Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thoughts on the Eve of Tums & Tylenol Day. . .

Dubbed three years ago by yours truly as Tums & Tylenol Day (seriously, they should be sponsors, no?), Free Agency Day is a day of much excitement for many, yet for many Rangers fans, much dread as well. Why you ask? Look no further than the Gomez/Drury, Redden/Rozsival tandems that have worked oh so well in the recent past...


Alright...this will be short and making no guarantees of sweet. ;)

Tomorrow can be happy, successful if:

NYRs don't trade away any of the guys that have been good to them, good for

NYRs sign a backup goalie. I was fine with Auld. Have always had high
respect for Hedberg. Big fan of Biron too.

NYRs don't follow past Sather patterns and trade anyone - good, bad, or
indifferent - in order to, or sign anyone in general, that offers a cap hit
of significant proportions or a term of more than a couple/few years.

NYRs sign a center that does not go against any of the above. And it
wouldn't hurt if he could win a faceoff now and again. Oh and not make $7 million a year....

That's pretty much it. This team is not good enough to go for the world,
not bad enough to blow it all up. So even if they do nothing tomorrow...I'm
happy! To be honest...we all are.

So let's reiterate:

No big contracts people don't deserve.

No getting rid of our youth.

None of it!

And if Shelley, Prust, Christensen (a little confused w/actions today, I'll be honest) can be kept - go to it!

But most important is keeping Marc Staal, your BEST defenseman, happy, and, oh yeah, on the team!

That is all. Happy Tums & Tylenol day everyone! Enjoy the madness!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why I'll Hurt Glen Sather if Marc Staal Is Not In Ranger Blue Next Year. . .

Where to begin? Well, I think I'll begin with the following quote from the comments area on the Puck Daddy post I just read:

"How much did Sather give Redden and Rosival? The only chasm is between Sather's ears." (Tony)

It made me laugh really hard...until I stopped because it made me want to cry instead.

Oh Glennie Fisher Price Sather - what ARE you thinking?


Look, no secret here, I'm a huge Marc Staal fan. (See, the photo!). And not just because he's a Staal, or I've always had appreciation for defensemen. And actually not just because he's one of the best players on this team and arguably one of the best defensmen the Rangers have seen since...

Anyway, not just because that. Because the kid is good. The kid has gotten better and will continue to get better. The kid does what he's told. The kid takes direction well. The kid goes into any given season wanting to get better, wanting to add new facets to his game. The kid promises to work hard to play well, learn, and improve his game. And the kid keeps his promises - to himself and to his team.

(Which, sadly, in contrast, we know all too many players do not.)

I wouldn't want to see this player go anywhere for any reason. He's vital to our team now and I believe he'll be vital for the next decade plus.

But to know the reason he's a) having problems with negotiations, b) potentially being low-balled in his offer is because a) the GM is an idiot and b) the GM has given all the team's money to other idiots - well, that will drive me crazy to no end.

The Redden and Rozsival contracts suck and they suck the life from this team. Sather may be the only one who didn't know what when he extended them 2 summers ago. (Cause goodness knows myself and the rest of the hockey world did). And they sucked, not just for the money, but for the length of term.

It was said, if those contracts didn't screw the Rangers in 2008-2009, they'd come back to haunt them in a year and for years to come.

Well, welcome to the future here.


Sather has made dumb moves (see above and add Drury, Gomez, etc, etc, to the list) over the years. But the only thing dumber than him making another pointless, crazy high-priced free agent signing, - would be his not properly taking care of the guys already playing on his team.

The guys that want to be Rangers.
The guys that deserve to be Rangers.
The guys that play like they get what those two things mean.

The guys like Marc Staal.

He may not be perfect, and he may still have room to grow, but the kid, at 23, looks like the best defenseman this team has had in...forever.

Rangers fans know - know! - this team can't afford to screw over the few, precious players that "get it" and play like they "get it."

Some players, who will remain nameless, - (I'll let you think of your own examples here) - never got it. They accepted the money, continued to accept the money, but never played well here because they a) couldn't handle New York or b) didn't even bother to try so long as they were getting paid.

It's been too precious few that have gotten what it means to Be A Ranger!, to play in New York, to earn the right to wear the jersey and to realize that it was (or at least it damn well should be) a priviledge. Too few.

