Friday, October 4, 2013


For those arriving here looking to find a venom-filled diatribe on the season debut of the New York Rangers, you have my apologies. I have been forced to place this space on hiatus due to career concerns. The permanence of said hiatus has yet to be determined; keep an eye on @scottyhockey for updates.

Thank you for your readership over the years, it really has been appreciated.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An Open Letter To Those At Camp 2013-14

Hello, and welcome to the New York Rangers,

There are some things you need to know before you get the 2013-2014 NHL season started as a member of the Broadway Blueshirts. I will attempt to lay them out for you to make your transition to New York easier. If you keep these in mind, your stay will be an enjoyable and, hopefully, productive one. Best of luck.

1- First and foremost, being a Ranger requires respect. Respect for your teammates. Respect for the jersey. Respect for the fans. Respect the Rangers. Everything else on this list falls under this dictum. Respect. It sounds simple, but it's not. It's a complete way of being that will require hard work but the payoff is virtually limitless - watch the tape of Eddie Giacomin's return with the Red Wings.

2 - Always, ALWAYS have your teammate's back, on the ice and off. Torts often refused retribution, instead preferring to turn his other obnoxious cheek. AV's Canuck squads didn't shy away from the rough stuff so be ready to use your size and protect your brothers - looking at you Boyle and Pyatt.

3 - Battle from whistle to whistle. No reprieve, no relenting, not for one second. Hockey is your job and we expect you to work while you are at the office. That is what is expected of you. Anything less - let up for just one moment of one shift - and the results will be disastrous. During that lapse a goal may be scored against the Rangers, or it may not. Either way, someone will notice - we Ranger fans pay attention and take this stuff quite seriously. The Blueshirts are the most scrutinized NHL team not in Canada, both by the media and by the fans. You do not want to let up in this town. At the same time, even if things aren't going your way - go without scoring for games at a time, whatever - if you are visibly working hard you will given a pass for quite a while ... just look at Boyle. You may look around at the "fans" down by the ice and see the nice clothes, the iPhones and the models, but don't be fooled: this is a blue collar fanbase that expects and appreciates hard work.

4 - Meet the fans, greet the fans. They are your best asset on the ice, better than any newfangled composite stick or heated skateblade. You may have played in the Garden in the past, you may have not. But you have never felt anything like it when you have 17,200 New Yorkers getting your back, helping you up, pushing you forward. Even the suits get into the action. But they get bored and the rest of us get ... merciless. This goes back to No. 3, if you don't show maximum effort, you will face the ire of the fans and trust me, you won't enjoy it. (I still hate you Poti!)

5 - Maximum effort is an understatement when the Islanders, Devils, Pens or Flyers are in town. Those are the times that you have to go above and beyond. There is no faster way to the hearts of the fans than through the franchise's biggest rivals. In this day and age of free agency (which may have brought you here), rivalries are harder to cling to for players - you may have friends and former teammates on the other side of the ice - but they are grossly important to the fans. Go out to dinner with your buds, go on vacation with them, whatever - from the second that puck drops, you had better be out for blood. Players come and go but that jersey that you pull on has been around for a long time and that means something. That Blueshirt comes with the baggage of hatred for wrongs past. It may sound petty, but it is a part of sporting life. And, if you use that hatred right - through the aforementioned hard work - then it is a very, very good thing.

6 - You know that quiet guy who is hanging around practice? The mild-mannered fellow with his name and number nine in the rafters. Listen to him. If he says something, it's for a reason. If he acts a certain way, it's for a reason. And that reason is always the betterment of the franchise and, frankly, the betterment of yourself as a person. Pay attention to Adam Graves. You will not find a better role model in your search for what it means to be a Ranger. There is a reason why he is beloved in this city, and what he did on the ice is only part of the explanation.

7 - Give not to temptation. New York never closes and there is fun to be had no matter what your vice may be. But if you give in to it, then you are breaking No. 1 on this list. There is a time and place for everything, and while you wear that jersey the time is not right for nefarious activities. Take a second to look up the sad case of Don Murdoch.

8 - While you are at it, spend some time reading up on the past. This season marks the 20th anniversary of 1993-94 - most of you guys were quite young so you could be forgiven for not quite grasping the magnitude of that championship. New York City WENT CRAZY. Make it lose its mind again. But do know, that '94 was one of four Cups collected here. Look it up. The more you read about the 87 year history of the franchise, the more you will understand just how important No. 1 on this list is. A lot of people have put their blood, sweat and tears into building the Rangers and the least you can do is know who they were.

9 - Don't be afraid to speak your mind because honesty is indeed the best policy. Silly, right? Not at all. When speaking to the media or to the press, one of the worse things you can do is speak in benign cliches - there is no such thing as 110%. You can only take things one game, or one day, at a time. And you don't always get the bounces. We know that; tell us how, tell us why. You can't be afraid to show your personality, because that is who you are and we want to know you. We want to root for you. We want to see you succeed.

10 - Don't believe the hype. There are a lot of people playing pundit, a lot of people shooting their (our) mouths off. Expectations have increased now that Tortorella's shackles have been taken off and those expectations will be difficult to meet. But that will come if you work hard, listen to the coaches and play your game to the best of your ability it is possible to reach the high bar that has been set.

This list may seem daunting, but you will be pulling on a Blueshirt and these are the things that come with the jersey.

Let's Go Rangers.

-Scotty Hockey

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Random Ranger Ruminations

With Traverse City starting tomorrow, I figured I'd throw up a quick post of some of the Ranger-related thoughts rattling around my head:

*On the prospect tournament, it will be quite intriguing to see how Lindberg and Fast handle the small ice. Fast handled it well the first time - scoring in his lone game with the Whale last spring - while Lindberg was simply outstanding in Sweden last season. Zip had a good look at the Ranger roster for the prospect tournament the other day. 

*Tickets in Traverse City are $10 a day. Just think about that ... damned shame Michigan is so far away. Sad that MSG is not broadcasting but not a surprise in the least, the Knicks have always been the favourite so the network spent their money going to Vegas instead.

*It is a shame the franchise is so fan-unfriendly. So many other teams are holding open camp dates and other events but the Blueshirts will be closed away in their Westchester country club facility. So the first chance we get to see them in NY is not until the home opener in months. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder, it makes New Yorkers more annoyed.

*However, if you are around and interested, Ryan McDonagh is doing a Steiner signing at Jack Doyle's on Saturday from 2-4 pm.

*Just how good can Danny Kristo be? And if he is as good as he has looked on the ice over the last season, will his off ice issues haunt him the way they did Don Murdoch 30-plus years ago? Kristo and the other kids have a real shot to make an impact with Hags and Cally out in the short term.

*But if they all disappoint, there are four seemingly capable vets to take the wing spots on the top two lines - Nash, Kreider, Zucc and Pouliot. Seeing as AV is a three-line coach, he could easily dress scrubs to get Stu Bickel minutes on the fourth line.

*This being the 20th anniversary of the famed 1994 Stanley Cup victory, what do you think the Rangers will do? Joey Kocur tweeted me a few months back that he expects to be back in NYC for a ceremony. However they decide to honor the lone Cup in the last 73 years, I just hope it happens on Saturday, November 30th. The Rangers' opponent that afternoon? Vancouver.

*It is interesting how many correlations there are between the defensemen AV handled in Vancouver and the ones on the Blueshirt blueline in terms of style. Willie Mitchell/Dan Girardi, Kevin Bieksa/Ryan McDonagh, Sami Salo/Marc Staal - ok, in their inability to stay healthy, not their games - Christian Ehrhoff/Del Zaster. It will be interesting to see if John Moore can turn into Alex Edler …

*If Dylan McIlrath doesn't make the big club - I hope he does but I highly doubt it - who the hell is going to provide the toughness for the team? Haley doesn't belong in the NHL, Asham was waived (I'll really miss him), Boyle can't fight and Pyatt loses his gloves just once a season. That leaves Derek Dorsett, who is a lightweight that has gotten housed by other tough guys. Love, love his heart, but many of his fights are just painful to watch (like this one).

