There are two things I look forward to the most when I carry on my religious routine of going to Eli’s Bagels in Aberdeen every Friday morning: the bagel, of course, and reading through the New York Post. Yes, the archaic, age-old practice of actually turning pieces of paper to read a story rather than pressing a button. Anyway, I am always amused by Phil Mushnick’s column, which he has had for nearly thirty years, one where he takes shots at people on radio and television for the greater good of the viewer. He is a media watchdog, so to speak, and generally, I agree with what he has to say, save for his redundant I-Told-You-So’s and attacks on Mike Francessa. This past Friday though, Mushnick said something that the casual reader, or someone new to his way of writing, might be offended and alarmed by, and that was in a joke comparison that the now-Brooklyn Nets should be more like their owner, the rapper Jay Z.
Sorry for such a boring, generic title, but I’m running low on New York Post back page cheese this morning. I also apologize for having to bring back the Marian Gaborik milk carton, which was actually quite popular a few weeks ago, but now, it is just angering, especially when you consider he had no shots on goal in last night’s debacle against the New Jersey Devils. I had created it in the midst of one of Gaborik’s (many) funks this current season, after which, he scored four goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 19, prompting me to put a giant “FOUND” stamp over the front of the carton. But once again, Marian the Magnificent has disappeared after a hat trick, something he has done three times this season.
When I say “disappear” or “struggles” I am only referring to the goal scoring department, because he has a decent number of assists, but the Rangers aren’t paying him for assists, and they are not helping the team to win. The fact that he has more of them than goals this season only shows how deeply he has truly struggled. Yes, he missed some time early in the season, which could account for him being thrown off his stride, but he has been back for quite some time now, and for a player that never had a decent center for his entire career, he cannot blame this subpar campaign on that, because with a career winger as his center last year, he still found a way to put up 42 goals.
In 46 games this season, he has only 17 goals, but 10 of those goals have come in only three games: the hat tricks against the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders, and the four goal performance recently against the Maple Leafs. That leaves him with an eye-opening seven goals in 43 games. Is that superstar material? Each time he has looked to bust out of a slump, he has fallen right back in. He had zero goals before his first hat trick, then went the next eight after it scoring only two. His second hat trick would break the mini-stretch of games, but in the 19 games following that, he would score only three goals. His four goal game against the Leafs at last seemed to be the end of this stagnant season, but it only proved to equate to his previous two outbursts, as he has two goals in twelve games since.
The New York Rangers need to do something, anything, to get this team back to where they were playing earlier. The team was expected to lack consistency, because of the amount of youth, but Marian Gaborik is no youngster, he should not be having this problem, or at least, not as drastically as he has been. If the New York Rangers cannot get Brad Richards from Dallas, something I really believe they will not be doing before free agency, then they must trade Marian Gaborik, it is that simple. He has not even looked good during his slumps—sometimes players will play well but just catch bad breaks—but he has not shown that explosive speed (or “powerful stride” as Joe Micheletti would call it) nor has he shown that devastating wrist shot except once or twice, when it was something we were used to seeing on a regular basis last year.
But who could the Rangers trade him to? Not only must a team be interested, but they must have the cap space to be able to take him, if they can’t send a star player back the other way. If the Rangers package Gaborik with another player, than perhaps a trade for Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings would not be out of the question. The Kings were rumored to have a heavy interest in Gaborik during the off-season, and if you were to add Gaborik to a very good lineup that already has a budding young star in Anze Kopitar, the team could take off, if a change of scenery would actually do him any good. I am not so sure if the Kings would trade away their captain, but then again, crazier things have happened.
If it was up to me, I would trade him for just some draft picks and a top prospect or two, but that could really set the Rangers back further as they would have no superstar in the franchise, either proven or potential, unless they want to wait for free agency, a term that should make all of us cringe. Perhaps the Rangers can even try to trade for Brad Richardson on Los Angeles, because his name looks similar to the coveted star they seek (I’m only kidding).
The Rangers need to do something here because this is not a slump Gaborik is in. He looks disinterested, which usually marks the end of one’s tenure with a particular organization. John Tortorella can only change the lines so many times before he must realize that nothing can be done to jump-start him. It was reported on NHL.Com a few weeks ago that “Sather would listen to offers for Gaborik”. Well, let’s see if he becomes a little more serious and starts talking trade, because if they don’t act soon, this team will be out of the playoff picture before you know it.