And unless Sather can swallow his pride on the Redden thing, stop making stupid moronic, mathmatically incompetent decisons, and keep the few players on the Rangers who are worth their money around - we'll be forced to watch the same thing over and over, season after long season.

Marc Staal was and is an example of refreshing, home-grown change. I hope - I hope! - Sather realizes he can't be a) moronic, b) cheap, c) insulting, here.

I hope - I hope! - he ponies up to pay one of our best players, umm, like he's one of our best players.

Hmm. What a novel concept.

Friday, June 25, 2010

And The 2010 NHL Entry Draft Random Thoughts Are. . .

And now, some post 2010 NHL Entry Draft Thoughts:

Bettman being booed. Such a lovely sound. So comforting in it's familiarity.

The only point he had is not an original one, but a good one nonetheless. Amazing how many hockey programs there are now in California, through the three NHL teams and otherwise. Such a great thing to see. And who would have thought before The Great One went to the Kings it would have been possible. Sometimes that's all it takes...

Onto the Draft - -

**So Taylor or Tyler ends with Taylor Hall going #1 to Edmonton. A Flames fan growing up, he said he is now 100% an Oilers fan. I mean of course, and he means it. But makes me wonder how it is to be a hockey prospect and just have to give all that up. Gladly, of course. Because you become a member of the team. I guess you have to be that way. And if you happen to get drafted by your team, it's rare. That's why the Jordan Eberle and Matt Duchene stories were extra special.

**The story on the father of Florida's pick Erik Gudbranson was a good one. Says he will wear whatever jersey of whatever team his son ends up playing for. But he'll wear his Habs jersey underneath, because that's the only jersey he'll let touch his skin. Heavy! Those are Montreal fans, peole. Now Erik "did his research" and wanted to go to Florida. Amazing how Tallon has made this a place to want to go to. (Again, I always root for them!). And great story about his brother overcoming leukimia. I like this kid a lot. Very well spoken. My favorite of the first round by far.

**Brett Connolly got his hand in a gate. Ouch. Must have taken perserverance to get back from that. One question. He says he's ecstatic? He's the least estatic looking person I've ever seen!

**Jeffery Skinner. Happy kid. good personality, self depreciating. And a former figure skater. Good stuff!

**Okay, so the Russian kid that the Thrashers took - Burmistrov. TSN graphic said he was comparable to Scott Gomez. Seriously, that's still something people WANT to hear? Or should that be taken as a warning?

**Time for the Wild. His son is here, but oh too bad Cliff Fletcher wasn't here yet. We so loved our talks in year's past. Oh wait, lucky us! - got him on the phone just now.

"Hello Cliff?"
"What month is it?"
"Month, Cliff, it's June. We're at the NHL Entry Draft."
"Wait a minute, who did I call? What is this ringing sound?"
"Phone's done ringing, Cliff. And we called you. How are you doing?"
"Umm, good. Why you ask?"
"Cliff, buddy, just checking in. I thought you guys had an early pick this, but I could have been wrong."
"What are you getting at?"
"Nothing. Nothing at all. Tyler Seguin looks good in black and gold, doesn't he?"

Guess the phone conversations don't roll as smoothly as the TV interviews do, huh? We'll get you next year, Cliff.

**Love Minny's jersey. Not a lot of green in NHL uniforms. (Why is that by the way?) But nice. Reminds me of the scripted Anaheim in purple, before they went to the ugly orange uniforms. No offense, but not a fan of their uniforms. (Oh, maybe I'll make another promise to do another random jersey blog someetime THIS summmer. Oh me and promises....)

**Okay hold the phone (No, not you Cliff!). What the heck did the Rangers do? OH what else is new? @TonyMarinaro called them brain dead. Yeah, probably true.

I get that they may have wanted to do something, um, creative. And that they'd want a stay at home, big d-man. But as I wrote on twitter (NHTProductions) they think he'll be Jeff Beukeboom? If so - great! But do they really?

I just get concerned when the TSN panel say things like "doesn't have a lot of skill" and "doesn't make quick decisions." You know, things that are not AT ALL vital to hockey. And when they are completely dumbfounded. All of them. That always makes me feel good.

