Monday, August 31, 2009

Such A Deal!

Auction ending soon!

Excellent condition!

Almost new!

You too can look like a real Ranger, without any skill at all - much like previous owner!

Can't even tell it was worn!

Perfect for the fall! Or for falling!

No worries about board burns or tears!

Spent plenty of time in sweat-free environment!

ACT NOW!!!!!!

Start The Week Off Right

Like that breeze that washes over you just before the sun makes its appearance on the eastern horizon, a refreshing feeling is starting to build as we are about to hit September and get back to business. The leaves will fall and the temperature will drop. Yes, I'm waxing poetic but hockey season is well worth it and I can't wait. I've been working a lot of hours and I'm quite eager to take a break and watch some pucks. Soon ... soon ... soon.

Till then, a lot of randomness has built up:

*I will do a proper season preview and offer up my predictions but you guys do realize that this team is two injuries away from a lottery pick, right? If I was Glen Sather, I would have made sure that I put 'no Olympics' in the fine print of Gaborik's contract. The last thing this team needs is to risk their top sniper towards a losing international effort (Slovakia is far, far from a favourite) - that is if Gabby is even still healthy by February.

*Still nothing on the NHL Network covering Traverse City. Looking at their TV listings, while the Rangers are playing their three games, the NHL Network will have Classic Series 2003 Tampa vs. Washington, Classic Series 2003 Vancouver vs. St. Louis and Game 3 of the Western final from this year Chicago v. Detroit (respectively). For one, 2003 was six years ago - nothing is classic about that yet, and for two they've aired these playoffs a dozen times this summer. The NHL Network really should stop being so cheap; they are just as second rate as public opinion (ESPN) says hockey is in America.

*Even though Michael Del Zotto is listed on the London Knights' roster for their preseason tournament against a few European teams, he isn't playing. I e-mailed Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press to get the low down:
"Del Zotto has a bit of a hand injury, nothing serious, but with camp so close, he decided it would be better to not displease his future employers.
If the Del Zotto you get at Rangers camp is anything like the Del Zotto that played in the playoffs last year with the Knights, you are getting a hell of a player.

Del Zotto has played in the shadow of John Tavares but wants to prove that he is a great player in his own right. He proved that during the OHL playoffs last year."
*Semi-related, as I've said a number of times, we need more chants and songs in the Garden. I think that we need to work on that. I came up with one - it's not great, I know - but it's a start. For young Mr. Tavares, to the tune of Jimmy Cracked Corn ...
"Johnny can't score and I don't care,
Johnny can't score and I don't care,
Johnny can't score and I don't caaaaaaaaare,
His team's gonna move away."
*Congrats to Dru, who was honoured by Little League baseball this weekend. He was hanging out in Williamsport Sunday, watching the final game alongside Vice President Joe Biden; think Dru has laid claim to the Captain America title yet? (Thanks to my dad for the heads up.) If you like baseball, make the pilgrimage to Williamsport for the LLWS - it is a wonderful experience. BTW - Monzo at SNY(/NHL Live/WFAN) posted a radio interview with Dru about his LL experience.

*Carp at Rangers Report has been using guest bloggers for the last week. This weekend featured two of the best. First Patrick Hoffman made his case that Hank is the new Richter - something I disagree with; I think Hank is better. Richter was an ordinary goaltender who played up to the moment in 94 and 96 (World Cup), but never carried a team. He did well behind top flight teams but when he was actually relied upon to win a game on his own, he failed (97). He also never was nominated for a Vezina to the best of my memory and often gave up soft goals thanks to his propensity to slide out of the crease chasing angles. Hank has picked the Blueshirts up on his back (you play behind Malik and Redden), has an Olympic gold medal on his resume and allows soft goals on a rarer basis (damn high glove side).

Sunday's guest blogger was Rob C, who made a pitch for Sean Avery to get an A sewn on his sweater. I can't say I disagree. Perhaps the added responsibility would help mature him a bit and it certainly would set a gritty standard for our softies to live up to. But then again, perhaps it would be best for Aves to just focus on his game and be a good soldier for a while first ...

