Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Hahaha, we are bringing back Marcel Hossa. At times better than his brother last season, this is still a silly signing. Hossa was only good playing alongside Jagr and even then for a brief moment before he got hurt. Yes, its good for the team's depth, but seriously Hossa is worthless unless he asserts himself and he too often disappeared. He scored a few big shootout goals, but Marek Malik got one too, and he is garbage.
We rave about the skill of the Rangers prospects and yet block a roster spot with Hossa? Would Nigel Dawes work in that slot? How about former first round pick Lauri Korpikoski? The Rangers claim that they both have a huge upside that Hossa also had, but he still has yet to reach it in 187 career NHL games ... If this keeps Jagr happy then I'm grudgingly for it, but I think the team would be better served giving the slot to other prospects.
Monday, July 30, 2007
The NHL and ESPN are in discussions about bringing the league’s games back to ESPN2 as soon as the 2008-09 season. The full article is here.
Read it, its interesting.
My opinion? Sure, why not. More publicity for the league would be good, right? Although it the NHL was to return to ESPN I might be temped into returning to ESPN to work on the show and lord knows I don't want that. But seriously, having hockey on Versus has been nearly as bad an experiment as Sports Channel was (or so I am told, I was only watching games on MSG back then).
I do know that Versus has put in a half-assed effort from day one. Their studio shows were poor, their game broadcasts left much to be desired and their graphics were abominable. Once Versus lost their bid for NFL games, they collected as much random crap as they could and surrounded the NHL with it - knockoff mixed martial arts, lacrosse, indoor soccer, etc. But the network didn't even treat the NHL as its top product - that remained rodeo, and how can any fan of major sports take that seriously?? So I guess ESPN is the lesser of two evils? *shudder*
Playoff games like that remind us that 1-0 scorelines aren't necessarily the horrible things that Bettman and the current NHL administration make them out to be ...
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Now I won't post the pictures of what is thought to be the new Rangers jerseys as they are not official yet. Hopefully they won't be too wacky because if the league messes with the classics, there will be hell to pay. As of right now, with the new kits that have been released, the best jersey is the new Caps jerseys that look like their older designs. And are definitely better than the 'leaked' versions that came out. New first, then prototype or fake:
Thursday, July 26, 2007
The Edmonton Oilers offered Dustin Penner a $21.25-million, five-year offer sheet and I want to hunt down Charles Wang and beat him over the head with a hockey stick.
The deal would pays Brown $4.25 million in each of the next five seasons ... that is ridiculous. This is Dustin Penner we are talking about ... he had 45 f-ing points last season. If this sort of thing continues, and I think it will, the league will be headed to a labor dispute again around the time of the 2012 Olympics. Teams cannot keep offering ludicrous contracts to mid-level talent. Edmonton already tried to pull this garbage on Buffalo for Thomas Vanek (and failed), resulting in another prematurely-deserved high money contract. But at least Vanek averaged a point per game this last season.
Don't think I am attacking this just because it is the Oilers; I think the deal the Rangers gave Scotty Gomez was stupid as well - too many years, too much money after a poor season. I do blame it all - of course - on the Islanders and the farce of a contract they handed to DP, thus the stick to the head of Wang comment.
Offer sheets themselves have always been troublesome - the Rangers helped speed the league towards chaos when they gave an offer sheet to Joe Sakic back in '97. But again, at least Sakic was a somebody who had proven his worth, not some kid who may turn out to be something someday.
Sooner or later the league will have to step in, if only because they will lose hold of the salary cap that they were so easily able to force upon the players. I don't want to have to spend another season driving two, three hours to watch UHL or AHL hockey.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal was one of 14 people arrested in Cook County, Minn., early Saturday morning and charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process.
In addition to Staal, 22, his younger brother Jordan, 18, and a number of his cousins were arrested as well. Jordan Staal, who just finished his rookie year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, was also charged with consumption of alcohol while under 21 years of age.
The full article on the debauchery is available here. I must warn you, Eric's agent believes that they may have been "lipping off."