Oh NYRs, you make it fun. You do make it oh so much fun.

(Meaning of fun here is up for debate, of course).

**So Bobby Ryan used to babysit Beau Bennett when he was nine. Awe! And apparently a good pianist as well. Pretty good speaker too.


Overall, not as enthused by this year's draft as last year. I want more interviews with players! I want to see them talk, because, as NYR fans know, we may never see these kids play for us. (Hugh...) Give them their moment.

In other thoughts, it's interesting to me how much the NBA and NHL Drafts differ. At the NHL, the GMs or Scouts or Team Operations guys make the announcement, where at the NBA Draft it is David Stern every time. (I guess that works for the leagues respectively. We know it'd be all boo-ing if Bettman were up there that much.) The set up in general is different too as NBA green rooms are hidden while NHL tables are all gathered in one area, front and center.

Lastly, because I'm too tired to think much more, I must say again what I've been saying the last few years. What a pleasure here in the States to get this footage now on TV. I remember all the years we didn't. And Draft was this foreign thing that we, as fans, couldn't see. Now between Twitter and TV, we're getting it all firsthand and it's wonderful. A day of such hope and dreams for these young kids. Glad I get to see it. I really am. I make an event out of it every year. Maybe next year I'll go to a Draft Party and see it with other fans. It's just really refreshing that such things are now possible. Growth of our great game.

I will be out of state tomorrow; anyone watching tomorrow's rounds - enjoy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

2010 NHL Awards - Post Show Thoughts. . .

One of my favorite nights of year. 80+ degrees. Beautiful night. And we're inside celebrating the best of the best game there is - the NHL Awards Show.

And would we have it any other way, hockey fans?

Now, the random thoughts of a random hockey fan...

* I actually like Jay Mohr. I think he's pretty funny. However, we must assume that - 70%? of the nominees - have no idea what he's talking about. Because they're European...of course.

* I consider myself above average at naming Canadian celebrities. I am pretty sure I had no idea Natasha Henstridge was among them. Points to her. And bonus points for being from Newfoundland.

* Again, not being a fan of Detroit, I lack the ability to have non-biased opinions towards the Datsyuks and Zetterbergs of the league. And as much as I hate the same player winning something over and over...I have to say, I look forward to Pavel Datsyuk making speeches because, well, he's just too damn adorable. Seriously, how cute is he, although, thankfully, his English does get better every year.

* I'm really not a fan of changing names of long standing NHL Trophys, I'll say right now. So I may be caught calling the Ted Lindsay the Lester Pearson for the next year, two, ten, twenty - old habits die hard. Regardless...

* Ovechkin won. Which is always a plus in my book. Why? Because he is dynamic, he is fun, and he is talented. No one can deny that. That being said, do you think, after the last three years of Ovechkin winning this award that a statement has been made? I mean Crosby won, and the next 3 years have been Ovechkin, regardless of the fact Crosby won hockey's holy grail last year. Ovechkin, his peers keep saying, is really - that good. Just saying...

* Meanwhile, that may have been one of the most up and down, backwards and forwards awards speeches ever given, that Ovechkin. I had never heard the story of his brother; obviously that's not new news here. But regardless, well deserved, and again, the peers are speaking here. Dynamic Alex, he is the most valuable player in the league.

* Oh good, someone from the Daily Line. The one that knows something about hockey, I hope...oh nevermind. Selfish promotion. Guy has no clue, and to be honest, jokes were not funny.

* Why does the NHL not do more of the skits like the Ryan [Getzlaf], [Bobby] Ryan variety. Hilarious. And showcases one of the many reasons we love hockey and its players...they are human, and they are damn funny. Great stuff! Getzlaf with his backwards cap. Poor Bobby Ryan getting no love, but yet, Jersey represent. I repeat - great stuff. We need more of this!

* As much as I sometimes loathe Sidney Crosby facetime...because, honestly Sid...loosen up a bit - I love Stamkos face time. He's so refreshing. You know, just like vanilla, which I've heard, he loves, even though he, umm, isn't vanilla in personality, you know. ;)

* And who had the time on when the first Ghost Whisperer connection joke would happen? Oh wait, I'm the only one that watches the show. Too bad. Good stuff.

