In recent years it seems like the fourth line guys are the ones who are quickest to endear themselves to the fans here in New York. From the HMO line (Hollweg, Moore and Ortmeyer) to the SOBs that started this season (Sjostrom, Orr and Betts), these guys work the hardest and battle in the trenches - exactly the qualities that the Garden Faithful appreciate.
Well, it appears that we may have a whole new unit to embrace this fall. The SOBs are all unrestricted free agents and Glen Sather and John Tortorella certainly don't watch the same games we do. Sather is easily star struck and will do anything to fit more ridiculous contracts under the cap. And, of course, he would move into a slightly-better position to do that with NHL minimum contracts filling the fourth line. Every penny counts in this day and age and why not cut off something that isn't going to be used much, given Tortorella's preference in rolling three lines instead of four.
The bad news for us SOB lovers is that first piece to make the changeover is now in place as Jordan Owens was signed today. The good news is that Mitch Beck of Howlings was really impressed with this guy in Hartford this season. As Mitch wrote, Owens is "less expensive alternative and is likely to get a hard look for [Sjostrom's] job in next season's training camp." Seeing as the current top three centers aren't headed anywhere, Artem Anisimov should get a good look for the fourth line center position and the off wing can easily be filled by Voros, who Torts seemed to prefer over someone who could actually skate and fight and positively contribute to the team.
It is sad to see but just a simple fact of life as one of the Faithful: the Garden will do their damnedest to make us miserable. They trade away our heroes (Graves, Leetch) and raise prices (even though they pay around $13 million less in salary now than they did pre-lockout). And yet we keep coming back.