Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oh No, Not Again ...

Tryouts are just those, tryouts. Often nothing happens with them, but why bother? As with that link, the Rangers gave Mark Smith a shot when they thought they needed an experienced depth guy who was capable on the kill (he proved he wasn't). But what could the Blueshirts be thinking about now that they've decided to give aging centerPetr Nedved a PTO??

Nedved already had two stints here, failed in Philly two years ago (-20 in just 21 games) and wasn't all that great when he went home to the Czech Republic to play for Sparta Prague last year (45 games, 25 points - just five assists - and 98 PIM). He was part of two black moves here (Traded to Pittsburgh by NY Rangers with Sergei Zubov for Luc Robitaille and Ulf Samuelsson, August 31, 1995. Traded to NY Rangers by Pittsburgh with Chris Tamer and Sean Pronger for Alex Kovalev and Harry York, November 25, 1998.) and appears to have nothing left in the tank at 36 years old.

Outside of some name recognition for the fans in Prague should he not completely stumble through the preseason, I can't imagine why Glen would want to waste money to give Nedved a third tour as a Ranger. Sure he has had his moments in his career, but there simply is no space on the roster for him.

The team would be better off signing some unknown Canadian college kid if they need bodies to fill out the camp/preseason roster. Could you imagine what the reaction would be should the Rangers sign him, while letting Shanny go? Or even if they give him a roster spot over Lauri Korpikoski or another of the kids? This is just ridiculousness.

Don't Tread On Me

I was looking at my collection of Ranger hats (around 25), my Ranger jerseys (14 with a 15th on the way) and assorted paraphernalia (don't ask) and I realized I didn't have one thing ... Ranger sneakers.

But, as you can see in the pic above, now I do.

Thanks to Reebok, I was able to get a pair of generic RBK sneakers with the Ranger logo and choose my own the colour pattern and the text on the back. How cool is that? Turnaround time took less than a month, and I have a new set of kicks to wander around the Garden this fall (and maybe Europe before that). I do recommend finding a store where you can try on the basic model as every sneaker company seems to size differently nowadays - if I hadn't tried on a pair at the NHL Store, I woulda bought the wrong size (they run a half size smaller than adidas I think). They seem to be made well (we'll see) so if you want to give them a shot, they run about $100.

I'm such a nerd; let's go Rangers!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Prepping For Preseason

The Rangers released their preseason schedule today (finally). In Friday's Killin' Time I figured that the unannounced games were a home-and-home with the Isles or Pens but instead it's the Devs.

That makes two games against the Newark Nightmares, two against the happy-to-be-free-of-Wade-Redden Kanata Senators and two against Barry's Bolts. After that the Rangers will play two more games in Switzerland before NHL Premier.

With eight games in 12 days, you can be sure that we will see most of the players in the Rangers' system step on the ice. That includes Huge Mistake, Bobby Blueliner and Jason Biggs (that's Hugh Jessiman, Bobby Sanguinetti and Mike Del Zotto). As nice as that is, it looks like it will be a giant tease as Glen filled up the roster during this disasterous free agent season so these kids won't actually get to play with the big boys when the games start counting.

So enjoy it while you can kids, and remember Hartford isn't all that far (it only feels that way).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Killin' Time: Monday Night Edition

Some Monday night randomness:

*I found myself watching the 2007 World Yo-Yo Championship tonight on television. While I had to admit it was pretty damn incredible, and wonder if the guy can repeat this year, I really, really miss hockey.

*While I am a big fan of Dubi's work over at Blueshirt Bulletin, I have to disagree with his new BB+ area. It's a subscriber-specific segment of his site that has a lot of great stuff, but every post he makes on the main site refers back to it. I, of course, am a subscriber so I get to see it but can imagine how annoying that could be for everyone else. It's cool to have it, but to make a new post talking about it on the main site daily is like sticking your finger up to the poorer fans out there. I just hope that his game reports will remain on the free side so everyone can enjoy his good work.

*Lest I forget, Freddie Sjostrom re-signed with the Rangers today. Shoe (for lack of a better nickname) made a good impression in his 18 games as a Ranger. He worked hard, skated fast and knocked in two goals; that raised his total to 12 on the season, a number he could and should double this coming year. With his buddy Henrik in net, he is comfortable as a Ranger and should have a good grasp of the system by the time the puck drops in Prague. He should get bumped up to the third line with Brandon Dubinsky and will get a lot more scoring opportunities as a result. I still want one of those hats he has on his website (anyone in Sweden wanna hook me up??).

*Over at Puck Daddy, Greg found a great conversation with our former captain and AO. The writers talked about Jagr's great wit while he was here, it just is a shame he rarely shared that with the fans. As for AO, I still think we could have had him ...

*Jay Bouwmeester re-upped with the Florida Panthers with a one-year deal. Bouwmeester, a 24 year old defenseman who plays more than 27 minutes per game and hasn't missed a game the last three years, will reportedly make between four and five million for the season. He averaged .45 points per game and was -5 on one of the worst teams in the league. Meanwhile, the Rangers signed the two-inch shorter, 31-year-old Wade Redden for six years, for 6.5 million per. Redden, who has only played all 82 games in a season once (his rookie year of 96-97), averaged .48 points per game and was +11 while playing on one of the best teams in hockey. He also ranked 11th on the list of players on the ice for the most 5-on-5 goals against (thanks Mirtle). Hmmm, good job Glen.

*While trying not to cry at that last one, at least we can all laugh at the Islanders' new third jersey. While not quite the fisherman, or the pumpkin jersey, it's still pretty lame. Potvin sucks, DP swallows.

*Now that I lowered myself to their depths, I want to redeem my soul a bit and point you to Confessions of a Hockey Fanatic who, as Puck Daddy pointed out , is getting money together to help a woman fighting non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. While the EBay items are all a bit expensive, I want to remind everyone that they can always give any amount of money to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, who I keep permanently linked on the right side of the blog. They are a really good charity who do really good work for the fight against cancer and I proudly support them myself.