*How painful will it be to watch Del Zaster? He should be even more exposed than he was in the past as his partner and the forwards on the ice with him won't be collapsing as quickly under AV's system.

*Why the hell is Boyle still on the roster? If Sather is to be believed, there was interestfrom other teams in the oversized waste of space - so why not trade him? Dominic Moore, if he has his head back in the game, is 10 times the player Boyle is. So why keep Boyle around?

*That is, unless Sather is keeping him around as an insurance policy should Step hold out and not play this fall or somehow end up elsewhere … I'm sure plenty of other teams would love to have him. It isn't terribly farfetched to see Minnesota putting out an offer sheet for the hometown kid. And they could then move some money out of town to fit him in: Heatley is in the last season of a massive deal and Pominville is in the last year of his contract - I bet a terrible franchise like the Islanders could use either/both of them. Let's just pray the kid capitulates and takes the bridge deal.

*Getting more and more nervous about how much the new bridges will obstruct the view inside MSG for folks like myself in the nosebleeds. Ranger staff have tried to reassure me that the view of the ice will be fine but others who have been inside have warned me to prepare for an opening night rant to my rep.

*That being said, she was quite accommodating for the Yankee Stadium games so a big thanks and a hat tip to her for that. Speaking of the Stadium Series matches, how soon until the Rangers unveil the sweaters they will wear? You have to figure they will be out in time for Christmas, right?

*MSG broadcasts could look quite different this fall. The staff on camera should be the same (dammit, Joe is due back), but the guys behind the scenes have changed. Longtime producer Joe Whelan left before last season (thus the poorly timed promotions during the spring) and this campaign will be without director Bobby Lewis. Lewis worked at MSG for 40 years and called the shots for Ranger games for 30 of them. And, I must say, he did a helluva job and definitely will be missed.

*Finally, on the retirement topic, yet again I'm wavering as to keeping this blog thing alive - at least in its usual form. While the schedule not being so compressed will help, last season was such a burnout that I currently have zero interest in doing nightly recaps. Of course, I felt the same the last few seasons and, when the puck hit ice, my blood started boiling and I had to rant somewhere. So we'll just have to see, stay tuned!

Friday, July 19, 2013

New In Blue 2013

The opening of free agency is in the rear view mirror and Glen Sather largely kept his wallet in his pants. Sure the lowering salary cap had a lot to do with that, as did the need to re-sign several main cogs in the machine, but it was still uncharacteristic of the cigar smoker. It was even stranger as Sather so recently replaced his bench boss with someone who has a significantly different philosophy than the last one.

So what did Glen do for Vigneault? He waived Darroll Powe and Arron Asham and replaced them with Dominic Moore and Benoit Pouliot. He let Steve Eminger and Matt Gilroy walk and traded for Justin Falk and signed Aaron Johnson. Not exactly major changes to a team that burned out too fast two years ago and flunked so badly last season that they got their coach canned. But they were changes nonetheless, so here's a (late) look at the new boys who'll wear blue:

Dominic Moore (@mooredom): Dom is pulling a Kovalev by coming back to the team that drafted him after a few seasons astray. Everyone remembers this commercial, and in the days since Moore dressed for eight other franchises before coming back to Broadway. He's been in such demand because he hustles and plays an honest game. The Hah-vad grad won't rack up the points - although he has it in him to do so - but he brings consistency to one of the two bottom six center positions. Vignault hasn't been big on rolling four lines but with Step, Brass and Richard$ all ahead of him on the depth chart, it's lookin' like Dom will battle Boyle to be the fourth line pivot. He hasn't played since his wife passed away after a battle with cancer so it will be interesting to see how fast he can find his form and if he still has it in him to skate at the breakneck NHL pace. Hopefully the Rangers do something with him/in his wife's memory for Hockey Fights Cancer - a charity that usually is featured in October, when the Rangers will be on the road.

Benoit Pouliot: Pouliot is a bottom six guy with great hands and a big body he rarely uses, he's like an older, North American version of Arty Anisimov. Inconsistent and prone to facepalm turnovers, the former teammate of Marc Staal in juniors is also capable of breathtaking goals. It is interesting to read post-season reviews of his for the last three seasons - 2010-11, '11-12 and '13 - and we're left to wonder what kind of player will show up this fall. Could he click with Brass and Nash and put up 25 goals? Could he end up waived to the Wolf Pack? Not even gonna wager a guess at this point.

Justin Falk (@juicerfalk): First off, there is another guy with virtually the same name - Justin Faulk - and this guy isn't him. Faulk is a possible franchise defenseman for Carolina, Falk is a quiet giant. The 24 year old is a big boy at 6-foot-5 and is capable in his own end but, frustratingly, is not especially physical. If/when the organization decides McIlrath is not ready for the show, Falk could be a decent No. 6 defender who will cover for Del Zaster's del zasters - Stralman certainly couldn't do it and you don't want John Moore to be ruined that way.

Aaron Johnson: Because the Blueshirts don't have enough former Blue Jackets on the roster, they brought in Johnson. The 30-year-old journeyman is also a former ISLANDER and a junior teammate of Richard$ in Rimouski. Hard to see if he was brought in to help re-ignite Richie, to be a good room guy as the No. 7 defender or just to bolster the blue line in Hartford. Maybe all three; we'll see.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Photo of the Day: What a Babe ...

I know more than a few girls that would love to play some puck with the Rangers and tonight I came across a photo of one who actually did: Babe Didrikson Zaharias. A multi-sport star during the golden age of sports (20s, 30s), the Babe is one of the all-time greatest female athletes. Below is a cool shot of her at a Blueshirts' practice about to take a shot at Andy Aitkenhead.

Original source is here.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Not-So-Free Agents 2013

The opening of free agency is a virtual holiday in Canada but here in New York, Glen Sather has turned it into a day to be dreaded like the arrival of inlaws. There is simply no way of telling what the cigar smoker will do today but I figured I would break down 60 impending UFAs in simple terms - guys I'd want, guys I wouldn't mind and guys I wouldn't want. All of the names are from Capgeek's Free Agent list. Sorry for the clutter, don't have the time to make it too pretty.

There are no goalies listed, as Sather seems convinced Biron's ability in the room outweighs his incompetence on the ice. Speaking of incompetence, I immediately ruled out former Islanders and a number of former Blueshirts - no Redden, Gomez, Dvorak, Woywitka, Halpern, Cullen, Jagr, Antropov, Prospal, Stanley Cup Champion Rozsival or Pooooooootttttttiiiiiii. None of the current Ranger UFAs are worth re-signing either - Clowe, Hamrlik, Eminger, or Gilroy. Clowe has some upside but a well-paid power forward who plays tough that has a concussion history? That's a dangerous wager.

Some guys that are older or have been bought out are included on the list, obviously with the hope that they'll take pay cuts ...

Guys I Want On The Rangers

Name Position/Age/2011-12 Salary - Cause

Iginla, Jarome R PIT 36 $7,000,000 - Iggy didn't mesh with Pittsburgh but that doesn't change the fact that he is everything you want in a hockey player.
Scuderi, Rob D LAK 34 $3,400,000 - The New York native is a solid soldier at the back end and a Cup winner.
Cleary, Danny L DET 34 $2,800,000 - Hard hat guy with a Cup on his resume who is willing to go to the net.
Ference, Andrew D BOS 34 $2,250,000 - Solid soldier at the back end and a Cup winner.
Brunner, Damien R DET 27 $1,350,000 - Virtually no idea of what defense is but so skilled at the offensive end of the ice.