*I hope that because of the rain delay for the Ranger Fan Fest, they will be able to have more current players attend - seeing as it will be a week closer to camp. As of right now the only current players due to show up are Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Aaron Voros. And the sad thing is that Voros does count as a current player and no one should be surprised if he starts the home opener. Given that the Senators don't have any heavyweights anymore, there isn't much reason in starting Brashear and ruining the night's festivities. Then again, Tortorella is bullish enough that he may include both on the roster to counter Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu - even though both are too slow to catch up to them.

*On that note, can you believe that former Ranger Chris McAllister is still playing pro hockey? He "played" a dozen games with the Blueshirts (including his 300th career tilt) right before the lockout and has been in the minor leagues and England since. A massive human being, Mac could hardly skate but was more than willing to bang bodies. Guess size matters ...

*The Minnesota Wild unveiled their new third jersey this weekend (even though it was leaked earlier). I think it's pretty nice. While new designs are always cool to see, I still hope the Rangers never bring back their liberty jerseys. I liked the white one better than the navy but still, you can't beat the classic. I would rather see the Rangers pull a Montreal and wear some of their own vintage designs. Maybe in 2026 ...

*I've added a bunch of great sites to the blogroll on the right so feel free to check them out. I don't just throw any site up there, they are all ones that I read regularly.

*And I wanted to offer get well soon wishes to Jess from Prospect Park, who just had surgery to repair a torn MCL. That's gotta suck.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Camping In The Garden

Last week John Tortorella spoke to and reiterated the feelings towards the team that he has expressed since the loss to the Caps:
"I worry about our mental toughness. And I don't want to insult anybody, but I think the whole dynamic there, I think we're a soft team as far as thinking. The organization treats the players very well, they have a great practice facility, it's New York City ... I think we need to stiffen up a little bit. That's the biggest thing - we need to be a stiffer team in our thinking as we play games."
Well, right there is one big way to thicken the skin of the team and make them tougher: take them out of that great practice facility and put them before the toughest critics of them all ... us.

If you haven't seen it, the facility is amazing. But, unlike Rye Playland, it has no room for viewing (aside from a small press area). It is not meant for the fans; it is purely for the players. And, as Torts has inferred, it has helped spoil them. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the place (thank you season ticket rep) and the place is fantastic and is truly first class - from the Mike Richter silver goal in the lobby (if that's still there) to the cushy carpeting of the locker room to the perfect sheet of ice.

According to the only events scheduled between September 5th and 28th are two Liberty games and the three pre-season games. Players report to camp for physicals on Saturday the 12th, get on the ice the 13th (while the Liberty have a game at the Garden) and then play their first preseason game on the 15th against the Bruins.

Aerosmith cancelled their show on the 14th so that's perfect. Bring the boys down from their Palisades palace and put them on the Penn Plaza ice. Think Wade Redden will do half-assed suicides when there are thousands of folks waiting to pounce? It would give the prospects a glimpse of the Garden Faithful. It would give Tortorella a chance to prove he is as tough as he claims to be.

It would also - one would hope - give the team an opportunity to interact with the fans. No flights to catch, no hung heads from a disappointing loss, no late night ahead. Sign some autographs, take pictures, shake hands, renew our faith heading into a season where we really don't know what to expect. We know Hank is back but will be defending his Olympic gold in February, we know ticket prices went up, we know our rivals all got better. Making the team train on the Garden ice for a day won't kill them, it will only make them stronger. This is a win-win situation. Let's go Rangers, make it happen.

Bring Back Bobby!

With the news that the Bruins are going to keep the ad agency that gave them those great 'bear' commercials (if you haven't seen them, click here for my fav, h/t to Kukla for the news), I figured it was time to bring back Bobby.

MSG ran a few of those Bobby Granger commercials a few years back, then inexplicably ended the campaign. Most fans that I've spoken to got a kick out of them, I know I did. I put my personal fav below. But with a new season approaching, it is time for a new MSG ad campaign, and why not use Bobby? He was the quintessential everyfan who was funny and actually *gulp* showed some personality! What a concept, MSG and the Garden having personality. And Joe Micheletti and his bad puns don't count because he is horrendous. I've been asked, who do I loathe more: Tom Poti, Marek Malik or Wade Redden? Poti wins that one hands down but put him up against Micheletti and I would have a tough time deciding. Worst broadcaster in the biz.