And on that note, g'nite folks, I gotta go find my Duncan ...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Killin' Time: Friday Night Edition

Killin' Time is the title for my random observations/news posts at this point of the year. There is some hockey news but no hockey games ... and that sucks. So, onto this evening's edition:

*As the Rangers have yet to come out and make a public decision with Brendan Shanahan, and he clearly wants to come back (via Puck Daddy), here is an idea: make him a player/coach. The player/coach position disappeared from the NHL for several decades, but why not bring it back? It was a role I suggested for Jason Strudwick a number of times and Shanny would be even better at it. He could easily supplant Perry Pearn in working with the power play and would be more-than-capable filling in when the injury big hits ... on any line. Admittedly, I am grasping at straws at this point because Sather loaded the roster with third and fourth line guys and what is where Shanny would be best considering he isn't the fastest of skaters anymore. But to lose Shanny to retirement or, even worse, the Devils would be a huge loss to the team and the sport of hockey.

*With Marty Straka back in Czech Republic and Jaromir Jagr in Siberia, I can't help but wonder what is happening with Marek Malik. Is it possible that no one, in the entire world, wants him??? As mentioned in our sponsorship of his Hockey Reference page, we do wish him the best ... as long as it is not on Broadway.

*Speaking of people heading far, far away: Do svidaniya to Sergei Brylin. Fire & Ice, probably the best of the Devil blogs - even if it is MSM - spoke to him and he confirmed that he will play next season in Russia. Brylin was always a good soldier for the Devils and one of those opposing players you can respect (unlike Mmmmaaaarrrrtttyyyy). Happy trails.

*Am I the only one enjoying the blogging by Colton Orr? The Rangers tough guy is teaching kids hockey but seems obsessed with lunch. I think he should keep this up throughout the season to give fans an inside look at the team and at restaurants around the NHL cities.

*Scotty Hockey favourite and fantasy hockey stud Dan Carcillo re-signed with Phoenix. He made a huge impact in the few games he played two seasons ago when he was called up so I drafted him in late rounds of fantasy drafts and was truly awarded. While I appreciated all of the PIMs, I honestly think that a good number of the penalties that Carcillo got - game misconducts primarily - were unwarranted. He got himself a bad reputation and the refs were looking to call something (Ryan Hollweg anyone?). I honestly think that if Carcillo calms down a bit, his upside is in the neighborhood of Cam Neely - who was a bit of a tough guy himself when he broke in with Vancouver. Carcillo showed that scoring touch and nose for the net and the Coyotes are putting him in a good position to go that way by bringing in Grats and Fedoruk to take the burden of defending teammates off of him. He will definitely be a player to watch this coming season.

*This coming season will start in Sweden (with the Pens and the Sens) and in the Czech Republic with the Rangers and Lightning. The Lightning are still offering their travel package while the Rangers still have details pending. Of course, I don't see packages offered for Pens or Sens fans to go to Stockholm, but who cares about them anyway?

*As for the preseason, the Rangers still haven't released their schedule. They are playing eight games for sure, six here (three home, three away) and two in Switzerland. Here is a great thread on HockeyFights where people are posting schedules as they are announced. It has the Rangers playing Tampa Bay twice in preseason (Tuesday Sept. 23 in Tampa and Thursday, Sept. 25 at the Garden) ... for some reason I can't fathom, as the two teams will come together in Prague to start the year. As mentioned, the two games in Switzerland are set - against Bern and Metallurg. With some random searching (hey, I'm bored), I found that there will be a home and home with Ottawa on the 20th and 22nd (the latter being at MSG). So what's taking so long for the last two games of the preseason schedule? We are less than two months away! My guess is a pair against the Isles or Pens but who knows.

*Even closer is the Traverse City prospects tournament that the Rangers' kids will be taking part in again at Center Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan. The tournament is scheduled for Sept. 13 to 17, will feature entries from the Atlanta Thrashers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and host Detroit Red Wings. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the Rangers win again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cheating Off Of Chi-Town

You know when your teachers and your parents said that you shouldn't copy anyone else? If all of your friends were jumping off a bridge, you shouldn't follow?

Well, they were wrong. At least in this case.

The Rangers should follow the Chicago Blackhawks as the Hawks announced last week that they will retire a number for two players - the No. 3 of Keith Magnuson and Pierre Pilote. Montreal also did it a few years back with Yvan Cournoyer and Dickie Moore.

As Brian Leetch made Adam Graves nearly soil himself in front of over 18,200 people last season, the Rangers will retire number 9 at some point this coming season. In a separate announcement, the Rangers said that they will 'honour' Andy Bathgate (something fans have been asking for for a while and I had recommended a few months earlier).

Since the Rangers aren't the Islanders, ticket sales won't be a problem. Much like last season, this year is sure to sell out within moments after the September on-sale date (which has yet to be determined from what I can see).

Sadly, Bathgate doesn't have the name power that Graves does in today's day and age, even though Bathgate was by far the better player. That isn't to say anything bad about Graves whatsoever, believe me, but Bathgate was a league MVP, team captain, First Team All Star and Hockey Hall of Famer. Despite all of those achievements, when Bathgate is feted at the Garden, a small minority of the people in attendance, the old-time and die-hard fans who can still afford tickets, will know who he is. That is just a statement of fact.

So why not combine the two events?

By making it one big night you successfully honour the history of the team without insulting either player. Graves is that great of a human being that he would not be the least bit offended to share the spotlight and Bathgate deserves the accolade just as much. It would be a wonderful celebration of everything Blueshirts and for two men who wore the jersey so very well for so very long.

And one last thing: The Carolina Hurricanes announced they will retire Glen Wesley's number yesterday and had the game picked out in the press release (Feb. 17 vs. the Bruins, Wesley's first team). So what is taking the Rangers so long to tell the public which game Graves will be immortalized?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Return Of The Pack Project

The Rangers re-signed Huge Mistake, I mean, Hugh Jessiman today.

The first round pick from 2003, the only one of his draft class not to play in the NHL, was going to be a project from the start but after five years either the kid has it or he doesn't. And I would say he doesn't. In preseason last year he lumbered around the ice and got his ass kicked by the smaller Steve Downie. He did have a nice heavy shot, came to the aid of his teammates and wasn't afraid to go to the crease but if he can't skate, he can't play in the NHL.

At this point Jessiman is nothing more than a body to fill a jersey in Hartford. He can't even be considered a call-up as Dane Byers has passed him on the depth chart and Rissmiller, Voros, Fritsche, Sjostrom and Orr are all in New York.

As ESPN pointed out when ranking him one of the biggest active draft busts, "the Rangers might have been better off taking his Ivy League teammate Lee Stempniak, who has already played 139 NHL games after being taken by the Blues with the 148th pick."

I Got Your Statue Right Here ...

After getting a good laugh at the Islander's expense, I figured I should take a look at the other metro-area mistake for material. And I found it.

