Monday, February 2, 2009

Adam Graves Night / Peepin' Foes: Atlanta Thrashers

Adam Graves will never make the Hockey Hall of Fame.

His 681 points in 1,277 NHL games (playoffs included) with one Stanley Cup doesn't even come close to the criteria for entry. Unlike in junior, Graves never had a 100 point season but he did have six 100+ penalty minute campaigns. The 1994-95 work stoppage-shortened season pretty much stopped his rise to stardom. He had increased his point totals every year leading up to that and then his production fell off as the wheels fell off of the Rangers. It would be a terrible shame if it had curtailed his career and left him among the list of anonymous NHL alumni.

It did not.

Graves stayed in the league another eight years and continued to do his best work - charity and service to the community. The New York Rangers made their best personnel move in over a decade by bringing Graves in after he called it a career. And, by doing so, Graves has become the face of the franchise. The team has a low key coach, low key players, a reclusive general manager and a much-loathed owner and yet the Rangers are just as beloved in the city as always (bandwagon '94 not included). Sick kids, sad kids, kids down on their luck, abused women, even homeless folks ... Graves continues to work to bring some brightness into their lives and show them that there is a good life to be lived and that dreams can come true.

Sure his work doesn't get the column inches in the papers, but in this case that isn't a bad thing. An aphorism in journalism is bad news sells. The only time that I can remember that there was anything negative having to do with Adam Graves in New York was the news that he was dealt to San Jose. His tireless work around the city was rarely reported but that never meant anything to Graves - he did it because it was right.

And no matter his numbers, it is right that the Rangers retire his number Tuesday night.

Ceremony info: First off the schedule:
5:30pm Doors Open
6:30pm Graves Night Ceremony Begins
7:30pm Rangers-Thrashers Warm-ups
8:08pm Rangers vs. Atlanta Thrashers

Merch will be overpriced but not as bad as Messier Night - shirt $28, hat $24, book $20, puck $8, replica banner $40. Everyone in attendance will get minibanners, which will have American Express on the bottom (like the Leetch ones did). Bring tissues because I'm sure this ceremony will be touching, even for tough hockey fans. Expect a few thousand to clear out after the ceremony and the place to be a ghost town by the final whistle - it is a school night and the Rangers are playing the Thrashers of all teams. What a clear, saddening money grab by the Garden for scheduling it this way. This number should have went up against the Oilers back in November.

Where We Are: It is hard to say as Zipay is reporting a number of changes that includes the debut of Reitz and Anisimov. This tinkering to a team that just played one of their best games of the season is dangerous so this should be interesting ... And remember, the Rangers often suck when their routines are messed with and a major ceremony and a start time an hour late will certainly change things up.

Where They Are: Atlanta sucks. They are just four points clear of the worse team in the NHL (haha Islanders) and have lost four straight games ... including one to the Isles (hahahaha). Their goaltending is woeful; the formerly reliable Moose Hedberg has a 3.62 gaa and a .885 save percentage. Their top defensemen, Matt Schneider and Ron Hainsey, are a combined -30.

Who To Watch For: Kovy is still a hockey god, even if he is surrounded by a poor team. His contract is due up at the end of the season so if we can buy out Wade Redden ... no, we're not that lucky. He is playing with the solid young former Predator Rich Peverley who is doing quite well since his move since Nashville. The Little White Russian line of Brian Little, Todd White and Slava Kozlov have played well enough to get the best line nickname since the Legion of Doom (boo). That idiot goon XLB was just activated from IR but hopefully will still be out instead of back on the ice trying to hurt people. Zach Bogosian is putting together a solid little rookie season - he is no Luke Schenn, but he has skills and grit and has a good future ahead of him.

What To Watch For: Joey Crabb scored a shortie against the Blueshirts last time and the Rangers power play hasn't gotten much better. See if Nik Zherdev steps up his game against Kovy the way he did against Malkin last time the two faced off. See which Henrik Lundqvist shows up - the stellar one who gave up just one goal against the B's or the one who got curbstomped by the Penguins.

What We'll (Hopefully) See: The Rangers play like the man they are honouring pregame - a hard-nosed, never-say-die style where they pay the price to get to the goals.

Also Check Out: The team's own blog Blueland is on hiatus but the requisite MSM blog is up to date and the in-depth, well thought out Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons? has moved to SBN and took a new lame name.

2 comments: said...

Kovy has said that he does not want to play for the NY Rangers.

They changed their name from "Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?" to "Bird Watchers Anonymous?" That is indeed very lame.

Anonymous said...

I wish I was there too...everything from the ceremony to the speech Graves made was incredible! The atmosphere surrounding the stands and the ice must have been amazing! I felt like I was there almost when I watched the video on here:
Adam Graves Night

Graves is MSG's herooo!