Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Adding Andre

It's been slow, and I did a post about the Brendan Bell signing so here is a quick note about yesterday's addition: Andre Deveaux.

Where I wasn't too pleased about bringing in Bell, this signing makes more sense. Deveaux brings experience and a little bit of ability to a young Whale and replaces the toughness lost when Justin Soryal signed with Carolina. At 6'3, 240 he is solid enough to take on all comers and has tussled with some big names over the course of his career - Krys Barch, Shawn Thornton, Riley Cote, Brandon Prust, Ben Eager and Steve MacIntyre. He even beat up Ruslan Fedotenko once! Haha.

The former Maple Leaf will feel at home in Hartford alongside former teammates Kris Newbury and John Mitchell - you have to wonder why Sather is pulling a Burke and favouring truculence over winning experience but whatever. Deveaux should help teach the kids the professional ropes while making it a safer workplace for them, which is valuable as well.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Musings on MSG's Renovation

Friend of the blog Patrick Hoffman wrote an article for and he asked me a six-pack of questions about the on-going Garden renovations. While some of my answers made his final article, I figured I would post the full monty here for your perusal.

1) Why do you think Madison Square Garden decided to do these renovations?

The short answer is because James Dolan is a businessman who likes to make money. The long answer is because Dolan was shortsighted and shot down the west-side Jets stadium. Once he did that, he slammed the door shut on Bloomberg and the rest of the NYC politicos and thus couldn't set up any kind of tax breaks or financial assistance for a new MSG. Without being able to build a new building, Dolan had to find other ways to raise long-term profits and a full renovation was the next-best thing. The old layout only had so much space for sushi bars and other trappings of the rich, corporate elite that Dolan hopes to attract more of. Yes, regular people enjoy sushi too, but not at hockey games.

2) When you first heard that the Garden would be undergoing renovations, what was your reaction? Why?

I was less than pleased, because I saw a dark future in it - a future where hardcore fans and children can't afford to go to games. A future where the Garden is as intimidating as the Air Canada Center in Toronto (which is not intimidating at all). A future where the team goes back to it's mercenary ways where they overpay for names to keep bringing in corporate clients. I was part of a focus group the Garden held with other season ticket holders. The third-party gentleman that they brought in to conduct the group asked a battery of questions, all along the line of 'what would make it alright for them to take your seat away and give you a worse one?' The answer, unanimously, was nothing. The fellow recommended an exclusive entrance to the building, some exclusive concession stands or minor discounts on said concessions. He was completely unable to grasp the concept that hardcore Ranger fans don't care about the accommodations or intermission entertainment options, they care about watching the game.

3) How do you think these renovations will end up benefiting Ranger fans at the game?

The renovations will make everything shinier and make it easier for fans to empty their wallet. There won't be any more limited view seats and there should be less congestion in the concourses during intermissions. There should be more of an impetus for Sather to build a winning team to justify the huge increases in cost but, looking at Toronto again, that won't necessarily be the case.

4) Do you think that their could be any negatives with these renovations? If so, what are they?

See my answer to number two. The Garden will be another vanilla building, albeit one even more full of tourists and businessmen endlessly talking on Blackberries while ignoring the action. Being a Ranger fan becomes more difficult the more they try to make going to games a luxury. In this day and age, what lower or even middle class families can afford to spend hundreds of dollars to go to a game? How many kids will ever get a chance to sit down low and see and feel the speed and power of live hockey, and thus become hooked on it? As great of a hockey city as New York is, the sport is not ingrained in people the way baseball and basketball is. Hockey is a big niche but a niche just the same. When you charge $60, 70 for nosebleeds, how many of the blue collar fans will bring the wife and kids to several games a season? Not many. They will sit at home and watch it on television, where it becomes just another program - like Jersey Shore or American Idol (and with Joe Micheletti doing analysis, just as obnoxious). It is just another case of eroding your long-term fanbase in exchange for a short-term money grab.

5) As someone who attends the Garden to watch hockey, how do you think the renovations will enhance your viewing experience?

Enhance my experience? Not at all. They may add some convenience as there will be less crowds to fight through towards the increased number of bathrooms and concessions. As a Garden regular after the lockout (when I finally had the money to be), I rarely had problems with the crowds. Like many of the other season ticket folks, I learned the best ways, means and timing to get everything I wanted. And, it must be said that those wants are not many outside of seeing the game. A pregame pretzel, maybe a beer and a stop at the bathroom (after said beer). In fact, the renovations will actually detract from the viewing experience as there will be less hardcore fans to commiserate with, less fans to make noise with and less chance I will be able to afford to go in the future.