* Funny that Brodeur, Bryzgalov, and Miller all wear #30. And which #30 would win? The Canadian? The Russian? Nope. The American! Big fan of Ryan Miller and not, NOT!, just because of the fantasy points he's garnered me over the last few years (although thank you for that Ryan). Because he's one of the good guys. And good goalies. Well deserved Vezina there. And good speech too.

* I pause to thank the NHL Awards show for showing the bestest commercial know, the one that features Pete in a goal celebration hug with his teammates. Thank you fans...THANK YOU NHL!!

* I love the Masterton Trophy for these moments. Had to tear up for Jose Theodore. Did a great job speaking of something that is obviously very difficult. Thoughts are with him. On more personal notes, watched the injury to Kurtis Foster, and what he did takes guts and perserverance. And as a HUGE Jed Ortmeyer fan, major props to him. Many others would have turned it in, but he wants everything to be on his terms. One of my favorite Rangers, and favorite hockey players. They get it. They all get it.

* We <3 Shane Doan. Why? He may have been humble - as he always is - but Shane Doan is one heck of a leader, one heck of a captain, and one heck of a human being. Hats off to Shane Doan here. A very deserving King Clancy Award winner, and one of my favorite captains. A great guy. Who doesn't <3 Shane Doan?

* Well, there you have it folks. Not an awards show complete without a highlight reel image of a New York Ranger...looking foolish. Thank you Michal Rozsival.

* Few people probably know who the guy who awarded the Lady Byng Trophy was. I am all too familiar. Let's give it up for Kevin Zegers...the kid from Air Bud. Ontario native and huge Leafs fan. It's nice they let real hockey fans present at these award shows, no? You could tell, he was thrilled to be on stage with Martin St. Louis.

* Speaking of Marty...I still don't get the Lady Byng. And not for reasons you may think. It's just that - these guys are awarded for being great players and taking like, what, 6 penalties a year. Look, I'm a Rangers fan. Most of these guys take 6 penalties in a weekend home and home. So I am fundamentally unable to process, yet I admire from afar. Marty had a good speech too. Christmas cards to the refs, courtesy Brad Richards. Be home for dinner tomorrow. Good stuff.

* The night was going so well until...well. Look. We all knew Crosby had to win something. Because well...yeah. It's just painful to have him stand next to Messier. It is for me. At least he said he looked up to him for his leadership, for a moment. You know, until he went on to Yzerman. I beg to state the obvious here. Crosby, were you even alive when Messier was doing his thing in Edmonton? Yeah, not really. Just saying...

* JR said we'd all cry if we were stuck with Mike Milbury for 4 hours in a row...Well, you know, he has a point there.

* As much as we all respect Nick Lidstrom - and if we don't, we should - it is nice to see a new crop of players being honored with nominations for the Norris. All well deserving and names we'll see for years. Duncan Keith, wonderful to see. "Keep your hands off, Ovie." Oh sigh. Just a shame that they cut off his speech. Unfair, really. What else could be so important. Congrats Duncan.

* Nice to see Miller get more recognition. I say, not as a Sabres fan, but as a Miller fan, this is a guy who gets it, who is VERY involved in the league, and in the community. He gets it. And we should embrace that and thank him. Good show for Ryan Miller. Long overdue.

* Happy Henrik (and yes I can tell them apart) Sedin won the Hart (and not, you know, just cause Crosby didn't), but because new blood. New blood. And he thanked so many wonderful people. Naslund, who again, Rangers fans didn't really get to see, but was a decade long fixture in Vancouver, and very vital to that team's growth. And of course, a personal favorite of mine in the great Trevor Linden. Good show. A shame the poor guy felt rushed to give his speech for one of the top awards, but well deserved.

So overall, a very good show. Highly entertaining. I said two years ago, when this blog started, that I felt the NHL Awards were becoming Americanized. I still, to some degree, hold to that. And it's a fact. But this year was very entertaining. Too entertaining perhaps to be held to an hour and a half. I find it slightly embarassing that they had to cut off speeches to keep the show to an hour and a half. What Goldie Hawn movie was so important that it had to air at 9pm precisely, I don't know. But overall, an enjoyable show.