On Saturday, the Star-Ledger did a piece on a new work of art that will be coming to Newark. Disappointingly, Brian Gionta isn't adding his tag to the wonderful wall decorations of the bustling cosmopolitan center of Jersey culture (now with less murder!).

Instead, a deranged sculptor in California has created a three-story, 6,000 pound sculpture of a hockey player in mid-stride that will eventually end up in front of the Rock, facing the train station. Feel free to click on the link to see the sculptor's creation. Personally, I think it's boring. Instead of the massive, angular skater, I have a few recommendations:

A: Mmmmaaaarrrrtttyyyy mid-dive. It comes naturally to him and since this artist likes to work in large scale, Fatso would be a fine subject.

B: Ken Daneyko holding up the Stanley Cup. This would be a great choice if they were going to put the statue in the middle of a parking lot with no one around.

C: John Madden crying to the referee. Just because it was funny to watch in the first round of the playoffs. Turnaround is fair play pal, suck it up.

D: Lou Lamoriello scowling. The man's grimace is becoming legendary and mirrors the look on Devils fans' faces (what few of them there are) while watching their boring excuse of a franchise.

E: Devil fan saluting. This is my personal choice, I have to tell you. It shows an articulate Devil fan - wearing the jersey of a skill player who left town - showing his dislike for the Rangers. It would be perfect to place between the Rock and Penn Station; Devils fans can feel pride and Ranger fans can laugh as they walk past to give New Jersey their only sell-outs of the season.

What's your pick?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sometimes They Make It Too Easy ...

Rick DiPietro, as you can see, is just as lame as we thought he was. The college dropout professed his love for big, sweaty actors by attending the WWE's event at the Mausoleum. No word on if he f-ed up his shoulder holding that other guy's belt.

Thanks to Kukla's Korner for giving us a good laugh and pointing it out.

More Of Moore

The Rangers re-signed Greg Moore today.

Moore was a restricted free agent who likely didn't have many suitors. If he did, and still decided to come back, then he is just being silly. He is doomed to another season in Hartford unless injuries hit the Rangers hard as there are five centers ahead of him on the depth chart: Gomez, Drury, Dubinsky, Betts, Fritsche ... maybe even six if you count Artem Anisimov.

Don't get me wrong, Moore's placement is not a reflection on his play or work ethic. It is just that Glen Sather decided to muddle things up this offseason by bringing in hired guns to fill spots rightfully earned by Ranger prospects (Rissmiller instead of Dane Byers, Zherdev instead of Korpikoski, Fritsche instead of Moore).

Nonetheless, Moore will get regular shifts with the Pack and help keep them competitive. Who knows? Maybe he will eventually see the Garden ice again, but it would take some unfortunate events that I don't want to think about to get him there ...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Thought Of The Day

Do you think the Rangers encouraged MSG to hire Joe Micheletti to encourage more ticket sales? I wouldn't put it past Dolan to make the viewing experience on television so incredibly awful that paying the ever-increasing Garden ticket prices becomes a welcome alternative to listening to Micheletti's inept, incompetent, annoying colour commentary.

Just a thought.

Interesting note though, if you search for Micheletti on MSG's new website, no results come up ... then again it's a flawed beta website and further testing shows nothing comes up on that search feature, but it was funny to see the first time.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Adding D Depth

The Rangers picked up defenseman Brian Fahey today (the guy doubled over picking off the Penguin in the picture).

Fahey has been a career AHL player so he is sure to be pegged for Hartford but I think he also could get consideration for the Rangers' seventh defenseman spot. Howlings sees him as Hutch's replacement with the Pack as an offensive blueliner with experience. Fahey's numbers fall well short of Hutch's but he is better in his team's zone.

Illegal Curve calls Fahey "a character player, who leads by example and is extremely tough."

Can't go wrong there ...

As Time Goes By

As everyone starts scrutinizing the schedule for next season and starts predicting the opening night roster, I figured I would take a quick look back ... way back ... waaaaaayyyyyy back ... to the Rangers opening night from October 5th, 2005.

Oh, I remember that date. What glee to see hockey finally back after the horror/disgrace/shame of the lockout. Sheer joy. "Thank You Fans" was written across the ice. The seats were cheaper! The team looked better!

Wasn't that something? I remember that well. Of course, not many Rangers remember that game. Why, you may ask? Because just two of the 2008-09 Rangers were in the starting lineup that night - Blair Betts and Michal Roszival. That's it. Two. Just two Rangers have managed to make it this far (three if you include that squad's backup goalie guy, Henrik SomethingSwedish, but backup goalies don't count).

By comparison, that very same evening, the Detroit Red Wings played the St. Louis Blues. And you know what? Twelve of the Wings who played in that game raised the Stanley Cup over their heads just over a month ago and all 12 are expected to be back in the fall. Twelve.

And you wonder why I am so pessimistic heading into this coming season? The Rangers are now a team primarily made up of hired guns. Mercenaries. Soldiers of fortune. From Drury and Gomez to Naslund and Redden, these guys have no idea what it is to be a Ranger. They have no idea what it is to grow into a team that can win. Drury may have had an inkling but bailed from Buffalo for the cash. Gomez? His taste of success came when he was still a kid, when he wasn't relied upon to be 'the man.' He left the Devils when they needed him the most for another, bigger paycheck. Naslund and Redden? Well, no one was stupid enough to give them the deals the Rangers did. Say what you will about the offensive upside of Nik Zherdev, Fedor Tyutin was growing up as a Blueshirt - the last remaining member of the first new wave of homegrown True Blue.

I understand that you have to have a plan, and you build from that plan. That's why, as much as I loathed placing the team in the Czechs' hands, I got what Sather was selling. But three years later he blows it up entirely and starts again? Or you can even say he started dismantling it last summer by bringing in two major players who didn't match with what was already here.

Detroit did it right. They built a core of players and let it simmer, let it grow together. Six of those 12 players were drafted by the Wings, but six were solid acquisitions that Ken Holland and crew kept around. They learned the system and now execute it better than anyone else.

The Rangers now? New team, new look, new system. Who knows what will happen three years down the line but the near future looks grim, at least from where I am sitting.

And just in case you were wondering: the Rangers won that first game out of the lockout 5-3 over the Flyers. They got goals from Jason Strudwick, Jamie Lundmark, Marcel Hossa and two from Jaromir Jagr. Kevin Weekes got the win. To steal from Mel Allen, “How about that?”