Guys I Wouldn't Mind On The Rangers

Name Position/Age/2011-12 Salary - Cause

Alfredsson, Daniel RW OTT 40 $4,875,000 - Veteran Swede has won with Hank before ...
Morrow, Brenden L PIT 34 $4,100,000 - Like Iggy, didn't fit with Pittsburgh but still one gritty guy.
Roy, Derek C VAN 30 $4,000,000 - Former PPG guy has a lot to prove to AV after stumbling with Vancouver.
Lydman, Toni D ANA 35 $3,000,000 - Fine Finn knows how to play his position.
Schultz, Jeff D WAS 27 $2,750,000 - Cut that salary down a bit and Schultz is a capable big bodied defenseman.
Sullivan, Steve L NJD 38 $2,600,000 - Veteran might be willing to empty the tank for one last run.
Raymond, Mason L VAN 27 $2,275,000 - Speedy forward who has underwhelmed to date but AV knows him well.
Gill, Hal D NASH 38 $2,000,000 - Have you seen his twitter account? And he knows how to use his huge frame to clear the crease.
Larose, Chad R CAR 31 $1,700,000 - Coming off an awful year, could be primed for a rebound.
Bozak, Tyler C TOR 27 $1,500,000 - Not a first line center but wins faceoffs and has some offensive ability.
Nystrom, Eric L DAL 30 $1,400,000 - Consistent bottom-six performer, worth it despite his diabolic dad.
Stalberg, Viktor L CHI 27 $875,000 - Speedy and coming off a Cup.
Hendricks, Matt L WAS 32 $825,000 - Heart and grit.
Blum, Jonathon D NAS 24 $650,000 - Former first rounder can carry the puck and needs a change of scenery.
Kostka, Mike D TOR 27 $600,000 - Certainly not the top pairing defenseman Toronto had him as at times, but a good 5-6 ...

Guys I Don't Want On The Rangers

Name Position/Age/2011-12 Salary - Cause

Grabovski, Mikhail C TOR 29 $5,500,000 - Bad attitude.
Ribeiro, Mike C WAS 33 $5,000,000 - Overrated.
Connolly, Tim C TOR 32 $4,750,000 - Concussed.
Hainsey, Ron D WPG 32 $4,500,000 - Underwhelming.
Komisarek, Mike D TOR 31 $4,500,000 - Slow.
Kaberle, Tomas D MTL 35 $4,250,000 - Haha.
Bouchard, Pierre-Marc R MIN 29 $4,080,000 - Injury case.
Whitney, Ryan D EDM 30 $4,000,000 - One dimensional.
Horton, Nathan R BOS 28 $4,000,000 - Concussed.
Gilbert, Tom D MIN 30 $4,000,000 - Soured real fast in Minnesota.
Kuba, Filip D FLA 36 $4,000,000 - Hamrlik 2.
Zidlicky, Marek D NJD 36 $4,000,000 - Old.
Gagne, Simon L PHI 33 $3,500,000 - Concussed.
Lombardi, Matthew C ANA 31 $3,500,000 - Meh.
Ryder, Michael R MTL 33 $3,500,000 - Will want a raise.
MacArthur, Clarke L TOR 28 $3,250,000 - Inconsistent.
Penner, Dustin L LAK 30 $3,250,000 - Cup winner will cost too much.
Weiss, Stephen C FLA 30 $3,100,000 - Underwhelming.
Filppula, Valtteri L DET 29 $3,000,000 - Insanely wants a raise.
White, Ian D DET 29 $2,875,000 - No Lidstrom, no results.
Clarkson, David R NJD 29 $2,666,667 - Boneheaded minor leaguer.
Murray, Douglas D PIT 33 $2,500,000 - Sadly proved too slow.
Colaiacovo, Carlo D DET 30 $2,500,000 - Don't want to try to type that often.
Handzus, Michal C CHI 36 $2,500,000 - Got his Cup, time to call it a career.
Aucoin, Adrian D CLB 39 $2,250,000 - Thought he had retired.
Zanon, Greg D COL 33 $2,250,000 - Nothing left but the beard.
Corvo, Joe D CAR 36 $2,000,000 - Uh oh.
Latendresse, Guillaume L OTT 26 $2,000,000 - Inconsistent.
Pardy, Adam D BUF 29 $2,000,000 - He made $2,000,000??
Cooke, Matt L PIT 34 $1,800,000 - Criminal.
Ponikarovsky, Alexei L NJD 33 $1,800,000 - Worse than Frolov.
O'Byrne, Ryan D TOR 28 $1,800,000 - Just, no.
Mueller, Peter R FLA 25 $1,725,000 - Great flow, nothing else.
Dupuis, Pascal R PIT 34 $1,500,000 - Fluke season will garner an insane raise.
Fistric, Mark D EDM 27 $1,475,000 - Physical, but not physical enough.
Gerbe, Nathan L BUF 25 $1,450,000 - Midget.
Comeau, Blake L CLB 27 $1,250,000 - Former Islander.
Steckel, David C ANA 31 $1,100,000 - Credit forever for injury Crosby, but nothing else.
Lapierre, Maxim C VAN 28 $1,000,000 - Fourth line penalty risk.
Hannan, Scott D SJS 34 $1,000,000 - Old, slow.

This is, of course, just my opinion so take it as it may. Last year I wanted Taylor Pyatt and didn't want Arron Asham. And look how both failed ... 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Guest Post: A Red, White & Blue Blueshirt

The Pundit was kind enough to pen this for me last summer for a project since abandoned and I felt it would be good to go up today: he remembers a New York Ranger who has faded into the past, one who happens to be a U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer. USA! USA! USA! -Scotty

by Mike Savino, aka the Ranger Pundit

Bill Moe came back on my radar in a rather strange way. My Grandson, Nicholas, had just secured a spot on his High School freshman team and was issued a jersey with a number 21 on it. Dad and Nicholas then did a search of Ranger jerseys, past and present to find a #21 to relate to a Ranger. Naturally, Gramps, the Ranger Pundit, came up with the perfect #21. Since Nicholas is a defenseman it was a natural that the #21 would be one of my favorites, the hard checking Bill Moe.

Moe played with the Rangers from 1944-45 to 1948-49. He played with Don Raleigh for two years. He was one of three American players in the NHL. One was Frankie Brimsek, the Bruin goalie also known as Mr. Zero. The other was John Manucci.

Moe was a hard luck player in his five years with the Rangers. He played in only one playoff game and suffered a fractured vertebrae on a check to Detroits Bill Quackenbush. In 1948-49 Moe was involved in an auto accident with four other players prior to the season opener. He suffered a concussion but still managed to play in 60 games. After the season the Rangers traded him to the Bruins who assigned Moe to their AFL affiliate. That ended Moe’s NHL career. In 1974 Bill Moe was installed in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Moe had a unique style of checking. He lined up a player and went low to the ice and clipped him below the knees. The crowd roared at t he sight of players doing cartwheels and landing on the ice on their backs. That kind of check is now outlawed. Its amazing, slewfooting, elbows to the head, sticks across the face are all minor type penalties but the artistic checks of a Bill Moe are outlawed.

I’ll never see another Bill Moe again just as I will never see another “Bones” Raleigh again. I guess I’m an old fogey and a traditionalist as I’m starting to look back more than I am looking ahead. But I look at the Rangers now and we are run by a GM who is in hiding and will start his 14th year without a reasonable run for the Cup. I see a disagreeable coach who wont be happy til one of his players gets disfigured by a shot. The hockey today is boring and well, I digress.

