Because I swore to not write one post on the NHL lockout last month, hockey has pretty much been invisible on this blog. That is going to change today, because I could not help but pass along these exquisite images of New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, and restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto, as they recently posed for Esquire during their unfortunate elongated period of free time this fall. The images were just released today, so I thank DKC for sending them over to me. Enjoy!
It finally happened. The trade that everyone has been waiting for just went down, and that was the New York Rangers acquiring Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first blockbuster of the off-season. There were many guesses as to whether or not it would take an overpayment to get him, but I held fast with Glen Sather saying it would either be a robbery, or he would not be acquired at all. The magician has just completed his latest trick, because the Rangers somehow managed to only send Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a first round pick. The Rangers also received a third round pick and a defenseman back from Columbus. All told, the Rangers still have more than $13 million in cap space, with nearly a full roster, as the only two players awaiting to be re-signed are restricted free agents Anton Stralman and Michael Del Zotto. Glen Sather has put himself in a wonderful position here to acquire more, some believing that Shane Doan will be signed shortly. The Rangers are also expected to pursue a defenseman.
For this breakdown, I teamed up with New Jersey Devils blogger and friend Tommy Zilinski, who runs a very popular blog and Facebook group titled, Devils Army. While looking for potential story ideas that we could collaborate on, he chose to pose questions relating to the Hudson River rivalry between the Devils and New York Rangers. A sample of some of the article, which is featured on his site can be read below:
Hey Devils fans! As per fan request on Twitter, I decided to write about the rivalry between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. I have teamed up with my friend Greg Caggiano of From New York to San Francisco, who is unfortunately a New York Rangers fan (you can express your sorrows in the comments section, if you wish). If you recall, I teamed up with Greg to bring both Devils and Rangers fans an in-depth series preview of the Eastern Conference Finals, which featured these same two teams, with the Devils knocking out the Rangers in 6 games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. I asked Greg a couple of questions about the rivalry, and you will see his responses first. I will post my answers after his. Enjoy!
With the New York Rangers already pretty much set with depth on their bottom-six, adding Jeff Halpern would seem like a puzzling move, unless there was more to it than meets the eye, of course. By adding Asham and Pyatt last week, they were replacements for previously departed players, but with Halpern, it may be a move to replace someone who is still on the roster. The Rangers are heavily involved with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Rick Nash, and possibly the Anaheim Ducks for Bobby Ryan and Nashville Predators for Shea Weber. A deal for either of these players would most likely include, but is not limited to, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, or Brian Boyle. While Halpern is not as skilled as them, and is much older, it is still a solid pick-up for the fourth line.
With fans around the NHL waiting for the likes of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to decide where they are going to be spending the next decade, give or take a few seasons, other teams are busy making smaller, depth-related moves. Just before former New York Ranger Jaromir Jagr signed with the Dallas Stars for $4.5 million, the Blueshirts added a solid bottom six forward in Taylor Pyatt, who comes over from the Phoenix Coyotes. For people worried that the Rangers would be losing fighting ability, checking, penalty killing, and hard work, all due to grinder Brandon Prust signing with the Montreal Canadiens, the Rangers made up for his loss, first with Arron Asham two days ago (and to a lesser extent, adding Micheal Haley, which will most likely end up being an AHL move) and now with Pyatt, who is a hitting machine that can kill penalties, and also put the puck in the net on occasion.
Here is a signing that no one saw coming, and that is tough guy Arron Asham completing his Atlantic Division tour by signing with the New York Rangers this afternoon for two years, at $1 million per season. While I was surprised to learn of the acquisition, I am very pleased with it, though it probably spells the end of Brandon Prust’s time on Broadway. However, Asham is a much better fighter and a lot more intimidating than the scrappy Prust. He might not bring as many intangibles, but his signing is a bargain price, something that Prust’s would most likely not be, as he is expecting to get both more years and more money with his new contract.