But I digress.

Those spots were entertaining, interesting and started conversation. We would always ask, 'did you see the new one?' But they ran out real quick and stopped being aired a few years back. The last time I saw Bobby in person was two seasons ago when he was being kicked out of the Garden for confronting an obnoxious away fan (Flyers or Isles, I can't recall). Surely that couldn't have been what has kept them from producing his commercials; the Garden has gotten multiple lawsuits for much, much, much, much worse.

Let's face it, the commercials couldn't have cost too much to make and they were fun, and that is what hockey is supposed to be.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Meanderings

We're getting close folks, can you feel it? The humidity in New York has slightly improved and a cool breeze is sweeping across the streets. Not long before we can feel the rush of artificially chilled air as we walk into Madison Square Garden.

As I sit hear enjoying my second favourite sport with some Prem football in HD on ESPN2, I figured I would talk a little about No. 1 hockey.

*First off, individual Ranger tickets will go on-sale on Saturday, September 12th at 10:00 am through the usual outlets. For those of you season subscribers, our tickets can be picked-up beginning Wednesday, September 2nd at 9:00 am.

*In addition to sending out that info this afternoon, the Rangers also released their *official* roster for Traverse City. Still no word on if the games will be televised but it would be folly for the NHL Network not to offer up coverage. I don't know about you but I've seen Pens/Caps 18 times already this summer.

*Speaking of folly and hockey, how about this Direct TV/Versus battle? How ridiculous would it be for the NHL to lose their primary national network because Comcast plays hardball with DTV? Times like this I am glad I have Cablevision, but only in times like this.

*I don't have any game-worn hockey jerseys but I'd imagine if I did - unless it was some kind of special jersey (like a 9-11 Rangers or a signed superstar like Hank) - that I would wear it. I have looked into the game worn market quite a bit this summer and it seems that most folks don't wear them. What about you?

*Zip is reporting that the Rangers are again interested in acquiring Mats Sundin. I'm not so sure that's a good idea. On one hand, Sundin on the power play with Gaborik will ensure that our special team doesn't suck as bad as it did last season. On the other hand it doesn't inspire confidence in either Brandon Dubinsky or Arty Anisimov. With double-A's play with us last season didn't inspire much of anything in me, I do think he has reached that make or break stage and deserves a shot.

*The New York Rangers Blog tracked down a story that the Blueshirts are looking to bring in another blueliner ... again. First it was Anton Babchuk, now Dennis Seidenberg. Mind you, both were part of a defensive corps that was said to be Carolina's Achilles heel and mind you that the Rangers have a half dozen young players trying to make the jump to Broadway. Is Sather hedging his bets, does he have no faith in the kids, or does he feel that he has to sign "every piece of garbage on the market"?? Idiot McGrath.

*If you are trying to plan your Christmas shopping this year, I recommend the book 100 Ranger Greats. It isn't out until the end of next month but I luckily got a preview copy. I will give a more detailed review at a later date but it will definitely be good for debate. They have a blog up here where they have the daily "This date in Rangers history" - well worth adding to your daily viewing.

*While I am shamelessly whoring stuff, has kept busy this summer with a bunch of photo slide shows. Of course Handsome Hank has a gallery, as does the camera-loving Avery but they also have the "Bad Boys" of hockey.

*Blair Betts still doesn't have a team for this season as Edmonton has immersed in money troubles (where have we heard that before?). If he can't have a reunion with Renney, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if New Jersey picks him up. Bettsy would be a good, cheaper version of John Madden, who headed to Chicago. That would suck, Shanny and Bettsy across the river playing for those clowns.

*As for another ex-player favourite of mine, anyone else excited to see Jed's return with the Sharks on October 19th? It will be his first game since Game 6 against Buffalo. Then again, I am almost as excited for the first preseason game against Boston on September 15th ...

*Keeping with Boston - they are keeping the Winter Classic rink up after New Years in Fenway and are planning on having a BU/BC showdown on it on Friday, January 8th. It just so happens that the Rangers play the Bruins the next day. Can you say road trip?

*Getting back to the top, the Liverpool match I'm watching was preceded by a moving rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone", which is simply awesome. It is a shame there is no singing of any sort at hockey games (Potvin Sucks doesn't count).