Boy, do I miss Bill Moe, who passed away in 1996 at the age of 80. But he is in hockey heaven where he skates to meet “Bones” Raleigh and his other team mates from the 40’s. God Bless Guys!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Guest Post: The New York Rangers 2013 Draft Recap

by Matt Lavanco

The 2013 NHL Draft came and went this past weekend and it was relatively uninteresting in Rangers-land. No draft picks were moved in or out, Glen Sather stood fast and left Gordie Clark to select the players he thought would best help this organization.
Left to his own devices Gordie used his five selections on five projects, none of whom project to compete for a roster spot in fall camp. Fans will have to patient for this current crop of prospects to develop and hopefully we’ll see some offensive output from this class several years down the road. It is interesting to note that the Rangers drafted two players from the QMJHL – the same amount of players selected from the Q since 2007 (in which they also took two).

Here's a look at each of the five:

Clark opened the third round by selecting University of North Dakota commit, Adam Tambellini. Tambellini absolutely dominated his BCHL competition this past season. Tambellini used his size, speed and great shot release to give teams a headache. He’ll have to continue to develop his defensive game and turn into an all-around effective two-way player. He will more than likely spend all four years at NoDak to grow into his body and grow his game.

Pavel Buchnevich, the second of the third round picks, is a wild card. Buchnevich is a highly skilled offensive dynamo. He stood out this year in at the Under-18 tournament in his home country showing off his skill and playmaking abilities. It feels like well-worn territory, but with every Russian draft pick the big question of whether he will actually come to the USA is asked. Buchnevich has two years remaining on his KHL contract so there isn’t much to get excited over just yet. If he does come though, he will hopefully be stronger and physically more mature than he is now.

The selection of Anthony Duclair closed out the third round for the Rangers. The Quebec Remparts winger burst on the scene as a rookie with 31 goals and 66 points in 63 games. Expectations for Duclair went sky high and there were musings that he might be go in the first round this year. However, injuries and inconsistency led to Duclair’s stock dropping sharply. If he can find a groove and add some strength Duclair could be a terrific prospect. The slick winger is an absolute stud in the offensive zone. He has elite speed that allows him to retrieve loose pucks and generate scoring chances. He also has great puck protection skills. Duclair has to improve his defensive game and show better positioning in his own zone. He will be an exciting prospect to follow over the next few years.

There’s not much to say about the Rangers fourth round selection, P.E.I. Rockets’ Ryan Graves. Graves is a work in progress. He attempts to play a physical, intimidating game in a league that is not overtly physical. Graves needs to improve is skating and footwork in order to play the shutdown role he is sized for.

With the Rangers final pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, they chose goalie Mackenzie Skapski of the Kootenay Ice. Now in my preview I had stated that I did not thing where the Rangers were selecting a goalie would be a wise choice. I stand by that opinion. Skapski posted a 34-25 record with an unremarkable 2.78 GAA and .910 Save % for the Ice. He lead his team to the eighth and final playoff spot in the WHL’s Eastern Conference – to which Kootenay got railroaded by top seed Edmonton. Skapski did have a fantastic February and recorded four shutouts with a 1.27 GAA and .956 Save %.

Skapski is a big body in the net. He uses his size to cut down angles well, but he needs to work on his recovery. In limited viewings, Skapski seemed slow on rebounds and therefore exposed on second and third shots.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Post-Draft Monday Musings

All sortsa random stuff rattling around my head after spending Sunday in Newark:

*That was the fastest seven hours I've experienced - what a terrific experience. The NHL should stick to the one-day draft extravaganza rather than trying for tv ratings with a two-day affair.

*Oh, New Jersey, you stink. Funny that their fan fest was sponsored by "Stronger Than The Storm" as it was a mess - a ferris wheel that never was completed, an unorganized mini golf 'course' and loads of sand where it didn't belong.

*Really nice to see the prospects celebrating their selection by hugging their families. Really sad to see the prospects who weren't picked hugging their families at the end of the night.

*One reason why the draft was so great was the accessibility of everyone. Saw one kid walking around handing out resumes, which I thought was a brilliant move.

*Alain Vigneault showed his fan-friendliness by stopping and taking pictures with everyone who wanted one. And even Glen Sather was in a good mood, he actually didn't ignore everyone and answered my quick question - Hey Glen, good draft or bad draft? He replied, "Great draft." Not sure he was awake for it and totally aware as to what was going on, but at least he had as good a time as us fans did.

*My draft guy Matt Lavanco should have a pick-by-pick review done in the next few days but personally I was a bit disappointed. No trades for picks, so just five selections - none of whom appear to be NHL-ready for at least two, three seasons. Minimum. My take, in order: NHL legacy Tambellini, Russian Brendl Buchnevich, injury case Duclair, project defenseman not-related-to-that Graves and some goalie Skapski.

*Buchnevich, by the way, is the first Russian selected by the Rangers since I took a look at all of the players from that country/the USSR back in 2010. It is not a good track record.

*Not one of the kids selected Sunday was alive when Messier raised the Cup, with Skapski being born the day after. Feel old? I do.

*Interesting that the Rangers trade for a big defenseman seemingly on the cusp of success (according to the Wilderness guys) on the same day they are rumoured to add Ulf Samuelsson to the coaching staff.

*Hopefully that is the first of many good moves this offseason as our metro rivals improved themselves with trades. The Devils acquired a franchise goaltender in Schneider to replace Fatso for a pittance, their No. 9 pick. And the Isles added some very-needed grit and ability in Clutterbuck for the Swiss problem child.

*Interesting that Brodeur showed up to draft his own son, and the Flyers had Chris Pronger handy when they selected the next Chris Pronger.

*Former Ranger Jeff Ulmer spent six games with Tappara this season and I asked him back then if Barkov was the real deal. He thought that the kid should be first overall, so seeing him go second was not a shock.

*Colorado continued to drive down the road to irrelevance, passing on the defenseman they desperately needed for a flashy center they didn't. But it certainly worked out for Nashville as they add yet another stud defender.

*Darnell Nurse to the Oilers is pretty much unfair. Once that franchise gets a goaltender, they're winning some Cups. Jump on the bandwagon now ...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Guest Post: The New York Rangers 2013 Draft Preview

by Matt Lavanco

Skimming stones is one of those activities that is a heck of a lot of fun to do. The satisfaction you feel from finding that perfect stone, flicking your wrist and watching it skip across the water is tremendous. Properly skimming a stone requires as much as skill as it does luck, much like predicting an NHL Draft. Such a task is made even harder when your general manager trades the first and second round selections. The farther away from shore you get, the more chance your stone will sink.

It is a shame that the Rangers – at the moment – will start a ways away from land. If they still had their own selections, they could use talented forwards like Ryan Hartman, Adam Erne, Kerby Rychel Max Domi or Bo Horvat. But, alas, the first time the Blueshirts will call a name will be in the third round, where they have three selections. Add them to the fourth and sixth round spots that the team still possess and this makes for a boom or bust draft and Gordie Clark and the rest of his scouting staff have their work cut out for them. I’m no expert prospect prognosticator, but I’ll try sorting through this year’s crop of talent for our beloved New York Rangers:

First off, the thought of sitting on the sideline for two entire rounds is disappointing. Perhaps Gordie can talk Glen into packaging a pair of their third round picks to move up into the second and draft dynamic winger Oliver Bjorkstrand. Bjorkstrand led all WHL rookies in scoring and plays a hard, fast game. The Portland Winterhawks winger needs to add some more weight to handle the rigors of a pro game, but his scoring and overall skill make him an exciting prospect. Jumping to the defensive side, while still thinking offensively, the Belleville Bulls’ Jordan Subban is a pure puck-moving defenseman that would make quite a pick. Although he is undersized, Subban is a fast skater who possesses a hard shot and is highly intelligent on the ice. Size, however, is a concern and he does need to improve his own zone play, but the Rangers really could use his skill set on the right side of the blueline. If Sather decides to sit on his three third rounders, I’ll be bummed. But there will still be plenty of projects the Rangers could decide to undertake.