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oh Happy Day!!!

The Rangers have released their schedule for the upcoming season so we can start planning our lives.


The first month of action provides some great match ups - four out of the seven home games are awesome:
Friday, October 10th vs. Blackhawks - Home opener is an Original Six match up, how cool is that? It's like someone in the league office is finally getting a clue.
Monday, October 13th vs. Devils - Fatso returns, and we don't have Sean Avery to screen him.
Monday, October 20th vs. Stars - Sean Avery returns, one week too late to help us tip the scales back in our favour.
Saturday, October 25th vs. Penguins - Cindy stops by to cry and whine to the refs.

The opening month's away games aren't so bad either with match ups against the Isles (hahaha), the Flyers and the Red Wings (ouch).

The rest of schedule has some goodies, including visits by Gretzky's kid Coyotes, the big, bad Quack attack and Marian Gaborik, who will try for six this time around.

The Rangers have yet to announce the dates for the special nights to honour Adam Graves, Harry Howell and Andy Bathgate, but if they stick with their stupid tradition and schedule it for a night against a meaningless opponent then keep your eyes on October 30th vs. the Thrashers, January 27th vs. the Hurricanes and February 26th vs. the Panthers.

If the Rangers decide to do the right thing, then Graves night would be on November 10th vs. the Oilers or November 19th vs. the Canucks. Bathgate's evening would come on October 17th or February 22nd against the Maple Leafs, the team he won a Stanley Cup with. While Howell won a Cup as a scout with the Oilers and coached the North Stars, the first Harry Howell Night came on a 2-1 win against the Boston Bruins so it would be good synergy to face off against them again (November 15th and March 8th).

No matter who they play, I am just damn pleased that the schedule is finally out. Now if there was only a way to fast forward to the fall so we can get this party started!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Can't Think Of A Whitty Title

What rhymes with Nigel?? I thought of using Dawes Does, but that's just lame. The Rangers re-signing Nigel Dawes isn't necessarily lame, but it is a gamble. Are the Rangers going to get the stocky little scorer with good hands or the diminutive winger who disappeared when they needed goals most?

Dawes certainly paid his dues by returning to Hartford without complaint to start last season and he showed flashes of stardom, but he also disappeared for eight games in the playoffs. The Rangers were suffering without scoring and Dawes was nowhere to be found, often allowing himself to be forced out to the perimeter where he was useless.

Newsday says that Dawes' deal is just for one season, which is good. This season will be make or break for his career and having to play for a new deal should provide the motivation to be all that he can be, or so we can only hope.

Thought Of The Night

As I sit here at work watching this boring excuse for a sport play its excruciating corporate midseason exhibition game and it heads to the 15th inning, I think about something Joe Buck suggested over an hour ago:

Why don't they head to a home run hitting contest? Or even just a hitting contest. Best pitcher on each team comes back out and faces three batters, throwing one pitch to each. If hockey fans have to suffer with shootouts, why not? It will likely end the game a helluva lot quicker than dragging through extra inning after extra inning - especially in a game that doesn't count. If it was a World Series game, then I could understand holding on for the drama, but the All-Star Game? This is ridiculous.

Damn it, is it hockey season yet??

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

G-Bye Rye

Much to the glee of many Ranger fans, Ryan Hollweg's stay on Broadway has come to a close. The Blueshirts traded Hollweg to the Toronto Maple Leafs today.

The writing was on the wall for Hollweg when the Rangers acquired three fourth liners (Voros, Rissmiller and Fritsche) two weeks ago. There was simply no space for the floppy-haired, mustachioed dance machine.

And that is just a shame. See, I am not one of those who hung the Rangers loss in Game 3 to the Pens on Hollweg. Did he make a bad hit at a bad time? Yes, yes he did. Did it cost the Rangers the game? No. The ensuing penalty killers were trapped out on the ice and, despite being professional athletes - didn't have the energy to skate for two minutes. Then again, even that goal wasn't the difference maker - the Rangers were already losing thanks to a poor showing by Hank.

Hollweg made his share of bad hits prior to that but he also brought several good qualities to the team that are now lost - his on-ice energy and enjoyment of playing being two of them, and his goofiness and California cool being two others. People love to quantify contributions and in the case of Hollweg - as with Sean Avery before him - you just can't do that.

Do I think that dealing Hollweg was a bad deal? Not really. As I said, his spot in the line-up has already been given away to bigger, better players.

Do I think that dealing Hollweg is a big deal? No, not in the least. But it is another step in redefining the identity of the Rangers to something that is more benign. The reputations of the players that the Blueshirts have brought in classify them all as hard working but low key guys (outside of that Swede who won't likely make the team). I hate to say it, but that is boring. Where is the excitement? What is going to get you out of your now-pricier seat? I'm asking, because I just don't know. On paper, the new-look Rangers don't particularly look good, or even particularly entertaining. Let's hope I am wrong.

Either way, best wishes to Hollweg in Toronto. Some of us will miss him.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Only On The Isle

The reign of stupidity in Uniondale continued today as the Islanders fired Ted Nolan.

I almost feel bad. Well ... no, not really. It will be all that much easier for the Rangers to beat the Islanders. But still, I mean, seriously: are they trying to lose? First came the dismissal of Neil Smith, and now this??? All Nolan did was keep a pathetic roster competitive and they fired him. Quoting "philosophical differences," Garth Snow made the announcement without having another coach in mind. I think Bozo the Clown would be the perfect candidate because that franchise is just a joke. Charles Wang seems intent on replacing capable personnel with friends of the family, to the detriment of the product on the ice.

Man, I hate the Islanders. This is awesome. Keep it up Fishermen!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sorting Out The Seven Spot

The Rangers defense is pretty much set for next season at this point with just some minor tinkering going on. The unit looks like this:

Redden - Girardi
Mara - Kalinin

The seventh defenseman spot, so capably handled by Rock Star and mustache aficionado Jason Strudwick last year, is now up for grabs as Struds has headed to Edmonton. Happy trails to Strudwick, who did his job well (if slowly). A hard worker, he did everything he could to help the team and it was sincerely appreciated, at least here at Scotty Hockey. Hopefully he will return someday as a coach.

But his departure for the great white north leaves the extra defenseman slot open and that seventh spot will be battled for by Thomas Pock (yes, he is still around), Corey Potter and the Rangers' newest signing, Vladimir Denisov. Denisov seems to specialize in getting beat up but looked good moving the puck according to several reports from the World Championships, although none were official. The one official WC game report that I found mentioned him getting hammered again. Not good.