*A bigger shame is that hockey broadcasts are so much worse then football. Listening to this match has been a delight because you can actually hear the match! What a concept! No droning on by Al Micheletti, spouting off incorrect facts and analysis. No awkward banter. Just the facts. And the announcer mics aren't much louder than the nat sound from the stadium. You get an actual feel for what the live experience is like and hockey is best experienced live. Letting the broadcast breathe is a good thing, and something MSG - and the rest of the U.S. NHL broadcasters - would be smart to learn.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Traverse City Primer

As has been posted around the web today, the official preliminary Ranger roster for the prospect tournament has been posted. Here is the direct link.

Currently there is no word as to whether the NHL Network will pick up some of the games like they did last year. Hopefully they do so we can get a sneak peak of the flash and speed of Ray Bourque's boy Ryan, Gino (mind if I call you Gino?) Grachev and MDZ. I certainly would love to see how guys like Dale Weise, Ethan Werek and Justin Soryal fare as all three are hard working, tough kids who have a lot to prove.

The official tournament page says:
The prospects tournament breakdown has the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues in the "Western Conference" and the Red Wings, Atlanta Thrashers, New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes in the "Eastern Conference."
Interesting that Detroit put themselves back in the East seeing as they have been trying to get there ever since 1993 when the NHL (wrongly) got rid of the Wales/Campbell Conferences, reorganized and dumbed things down to the current geographical incarnation.

The Rangers are scheduled to play three 'pool' games before a final placement match:

Sunday, Sept. 6
3 p.m. N.Y. Rangers vs. Carolina
Carolina will feature former first rounders Zach Boychuk and Brandon Sutter as well as Ryan McDonagh's former Wisconsin teammate Jamie McBain. McDonagh won't be playing for the Rangers as he is headed back to school; McBain turned pro.

Monday, Sept. 7
3 p.m. N.Y. Rangers vs. Atlanta
Atlanta will have their top pick from this year, Evander Kane, trying to prove he deserves an immediate spot back in the NHL. Jeremy Morin, their second rounder, played alongside the Rangers' Ryan Bourque with the U.S. under-18s. They also have Paul Postma, who posted 84 points in 70 games last season for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. Would be unremarkable if it wasn't for the fact that Postma is a defenseman...

Wednesday, Sept. 9
7 p.m. Detroit vs. N.Y. Rangers
Detroit will be tough with 2008 top pick Thomas McCollum in net. Other names that stand out to me are Landon Ferraro (Chicken Parm's son) and Tomas Tatar, who turned a lot of heads at the World Juniors.

I am sure that more storylines and more info will come out when the tournament gets closer but I had to get this out - it feels good to be writing about actual games again. As always, keep an eye on Prospect Park for info as Jess will cover this closely I'm sure. Just a few more weeks to go!

Friday, August 21, 2009

What A Dilemma ...

Should I buy a Kansas City Scouts cap to wear to games at the Mausoleum next season?

Pros: I'd be a bastard to Islander fans, reminding them of their team's perilous state. And the hat looks pretty nice.

Cons: The damned Lighthouse could very well go through and keep the team here on the Island. And if that happens, I would have bought a hat that essentially supports another team I hate: the Devils (as the Scouts became the Rockies who became the Devils).

Decisions, decisions!! Help me interweb!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tough Talk From Torts

John Tortorella spoke to Jeff Z. Klein over at the Times today and had this to say about the signing of Vinny Prospal:
“Vinny and I had a long conversation prior to our even talking about this … I know, I’ve coached him for so many years — my question was, Does he want to play? Is life too good? Because he’s made a lot of money. He’s been successful. He’s a good person. But I just wanted to make sure that he wanted to play. He’s ticked off. He was bought out. He has something to prove here. I think it’s a good situation on a one-year deal, and show us maybe for when another contract comes around. Some other people in the organization need to understand that too.”
Brandon Dubinsky, you've been put on notice.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Putting The Band Back Together

First John Tortorella brings in his assistant coach from Tampa and now he gets one of the horses from the Lightning stable - Vinny Prospal. As Larry Brooks mentioned yesterday, the Rangers officially added Prospal to the roster.