But read between the lines and do you know what's there?? Our soon-to-be defensive stalwart Marc didn't get busted!!! Either he was smart or fast enough to evade capture by the police! Hey, defensive instincts are in short supply on the Rangers blueline so I just can't wait to see him on the Garden ice. Go Marc!
The Hawks signed 2007 top draft pick Patrick Kane to an entry contract today, pretty much assuring the No. 1 pick a shot at their roster this fall (full story here).
Mark my words now - barring Bill Wirtz being, well, Bill Wirtz - the Chicago Blackhawks will be in the playoffs within two years and will challenge for the Cup within five. The accumulation of young talent is impossible to ignore - Tuumo Ruutu (when healthy), Jon Toewes, Jack Skille, Kane, Brent Seabrook, Cam Barker, Duncan Keith ... they are all so good, and so young. If they can keep Khabibulin or can replace him with another top netminder, that squad could turn out to be sick. Of course, keep in mind my disclaimer because Wirtz has proven he doesn't care much about the product he puts out on the ice, just his bottom line. Let's hope that he sells the team or goes senile so the Hawks can take off - after all, the NHL needs healthy teams in top markets.
The Devils appear to be the only team doing anything today, naming Larry Robinson, John MacLean, and Tommy Albelin as assistant coaches, Jacques Caron as goaltending coach and resigning Cam Janssen and Grant Marshall along with some other prospect types.
Its nice to see that Larry and Johnny Mac continue to have no pride, having been unceremoniously ditched in Larry's case and passed over in Johnny's. Both were great players who had honourable careers but the Devils ... well Puppetmaster Lou ... have not exactly done the right thing by either.
As for the players they resigned, whatever. Marshall is a depth guy and Janssen is a pain in the ass. Just to refresh everyone's memory, here is him trying to look all tough after Sean finally gave Marty what he deserved ... its two minutes in but the whole scenario is worth rewatching:
And one last note on the Devs -- I just saw that they are going to have a indoor soccer team named the Ironmen share the Prudential Center (The Rock). The scary thing is that the soccer team could very likely draw more fans in Newark ...
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I could tolerate the third jerseys - no matter how ugly so many were - because the teams still had the same primary uniforms. Now you change it (thanks RBK) and force fans to buy an entire new kit? Its just more proof that Gary (Scrooge McDuck) and the rest of the owners just don't care about the fans, just their wallets.
I am an obsessive fan of the Rangers and own nine of their jerseys but you had better believe that I won't shell out $145 for a new one. My customized jerseys even cost far less than that. And as I have mentioned many times, I already work six, seven days to pay for the escalating cost of my season tickets ... there aren't enough days in the week for me to afford a new jersey. Sooner or later the league's merchandising will face maximum saturation among the diehard fans and what will they do then? It scares me to imagine what they will come up with then ...
But on a serious note, who doesn't hope for a Slap Shot-esque moment in a game nowadays? That Ottawa-Buffalo brawl last season was fantastic and the rematch a few days later brought some top flight ratings (for a hockey game). So remind me again why the league is against fighting???
So I am sitting here at work watching David Stern try to distance himself and the NBA away from the point shaving/gambling scandal and wondering if it could happen in the NHL.
I, of course, find Stern's comments hilarious coming from a league that put its All Star Game in Las Vegas. I also feel bad for the Phoenix Suns since they definitely got shafted on some calls this year against the Spurs.
But could this kind of thing happen in the NHL? I think so. And that sucks. This new NHL certainly gives the officials a lot of power by allowing them to call any tug, hug or poke. Even with the two official system, one ref can call the game insanely tight and give the other team an advantage. We all talk about Game 5 and 7.7 seconds (thanks Chris) but Maxy Afinogenov scored a Power Play goal IN OVERTIME to win. I am one of those fans that think that the refs should swallow their whistles in OT barring heinous infractions or black-and-white calls. But there are plenty of issues in regulation as well. In Game 1 of the Buffalo-NY series, which I went all the way up to Buffalo for, there were 13 power plays given in the game (five for us, eight for the Sabres) but each team only converted on one. Who wants to see that?!?