I would like to see Potter get it for his hard work but he may be better off with the Pack where he will get a ton of ice time with Bobby Sanguinetti. Bobby's skills would be wasted in a limited role and a season where he will play a ton of minutes in all situations in Hartford will be good for his development. Mike Sauer won't have a chance at the seven spot as he lost most of last year due to injury.

So that leaves poor Pock, who was underutilized two seasons ago and came out and bitched about it, which doomed him to the AHL last season. Hopefully the Rangers' need of an experienced player in the extra defenseman spot will prove greater than Sather's hurt feelings and Pock will get another shot at the show.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I've Seen The Future, And It's Expensive

The Rangers finally sent out their invoices for season tickets Wednesday and they give subscribers 20 days to send in their payments, lest they lose their seats.

Ticket prices for the 2008-09 season have, of course, gone up. I have two seats in section 329 and they will cost me $52 per seat per game. That is up six bucks from last season, 10 from the season before and 12 from the first season out of the lockout (which was four cheaper than the year prior). Now $52 is not quite the extravagant cost from the first round of last year's playoffs - $75 - but it is still a significant raise ... and for what?

The ticket costs, which you can pay outright or over a six-month pay plan, cover 43 games. As the Rangers are losing a regular season home game to Prague, that means that they are forcing you to pay full price for three preseason games. As many subscribers have experienced, if you can't attend those games, it is virtually impossible to resell them for cost so you are instantly losing money. And, being as the Rangers are playing two preseason games in Switzerland, you can be assured not to see the actual New York Rangers. The good part about that is that every prospect, every free agent, everyone will get a chance to show their stuff before the real games begin. That is great for hockey geeks like me but terrible for ticket resale value. And, believe it or not, members of the Rangers season subscription office are recommending resale to recoup costs as they understand the position that they are putting fans.

Even if you think that the moves that Sather and company made last week were good ones (I don't), you should be prepared for the worst out of the gate. There will be eight preseason games, two in Switzerland and then the two season-opening games in Prague ... all of that travel sets this team up to struggle right off of the bat. The Olympic break doomed the 2006 squad because it came right in the middle of the year - by the time they faced the Devils, the main players had already played seven, eight more games than their competitors while flying to and from Italy. One can only hope that this group of guys will be able to recover over the long grind that will come once they return from their Eurotrip. But I wouldn't bet on it ...

Another question worth asking is that jet lag or not, will the 2008-09 Rangers be worth watching? The personality of the Rangers is gone - no Shanny, no Avery, no Jagr. Markus Naslund and Wade Redden are both mild mannered a la Chris Drury. And while a guy like Aaron Voros is sure to make some waves with his physical play, he can't infuriate the way Sean did. The new Rangers are a more generic, vanilla squad and yet the front office is charging you more to watch them.

I, for one, am hoping that there are enough gullible people in New York willing to pay big bucks for bad hockey because it looks like it will get rough, and quickly. They can have all of the number retirements and honoured numbers they want, but if this team doesn't play better than it looks on paper, they will be in trouble in terms of fans. Should they miss the playoffs, then they will surely see a large ticketholder turnover next summer, when they are certainly going to raise costs again to start paying for the MSG renovation.

It is New York so it is almost assured that the team will be able to get whatever price it wants, but it is just sad that the diehard fans are slowly being priced out. The atmosphere suffers and MSG will cease to be one of the best places to watch hockey in the NHL. It has become a much more corporate building over the last 20 years and when you take the personality of the fans out, and let the players with personality go, what do you have left?

Not something worth $52 a game, that's for sure ...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Killin' Time: Tuesday Night Edition

Henceforth this summer any posts of random observations/news will be called "Killin' Time" because, let's face it - that is all we are doing at this point of the year. There is some hockey news but no hockey games ... and that sucks. So, onto this evening's edition:

*The Rangers made Paul Mara's return official today. Andrew Hutchinson, meanwhile, is leaving Hartford for Tampa Bay, where he will be given a chance to replace some of the departed Dan Boyle's offense from the blueline. Hutch was stellar for the Pack and the Rangers were unable to give him a chance because of the idiotic return waivers that he would have had to pass through. Should Wade Redden stumble and fall - and I am fully expecting him to do just that - then letting Hutch go will have been a mighty mistake. The Rangers could have given him the one-way deal he wanted and signed Jason Smith (who went to Ottawa to replace Redden) instead of Mara and had more stability on the blueline, a better veteran presence in the locker room and a lot more cap room to spend on next summer's stellar crop of free agents.

*The Rangers also let another Hartford player go - Mitch Fritz. Mitch left for the Isles of all teams (traitor) after barely playing last season due to injury. Mitch was a big guy with a big heart and certainly one of the best hockey player bloggers. It would have been nice to see him healthy and playing for the Pack this season but, now that he has joined the enemy, he will just be another oversized goon in the Isles organization to boo.

*While making a mistake in letting Mitch go, the Rangers have possibly made another by bringing Mike Barnett on board as the Senior Advisor to the President and General Manager and Director of U.S. Amateur Scouting. The former agent to Wayne Gretzky did indeed set the ball rolling to respectability in Phoenix through good scouting, but he also made such stellar moves as trading away Daniel Briere and Daymond Langkow, trading for Mike Comrie and signing Oleg Kvasha and a way-past-his-prime Tony Amonte among others. Let's just hope that Glen Sather's signing only enhances the stellar work done by Gordie Clark and the Rangers scouts while doing nothing towards wheeling and dealing. And who knows what this guy is being paid? It surely isn't a pittance and that will come out of our season ticket money.

*Speaking of which, its mid-July, why haven't the Rangers sent out invoices yet? It is annoying not knowing how much next season is going to cost but it does have its good points - the money stays in our accounts longer earning interest for us, rather than the Rangers and the NHL schedule is coming out next week so we will know exactly what we will be paying for ...

*Say it ain't so Stu, say it ain't so! Stu Barnes is considering retiring from the NHL. Now Stu was one of those players who you didn't really know unless he was on your team, and if he was, you loved him. The veteran forward played more than 1,100 games for Dallas, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Florida and Winnipeg. He caught my eye in a tiny little blurb in Newsday back when he was playing in the AHL after scoring a hat trick for Moncton (which I actually saved, as you can see laid over his rookie card on the right). He went on from there to have a solid career in the bigs that included two trips to the Finals but no Cup (damn that Brett Hull). A classy player to watch, he worked hard every shift and did all of the dirty work it takes to win games while even popping up to score a clutch goal or two. It is certainly sad to see the pool of former Jets grow ever smaller in the NHL, and I just wanted to wish him the best of luck should he indeed retire.