6) Any other thoughts you'd like to share regarding the renovations and how it relates to the Rangers?

Dolan and O'Neil and the rest of the Garden brass are doing what they need to do to increase revenues and help maintain the building's standing as the self-proclaimed World's Most Famous Arena. I understand that. But, in doing so, the characteristics that have helped make the place one of the most intimidating, interesting and unique in all of the world are being stripped away. The building is stepping further from the gritty Garden and more towards personality-free corporate cleanliness. It is not entirely unlike Disney taking over Times Square and making it 'safe': it is business- and tourist-friendly but it has no personality.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


This afternoon the Rangers signed defenseman Brendan Bell.

Bell played 29 games in the Swiss league last year and put up all of 11 points. By comparison, after Tyler Arnason defected from the Rangers he played nine games for the same team (EHC Biel) and had 10 points. Yeah. Sure Arnason is a forward - not a defenseman - but he is a bad forward.

While I recall Bell being a third pairing nobody on the Senators, he started his career with Toronto. And, for analysis, let's look at how what the Pension Plan Puppets wrote about him when they put him in a list of the WORST LEAFS since the lockout: "Brendan combined the defensive toughness of Phil Housley with the offensive flair of Garth Butcher."

And the Rangers just signed him. Why?

As Glen Sather did not place a comment in the press release, we are left to wonder what the hell could he have possibly been thinking? He can't possibly share the sentiment of new assistant Jeff Gorton, who said, "Brendan is a good character guy who gives us another player with experience who will compete for an NHL job in training camp."


The top seven Broadway blueliners are Staal, Girardi, Sauer, McDonagh, Erixon, Del Zotto and Eminger. Hartford's top four are spoken for with Wade Redden, Pavel Valentenko, Tomas Kindratek and Jyri Niemi. Stu Bickel, Lee Baldwin, Blake Parlett and Sam Klassen will all fight for the remaining two spots. So where does Bell fit? Do the Rangers really expect him to challenge Steve Eminger for the seventh defender spot or even a top six?

Maybe not, maybe they were just giving him lip service to seduce him into the organization. Perhaps they weren't and they really think there is something there. Perhaps there is a trade coming. Perhaps Redden has found a way to weasel out of his contract and get out of the bus league. I am leaning towards that one and, if so, then we have to hope that Bell can provide the same kind of guidance to the youngsters that the rich Redden did last season. Redden - once upon a time - was a top flight defender. Bell was ... not. He was a decent AHLer who appears to have failed overseas and came limping back looking for work. The Rangers - who have decent depth on D already - gave him a gig. We will see if he rewards their faith this fall.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Saddest Hockey Card Of All Time?

I was looking around the evil eBay today and came across this card. I have it at home and must say that it is heartbreaking to look at. It is the 1975-76 O Pee Chee card of Eddie Giacomin with the traumatic note that he was "Sold to Detroit Oct. 31". Of note, the Topps version does not have the update.

In the Legends Of Hockey series, Giacomin and the Cat re-told the story of that direful deal and Eddie's emotional return the next game. Sure it saddens up your Sunday but it shows just how great Ranger fans are.

Side note: if you guys are interested, I can do more pieces like this about cards, jerseys or other Ranger memorabilia - I have a decent collection. Just let me know.

Friday, August 5, 2011


As I have said many times over, I do not accept advertising here on this blog - if you want to spend money just to spend money, please give it to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. However, every now and again a product peaks my interest and I want to give it a look - after all, we live in a material world and I am a material guy. In this instance, it is - a service that will take your photo and print it on a canvas, like it is art.

Well, a few months back I took a photo that I especially liked and, instead of just making a usual print I decided to take Easy Canvas Prints up on their offer of a (very) small sample in return for this post. Shameless, I know. But what a great picture it was, how could I not want to hang it up ...

The upload process was quick and the turnaround by the company was just as fast. I think the result was a solid one - a nice change from the usual glossy print and something I will try to get signed by the guys somewhere down the line.

Take a look below and judge for yourself. If you are interested, that link again is Easy Canvas Prints. As a nice bonus, when you like them on facebook, they will give you 50% off of their order, and free shipping.

Back to regular programming soon, I promise.