One of which is the Kingston Frotenacs’ Ryan Kujawinski. The slick skating center excels in the dot and has a hard shot that challenges goaltenders. But the big hold out is his lack of consistency throughout season. If he can be coaxed into producing night-in, night-out Kujawinski could be a contributor.

The Rangers might also consider a pair of U.S. National Team Development Program players: Hudson Fasching and Tyler Motte. Fasching, a Golden Gopher-commit, is a big rangy power forward with a nose for the net who uses his size to attack the goalmouth and is not easy to knock off the puck. Motte is a small, speedy winger who tied for the Team USA lead in points at the World Junior Under-18s with five goals and two assists in seven games. But he isn’t just a scorer, Motte earned his Stars and Stripes for doing the little things as well - killing penalties, blocking shots, and jumping passes. Motte plays a lot like our own Carl Hagelin (BORK!) and will be taking his game to the Swedish Chef’s old kitchen at Michigan in the fall (BORK! BORK! BORK!).

Another possible third round selection could be Roberts Lipsbergs of the Seattle Thunderbirds, a winger who finished second behind Bjorkstrand in WHL rookie scoring. The Latvian turned it on for the T’birds down the stretch and scored 20 points in the final 21 games. His head coach in the Emerald City, ex-pro Steve Konowalchuk, has lauded Lipsbergs’ abilities as a playmaker and goal-scorer. He is encouraged by Lipsbergs desire to be a complete player, but he says Lipsbergs has to learn to finish his checks and block shots in order to do so.

A pair of offensive defenseman in Dakota Mermis and Niklas Hansson should be available in the middle rounds. Mermis was passed over last year so he defected from the Denver Pioneers to head to the OHL’s perennial powerhouse London Knights to raise his draft stock. He did just that, but this undersized offensively skilled d-man still needs to improve his consistency. Hansson is more of a sleeper, having played the majority of 2013 with Sweden’s Rögle BK Under-20 team. He is another highly skilled d-man with a big upside and he even managed to get in nine games with Rogle’s top team in the Elitserien. But, much like Subban, Hansson’s own zone play leaves a lot to be desired.

Seattle’s Jared Hauf and Sudbury Wolves’ Jeff Corbett are two of your more traditional stay-at-home defenseman. The 6’5 Hauf plays the shutdown role for the Thunderbirds and is a capable puck mover. Corbett flew up the Sudbury’s depth chart with his play and leadership. His own zone play is steady and his offensive game is improving.

A forward that the Rangers are familiar with that may slip through the cracks is Michigan’s Andrew Copp. Copp ended the season in Red Berenson’s top-6 and routinely shared the ice with the Blueshirts’ second round selection last summer Boo Nieves. This Wolverine is a solid two-way center that is adept on the penalty kill and is a leader on and off the ice. Bloodlines always get noticed and Cole Cassels, (son of former NHLer Andrew) also fills the two-way center role for the Oshawa Generals. Cassels’ feisty play earned him 43 points in 64 games but, by his own admission, had a poor postseason that will send him deeper down the draft board.

Other projects include the oversized Tyler Hill and the undersized Taylor Cammarata. At 6’6 Hill has all the tools to be a power forward in the NHL, but has yet to put it all together consistently. Cammarata, all 5’7 of him, led the USHL in scoring with 93 points in 58 games and what he lacks in size he compensates with skill. Headed to Minnesota in the fall, is always around the puck and makes plays happen on the ice.

Apologies but no goaltenders have really stood out amid my scouting that deserve spotlighting. The majority of netminders in this draft class are largely unproven and using one of the limited draft choices is a risky move, even for Sather.

It’ll be interesting to see how the draft plays out on June 30th. The many moves Sather made to strengthen John Tortorella’s team have left the Rangers cupboard close to barren. Now with a new coach coming in, does the scouting staff add size or skill, defense or offense? Do they take a flyer on a no-name foreign goaltender to eventually replace the no-name foreign goaltender they took in the seventh round in 2000, the one who turned into the King? Clark and co. are going to skip some stones, let’s hope some help this team stay afloat.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rangers' Radio City Royal Rumble

Let's face it, the Rangers' coaching hunt and Friday's press conference unveiling Alain Vigneault was boring. It was the MSG ideal: corporate and clean. But what if the whole coaching selection process was, say, a more physical affair? What if Dolan pulled a Vince McMahon and went with a Royal Rumble to select the new bench boss for the Blueshirts? Here's how it could have went ...



Fans clad in Ranger sweaters fill the seats of the historic hall and a wrestling ring occupies the stage. Blue carpeting runs down the aisles and up the stairs to the ring. A massive screen looms behind it and an announcers table with two chairs sits alongside. Sitting at the table are Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a Royal Rumble match. Now two superstars will begin in the ring. Every 90 seconds a new participant will enter the ring. Elimination occurs when they are thrown over the top rope and both feet touch the ground. This will continue until all 30 candidates have entered the match."

"Excuse me Sam, 10 candidates. Glen's time is too valuable, he has a tee time to make."

"Um, ok Joe. As I was saying, the last remaining candidate will be declared the winner and the new head coach of the New York Rangers!"

The lights flash, and music plays as the first participant walks down the aisle.

Mark Messier rolls into the ring to a thunderous ovation, with Micheletti walking over to hand him a microphone and a kleenex to dab the tears.

"I am just so touched you guys remember me, and I love this city. I will be a great replacement for John Tortorella, because I know how to intimidate others and play favourites. Thank you."

"I love you Mark. Let's see who you will start off against."

Lindy Ruff heads down the aisle, with Darcy Regier a few steps behind him carrying a briefcase. Ruff stops for a moment to throw Ryan Miller under a bus, then gets in the ring. Regier sits down next to Sam, opens the case, pulls out some wings and the two go to town. Ruff looks over and asks what the deal is, so Regier laughs and says how he still has a job and just wants to enjoy the show.

The bell rings and Ruff and Messier begin circling. It appears that both are being blinded by the reflection of the lights off each other's foreheads so they each miss their attacks.

On the massive screen a countdown occurs, running from 10 down to zero. A horn sounds and music begins to play:


Metallurg Magnitogorsk's Mike Keenan walks in, hugs Messier and the two team up on Ruff. They each grab one of Ruff's hands and try pulling in opposite directions but the burly former blueliner yanks his arms back and Keenan and Messier collide Three Stooges style. Ruff tries to get the crowd to chant "Brett Hull Sucks, Brett Hull Sucks" but Gary Bettman shushes him.

On the massive screen a countdown occurs, running from 10 down to zero. A horn sounds and music begins to play:


Guy Boucher slowly makes his way to the stage, wearing an eye patch and cradling a cat in his arm that he slowly pets. Messier and Keenan roll around, trying to get themselves together while Ruff waves Boucher in. The former Tampa coach begins to tell everyone about SPECTRE's plans to blow up New York unless Dolan gives him $100 million and the coaching gig. Keenan gets up and giggles, because that's what the Russians are paying him.

On the massive screen a countdown occurs, running from 10 down to zero. A horn sounds but there is a pause before ...

"Pardon me Sam ..."


Micheletti gets up from the table, strips out of his suit and rolls into the ring.

"Go get 'em Joe!" 

