the right attitude, that's who they should look up to.

The coaches, the GM, whoever it was with this odd indifference to Prucha - they did not have such love for Petr.

Because he was Czech, because he lost confidence, because he was small? We'll probably never know.

Some speculated that Prucha was sitting in the fall because he was about to be traded and they didn't want him to get injured or lower his trade value. Which makes some level of sense. BUT...if that is the reason, you do not then go on record as saying that your player, the one whose value you need to be so high, was not able to play more than a few games in a row without slowing down. You do not say he is not a good playmaker. And you do not say he cannot sustain.

Unless you are just messing with his head. Or you just don't like him.

Look the guy maybe was never going to be as successful as he was that first year, that first glorious year, but they kind of went out of their way to guarantee that it never happened in New York, and on the Rangers.

And even if you didn't like him, although it is still hard to imagine anyone would dislike this young, hardworking kid, who always wore a smile and never complained, you didn't have to treat him like dirt. You could have been honest with him. Talked with him. And if you wanted to trade him, you should have just manned up and did it two years ago!

Regardless of the path here, I still believe Prucha can be a good player in this league. I was happily surprised to see that he was gaining his confidence back in Phoenix. As far as I'm concerned, it's the Rangers loss and the Coyotes gain. And as much as I love the Rangers, this is one case where I hope they see fit to regret it.

The Unforgettable/Good:

There were few unforgettable moments on the positive side here this season. I won't lie. The list, is indeed, very short.

- Opening Night at the Garden where Zherdev/Voros/Dubinsky gave us all an original sense of hope that the Rangers would be a fun, high scoring team.

- Zherdev's late game tying goal versus Pittsburgh on October 25th, which was one of the few times I thought they deserved to come back late and win. The Garden shook.

- Prucha's emotional game tying goal on December 3rd versus Pittsburgh, in his first game back after denying a Hartford conditioning assignment. The power went out. A fan favorite revived.

- February 3rd - Adam Graves Night - ceremony only!

- February 22nd - Andy Bathgate/Harry Howell Night - ceremony only!

- And lastly, for me, Prucha's last game as a Ranger - February 28th. On a night in which he scored a goal, the little "pepperpot" went to the defense of his teammate Dubinsky when the game against Colorado got one-sided and turned nasty. I'll never forget the way the Garden felt as I stared down at this little ball of fire, being pulled away, standing at center ice, before being escorted to the locker room. His final moment on Garden ice as a Ranger.

The Unforgettable/Bad:

The bad unforgettable stuff, there was seemingly more of.

The giving up five goals in five minutes to Montreal in November.

The Christmas Eve Eve Massacre to the Capitals.

The 10-2 loss in Dallas in February.

The lifeless performances on Jersey Retirement Nights.

-But rather than focus on those, there was really only one true unforgettable moment and it didn't even come in a New York Rangers game.

The news came on the day of October 13th, the news that Rangers draft pick and Russian star, Alexei Cherepanov, had died during a game. That day would be filled with uncertainty and doubt. The evening at the Garden a little somber. The days after, more disbelief and more sadness.

The Rangers, for their part, played what I thought was one of their better games of the season that night, perhaps in honor of this kid many of them had never met.

It still, almost 8 months later, does not quite seem real. It was, after all, more than just an event of a given day, a tragedy, but all that it meant for the future of the team. A guy we all imagined was going to play for our team, perhaps next year, wasn't going to be coming.

That was the surface reality, the tangible truth.

The rest of course, the truly emotional and meaningful reality, was that a young man was sadly taken from this Earth, a young man with talent and promise, who had people that loved him. He may have never ended up playing for our team, but he may have had the chance to live.

That reality is the one that is harder to forget.

Looking Ahead:

Ultimately though, so much of this season was very forgettable. I still hold true that this was the problem in the end with my trying to embrace this team.

Sure, 29 teams end up going home unhappy every year, because they did not win the ultimate prize. But, I'd like to think fans of more than just the one team that wins in the end had something to cheer about during the ride, some moments to look back on fondly once the season is over, or reasons to think positively going forward. Perhaps not every team, but some.