The officiating in the new NHL has a ton of influence and power and that is just scary. Prior to the lockout the base salary range for NHL referees was $110,000 to $255,000 and $72,000 to $162,000 for linesmen (according to USA Today). But, like the players, they weren't payed for a full year. So I can certainly imagine some temptation there, even with some of the (if not THE) highest salaries for officials in professional sports. I guess we will just have to wait and see if good ole' Gary makes a statement and clarifies the NHL's security procedures for matters such as these.
Not all buildings chastise the referees the way the Garden does, so someone has to keep the stripes in line ...
Monday, July 23, 2007
Ok, so ESPN.com of all places has broken the news that Gary Bettman has pressured Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold to ditch crackberry mastermind Jim Balsillie and look to sell the team to an ownership group based in the United States - either one in Nashville or Kansas City.
The article is here, so feel free to check it out. Basically, Gary Bettman continuing to do his best to Americanize the game in the misdirected hope that the massive market of Middle Americans will flock to the sport. They won't, and the league is losing an insane amount of money by not bringing another team to Southern Ontario. New York and Los Angeles both have two teams (Anaheim is the second L.A. team - just wait, they will soon become the Los Angeles Ducks of Anaheim), so why not Toronto. The Leafs ownership is going to fight it as they won't be able to gouge their fans as much but a team in Hamilton can only impact the league's finances and image positively. The only negative, at least in Gary's eyes, is his reputation as he has sworn to insanely try to force hockey on Americans who would rather watch cars go around in circles and occasionally run into each other. Let's face it, the commish's rep, at least among hockey fans (i.e. the only people who know who he is), is total garbage anyway so maybe its time to suck it up and get a seventh team in Canada - even at the cost of one in a southern United States city that doesn't support the team they have. You won't gain the league many more corporate dollars with teams in places like Kansas City, Houston or (as has been proven) Nashville than you will with teams in Hamilton, Winnipeg or Quebec City.
Oh, and a thanks goes out to Barry Melrose Rocks for the (de)Motivator above.
On a happier side note, I just want to congratulate Ken Gernander on getting promoted to Head Coach of Hartford. Jim "eat another doughnut you fat pig' Schoenfeld for some reason decided to accept a move to Rangers assistant GM, when he swore he loved his work in Hartford as a teacher for NHL prospects. Schoenfeld should be fine, albiet as a puppet and legman for Sather. But whatever, back to the point, congrats to Kenny G. A man of grace and class, Gernander was the consummate professional and a very nice man. He taught me the Binghamton Rangers penalty kill while we sat in the press box during a rare game he missed back in '97. Best wishes!
Friday, July 20, 2007
How depressing, but not as terrible as the new jerseys unveiled in Nashville for the Predators. This 'sleek' new design with piping better not ruin the classic look at the red, white and blue of the Rangers as well as the other Original Six designs. Not to mention how dopey the Pred players look in the picture ... then again, no one will see them as they play hockey in Nashville. Goddammit.
On another note, Alexei Yashin will spend this upcoming season in Russia. As a fan of the Rangers, I will miss him - he was yet another great target on the wide ass of the Islanders. An interesting note from NHL.com, "His departure means Ottawa's first two first-round picks in franchise history are no longer in the NHL, Yashin going second overall in the 1992 NHL entry draft and Alexandre Daigle - now playing in Davos, Switzerland - chosen first overall in 1993 by the Senators." Daigle had 61 points in 44 games with the Swiss squad last year ... why couldn't he do that for us? The soft skillster had 26 points in 58 games back in 99-00 and his light on the defense but high on the dipsy-doo might work in the NHL finally. Who knows? And you know, who cares? Ottawa went on to draft Marian Hossa, Jason Spezza, etc. so I think they recovered from their losses. Now if one of the Rangers prospects could only turn into a superstar ...
And turning away from Yashin to some more communists, the Russia/Canada superseries coming up this summer is an awesome idea but could prove to be terrible. What happens if Ansimov or Cherry gets hurt?? I know Russian coach Sergei Nemchinov, our classic No. 13, will look out for them as a favour to his old organization but still - it isn't worth the risk ... and just fyi, there are no Ranger draft picks currently on the Canadian roster.