As a hockey fan in the States, we've been blessed as the years go on with more coverage of the sport we love. I remember when the airing of the Awards show on a feed from the CBC is all we got, and I was so greatful. Now we get NHL Network and Draft Night coverage and I feel...overwhelmed in being so blessed. This used to be it for fans like me, a night like tonight, and now, thankfully, it is one of many nights we get to enjoy.

The point here is, something I always felt strongly about on this night, and feel tonight just as much - We are priviledged. Priviledged to call hockey our favorite sport. Priviledged to have this sport define so much of what is good in our worlds.

Things change in our lives, but hockey remains. A solid, unifying force connecting us all. Nights like this remind me of that.

As we watch Guy Lafleur and Duncan Keith, Martin St. Louis, and Dave Tippett, I am presented with the fact that there are only a select group of people that a) know who these guys are, and b) appreciate what they stand for.

I'm always humbled and proud to stand among that select group of hockey fans. So much changes from day to day, week to week, year to year. Hockey remains. I'm thankful for the one ever-changing, yet never changing, element in my life. It's a connection I feel, and a connection I embrace. I am so thankful for hockey. And so thankful for all those that feel that connection too.

We <3 hockey.

Thank you for the game we love, the best game in the world.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Charity Call-Out - PROCURE.CA Walk of Courage. . .

This month, in honor of Father's Day, just wanted to help get the word out about prostate cancer testing and early detection. Every male, age 40 and above, is encouraged to get screened for the disease. Prostate cancer is much more treatable the earlier it is detected.

Earlier today on The Randy Tieman Show (Team 990) he had former Montreal Canadien Robin Burns on to talk about PROCURE.CA, a Quebec based non-for-profit designed to raise awareness, support, and education for prostate cancer. According to Burns they've raised around $5 million in the last four years. He also pointed out it takes $1 million a year to keep one of their Biobanks (support network of hospitals, research facilities, and universities) running for a year.

Their 4th annual Walk of Courage will take place June 20, 2010, on Father's Day. The Montreal teams - Canadiens, Alouettes, and Impact - have helped support the non-for-profit and this year, former Canadien Yvan Cournoyer will act as co-president of the event.

Everyone is encouraged to join the walk, in honor of fathers, grandfathers, brothers, sons. To make a donation, register to walk, or learn more, please visit PROCURE.CA

For those living in the States, to find out more about screenings and prevention of prostate cancer, please visit The Prostate Cancer Foundation

Speaking of The Stanley Cup Playoffs and More. . .

So much for quick timely blog directly following the end of playoffs this year, huh?

Apologies aside - won't even try to make excuses - let's take a trip back and think about what a great Stanley Cup playoffs and Final we were treated to this year. It was simply fantastic. The most enjoyable I've experienced in quite a while.

My Favorite Shocking/Interesting/Amazing Moments of the Playoffs:

* Sharks made it out of the 2nd Round! It looked shaky there for a while, yes, there was an ugly game winning goal for the opposing team (courtesy Boyle and Nabokov), yes, but somehow they made it one step closer to the promised land - before getting swept by Chicago.

*Speaking of the eventual Stanley Cup Champs, they didn't look so confident in Round 1, did they? Sometimes I truly think Round 1 can be the toughest for some teams to win. How many times did Detroit barely make it out of the quarter finals only to sail the rest of the way. However, in this case, I truly feel it was a situation where no one gave Nashville any credit. Yes, the Hawks needed time to find their legs, but the Predators are a much better team than people expected.

*Speaking of teams that many knew nothing about for most of this season - the Phoenix Coyotes! Look, it didn't go the way I wanted, and perhaps the way it should have. But how wonderful was that series? Phoenix completely dominating Detroit on two national Sunday afternoon games, and the one in particular where Petr Prucha took #1 Star honors. The whole series that everyone thought Detroit would dominate. And they did dominate...Game 7. But I'd take a 7-game well fought series over a sweep any day. Regardless of how it ended too quickly, seriously now, just how wonderful was it that they were even in the playoffs.