As I said last month, I think Vinny will look great across from Marian Gaborik. As Brooksie said, Vinny provides insurance if Dubi falters as first line center. Now, I don't think that Dubi will but I do believe in insurance. And it helps balance the roster a bit more:

Criminal-Not Going To Play Much-Who Cares?

Outside of the human refuse that they will use for the fourth line that won't see much ice time (Brash, Voros, Boyle, Arnason, Lisin), I have to admit that those lines look pretty damn good to me. Granted, there is only one legitimate first line/scorer/star in the bunch but hockey is a team game and those lines look like they could have some chemistry. You know, chemistry? It's not something we have seen much of in the last 15 seasons, outside of the post-lockout year with the Czechs (and Nylander), amazingly the very same season we got screwed by the Olympics too.

Now we can hope that this group becomes fast friends and finds that chemistry because if they don't, then they may just unite against a common foe - John Tortorella. And when Torts becomes the common enemy, he risks losing the team (see: Tampa).

One things is for sure, this team will score some goals and be interesting to watch. And that's all we can ask for, right?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The First Sign Of Fall!!

After sitting on the computer and reading the 16,000th 'why haven't they signed Dubinsky' comment and the retread rumours of the signings of Chris Chelios and/or Francis Boullion and the 1,800th permutation of the Rozy for Richards deal, I finally found some relief down in Penn Station.

No, not the same kind of relief that many of the homeless find in those dimly-lit, disgusting concourses but the kind of relief from the summer doldrums that comes with the first hockey preview guide of the summer. One of the magazine stores had The Hockey News' Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide 2009-10.

Now, while it felt wonderful to make the official start to the build up to the start of the preseason, even I have to admit that this is a bit early. The guide, which has a newsstand kill date of October 27th, is already out of date on August 15th. The Hockey News clearly finished it up a month ago as it still has the Korpedo as a Ranger (traded on July 13th) and projects Nik Zherdev to score 63 points for the Blueshirts (officially ditched on August 4th). They do, however, have a big ad right up front for Dobber Hockey, which is a certainly a site you want to head to if you are serious about fantasy. If you are, do your research there and elsewhere online, rather than blowing eight bucks on old news. If you play in a easy-going league and just want to see who is out there and have something by your side during the draft, this book lists a good number of the NHL players and prospects and includes a blank page where you can set up your own draft list.

Getting past the fact that the issue is behind the times, a few other observations I have:

*In their projections THN has Matt Gilroy not only making the Rangers, but being the power play quarterback and collecting 45 points, two more than Chris Higgins, 13 more than Rozy and 15 more than Redden. Marc Staal comes in with 17, one less than Aaron Voros. Yeah. As for our snipers - Gaborik is rightly red flagged as an injury risk but even with seven missed games, their prognosticator sees him putting up 94 points. Now that would be awesome. On the other hand Ales Kotalik, who is still listed as a UFA, will only play 70 games and collect 40 points. Their advice? "Only consistency is that he's a consistent disappointment. Don't bother." If only this came out last month and Sather read it!

*THN doesn't differentiate between '09-10 salary and cap hit. Sean Avery at two million bucks = steal. Sean Avery at four mil? Just ask the Stars what they think.

*It helps pick out some stars for this season by pointing out who will be UFAs after the year. Seeing as many players step up their game when it's contract time, this is clutch.

*They blow the whistle on a couple of sleepers I have my eye on, so hopefully if we are in a league together, you will have listened and not bought the book so I can still grab them in late rounds. No, I won't tell you who they are.

*There are a ton of good stats in the back of the book, which reinforce my desire to find a league that counts hits and fighting majors instead of penalty minutes and adds blocked shots. If you know of any, let me know.

Speaking of which, I always fall into the trap of getting draft happy and start 12, 15 teams each fall. A word of advice to everyone, keep an eye on what the categories are in the leagues you sign up for. Players who might be huge in some leagues, may not be as important as in others and if you overextend yourself like I do, you end up picking up the same guys across the board.