Today it was reported in the New York Post that after the Islanders scored at the 14:10 mark of the third period to tie the game 5-5, P.A Parenteau, a former Rangers forward who got the primary assist on the Blake Comeau goal, skated by the Rangers bench and “mocked” them, according to Sean Avery, who later added, “It was the wrong move for a guy like that.” Exactly what kind of “guy” is Parenteau? Just another career minor leaguer and scrub who was given plenty of chances to succeed with the Rangers last season, who now holds a grudge against the team for not re-signing him (or is he just angry he’s stuck on the Islanders?)
Bottom line is, the move was purely classless, and the Rangers responded just 25 seconds later with the game-winning goal by Marian Gaborik, on assists from Sean Avery and Erik Christensen. Many fans were torn last season over exactly what to do with Parenteau—obviously he did show some flashes of skill, especially in a shootout, but then he would go on disappearing acts and remind us why the 27-year-old minor league “star” only had five games of NHL experience before last season, and a grand total of 49 if you include games played up until last night. I know the Islanders haven’t been competitive for some time, so its possible that playing the Rangers is like their version of the Stanley Cup, and let’s be honest, competitive regular season games six times a year may be as close as they ever come to that.
Meanwhile, the Rangers should really be alarmed at how they have played against the Islanders this season. It does not matter if the Isles wake up for these games or not, but the truth is, the Rangers have essentially sucked (as much as I hate to use that word, it’s really the only one that fits) this season against the Islanders, a team that Larry Brooks today called, “An NHL club with a minor league roster.”
The Islanders, in 23 games, have scored a whopping 51 goals; 11 of them have been against the Rangers in only two games. I also love how the Rangers broadcast team last night worked the jinxes to perfection. Before the game started, it was Joe Micheletti who called Martin Biron the most consistent player on the team. About an hour later, Biron was yanked in what was he shakiest start of the season. Then we have to hear about how the Islanders had only scored more than two goals once in the last thirteen games. Lo and behold, they would score five last night. And finally, poor Blake Comeau, who only had three goals all year, two of which were against the Rangers the first time these two teams met. Guess who scores the Islanders fifth goal? Yep, you get the idea. Oh, and Comeau now had five of his thirteen points on the season against the Rangers.
I don’t know what it is as to why the Rangers are always sloppy against the Islanders, who sit in last place in the entire league. It can’t be arrogance, contrary to what Avery says they need, because the Rangers are not too amazing themselves. But the Islanders are a shell of a franchise who might as well be wearing Bridgeport Sound Tiger jerseys, and the Rangers can do nothing less than go down to the wire with them time and time again, and most often, of late, come up on the losing end.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Vinny Prospal’s knee injury may be worse than it seems. Prospal, who was held out of the New York Rangers preseason lineup for every game but one, skated with a knee-brace during that game, and when it was over, it was apparent that he was still going to miss some time. But now it seems that the situation is worse than what every expected.
Brooks states, “Meanwhile, a well-placed source has told The Post that there’s little reason for optimism that the condition of Vinny Prospal’s right knee will improve following his enforced two-week rest period. Indeed, we’re told that it would be no surprise at all should the 35-year-old Prospal require surgery that would likely end his season, if not his career.”
In a way this could be a blessing in disguise for the Rangers, who have a logjam of young forwards that everyone is anxious to get a chance to see. Prospal was a great addition last season and I did want him back this year, but this is a franchise that is striving for future success and as it sits, the 35-year-old Prospal doesn’t figure in to the Rangers future plans. With the way Derek Stepan has played, he would have most likely not even played first line center, the spot where he spent most of last season, achieving his highest points total (20-38-58) since the 2005/06 season, while playing alongside Marian Gaborik.
It is not definite that Prospal’s season may be over but his absence may benefit the Rangers in the long-run. As for his career being over, I truly hope that is not the case, as I would love to see Prospal flourish somewhere else after this season.
Because this is the fifth post I have made with the title, “Around the NHL”, I have decided to make it an official column here on FNYTSF. Normally this series either wraps up or previews a busy day or days in the NHL, but over the last week or so, there has been absolutely nothing going on.
No one can even pretend to have the inside scoop on where Ilya Kovalchuk is heading. The Devils and Kings continue to be the front-runners while the Rangers reportedly offered him a two-year deal worth $15 million last week. Perhaps Kovalchuk himself does not even know where he is headed.
The amount of teams that can afford to pay Kovalchuk anywhere near the neighborhood of what he is asking are limited. They include the above mentioned three teams and the New York Islanders. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs at one time were whispered to have an interest in him, but they would have to make some moves to afford him, much like the Devils.