As Rangers fan, I'd argue, this year, we might not be among those some. I listed some great moments in there and some things to be proud of, but there were years of dismal hockey here - many years - where I felt better at the end about the group of guys that wore the sweater and had games and players I knew I'd remember forever.

Look, no one is trying to lie to themselves here. In some ways the Rangers, given their mediocre, over-paid parts, actually overacheived. In some ways, however, they weren't allowed to play to their full capabilities. Imagine the team that played in Prague, with those same mediocre, over-paid parts, but with that go-go-go attitude was allowed to play the whole season (or chose to) and I think we'd have had a better, more entertaining team. Perfect? Not even close. But better. I refuse to believe that if they weren't allowed freedom to skate more openly that they wouldn't have accidentally scored more goals and not needed to depend on winning 2-1 games. In some ways I undertand why Renney did it, but I still don't agree with it.

And as for the looking towards next season part, the Rangers management has pretty much killed all hope in this direction either. Their hefty contacts to the big three, and more, prevent this team from actually addressing any of their tangible problems. They went into last season needing a powerplay quarterback, a stay at home defensemen, and a real and true goal scorer. They got not one of these things last Free Agent Frenzy Day and, given the follies of the once great Glen Sather, they have no salary cap room to find these things now.

So, instead, we as fans must hope that our youth, whatever be waiting in the wings, gets the chance to play and shine in order for this team to succeed. An idea we've been waiting to see happen for the last decade. Patiently waiting.

And we, as Rangers fans, must pray, silently or aloud, that there can be no more stupidity left come the big two days of summer - Draft Day and Free Agent Frenzy Day.

But we, as Rangers fans, we know enough to not hope for too much.

**Author's note: I'm finally done, I'm finally posting. I apologize for the length of this - but again, if you are coming here, you know better - and for the amount of time it took to finally put together the pieces. Very, very busy lately. But you know, I feel good getting this out here, so I can hopefully move on to other things hockey related.

And as for this review being, at times, a little harsh, I can't apologize for that. I love the Rangers but this was, in many ways, one of the most disappointing seasons of Rangers hockey I can remember. And not because my favorite player got traded, not because they got knocked out in the first round, not because of anything like that. But because, more times than not, it didn't feel like they were truly trying, and I don't love most of these players enough to forgive them for that.**

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Question of Gaborik. . .

Larry Brooks explores the Rangers going after the Wild's Marian Gaborik, among other things in today's Slap Shots column.

Best line:

The Penguins have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, the Caps have Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green, the Hurricanes have Eric Staal, and the Rangers . . . well, and the Rangers have no one remotely comparable. Fact is, the Blueshirts don't have a forward who would be selected in the top, what, 100 in a league-wide dispersal draft.

He said it's possible the Rangers could some how go after Gaborik with a very, very incentive laden contract that would make him the highest paid player and give him the money he's after if, only if, he were healthy enough and produced enough to warrant it.

If only all contracts worked this way, no?

Regardless, the only way I'd want him on my team would be with some sort of contigency plan that Brooks alludes to. The guy is a marvelous player, when healthy, but he has not been very healthy. You can't pay a guy like that the heafty millions he might ask without having some sort of out in case he plays only 17 games in a season.

The other point Brooks brought up is that pretty much only Hank Lundqvist himself would be a given straight up for the offensive elite player the Rangers so desparately need. But he said if he were Glen Sather, he'd be calling and offering up Marc Staal, one of the Rangers few "desirable" players for Heatly, Lecavalier, Stamkos.

For the record, I'd cry if Marc Staal left. I see in his growth in just two years the potential for him to be something really, really special here. And it's been too long since the Rangers have had a defenseman to be excited about. Too long. I'd hate to see him go.


The other best line, and equally as painful as the first one:

Finally, the concept of an automatic NHL suspension is kind of like the Rangers power play, existing only in theory.

And now I think I might want to cry.

*Note: I have had the final part of the season in review in my email box, editing it as a get a moment here or there. I cannot seem to find the time to finally end it. I am really, really hoping to do that this week. Apologies in advance. ;) *