Say the word “lockout” and any sports fan will immediately cringe, but no more than a hockey fan, who has two instances of nightmares to be dredged up with every utterance of that evil word. The first work stoppage ate up nearly a half a season in 1994/95 and killed all the momentum the league gained from a New York Rangers trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, a moment that no one can argue against that it was the pinnacle of hockey popularity in the United States. Soon after, hockey did recover, and became a very steady sport to watch en route to the second lockout ten years later, in which the NHL became the first professional sports league in history to lose an entire season due to a work stoppage. This second one effectively killed any popularity, as the sport quickly disappeared from television and newspaper coverage, only to be laughed at upon its return as “that sport nobody cares about”. It is hard to fathom that we have yet another potential lockout to face heading into next season, and while I will not get into the particulars, I have no doubt that we will indeed see a loss of hockey, albeit a short one, as TSN’s Bob Mackenzie notes it will probably not last past Thanksgiving. People will cry, people will be angry, and I will be one of those; not crying, of course, because I know better, but I will still be at a loss for words at how the people who are supposedly working to please fans have found themselves creating the very same situation that will leave the fans with nothing to watch.
Hello there again! It’s time to take a look at what’s going on in the wide world of hockey. From a coach at war with the writers who cover his team, to already ridiculous off-season speculation involving the New York Rangers, it’s all here, in Around the NHL! (Oh yeah, and there was a Stanley Cup Finals game played last night too.)
- It’s no secret that I cannot stand the New Jersey Devils; well, actually, it’s their fans more than the actual team. Anyway, I gave them the benefit of the doubt heading into these Stanley Cup Finals. All we heard from them during the series against the Rangers is how they, as a fan base, are growing more now than ever before, how they are finally solidifying themselves. If that’s the case, then how come Game One of the biggest series in this sport was not sold out? Not just empty seats appearing in view of the TV cameras, but a laughable amount of available seats. Example: my friend (who is a Rangers fan wanting to see some Finals action with a group of people) buying eight tickets just a few hours before puck drop, then other people posting screenshots of Ticketmaster a half hour before the game, with plenty of seats still empty. I guess this should not really be a surprise—they could not sell out against the Rangers just weeks ago, and that was with the Blueshirts buying up roughly 20% of the seats in the arena. It’s a shame for them that there aren’t more Los Angeles Kings fans living in the Garden State.
This will be the final installment of the three-part series here on FNYTSF detailing the rise and fall of our beloved New York Rangers this past season. Each person may have had a different take, but the recurring themes are of hope and pride, given what was accomplished this season. The first part today is written by Brian Harris, my former newspaper editor over at The Stall, when I attended Brookdale Community College. The second is by David Zohn, who has contributed to us before for some articles about the Federal Hockey League, as he works for the New Jersey Outlaws.
“Youth Gone Wild”
by Brian Harris
The 2011/12 New York Rangers season was one that saw the youth movement that the Blueshirts have undergone over the past few seasons begin to truly take form. Ultimately, the loss to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals is a bitter pill to swallow, but if this is beginning of what we as Ranger fans will see from our prized young guns, the sky’s the limit for the next few years.
The thing that should excite every Blueshirt fan is the thought of the team’s nucleus for the next few years with captain Ryan Callahan, defensive cornerstones Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto and Marc Staal, Derek Stepan and playoff spark-plug Chris Kreider, who, while doesn’t have a full NHL season under his belt yet, showed the skills and the moxie it takes to be an impact player for the Rangers. Players like Carl Hagelin, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Anton Stralman, Ryan McDonagh and Stu Bickel further added to the team’s success with the youthful aggression and timely play to supplement Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, who was brought in over the off-season to be that veteran steadfastness that a team like this needs.
This second installment comes from our “On the Rink with Gootz” columnist Chris Hoeler, who I thank for helping me out with some additional hockey coverage this season. This article is titled, “A Step in the Right Direction”. Enjoy.
There was a scramble in front of the net as the puck bounced around, and it disappeared under Henrik Lundqvist and then reappeared on the stick of Adam Henrique. Just like that, the 2011/12 season for the New York Rangers ended as the New Jersey Devils and their fans celebrated their ticket being punched to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Los Angeles Kings. On the other side of the spectrum, the Rangers and their fans sat feeling like they had been punched in the stomach. That is the feeling you always get when your team’s season ends.
But while the pain slowly ebbs away there was so much this team did that fans can look back on. While the trip to Europe to start the season was only a few months ago, it seems like years considering how much this team developed together. One example is Ryan McDonagh, who went from a young player looking to solidify his position on the team to a top defenseman going up against the best players. Another is Dan Girardi who went from having to fill a concussed Marc Staal’s shoes to making the All-Star Team.