Micheletti goes right after Keenan, who he feels has upstaged him on several Ranger postgame reports. They swing each other back and forth against the ropes, going nowhere, like their commentary. Messier laughs at Boucher's plans for world domination and snaps his eyepatch before giving him a forearm shiver. Boucher drops his cat, and it runs over to Ruff and hisses at him. Ruff climbs up on the turnbuckle to get away.

On the massive screen a countdown occurs, running from 10 down to zero. A horn sounds and music begins to play:

Clad in a classic Prada suit, Sean Avery shows up. The crowd goes wild but no one in the ring is happy to see him. They stop fighting each other to stare at him while he steps into the ring, takes his jacket off and delicately drapes it over the top rope. Avery turns around and unleashes a string of expletives about his opponents' significant others that makes Rosen blush. Boucher's cat comes over and Avery freaks out because he can't have fur on his designer pants.

On the massive screen a countdown occurs, running from 10 down to zero. A horn sounds and music begins to play:

John Tortorella walks in with a pack of pooches and grabs Rosen's microphone from him.

"You didn't think I was going to go quietly, did you? And do you really think you can replace me? With this bunch? You're out of your !@$#ing mind."

Torts drops the mic, ties the leashes for the dogs to the corner of the ring and rolls under the ropes. Boucher's cat immediately runs away while Micheletti gets down on his knees before Torts and begs not to be yelled at. Torts ignores him as his eyes are locked on Avery, who has Ruff in a headlock and is giving nuggies. Boucher takes the opportunity to talk to Keenan about expanding his evil empire into Russia.

On the massive screen a countdown occurs, running from 10 down to zero. A horn sounds and music begins to play:


Alain Vigneault saunters down the aisle with twin ginger Rockettes on each shoulder. Keenan uses the distraction to throw Boucher out of the ring and Torts kicks Micheletti in the face to clear the way to Avery. Avery drops Ruff like a bad habit and rushes at Torts. The two collide and fall to the floor. Meanwhile Vigneault still hasn't made it into the ring, as he is shaking everyone's hands and asking how their mothers are doing.

On the massive screen a countdown occurs, running from 10 down to zero. A horn sounds and music begins to play:

With Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson flanking him, Wayne Gretzky walks in. Jordan and Jackson immediately go chat up Vigneault's Rockettes, while Gretz goes up to Messier. Micheletti tries to get in between so he can hug his old Edmonton teammate but Messier backhands him so hard Joe falls all the way out of the ring and through Sam's announce table. Avery and Torts are back up and exchanging haymakers.

On the massive screen a countdown occurs, running from 10 down to zero. A horn sounds and music begins to play:

Dave Tippett enters, walks into the ring and proceeds to jump back out again, taking himself out. Don Maloney stops whispering in Sather's ear, collects Tippett and the two walk out of Radio City. Gretzky jumps out of the ring and tries to follow but Maloney says talk to the hand. Gretz tries to get back in the ring but he has been eliminated.

Avery and Torts are bloody messes but are still trading punches. Keenan goes to give Vigneault a hand to help him in the ring and Vigneault uses it to pull the '94 Cup coach out. Vigneault climbs in and a mad Messier comes over to glare. Avery and Torts are now rolling around on the floor, tearing at each other's clothes and they roll right out. Torts takes his dogs and heads to Vancouver, while Avery stands around, basking in the crowd's continual adoration. Vigneault and Messier start wrestling, and Messier clocks him with a fist full of Cup rings. Vigneault drops like a rock and Messier climbs the turnbuckle to launch himself at Vigneault, who rolls away at the last second. On the other side of the ring Ruff gets Avery's suit jacket off the ropes and tries to put it on, so Avery grabs Ruff by the legs and yanks him out of the ring.

Jim Nill appears out of nowhere and Vigneault an offer but Sather climbs in and hits the Dallas G.M. with a chair. Messier tried to use the moment to launch himself off the ropes at Vigneault but, again, Vigneault escaped at the last second. Unfortunately Mess' momentum carries him over the far ropes and out of the ring.

Ruff wakes Nill up and the two leave together, leaving Sather to celebrate with Vigneault.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the new coach of the New York Rangers! Alain Vigneault!"


Friday, June 21, 2013

'Allo Vigneault

The decisions has been made, Glen Sather has made the call: Alain Vigneault is the new head coach of the New York Rangers.

Yet again, the Manhattan team has settled for mediocrity instead of reaching for something better. Vigneault has been to the Stanley Cup Finals just once in 10-plus NHL seasons, and lost that one time with the Canucks being bested by the Bruins. He has one career championship, coming a quarter-century ago in the QMJHL.

But we don't care about championships in New York, we care about corporate money and that will come with consistent regular season success - something Vigneault had in his seven seasons in Vancity. Unlike his predecessor, AV is affable and easy going, and an easy sell to the suits. And, frankly, that is all that the Blueshirt bosses care about nowadays. They need to grab as much big business money as they can to help pay off the fan-unfriendly renovation.

Like his predecessor, Vigneault stuggles to make strategy changes and is a big fan of line juggling. He leans heavily on his stars and his team goes as far as they will take them. In Vancouver he was primarily a three-line guy, so don't expect the Rangers to pull a page out of the recent Cup winners' playbook and suddenly be a four-line team. He will give the forwards more freedom, to be sure, but that could expose our atrocious bottom three defensemen even more then they had been in the last few seasons.

Vigneault's power play, despite the telepathic link between the Sedins, went a below-average 15.8% ... the Rangers went 15.7% and the teams were 22nd and 23rd overall. For fellow fight fans, who knows what we will get: Vancouver had 28 majors last year to the Rangers' 18, but the season the Canucks went the distance they were 23rd overall (with 29, the Rangers were sixth with 62).

This particular coach is not big on this generation of kids: of the 36 players drafted by Vancouver from 2006-2011 just seven have played in the NHL and just two are regulars ... both with other teams (Hodgson and Grabner). This last season just five Canucks 25 years old or under played more than three games in the big league. That being said, there were plenty of home-grown Canucks on the roster - the Sedins, Burrows, Edler, Bieksa, Schneider, Kesler, Raymond, Hansen, etc.

Frankly, the hiring of Vigneault just looks like the NHL coaching carousel is going around, rearranging chairs on the deck of sinking ships. Sadly we know that with Glen Sather at the helm, the SS Rangers is not aiming towards the tropical waters of paradise but sailing through known seas simply trying not to hit icebergs.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Big Decision, Big Decision

Lost amid the celebration that followed the firing of John Tortorella is the fact that these are dangerous times for the New York Rangers. We sit upon the very precipice of long term success or long term failure and the replacement bench boss will have a big say in which way the franchise heads.

Failure, by the way, includes mediocrity - the malady that infected the Blueshirts for season after season in the post-94 era. Sure the team has at least made the playoffs in recent history but, as Vin Scully has said, "good is not good enough when better is expected."

And better is expected. The bar was raised last season and, despite Dolan's virtual disinterest in the Rangers, he does care about his wallet. It is a fat wallet he opened to rebuild the Garden after his mouth ruined hopes of a new building. Nearly a billion bucks have been spent on an aesthetically pleasing, physically uncomfortable remodeling and now it's time to start making money again. They expect to recoup all of that cash in the next five years so where will that revenue come from?


Nothing sold the Rangers and nothing sold the sport of hockey like the lone New York championship in the last 73 years. They made it to the Finals three times in the 54 years between Cups and have yet to get that far in the last 19. So there are veeeeerrry narrow windows for success in this town and, for all of the flaws and holes in the lineup, the players that make up the current core of the Big Apple are in or are entering their prime. Either they will take the next step toward Stanley, or they will wither on the vine.