*On the topic of goodbyes, Chris Botta signed off from his Point Blank Islanders blog. The p.r. guru for the Isles decided to move on from the Mistake In The Mausoleum and is pretty much leaving behind his nice behind-the-scenes blog. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, he is leaving a solid legacy that included the Blog Box. Happy trails Chris, and know that no one could have made the Isles look good so don't consider your time there a failure.

*A quick return to the Rangers for a second, people are saying that the captain's C should go to Chris Drury next season - and he will likely get it - but here is a underrated candidate: Blair Betts. Bettsy sets a never-say-die standard that the young Rangers would look up to while letting Dru continue to work out of the spotlight he dreads so much.

I miss hockey. Is it September yet??

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Zbohem Jaromir

While I disliked the man, I would be remiss not to bid farewell to Jaromir Jagr.

Jagr always did things his own way and now he is going out that way. It is sad, for sure, but it is his own fault. Had he not been a moody, petulant child when the Rangers got rid of his buddy Nylander before last season, he could have easily reached the 84 point mark that would have extended his deal with the Rangers. Instead, he sulked and was a shadow of himself. He waited until the playoffs to remind everyone that he indeed was Jaromir Jagr and that was a shame. He was a world class talent - one of the top five Europeans to ever play in the NHL - but he had a child's selfish streak that came from being treated as a phenom his entire life.

Speaking of phenoms, the Rangers drafted Alexei Cherepanov with the hope that one day he will be able to come in and replace Jagr. Now the two of them will be playing together in Siberia. We can only hope that the parting between Jagr and the Rangers was as amicable as everyone said so Jagr sells Cherry on the benefits of Broadway. This could work out fantastically for the Rangers if the former captain takes it upon himself to prepare the youngster mentally and physically for the NHL. Then again, it could be disastrous if he explains that you don't have to work as hard in the Russian league and still make a great tax-free living. That Stanley Cup thing isn't all that it is cracked up to be and the fans are quick to turn on you.

Personally I never turned on him, because I never liked him very much to begin with. I hated that when Jagr was unhappy it showed and I found the fact that the Rangers made him the captain based on his statistics was criminal. You never knew which Jagr was going to step onto the Garden ice: the future Hall of Famer or Oscar the Grouch.

Regardless, the Blueshirts will miss him because even when he wasn't putting forth maximum effort, he was a still physical force who could maintain possession of the puck. Markus Naslund certainly won't be able to keep the disc at his feet with Mike Komisarek or Hal Gill or Brendan Witt on his back. With Jagr's departure, the entire look and feel of the Rangers has now changed; let's just hope it is for the best ... for all parties involved.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Oh Yeah, Him Too ...

The Rangers have yet to acknowledge it on their NHL-approved web page, but Rangers Report has Paul Mara returning to the team.

Really, not a big deal. Mara is taking a cheaper deal than he had before and will continue in his role as a fifth/sixth defenseman. He had a few great moments last season where he used his size with good positioning to make big defensive stops and even a few hits. Of course, the Rangers initially got him for his ability to contribute offensively but he was a tad lacking there. However, he did have one of the best assists of the season on Jason Strudwick's lone goal of the year - two on one breakaway in overtime (if anyone has the YouTube, please lemme know, I'll link it). And Mara also played a big part in Marc Staal's coming out party, of course it came at the expense of him getting hammered by a Sabre.

So welcome back Mara, keep working hard and good things will happen. Maybe not for you - damn that hit by Kaleta had to hurt - but for the team.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Clear Some Space On Your Desk

While the result of the Rangers spending spree isn't likely to result in a Cup, you can celebrate the last one that made its way to Broadway with a new statue. McFarlane is going to release Mark Messier holding the Stanley Cup in 1994.

Message boarder 'Sling' over at HfBoards actually pointed this out first so credit to him.

For those who live under a rock, McFarlane's are realistic, affordable plastic statues that are miles and miles away from the old school Starting Lineups of yesteryear. I think they are pretty cool and already have Henrik Lundqvist (big and little, Nick Khabibulin, Nick Lidstrom little and all three of the Hanson Brothers.

Messier is due to be released in October so keep an eye out!

/shameless attempt at getting a freebie ...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Searching For Answers

I think that I have figured out what is going on in the Rangers front office:

Naslund has been on the downslope since the lockout, Kalinin can't stay healthy, Redden was chased out of Ottawa, Columbus fans cheered that Zherdev is gone ... so just what are the Rangers doing?

I think I have it! It is just the next step in healing the wound caused by all of the litigation between the NHL and the Rangers. The Blueshirts are making up for their legal attacks by buying heavily into the NHL Green campaign to "put global warming on ice."

Unfortunately, Sather's Alzheimer's has it mixed up: the team is supposed to recycle newspaper and cans, not hockey players.

An Unfortunate Turn Of Events

The New York Rangers signed Markus Naslund and Dmitri Kalinin today as was announced during a conference call a half hour ago.

This is another major mistake by the Rangers. Just two days after signing a defenseman who is on the downside of his career (Redden), Glen Sather added a forward who is not just on the downside of his career, but who should have retired two years ago in Naslund. And the defenseman ... well I hope Jim Ramsey and the training staff is well prepared because Kalinin can't stay healthy.

Don't get me wrong, Naslund would have been a great signing before the lockout. Unfortunately we are three seasons removed from the labour dispute and he is a shell of the player he once was. His point totals have dropped each of the last four seasons and two of the last three saw his plus/minus end up in the red. He was given plenty of chances to succeed with the Swedish Sedin wunderkinds and still his effectiveness has dropped. Naslund is no longer a force off of the wing and it will be a huge mistake to count on him for more than 20 goals and 40 points this season - not numbers worth a $4.5 million contract.

As nervous as I am to get my invoice for season tickets for next season, there is some consolation in knowing that I will very likely not have to pay for playoffs, because this roster appears like it be hard-pressed to grab a seven or eight spot.

So sad.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

And The Survey Says?

Where I immediately disliked the deal the Rangers made today (see the post below), I figured I would open my mind to see what others think.

Inferno at Rangers Review is positively gushing about how wonderful the deal was:
oh sweet Jesus how can you not be excited right now?