And finally, I mentioned a while back that I was guiding the Rangers in the Cycle With The Sedins re-draft of the league. The goal is to build a team that both does well in a simulated season on NHL10 and one that is approved by a panel of 'experts.' We've gotten through eight rounds and I've only disappointed myself with one pick so far (which, for me, is pretty good):

1-20 (20) - New York Rangers - Miikka Kiprusoff
2-11 (41) - New York Rangers - Dan Boyle
3-20 (80) - New York Rangers - Derek Roy
4-11 (101) - New York Rangers - Chris Kunitz
5-20 (140) - New York Rangers - Jason Arnott
6-11 (161) - New York Rangers - Marc Staal
7-20 (200) - New York Rangers - Nick Schultz
8-11 (221) - New York Rangers - Jason Pominville

The full draft board is here. That lone disappointment? Picking Nick Schultz instead of Fedor Tyutin, who was snapped up by New Jersey right after me (yet another reason to hate the Devils). Don't get me wrong, Schultz is a helluva defensive defenseman, but Toots and Staalsie? Reunited? Could have felt so good ...

"Can't Figure It Out, I'm Slippin' Fast"

I know that in past years I posted a bit more over this month and I let things slip a bit this time around. So I just want to jot down some quick notes on stuff that I let slip:

*The Ranger home page is actually doing a good job providing new video content with interviews with the Rangers who are coming through the training center to run their kids camps. They also are putting in updates on the Future Blue that are playing for the red, white and blue. If you haven't heard of Derek Stepan before, you will soon. He should look great on the Blueshirts alongside fellow collegians Carl Hagelin, Max Campbell and Ryan McDonagh in a few seasons.

*The Wolf Pack will be playing at the Rock twice against the Lowell Devils twice this season, which will be great for those of us who can't get up to Hartford. But on the bad side of things, one of the two games fall on the same night as a Ranger home game. The Rangers play the Stars - Avery vs. the A-holes who treated him so poorly - on January 6th so many diehards who would go, won't. The other date, February 3rd is clear. But you have to ask about the reasoning for New Jersey to do this. The Rock is half empty for Devil games, who will show up to watch their terrible AHL team play? Lowell didn't make the playoffs last season and the franchise doesn't have many top-flight prospects. I figure that the Devs will do like the Isles did during the lockout when Bridgeport played at the Mausoleum: bus in fans from Lowell and give free tickets to season ticket holders and local schools just to make sure there are bodies in the stands.

*I personally loathe SNY but have to admit that their Ranger blog is pretty damn good. The link has been added to the blogroll on the right, which I've updated with more sites that I've found and enjoyed. If you have a site that isn't up there and think it should be, drop me an e-mail.

*nhLOL is still bringing the lolz.

*And a h/t to the guys at HFBoards for being all over the news. They caught Brooksie's latest column as it came out a few hours ago and are already are discussing the news - Mark Messier will return as part of the organization. This could be a good thing - think Yzerman on the Wings and Ron Francis on the Canes - but at some point you have to wonder how much mileage this franchise will get out of '94. Adam Graves is already a big part of the team and Mike Richter likely would be as well if he wasn't out hugging trees and preparing for public office. But then again, I've heard good things about Jeff Beukeboom's coaching skills and wouldn't mind seeing the big man back heading our blue line ...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sign Of The Times Or Sign Of Desperation??

Dear Scotty,

We hope you are enjoying your summer. As you have no doubt seen, things have been busy with the Blueshirts this off-season. We are thrilled to have you back for the 2009-10 NY Rangers hockey season and look forward to seeing you at The Garden in September.

As a Rangers Season Subscriber, we would like to extend this special opportunity to purchase additional season tickets before we reach out to our waitlist of over 2,500 members in the coming weeks.

As always, all potential seating assignments are subject to ticket availability and a maximum of 4 seats may be held per account.

If you have any further questions about additional subscription seats, or anything else related to your season subscription account, please feel free to contact your Rangers Account Representative.


Howard Jacobs
Senior Vice President, Marketing and Ticket Sales
Madison Square Garden, Sports
There are a few things here worth pointing out:

1- That waitlist had numbered around 4,000 the last time I heard about it.

2- They say there is a max of four seats per account but guys on HFBoards who have four have also been asked if they want to add more.

3- A buddy of mine, Matt, had complained about his tickets seeing as he was screwed last season by the addition of the handicap sections and they gave him a free upgrade closer to center ice (in the 300s) and several other freebies after he threatened to cancel.