*Speaking of how wonderful it was for a team to be in the playoffs. How nice was it to see les fabled, Les Habs, back in the playoffs and back with a surprising vengeance that perhaps no one saw coming. First knocking off the Capitals - which I think maybe .01% of all hockey fans would have predicted, maybe - and then knocking out the defending champ Penguins - in a moment that may have just ranked #1 of the entire playoffs for me, the Canadiens made a story where there quite possibly was none. That's what makes the NHL playoffs great. Key injuries should have kept them down, but big game performances by a now healthier Michael Cammalleri and a never-given-credit-until-you-need-him-and-he-carries-you Jaroslav Halak made the Habs a genuine force this spring. Some of those games that Halak had were performances for the ages. And unless you are a Leafs fan or a Bruins fan, why wouldn't you like to see that from one of hockey's storied franchises.

*Speaking of hockey's storied franchises, the New York Rangers. Oh wait. What? They didn't make the playoffs this year? Oh, silly me. I almost forgot. That other team that they played on the last afternoon of the regular season won the final necessary point in a shootout and made the playoffs instead - (and went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final!)

*Speaking of I-Still-Can't-Believe-That-Happened, how about how that Bruins/Flyers match-up in the Conference Finals panned out. I mean whether you like or dislike either team or were just a non-biased observer - what a thing to see, a team coming back from 3-0 down to win a series. Many of us weren't alive for the previous two times this happened in hockey. And given how uncommon it really is, who knows when we will see it happen again? There is a reason it's only happened now 4 times in sports, and 3 times in hockey. Simply not easy to lose that type or lead or to take it back and win. Just isn't. And as much as Rangers fans may hate the Flyers, I still say, you have to tip your cap to them in this regard. They did something special. Something 3 times in history special. 1942 Maple Leafs. 1975 New York Islanders. 2010 Philadelphia Flyers. That's how history will read.

*And speaking of History Being Made! - congratulations to the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks! We were treated to what was a highly entertaining Final, one I thoroughly enjoyed. And I enjoyed not just because it wasn't Detroit and Pittsburgh, again - although goodness knows I was thrilled this was the case - but because it had a crazy 6-5 game in Game 1, a tight 2-1 matchup in Game 2, an overtime win in Game 3, and another in Game 6 to award the Cup! Essentially a very even series. The Flyers had already made their history coming into the Final, but they couldn't overcome the 49 years of history the Blackhawks were clawing to overcome. Couldn't have asked for more and for the first time in a while it seems, I was right in predicting something - Hawks in 6!

More on the Final and what it means:

In the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup Final, it meant a couple things for our New York Rangers.

We all know that the Rangers famously held the longest Stanley Cup drought from 1940-1994 (54 years). Chicago had held the next longest - less infamous - drought from 1961-2010 (49 years). Now the Maple Leafs hold the dis-honor of longest drought from 1967-present (43 years and counting...)

With Chicago's 4th Stanley Cup, Chicago now ties the Rangers in Original-Six Cup winning mediocrity. (Les Habs lead the other way with 24, and then follows: Toronto - 13, Detroit - 11, Boston - 5). However, Chicago has 15 division championships to the Rangers 5. And considering Chicago has a much greater chance of winning the Cup this century, I'm going to give the nod to them as the more successful Original-Six franchise.

But hey, the Rangers still have Pride, Passion, AND Tradition, right?

Oh, what the heck. I'm still a fan. And I always will be. At the rate they are winning, I'll never run out of room for storing playoff and championship team merchandise, now will I? See - bright side!

And finally...

On the other bright side, I just feel this was such an entertaining playoffs and Final, and I couldn't have been happier to be a hockey fan. Everything went wonderfully (no thanks to Bettman & Co., who probably were crying when they wouldn't have Detroit and Pittsburgh again...even though ratings and merchandise sale and everything were higher this year!) and I didn't want it to end. I tried to watch as much hockey as I possibly could this year and I wanted to watch MORE. Was angry that I couldn't. And look forward to next year when I hopefully can watch even more.

From the start of the season (the Rangers happy time), to the World Juniors surprising win by the Americans over Canada, to the joy of Olympic hockey (four years sometimes seems much, much too long), to the end of the season (the Rangers scrape together and try time), and through to the final game of the Final - what an entertaining and amazing display of hockey we all enjoyed.

What more can you ask of your favorite sport? Getting to enjoy all this amazing hockey and still wanting more.

Hockey is in a great place right now, it really is. No question about it.