The Manic Ranger Fan watched the same YouTube and said:
Great Trade.. Fantastic Trade.. Zherdev could prove to be a steal of enormous proportions.

Meanwhile, LTL of the Blue Jackets blog Light The Lamp is also enthused ... to have gotten rid of Zherdev:
The biggiest (sic) knock on him was his inconsistancy (sic). He was a dis-connected player that did not fit the mold that this team moving towards. He razzled he dazzled but when the game got tough he dissapeared (sic) most nights. The Jackets loved his talent - hated his competitiveness. He was never going to be re-signed after his contract expired next season and he certainly did not have the value that many think he did.

The last time I read such a ... positive review of an outgoing player was at the trade deadline when the Blues bid adieu to Christian Backman and we all know how that worked out ...

Dubi at Blueshirt Bulletin spoke to Zherdev back in the '06-07 season and said:
[Zherdev] was in awe of the noise level at the Garden, but annoyed at the way Ranger fans booed their own players.

So unless he somehow finds some kind of motivation (like stepping up in the last year of his contract), it appears that Zherdev is headed for an unhappy stay on Broadway.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I wrote my post about Sean Avery leaving, then went to settle down and watch a movie - the Shawshank Redemption. Now, I've seen that flick a hundred times, but its wonderful each watching. I get back to my computer and find another movie awaiting me: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good: The Rangers traded away Christian Backman.

The Bad: The Rangers traded away Fedor Tyutin.

The Ugly: The Rangers acquired Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche.

I had hoped that I would be overcome with joy when Backman was bounced but my celebration is certainly muted by the rest of the deal. The Rangers got rid of the only defenseman on the team who hit people last season for virtually nothing. Zherdev is almost as lazy as Pavel Brendl/Alex Bourret was, has had some minor injuries and has no idea of what the defensive zone looks like. Fritsche is a good heart and soul working winger, but the Rangers picked up two of them YESTERDAY!

Now, I said that Sather had better have something up his sleeve to get Marc Staal back some ice time, but this wasn't what I had in mind. Dealing away half of the best defensive pairing last season, the closest thing to a crease-clearer on the roster was not it.

Losing Tyutin had better be offset with the acquisition of Rod Langway or Scott Stevens out of retirement and a better backup goaltender because otherwise Hank is going to get hurt quickly. The defensive physical play was in question last season and Hank was ran many, many times. The Rangers came into the offseason looking for a big body to help counter it - perhaps Brooks Orpik, who is now returning to Pittsburgh - and instead they dealt away the only player who did something about it.

There has to be a final piece to this puzzle. There just has to ...

Happy Trails Sean

The Dallas Stars signed Sean Avery to a four-year, $15.5 million contract today at 1:22 pm.

And so, the Avery era in New York comes to a close.

It's hard to fault Avery because he had an idea of what he was worth and he went out and got it. An athlete's career is short and he has to get his money while he can - especially after interning at Vogue, where he saw that most writers don't make spit. With his recent spleen injury, I am sure that the value he set was a hard number that he wouldn't budge from. And, unfortunately, the general manager that he was negotiating against is a firm believer that he is the king of the hill and that no player is bigger than the team.

In this case, he may have been incorrect.

Over the year and a half that he was a Ranger, Avery twice inspired a miraculous run to the playoffs after the team was stuck in the doldrums. The numbers don't lie - the Blueshirts were 50-23-13 with Avery and 24-35-9 without him. And don't be fooled by Sather's rhetoric either, the Rangers would not have made the playoffs the last two seasons without Avery. They would stumble time and time again after taking 2-0 leads in '06-07 - a horrible, heart-wrenching trend that changed when he came to town. He also scored the game-tieing goal in the pivotal 3-2 shootout win over the St. Louis Blues that marked the season's turn-around.

Aside from losing the sparkplug that got the engine going, the Rangers are also losing their best public relations agent. Avery helped renew the faith of the Blue Seat faithful by spending time with them. He also helped get the Blueshirts out of the sports section in New York and got more eyes on the team. The NHL's p.r. task has been to show people who aren't tradition sports fans that hockey is pretty cool and Avery did that better than any Ranger since Ron Duguay. Adam Graves can go around and brighten the smiles of thousands upon thousands of children but Avery could get millions of girls to look at the Rangers.

I would say that is well worth the million dollars or so per year that separated the two parties in the contract negotiations, wouldn't you?

But, you know what? It doesn't matter, Sean Avery is now a Dallas Star. At least he went back out West and won't be around to put the dagger in the Rangers should fall flat on their face next spring ...

Envy Is An Ugly Thing

One last thing before I pass out this evening:

I think that all of these years of living in baseball's shadow in New York has given the Rangers baseball envy. The Blueshirts management have seen the Yankees grow from the disaster that was the Pinstripes in the '80s to the massive international brand that it has become and they want that. The Rangers want to find the worldwide domination that Steinbrenner and Sons has grasped. So what do they do? They copy them. It happened in the post-Cup '90s and it is happening again now. The Yankees went after talent based on star power and reputation, so the Rangers went after talent based on star power and reputation.

These teams aren't looking to build the best teams by addressing their needs, they are looking for corporate sponsorship dollars.

And those dollars come from suits who don't follow the games closely, they just remember the big names. So the big names are the ones that the teams have to get to keep the suits happy. Unfortunately in this day and age that is essentially true of most teams, in most sports but the few front offices that can balance the two are the ones that emerge victorious. The Yankees are having severe troubles doing it (pitching anyone?) and the Rangers staff appears headed down the same path. They don't seem to realize that they are playing on a see-saw and there is a sumo wrestler on one side and midget on the other and sooner or later, that little person is going to go flying off ...

Peering Into The Crystal Puck

With one day of free agency down, I figured I would take a look at the lines for next season based on the players that the Rangers have now. (It appears Blueshirt Bulletin did this as well, so you can check out Dubi's take.) I'm not big on numbers, but as near as I can figure there is about seven, eight million dollars left under the salary cap so maybe there is more help on the way ... there certainly had better be.