There are no blue chippers coming to camp this fall, no saviours waiting in the wings. Glen Sather cut short the rebuild by buying Richard$ and selling three True Blue and a top pick for Nash, among other moves. Recent draft selections have been projects and are still years away. The kids contained in the current lineup are pretty much all that is in the cupboard and the new coach will have to look through it to figure out what he can make of the shattered pieces left by the last bench boss.

That being said, for all of Glen's failures - and there have been many over the dozen-plus years of his tenure - he has been accommodating of his coaches. Renney took the Czechs as far as they could go and wanted a more North American north-south team so Sather signed Drury and Gomez. Torts wanted familiar foot soldiers he could order around so Sather got Fedotenko and Richard$. So it can be certain that the new shot caller will have the mercenaries he wants to implement his philosophies.

Glen shouldn't hire an old buddy or someone who has some impressive hand writing. Taking someone off the coaching carousel brings expectations and baggage and the best of those candidates haven't had the best history when it comes to the Cup, i.e. Ruff and Vigneault. Speaking of history, it is easy to see Sather going the Gretzky or Messier route - not only are they old friends who had some success in a former life, but they also are 'names' that can sell Dolan on the thought they can sell tickets. Because fans pay to watch the guys behind the bench. /sarcasm

Dave Tippett has a nice track record, and everyone knows Glen's relationship with Phoenix. But who knows if the former Star is interested in leaving the desert.

The rebuild is over but that doesn't mean that young blood can't build this team into a winner. Just as Jeff Gorton has helped refresh the Rangers front office, someone outside of the OBN (Old Boys' Network) needs to bring new ideas behind the bench. Davis Payne and Guy Boucher weren't bad before being undone by abominable goaltending and the AHL guys out there - Dallas Eakins, Mark French (just went to the KHL), Willie Desjardins - have shown signs they can succeed in in the show.

But whoever Sather selects will have little time to implement his strategy. This team needs to win, and soon.

Or else. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ding Dong, Torts Is Gone

Glen Sather sent another coach packing today, as he issued a pink slip to John Tortorella. That's the fifth bench boss of the general manager's time atop the Ranger ladder, if you count Sather himself.

But as the Stealth GM - as the Pundit calls him - survives to smoke another cigar, Torts now has more time to spend with his dogs. Good riddance. It was a long time coming, and yet a surprise just the same. If any coach had excuses for a disappointing season, it was Torts. No training camp, new players to integrate, injuries to prime players, few top prospects ready to fill spots ... all solid justification for bringing him back in the fall.

Sather didn't see it that way, and the firing helps the tin hat folks who are searching for c-o-n-spiracies. The coach and the GM had a fight, the GM was offended by the coach's comments, the GM was scared at the reports that the King might not come back. My theory? It goes back to what I said when Brad Richard$ was brought in: Dolan needs a winning team to fill the fixed-up Garden. The reno is finishing this summer and the Blueshirt brass need to start paying it off. Doing that will require massive corporate money and massive corporate money comes with Cups.

The scary part of that is it makes it all but certain that Sather will sign a 'name' coach to step behind the bench, with Alain Vigneault and Lindy Ruff the biggest candidates. Neither one have won a Cup and, frankly, neither one is likely ever to. Both have failed in the Finals once, both lasted past their expiration dates at their former jobs and both were given all the talent in the world by their bosses and botched it. Other top options being floated are Dave Tippett, Dallas Eakins and Ken Gernander. Kenny G and Dallas are great AHL minds but have yet to be blooded at the elite level and the likelihood of Tippett leaving Phoenix now that his boss and buddy Don Maloney has re-upped is slight. He is a great, great coach, but why would he leave what he has built for Broadway? Money does move the world but the Yotes' ownership saga may be nearing its end.

The guy I would bring in for an interview would be Davis Payne. The assistant coach of the L.A. Kings spent two-plus seasons in St. Louis as the head coach and left with a solid 67-55-15 record despite having an unremarkable, rebuilding Blues squad. Working against him is that he isn't a "name" and the fact that he is still with a team active in the playoffs so the interview will be quite close to Sather's deadline of the draft.

Whoever it ends up being, at least he won't be the tumultuous Tortorella. His errors were egregious, his ego tremendous, his results mediocre. For all the talk about last season's success, Torts' mismanagement was the singular reason why they fell short of Stanley. And, as written here a few days ago, losing to Boston wouldn't be shameful if the team had played to the utmost of their ability. They didn't, so the bench boss had to pay.

Hopefully the next guy will find better results. 

Grading the Brass 2013

Seeing as the players saw the red pen earlier, here are the grades of the men in charge. Their explanations are a little more in depth. For comparison's sake, here are the grades for '09-10'10-11 and '11-12.

Jim Schoenfeld/Ken Gernander: The Whale finished two points out of a playoff spot after closing the season on an atrocious 0-5-1-0 run. The concussion that cost Marek Hrivik half the season couldn't be helped. Few players were graduated to the big club but it isn't like Torts woulda trusted them anyway. Kreider looked good in his return for the playoffs but can that be attested to his time in the bus league or to the big stage? How the development of Miller, Thomas and McIlrath over the season worked out will be better judged in the fall. B

John Tortorella: Another season of the egomaniacal, deluded dictator saw the Rangers regress from last year's surprising success. Torts had a distinctly different team this time around that he failed by attempting to force them to play his Safe Is Life system. Rather than attempt to adapt to the new staff, Torts kept hammering his boring brand of defensive hockey. His sense of accountability was flawed due to his favouritism as he forced out last season's 41 goal scorer while sticking with an atrocious Brad Richard$. His power play ... 'nuff said. As usual, his work with the media was an unfortunate, unprofessional sideshow.  F

Glen Sather: Yet again Glen's moves have been a mixed bag of the bad and the brilliant. The thought that Arron Asham could suitably replace Brandon Prust was farcical and not realizing the full impact of sending Dubi, Arty and Timmay to Columbus for Nash was a major failure on Sather's part. Adding Hamrlik on waivers and keeping J.T. Miller for too long were also both clear errors. But Rupp for Powe and Palmieri, hell, Rupp for anyone showed the GM's Jedi powers. Also his 'deadline' deals of bringing back Zuke and picking up Brassard, Moore and Dorsett for unhappy Gabby were both brilliant. Seems like he overpaid for Clowe but who knows how the big guy coulda helped in crunch time had he not been concussed. B-

James Dolan: First the lockout then the incredibly un-fan-friendly phase two of the renovation. It's harder to get into the arena, it's harder to get around the arena and the seats are more uncomfortable than ever. Other teams had give-aways, give-backs and thank yous for the fans who returned, we had higher prices and ultimatums. The corporatization of the Rangers is nearly complete and the writing is on the wall for the rest of us. Diehard fans are not appreciated or wanted - we already own jerseys, we have our neighborhood bars and routines. Businessmen and tourists come to the Garden and spend more on a nightly basis, and that is what it is all about for Jimmy D's regime. They built the "World's Most Famous Arena" reputation on our backs and are now doing their best to push us out. The focus on the bottom line - while understandable on a strictly logical level - has resulted in a lifeless, dull arena experience. But, on the plus side, at least it's been quiet enough for the ladies to ask questionsF

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rangers Report Card 2013

As I've done in the past, I graded each of the 2013 New York Rangers based on expectations, performance all season long and performance when it counted - NOT performance compared to other players. I am, admittedly, a tough grader. Guys with less than five games received incompletes.

If you feel so inclined, you can refer back to the report cards for the last few seasons: '07-08'08-09'09-10'10-11 and '11-12.