Ok, I think that covers the good news of the day, I have to get back to the bad news of the real world ... damn job. Someone please pay me to do this!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
As those that know me well know the depth of my loathing for the other New York hockey team. So you can imagine how difficult it is for me to say this, but the Islanders did something classy and I am impressed:
"Hall of Fame coach Al Arbour will return to Long Island to coach his 1,500th regular season game with the Islanders on Saturday, November 3 when the team hosts Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum at 7:00 pm. The legendary coach celebrates his 75th birthday on November 1. Earlier this week Arbour accepted an invitation from Ted Nolan to run the team for one last game and reach the milestone of 1,500 games coached with the franchise he led to four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980 - 1983. Arbour will sign a one-day contract on Friday, November 2 and lead the team the following night against the Penguins."
Granted, they are doing it to get a sell out at a game that isn't against the Rangers, but the end result is great as the fans can honour a great hockey mind. I just wonder when they will stop clinging to their four Cup wins back when people still played with Rubik's Cubes ... my bet? Never. But that is ok, because that means they won't get their grubby hands on the hallowed silver chalice.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
First off, happy trails to Dale Purinton, who left the Ranger organization and headed west to Colorado. While I don't think this means he will be back in the NHL, I guess they want him handy to eye gouge anyone who tries to tip over Joe Sakic's wheelchair this coming season.
Secondly, the Washington Capitals resigned Chris Clark to a three year deal. Why do I care? Clark is American, plays old time hockey and gives Ovie some leadership. He is another good reason to root for the Caps along with what is sure to be a great tag team of Nylander and Ovie, the utter class of Ollie the Goalie and the hot shot young talent of Backstrom and Semin. BUT there is one reason to root against them ... they signed Tom Poti. So they are stupid, which is unforgivable. It was all so much easier when he was on the Isles since I loathe them anyway.
And finally, the Rangers had better re-sign Sean Avery soon, because otherwise the Garden faithful may riot. We don't need Mike Peca or any more free agents, let's just wrap up the sparkplug that fired up the engine and get ready for the prospects tourney and training camp ...
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
So the Rangers dealt Matt Cullen back to the Hurricanes today in exchange for defenseman Andrew Hutchinson, a minor leaguer and a third round pick. I would say we got good value in return for clearing some cap space. Still, its a shame to see the speedy center go. Cullen never seemed to hit his stride or adapt to New York. During offdays with the Rangers, he used to call in to Hurricanes broadcasts to shoot the shit with the talent, who he had become friends with during his stint on the Cup champs. So he clearly is going back to somewhere he is more comfortable annd the Rangers get some more depth. Hutch was a former AHL All Star who has good hands, but is soft and needs work defensively. Unfortunately his numbers and scouting reports indicate that he is a Poti-esque player, at this point we will hope for the best ... at the least, getting a third round pick thrown in is nice considering we are giving up a player who has never scorred more than 50 points in a season. With him and Jed gone, the penalty kill for the Rangers is sure to have a new look. Hopefully it won't be a porous one ...
Monday, July 16, 2007
So as per usual I put myself in the middle of an argument about the Rangers. One person was advocating Nigel Dawes addition to the team, while another said that that would be stupid and Marcel Hossa is deserving of the roster spot. As some may know, I don't care much for the lesser of the two NHL Hossas. So you can guess which side I picked. But, I dug up some interesting numbers that supported my case:
Hossa played 144 AHL regular season games, and he scored 54 goals. In 146 AHL regular season games Dawes scored 62 BUT the discrepancy comes in the clutch - Dawes averaged more than a point per game in the Calder Cup playoffs while Hossa averaged half that. Hossa has played 187 NHL games, Dawes just eight.
We will see when Nigel gets some more NHL icetime who is truly better but I would rather someone who can come through when it counts. Hossa has just 30 goals (and 23 assists) in those 187 NHL games; he got his shot, now we should give someone else a try. If we are indeed less caring about catering to Jagr's penchant for European teammates, there is little reason to keep Hossa over Dawsie ... your opinions?