4- For them to send something like this, just how many season ticket holders have given up and said screw it with the economy and the roster being in utter disarray? Usually they just have a box to check on the re-up form (which they made us fill out and put in a payment prior to the opening of free agency). But a follow up, just in case, a coupla months later?

The last thing I want to do is buy more seats. If anything, I want them to take the damned preseason games off my package. It is always impossible to find people willing to come to those games and even less likely that they will help me recoup my cost. A buddy of mine has started selling off a large portion of his package on StubHub and is running into the same obstacle. The Toronto Maple Leafs - the epitome of NHL greed - give out free tickets to a preseason game, why can't the Rangers? Nah, instead they will try to get more blood from the rock that is us diehard fans. For shame - both them for doing it, and us for being that rock.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Give Him A Chance!

Glen Sather has always been willing to give players shots at redemption after tough times and now TSN is reporting that Theo Fleury wants another go at the NHL. Seems like the two are made for each other.

As I said way back when, the new NHL is made for a player of his ilk. If gets himself into shape and recaptures even some of his step, Fleury will still be one of the quickest players on the frozen pond. He was relentless, had a nose for the net and some great hands.

Tortorella had Marty St. Louis in Tampa and surely he can use a player like that again in Fleury. Plus, given Torts' taskmaster ways, the coach should be able to do a better job reining in Fleury than John Muckler and Ron Low ever did. Then again, perhaps he won't have to given Fleury has found sobriety and god since his days as Crackhead Theo.

Can you imagine the Rangers taking on Mmmaaarrtttyyy with Avery and Fleury? Fleury could keep up with Crosby and drive the Cole Harbour Queen crazy. And he definitely would help even the scales against Philly now that they have Lappy, Pronger and Carcillo. According to Dreger, Fleury is just looking for an invite to camp.

I say we give it to him.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All Audio All The Time

Who says all interns do is fetch coffee and make copies?

Some of NPR's cheap summer help actually got to test their hand at journalism firsthand and they indulged their hero worship by interviewing Mike Richter. Can't blame them one bit; smart move kids. Scott Kanofsky and Willy Hameline caught up with the former netminder and wisely listened as he expounded upon his new tree-hugging profession. To hear how their final piece came out - click here.

To hear a more polished and experienced crew, make sure you check out NY Rangerscast. I added their link while back but neglected to pimp their wares, and it is worth pimping for those of you who dig podcasts.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

”The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”

A Bronx Tale was a great movie and that line by Bob De Niro has never rung so true now that the Nik Zherdev era has ended in New York. This morning the Rangers officially told Zherdev to walk away, as expected. It's no big shock, and definitely not heartbreaking.

If you want heartbreaking, read this.

But there is hope on the horizon, not for Redden, but for the Rangers. Ales Kotalik should prove to be an able stopgap while Evgeny Grachev learns the professional game. The cap space left in Z's wake should go to whoever will be first-line center - whether that be in the form of re-signing Brandon Dubinsky or dealing him for someone more experienced and not as brash and cocky. We'll just have to wait and see what Sather has up his sleeve next ...

Making Must-See TV

The NHL Network is rightly revered among us hockey fans but we've all seen its plethora of flaws. Last week Matt at View From My Seats wrote that "there's so much potential" and he is absolutely right. But, as was also mentioned in the piece, the league has cheaped out on the follow through and "the bottom line is that the league (and apparently Comcast) needs to spend some time and money to make the product better."

VFMS suggest an improved set and better personalities for On The Fly. While the set definitely needs expansion, the bland broadcasters are just fine with me. I don't want Sportscenter attitude and catch phrases. We love our humble, low-key hockey stars so why do we need to get all Stu Scott and put the puck up where momma keeps the cookie jar?

As for the rest of the programming, we agree in that it needs work. First off, there is no reason to play the same in-house promos 18 times an hour. It wouldn't take too much to make some vignettes promoting individual teams. Hell, make the teams themselves produce them. It was a nice change when they aired the 'Great Day For Hockey' spots for the Pens. Then they went away and we are right back to Chris Simpson imitating a bobble head doll as she interviews Jarome Iginla, Zdeno Chara climbing a mountain and Patrik Elias making the world a better place talking about the troubles in Belize (I still say he got that hepatitis from hanging out with Mmmmaaarrrtttyyy and his in-laws). The Cup raising spot remains my favourite commercial of all time but by the end of the playoffs last season I had to admit that I was sick of it. I'd hear that piano piece start and change the commercial. If the local scrap metal buyers can produce their own advertising on the cheap, the National Hockey League can too.