By my math this season's grades worked out to a 1.95 GPA, which is a C. Yes, I'm well aware that the team made it to the conference semifinal but they barely made the playoffs, barely beat a bad Washington squad and were blown out by a Boston team that wasn't playing to their ability. Mediocrity, thy name is New York.


#45 Arron Asham: Stupid penalties, senseless fights, zero intimidation, a spot in the press box right when his experience was supposed to help most. His four goals and the enjoyment I get from our banter on Twitter saved him from failure. D

#22 Brian Boyle: Same number of points in the playoffs as he had in the regular season - five. Reluctance to use his size physically or offensively outweighs occasional faceoff success. D

#16 Derick Brassard: What a difference a new zip code makes. After underwhelming in Columbus, came to New York and showed the skills that made him the sixth overall pick in '06. A-

#24 Ryan Callahan: Unquestioned work ethic and willingness to leave it all on the ice. Leadership by example not exactly working. A-

#29 Ryane Clowe: Nine points and two fights in 14 games wasn't bad, but rushing back from his concussion was a mistake. B

#15 Derek Dorsett: Jumped into the active roster in playoffs so it isn't exactly fair to judge him based solely on his stupid penalties or wrestling matches. Even though he played more than five games, going with an INC.

#36 Benn Ferriero: Was stuck with some sad-sack linemates most of the time but four shots in four games while averaging over nine minutes per were not enough. INC

#10 Marian Gaborik: Coming off of shoulder surgery the Slovak sniper potted just nine goals in 35 games and was publicly humiliated by his coach. No matter what Torts said to the media, it was clear he didn't trust Gabby and Gabby didn't want to play for him anymore. D

#62 Carl Hagelin: Bork! For all of his speed, Hags had a hard time scoring. Points per game average went down and had goal droughts lasting six or more games four times this season. C+

#32 Micheal Haley: Former Islander toughie hit plenty but had just two fights in 12 games. D

#15 Jeff Halpern: The one assist in 30 games wouldn't be a big deal if he won all faceoffs and killed all penalties. Sadly Super Jew got a poor start after the lockout and was an easy waive. D

#20 Chris Kreider: Started the season like he was entitled to a spot and was understandably banished to the bus league but another playoff performance raised his grade. C

#40 Brandon Mashinter: Hoped he'd be a physical power during his callup, instead he was slow and sloppy. INC

#47 J.T. Miller: Not yet ready for primetime player showed some potential. C

#61 Rick Nash: Nearly a point per game through the regular season but his lack of heart in crunch time cost the Rangers a real playoff run. B

#45 Kris Newbury: A typical AAAA player, great for the AHL but unable to play with the big boys. Add to that his penchant for stupid penalties and... F

#8 Darroll Powe: Blair Betts Mark II defensively accountable, offensively absent until he was injured. C+

#14 Taylor Pyatt: Great start, solid end to the season. It was the 35+ games in the middle that underwhelmed. C-

#19 Brad Richard$: Had 11 of his 34 points in the six games against sad sack teams at the end of the regular season but had no legs all year long. Helping people after Sandy saved him from outright failure. D

#71 Mike Rupp: Eight games, two fights, two losses, no hockey ability at all. F

#42 Brandon Segal: One game, one bad penalty. INC

#21 Derek Stepan: Had a tough time shaking the bad habits he gained from playing in Finland but afterwards took the next step in his development into a top line talent. A

#58 Christian Thomas: One game wasn't enough to see if he is more Corey Locke or post-Rangers P.A. Parenteau. INC

#36 Mats Zuccarello: A season under Paul Maurice in Magnitogorsk added defense and a willingness to shoot to his tenacity. B+


#41 Stu Bickel: Stuuuu-pid mistakes and Stuuuuuu-pid penalties cost him any trust of the head coach and he was banished to the bus league. D

#4 Michael Del Zotto: Another season of no development and Del Zastrous defense. F

#44 Steve Eminger: Solid work for a seventh defenseman, poor work as a fourth defenseman. C-

#97 Matt Gilroy: No hope for Hobey. Slow, poor decision making and no physical presence. F

#5 Dan Girardi: The milage hurt and there were occasional gaffes along the way but another solid season by the cornerstone of the defense. A-

#40 Roman Hamrlik: Old, slow and awful, singularly responsible for several Ranger losses. F

#27 Ryan McDonagh: Like Girardi, McD showed the milage at times but was the best Blueshirt blueliner and he is only getting better. A

#17 John Moore: Part of the Gabby deal, Moore was more than just a throw-in. The youngster showed all-around ability and rarely made costly mistakes. B+

#18 Marc Staal: A puck to the eye derailed another solid season from the stalwart. Hopefully it won't cost him the rest of his career too. B+

#32 Anton Stralman: Inconsistent, mediocre play. C-


#43 Marty Biron: His GAA and save percentage actually improved from last season and yet he was still so horrendous that Hank had to play every night for the team to have a chance to win. But he's good in the room ... D

#30 Henrik Lundqvist: Yep, still the King. Sadly had a few nights when he was human but the Blueshirts woulda given Columbus the first overall pick of this summer's draft without him. A-

Monday, May 27, 2013

Some Monday Musings

Some random stuff while I struggle with the fact that the Rangers aren't playing tonight:

*Just making it to the playoffs is simply not good enough, and should not be the bar for the Rangers. We are not the Islanders. John Tortorella's heavy-on-the-whip, short-on-the-temper, playing favourites coaching style and his safe-is-life philosophy have done just enough to take this team to mediocrity. Maybe a bit above mediocrity, but not to the upper echelon, not to Cup Contender. And that's not good enough.

*But that's fine for our ownership, as they keep raking in the money as the Pundit pointed out in his spot-on postmortem.

*The worst part about the Richard$ escapade is that Torts killed all of his trade value, along with his confidence. But Brad will be better next season - he can't be much worse - so buying him out may not be the best of ideas. Yes, his cap hit hurts but having him in the lineup, with something to prove is better than carrying completely dead space ...

*Nice of Brian Boyle to admit that he "sucked this year." Didn't mention that he also was atrocious the previous year and a half too ...

*Del Zaster has got to go, but who will take him? And who will we get back? The organization has no depth at the blueline, and no prospects ready to jump right in. Dylan McIlrath is still a season away, 2011 picks Sam Noreau and Peter Ceresnak are not NHL prospects (yet, if at all) and 2012 picks Brady Skjei and Calle Andersson have at least two, if not three more seasons before even thinking of stepping on Broadway. The pending UFAs aren't a particularly impressive bunch with the steadiest being likely to re-sign with their 2013 teams - Mark Streit, Rob Scuderi, Andrew Ference, and Douglas Murray. There are some top tier RFAs but they will be quite costly (i.e. Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Nick Leddy and Roman Josi) and the Rangers shouldn't cast away their draft picks so casually.

*It will be interesting to see if Sather pulls something at the draft. Remember: this summer's first round pick went to Columbus for Nash and the second to San Jose for Clowe but there are four third round selections - Florida's (Wolski), Nashville's (last year's third rounder), Columbus' (part of the Nash deal) and our own. Then the Rangers have a fourth rounder, no fifth (another pick swap with Nashville last year), a sixth and no seventh (to Minnesota, the cost of ridding ourselves of Erik Christensen).

*A full season without any Michael Sauer news. No news is bad news, as his brother Kurt faded away in the same manner. So sad.

*The Blueshirts will be back in the beginning of September, as the Red Wings revived the Traverse City prospects tournament. The preseason slate for the full squad is set to include Vegas, which will be nice. And the '13-14 regular season will start on the road with rumours floating around of L.A. or Edmonton as the opener.

*Programming note: my Ranger report card will be out in the next few days (tomorrow, maybe), but it's unlikely I will revive the Facts of Life series.