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Now if we could just find a way to get rid of that Malik ape ...
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
-The Rangers have the nerve to give a guy they hope wins them some games a seven year deal (Gomez) and give the guy who has won them some games a one year deal (Hank). Doesn't make much sense to me. I guess once we get Scotty and Al Montoya together, I am going to have to learn how to say 'waste of money' in Spanish ... while Hank wins some team the Stanley Cup (Detroit?? Hasek will only be back for one year and that town has been quite Swede-friendly).
-The schedule came out and the Rangers are playing their home opener against Florida ... think the league wants New York to look good in their first game?!?
-No Brian Leetch night announced as of yet but with both Boston games being on Sundays late in the season, I wouldn't be shocked if it came against Toronto on December 6th ...
-We get to see LA, Anaheim, Phoenix, Dallas and San Jose for our Western Conference home games this season. I don't know about you, but I just hope that Colton Orr is in good shape as four of the five boast heavyweights ...
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Ok, that is just silly.
First off, it made sense for 1995 - to help a young franchise gain publicity in its franchise. Now its pointless ... the team already has its fanbase and is no longer a novelty in town so casual sports fans in Georgia aren't going to all-of-a-sudden flock to the Thrashers because of an All Star game. The game is less a event for a fans and one more for the league to entertain and thank their sponsors. To better achieve that it should be held in a nicer place than Atlanta - rich people don't want a comped vacation to the home of Coca Cola, they want to go to NY, LA or Florida (as its in the winter). The 2009 choice of Montreal is a good one as it will celebrate the franchise's 100th birthday and cancelling the game in 2010 will help scheduling with the premier hockey event going on in the Olympics.
Without any consequences added to the All Star game (baseball has home field in the World Series on the line), the least the league can do is host the game in a nice place. The NFL places it in Hawaii after the season, which may be a nice option for the NHL, as would be Las Vegas like the NBA did last year - and the NHL will likely bring a few less gang-bangers and hoodlums so it may actually work out. Another idea I really think the NHL should try is placing the game overseas immediately after the season - put the game in Stockholm, Prague or Moscow. Sponsors will enjoy the exotic vacation and the NHL foreign players from that country will be hailed as heroes. How can that be a bad thing?
Monday, July 9, 2007
Hmm, could that possibly be because its harder and harder to find NHL merch in brick-and-mortar stores in people's own neighborhoods? I know that Sports Authority cut down on the amount of merch they sell and a number of rink pro shops that I know have either closed or cut down their inventory. Big department stores don't carry that kind of stuff anymore and the big chain variety stores like Target don't carry jerseys. To the best of my memory, over the last two years or so, no stores in the large Smithhaven Mall on Long Island carried jerseys (they just opened a Dicks Sporting Goods, which may or may not - the one in Binghamton didn't have NHL merch when I was there 10 years ago). So where else are people going to turn? The non-internet savvy person isn't going to hunt down deals on ebay, sportsk.com, rivercitysports.com, etc. -- they are going to go to NHL.com. So sales obviously go up ... and the league feels the need to trumpet that?
The league is opening a flagship store in midtown this fall and I have a hunch that the sales there will be less-than-stellar unless they cut prices to below what New Yorkers already get at Cosbys and Modells and somehow I don't think they will with estimated price tags on the new jersey designs looking to be in the $400 range ... definitely looks to be quite unfan-friendly to me ... maybe they should just stick to sending out press releases about on-ice happenstance - that way its cut and dry and you don't have to read between the lines and see the bullshit ...
The sad thing is that ESPN has this power because so many people turn to them for their sports highlights and news, despite the network having virtually no credibility. This is the same network that didn't cover the AFL when NBC had it, but now runs a ton of highlights and encourages employees to wear AFL-branded clothing to work (despite a no jersey and no hat policy ... as I can personally attest to).