Now that I addressed the commercial breaks, how about some show ideas? I was actually considering putting together true show pitches but don't have the time and sadly feel they would fall upon deaf ears with the powers that be. I don't think they will with you guys so here are a few, with basic breakdowns. All can be done quite cost effectively by the way ... all names are negotiable:

*Home Ice Advantage: Virtually a travel show, this gives an inside look at each of the NHL's buildings (and beyond perhaps). Not only will you get a history lesson and guided tour by a player or personality, you would also get inside tips from season ticket holders - where the best food is, the best views, the minutia that makes each barn special. MLB Network has the Cathedrals Of The Game, and let's face it, hockey arenas provide a much bigger advantage for the home team than baseball does. So let's take a look how and why.

*The Locker Room: A look at everything that goes into getting on the ice. It would include a look the newest, coolest equipment out there. Sure there would be some product placement by league sponsors, but it could be done in an informative way - how to pick the stick curve that suits your shot? how should your skates fit? what should you look for in a helmet? And once you have that, what ways should you train? What kind of exercises should you do? Drills? If working at Sports Authority for years taught me anything, it's that most people don't have a clue.

*Puck Stuff: Like Sal's Puck Junk blog, it would cover memorabilia. While his site centers on cards, it could go even further with everything from board games to jerseys. The game-worn sweater market is huge, take a trip to the MeiGrey summer sale. Thousands of people go on YouTube to watch box-breaks for the newest Upper Deck line, so why not include something like that? Patrick Roy is said to be a huuuge card collector, have him give a tour of his set up. Get a tour of the manufacturing plants for some of this stuff. Press Pass TV did it with Mitchell & Ness and it was nerd-tastic.

*Ye Olde Hockey Pub: Writers, bloggers, former players ... this is where the personality should come out. A Best Damned Sports Show Period with the hockey (J.R.!) without much of the duchebaggery. Think the ramblings of your house league buddies meet the Hot Stove meet The Sports Reporters. Hell, even get John Saunders to host it. If he can handle Lupica, he surely can take care of Wyshynski. NHL Live was at its best when it was EJ with Donny Pucks for a reason - they know the game, they love the game and they deftly handled the topics of the day. Now add a few beers, a set that doesn't include the NHL Store's checkout girl picking at her thong and some strong personalities butting heads while playing rod hockey.

*International Match Of The Week: Well, this isn't really a program but why couldn't the NHL air a Swedish/Finnish/Swiss/Czech league game? (No Russians, not with the Ice Cold War going on.) Every once so rarely (too rarely) we are treated to junior or minor league matches, so why not see them play on the other side of the pond? As I saw in Switzerland and England (and read in Tropic of Hockey), there is a planet of pucks out there so let's see it. The NHL needs to realize that promoting the sport of hockey - even if it isn't their own games - can only be good for them in the long run.

What do you think? Would you tune in?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Torts Talks

John Tortorella spoke to the Fossil Fischler yesterday. Here is the link (h/t to Kukla), make sure you check it out.

I did and if I had any faith in Torts - which I didn't - it would be gone now. He didn't spew the 'go-team, we have a shot at the Cup' rhetoric. Instead he plays the same hotheaded egomaniac that he proved himself to be in the last postseason. 'I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll sit all of my stars down!'

In the interview (or at least the portion that Stan published), Torts didn't admit his mistakes, said honestly believes that Wade Redden can calm a team by limiting turnovers and admits that he doesn't have a lot of faith in Brandon Dubinsky - saying that Glen Sather has to get a number one center. Oh, so when the team inevitably falls short of the Cup, he can blame it on Glen? Let's face it, we all know it's Glen's fault for throwing money and not wisdom at problems but damn coach, at least take some responsibility.

Tortorella ends the interview saying "for me, coaching this team is a privilege!" Sadly, it seems he feels it is his right as well. We'll see once camp kicks off in September ...