Below is every team rumored to be interested in Ilya Kovalchuk, and why he will or won’t sign there:
Los Angeles Kings: They seem to be more active than any other team with Kovalchuk. They can afford him outright but will not sign him to an immense deal because of restricted free agents Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson up for re-signing after this season. Los Angeles would be the ideal location for the big star– it has plenty of glitz and glamor, all while not being in a major, stressful market for hockey. Should he sign there, he could live like a king (no pun intended).
New Jersey Devils: According to Mark Everson and his New York Post write-up where the Devils signed Kovalchuk two weeks ago, the team still has the inside track on him. This may very well be, but the Devils still need to sign two players to reach their forward minimum, and would have to get rid of players to afford Kovalchuk. Unless Lou Lamoriello can find a way to get rid of Brian Rolston, there is no way to sign him without dismantling the team.
Toronto Maple Leafs: One does not know if there was ever any legitimate interest between the two parties, but once upon a time ago, it was spoken of that Burke had an interest in Kovalchuk, and signing him would turn the team completely around. However, Toronto would be the worst possible career choice for a player who has never played with any pressure, or people in the stands watching him. Kovalchuk may want to get more exposure and certainly the Devils and Islanders would not provide that. But Toronto is a hockey-hungry city that does not tolerate losing (ironic considering the past few Maple Leaf teams) and should Kovalchuk sign there and flop, it would make his life a living hell.
New York Islanders: They offered him 10 years at $100 million. He turned it down. Enough said.
New York Rangers: The Rangers may not have the greatest abundance of cap space, but they also would not have to jump through hoops to get him either. All the Rangers would need to do after signing Marc Staal is waive Wade Redden after training camp, and there is the money. This would be the next ideal location next to Los Angeles. Here Kovalchuk would share the spotlight with Gaborik (meaning the pressure is not entirely on him) and he gets to play in the greatest city in the world. Although there is major pressure, it is still nothing compared to what he would face in the Toronto market.
Last week when the Devils signed Ilya Kovalchuk were reported to have signed Ilya Kovalchuk, the hockey blogging world was sent into a frenzy. The New York Post broke the story, and we were all left asking our Devil-fan friends what they thought of the deal. The majority, I found, were not too pleased with the signing.
Twitter was going crazy with Kovalchuk Tweets and blog posts were being written by the hundred. All this within the first ten minutes. The power of the Internet truly is amazing.
Then came the first “Uh-oh” of the morning. The Post retracted their story of the about-to-be signing, and changed it to “Devils Have the Inside Track”. Here, a signing was not imminent, but the Devils were the front-runner to land the star Russian winger.
I am kicking myself this very morning that I did not save the many anger-driven Tweets by some of the foremost hockey writers on the Blogosphere, including many from TSN and Hockey Night in Canada insiders. I even had to go in and re-edit a piece I wrote shortly after the announcement.
Then, just about an hour later, the article title would be changed yet again to, “Kovalchuk Decision Expected Soon; Devils Still Favorites”. So in just about an hour, the news went from Kovalchuk signing, to Kovalchuk almost signing, to Kovalchuk is still a candidate to sign.
I read the New York Post daily, and I am shocked at how they handled this story.
And speaking of the decision that was expected to come “shortly”, six days later, and we are no closer to a deal with any team than we were last week.
In getting to the title of this little write-up, why should we hockey bloggers be grateful for all of this?
The answer is simple, and that is, what else would we be writing about?
We are nearly two weeks into what could be called the most brutally boring off-season in a while, and Kovalchuk allows us to speculate, and write about him daily. When the announcement was made that he signed with the Devils, I was not upset because he went to my cross-river rivals, but that fact that I wouldn’t be able to write about him anymore; save for an article or two bashing Lamoriello for handing out a ridiculous deal, especially the reported 17-year contract that came to light yesterday.
On just this small blog alone, I have found myself writing five articles about Kovalchuk just this past week:
If it were not for Ilya, we would all still be blogging about how bad of a contract Derek Boogaard got, ignoring the fact that Manny Malhotra got a $7.5 million contract, and reading Eklund blogging about how Mats Sundin will sign with the Rangers by training camp.
Let’s face it, we would be bored out of our minds, and the blogosphere would be quiet. Instead, we have all experienced a boost in visitors coming to our sites (just ask the Post about that), and we have all benefited, and kept glued to the computer screen.
So I wanted to thank you Ilya, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you.
Now go sign with the Rangers somebody!