Nigel Dawes - Scott Gomez - Petr Prucha
Lauri Korpikoski - Chris Drury - Ryan Callahan
Aaron Voros - Brandon Dubinsky - Freddie Sjostrom
Patrick Rissmiller - Blair Betts - Colton Orr/Ryan Hollweg

Wade Redden - Michal Roszival
Dan Girardi - Fedor Tyutin
Marc Staal - Christian Backman

Henrik Lundqvist
Steve Valiquette

Mind you, this is purely based on the first day of free agency but somehow, to me, that doesn't look like a team that will win the Stanley Cup. Hell, that barely looks like a team that will make the playoffs. Tensions ran high all year as the Rangers struggled to score goals, and it looks like next season will be no different. The Rangers didn't have many wingers that could score and now they have even less. The Rangers didn't have a defenseman capable of clearing the crease, and they still don't.

The Islanders got better by adding a low-cost, puck-moving defenseman in Mark Streit and the Devils certainly improved by signing Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik while retaining Jay Pandolfo. The Rangers have appeared to let go of their heart as well as their top scorer, doomed their top prospect to less ice time and locked up over $11 million in two defensemen who had troubles in their own zones last season.

For all of that ranting, the Rangers still did more to improve their team than both the Flyers and the Penguins so there is some solace in that. Also, it is possible that Rozy and Redden could bounce back from their recent disappointing play but more often than not, players who just got cushy contracts aren't quite motivated. We will just have to wait until October to see ...

The Dish On The Deals

After a busy day I figured I would just pick out a few of the many moves that occurred and riff on them:

*Tampa Bay signs goaltender Olaf Kolzig: A great move because it gives them a safety net behind Mike Smith. The Bolts also signed David Koci to replace Andre Roy and that should prove to make for some more incredible battles.

*Washington signs goaltender Jose Theodore/Chicago signs goaltender Cristobal Huet/Colorado signs goaltender Andrew Raycroft: Why?? All three teams are now worse from having made the signings. Theodore owed it to Colorado to play well for them, Huet could have been part of something great in Washington but chose to set off what is certain to be controversy with Khabibulin and Raycroft ... well, good for him to get another job but it's a good thing he got used to losing because the Aves aren't headed anywhere good.

*And while in Denver - they signed Darcy Tucker. Why? They already have Ian Laperriere. Tucker is old, doesn't tussle as much as he used to and can easily be thrown off his game (thank you Sean Avery).

*Phoenix signs defenceman Kurt Sauer: The brother of Ranger Mike Sauer got a four year deal worth an average of $1.75-million a year - a real bargain for the Yotes. And they added Todd Fedoruk, who will be able to protect all of their young scorers while working down low on the power play.

*New Jersey shows off their new Newark digs to two Meadowlands parking lot Stanley Cup parade favourites in Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik. Both will help Fatso return to the playoffs and make the Devils a much tougher team to play against.

*Chicago signs Brian Campbell to an eight year deal worth $56.8-million, Toronto signs Jeff Finger to a four year deal worth $3.5-million a season and Tampa Bay signs Radim Vrbata to a $9-million, three year contract. What do all three have in common? Too much money for too little talent. It's a good thing there is minor league hockey headed to Brooklyn (more on that in a future blog), because that will be all of the pro puck playing going on in a few years when there is another lockout.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Back To The Vally

I just got the press release two minutes ago and it is official, Steve Valiquette will return to back-up Hank.

The terms were not released but as I figure the contract negotiations went something like this:

Sather: Hey Steve's agent, did your client like playing in the NHL last season?

Steve's agent: Yes, of course.

Sather: Does he want to play in the NHL again next year?

Steve's agent: Yes, of course.

Sather: Ok, sign here.

All joking aside, Vally was a solid addition to the team last year and did a great job coming off the pine. He had the Flyers' and Leafs' numbers and gave the Blueshirts a chance to win every time he took the crease. Welcome back.

I Want What He Is Having

I listened in to the media conference call with Glen Sather and Wade Redden just now and I have to admit it piqued my curiosity. Sather is convinced that the Rangers are in great shape. The signing of Redden and Rozy gives the Rangers a great combination that can move the puck up to the forwards. The unfortunate thing is that none of the MSM guys followed up with a question asking 'which forwards?'

Sather said that this deal doesn't stop the Rangers from buying a big gun. He said that he still wants Jagr and Avery back but Jagr said he will wait until tomorrow and Avery's agent didn't call him back.

Redden, for his part, sounded happy to come to an Original Six team in New York. He admitted his previous relationship with Perry Pearn played a part in his decision (so THAT'S why the Rangers kept the coach who produced the horrible power play). Redden is well versed with the media so he was very PC and benign. Hopefully he will stand out on the ice ...


"New York Rangers sign UFA defenceman Wade Redden to a six-year contract worth $6.5 million."

Folly, thy name is Glen Sather.

The Rangers overpay for a defenseman who was essentially ran out of town last season. Some Senator fans that I've spoken to have ranked the choice of Redden over Chara as the biggest mistake in franchise history - which includes Alexander Daigle and Alexei Yashin. Redden has skills, and has been a top defenseman in the past, but what the hell is Sather doing???

This deal comes an hour after re-signing Rozy for too much money and gives the Czech some relief as the pressure will be off. But the biggest problem with this deal is not that it is six years long, or that it is 6.5 million but that it relegates Marc Staal to the third defensive pairing. Unless Sather is swinging some deal where he gets rid of Tyutin or Girardi, then this is just utterly incomprehensible.

Things Not Coming Up Rozy

You had to kind of expect it after his hip surgery but it still hurts to see it, "New York Rangers re-sign UFA defenceman Michael Rozsival to a four-year deal worth $20 million."

Glen Sather just handed a player coming off of a surgery - a defensive liability who had a terrible second half on both sides of the ice - a contract for five million dollars a year.

Does that sound smart to you?

Me neither. Don't get me wrong, Rozy has always been a good No. 3 defenseman. But unfortunately, the Rangers thrust him into the No. 1 spot and he has rarely, if ever, played at that level. The only positive aspect of this is that it should seal Jagr's return to the Blueshirts as Rozy is his Czech buddy. If Jagr doesn't return (or even if he does), Rozy's deal could very well turn into an albatross that will have to be bought out in a season or two.

Now Its Official

Just after 6 p.m. the Rangers acknowledged their new signings on their webpage.

Feel free to head over for a benign look at their stats - Rissmiller and Voros.

The Blueshirts also admitted to signing Andreas Jamtin, which I thought had happened weeks ago. It is a nice PR move to distract us from the fact that they haven't and won't resign Sean Avery. The brat Swede has some of the same skills but its easy to be a tough guy when you play in a soft league like the SEL.

Spin it all you like, the Rangers look like they are coming out as one of the losers on this first day of free agency. And season ticket costs will still go up.