Of all randomness, my mom walked in and saw the article and asked 'how can that be? espn covers lots of things and doesn't have the contracts for all of them.' So I thought about it, and now, they pretty much do - outside of hockey. They air baseball, basketball (pro and college), football (pro, college and arena), golf, nascar (and irl), soccer, poker and their own branded X Games (they don't bother with the various tours that CBS and NBC air). So they do appear to cover everything - everything that they have paid broadcast rights to - and the everyday viewer is none the wiser. So when they go out of their way to say that hockey sucks (links available in the story above), the casual sports fans believe them.
As I know most of you already know this, and share my frustration, I guess I just wanted to share the link and lament Comcast's failure to make their pet network (Versus) a capable rival for the Great Satan that is ESPN.
As always, with everything, comments and criticisms are appreciated. If I am intrigued, I will take it under consideration and may comment back or even change. If not, well, this is the internet, so who the really cares? I accept the fact that you are here to kill time at work or take a break from downloading porn. =op
Saturday, July 7, 2007
One particular highlight for me is a paragraph I want to share ...
"One of the beautiful things about sports is that, even when you feel terrible, at least you feel. Sports taps into emotions we guard for the rest of our waking hours. hose who play sports, or who pledge love for their favourite teams, often find it impossible to express these feelings to wives, husbands, or children. We use games to vent our spirit, behaving in ways we can't at work or home. Because we spend so much time in offices talking to people we don't know or pretending to be someone we aren't, sports is an outlet where we can suddenly be ourselves, where it's okay to tour the extremities of passion and despair."
I know exactly what he means and wholly agree.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
And so I posted my last blog, and sent around and one of the responses I got was:
"what is he talking about that it worked with having Euro team...Did it? First round lost to the Devils and choking to Buffalo to me does not mean that it works."
Now I don't know about you, but I think this guy is an idiot. After not making the postseason for seven years, Sather builds a comfort net around Jagr and we make the playoffs two years in a row (and the second time we were essentially 7.7 seconds away from the Eastern Conference Finals). I would say that plan works and has set the team in the right direction. Look at the Blackhawks - they signed some big name, big ticket free agents after the lockout and were one of the worse teams in the NHL.
And because of the insane deals that we gave Gomez and Drury, it looks like Sean Avery is going to head to arbitration. On several message boards it was brought up for debate if it would be a big deal if we lost him after the year and some Rangers fans actually said it wouldn't be at all because of the two signings and because of the guys we have in, and are heading to, Hartford ... my response:
Man you guys are quick to turn on a guy. Need I remind everyone that we hailed Sean as a hero as his coming to the team pretty much turned around our season. And don't anyone say that we could have done it without him because that sure as hell isn't true. His drive and fire ignited a team that was headed for the golf course and turned us into a powerhouse heading into the playoffs. Yes he disappeared against the Sabres. So what? We wouldn't have even faced the Thrashers if he didn't come to the team. Jagr, Renny and company even said as much, and now you guys are willing to throw him away because we got two playmaking forwards and have some halfway decent prospects. That's just ridiculous.
I don't care if Gomez is going to turn into Adam Oates or Dale Hawerchuk or whoever, if these big ticket signings piss Jagr off, he could very well revert back to the player he was in Washington when he was unhappy and we will go right down the tubes to where we were in the late 90s. Yeah, we had Gretz and some other big ticket signings, but we had no chemistry and we went NOWHERE. Not to mention that signing Gomez and Drury to these insane contracts will certainly cause unrest among Henrik, Avery and Shanny as they have already proved their meddle in a Blueshirt and now Glen will try to lowball them to fit everyone under the cap ...
I see the doom and gloom because when we had a plan and went with it, things worked, even if I didn't agree with it. Glen was going to rebuild so we traded Leetch, the greatest American player ever. Fine. Glen wanted to build for the post-lockout NHL and do it around Jagr by signing seven Czech players, fine. Teams with North American flavour have won Cups, no team that had that many Euros, nor a Euro captain ever has. But I was willing to go with it, and it worked. Now let's blow it up by getting rid of one of the linchpins and go after the big ticket names? It doesn't seem like a plan, it seems like an attempt to grab headlines when we should be trying to grab the Cup.