Joe and I got to thinking about how ridiculous a seventeen year contract is, which is the supposed deal the New Jersey Devils offered Ilya Kovalchuk, according to the New York Post. Just think about how long 17 years is; that would be like the Rangers having a member of the 1994 Stanley Cup winning team still playing for them today. How crazy is that?
Kovalchuk himself would be 44 years old at the expiration of his contract.
So here are two lists, one showing what has happened in the last 17 years, and what could potentially happen in the next 17 years.
What Has Happened
-Super Nintendo was the main game console. Nintendo 64 did not even exist.
-Joe was in kindergarten, I was only two years old.
-Bill Clinton was banging Monica Lewinsky.
-The Rangers were good.
-OJ Simpson didn’t murder his wife.
-Chris Chelios was playing.
-VHS and Cassette tapes were state of the art.
-Hockey games ended in ties.
-Gary Bettman wasn’t ruining hockey…just yet.
-The Phoenix Coyotes did not exist.
-The Dolan’s did not own the Rangers.
-Computers were not mainstream, and not many owned them.
-Cell phones were heavier than a block of concrete.
-Pizza Hut was the cool place to be if you were a little kid.
-People didn’t die from eating Taco Bell.
What Can Happen
-Joe could get married, have kids, and send them through grade school.
-I could finish college and have been a teacher for fourteen years.
-Chris Chelios could still be playing.
-According to the Mayans, the world could end.
-The NHL will have expanded with leagues in Africa and Antarctica.
-HD TV’s will be obsolete.
-The Phoenix Coyotes will no longer exist.
-Beer will cost $25 at Madison Square Garden.
-Jim Balsillie will have almost bought nine teams.
-Cell phones will be micro chip implants in our fingernails.
-Babies will come out of the womb while typing on a laptop.
-Shootouts will decide hockey games in the playoffs.
-Russ Cohen and Adam Raider will publish a sequel to their book titled “150 Ranger Greats”.
Let’s begin with the wild and wacky news of the day, and that is the New York Post shedding some light on what Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils have offered free agent star Ilya Kovalchuk. According to them, and other outlets, the deal is 17 years at a total of around $100 million, with the $100 million front loaded in the first 10 years of the contract.
This has gotten people speculating that the offer is more than that amount of money, and is actually around $102 million. Either way, this is very strange, because if $100 million is distributed throughout the first ten years, that means Kovalchuk will only be receiving $2 million for the last seven years, an amount equaling only approximately $286,000 per season, which is almost half of league minimum.
I try not to curse on here, but if this story is true, then Lou Lamoriello is officially bat-shit insane.
Something is just not right all around here. Lamoriello seems like the last GM on the planet who would offer something as groundbreaking and egregious as a seventeen year contract, not to mention the announced method of how the money would be given out.
Perhaps the New York Post has gotten their information wrong again, because it was just this past Sunday when they had the hockey world buzzing when they announced that the Devils were moments away from inking Kovalchuk. Ten minutes, and about a million visitors later, they then changed the headline to “Devils Have the Inside Track”. By the end of the day, it was revealed the two sides were not even heavy in talks that day.
Something strange is definitely brewing in the Kovalchuk saga. Perhaps he needs a prime-time television special of his own to help move things along.
Now to the Blueshirts, who dealt away forward Aaron Voros (who they waived three times in the last two seasons) and prospect Ryan Hillier to Anaheim for defenseman Steve Eminger. This move is an even deal for both sides, although I feel bad for Ducks fans for having to get a player as pointless as Voros is.
Dubbed the “People’s Champ” by fans, I am still trying to figure out who he is the champ of. He can’t score, can’t fight, can’t back-check, and can’t throw a body check. Oh wait, that must mean he was perfect for the Rangers.
Meanwhile, the Rangers receive a former first round pick that never panned out, Steve Eminger, who was selected by the Washington Capitals in 2002. If you want an example of a journeyman player, he is the one. In seven seasons, he has played a total of 346 games with five teams, including three in just 2008/09 alone.
He does not excel in any particular area, nor it he extremely deficient in any, except taking lazy penalties, from what I hear. 301 career penalty minutes is an awful lot to have with only five fighting majors. But even so, Eminger is a cheap option for a seventh defenseman, whose contract runs 0ut after this season, like Voros.
Do not expect anything miraculous out of him; just let him play the forty or so games that he was brought here for, and if he scores, consider it a bonus.
However, there is talk that this is just the first in a series of moves by Glen Sather that will culminate with the waiving of Wade Redden at the end of training camp.
We shall have to wait and see! (Man, I’ve been saying that a lot lately.)