Since it’s now been a few days since I caused that melee on Twitter with a certain Rick Nash rumor, I thought that it was now okay to go ahead with another hockey post. I just want to say that it seemed more people actually approved of the experiment than disapproved, though there were plenty who felt the latter. It’s funny that the people I know on Twitter, whether it be through actually talking to them on a regular basis or just casually following (even those who were not aware of the nature of the plot) were not angry at all, yet all these people who just came out of the woodwork were quick to call me names and attack me. I was left with this lasting impression: the lower the IQ, the higher the overreaction. Okay, now we’re moving on, and ready to go “Around the NHL”…
Hockey fans are always waiting for dominoes to fall during times of player movement, and this year has been no different. The two biggest dominoes that have fallen this off-season so far areand who both decided on moving their talents to Minnesota. Another domino that fans have been waiting to fall for a while is in the trade market with Columbus . However, there is a another player that has only recently become very pronounced, with captain . A few months ago, it was unthinkable that Doan would even consider leaving the franchise he has called home since the beginning of his career, but it is now a very real possibility. With the Phoenix Coyotes ownership saga still unsolved, Shane Doan is thinking of looking to go to places where the grass may be greener…or that even has grass.
We’re getting closer to the Stanley Cup, and my, what thrilling match-ups we have waiting for us to watch! The first, which is going to be the series of the playoffs, which will eclipse the ruggedly intense first round bout between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, is between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. I have already given my full series preview here, so all I will say now is how nervous we all are at this undertaking. I work at a school full of Devils’ fans—the students and teachers included in this—which also plays host to the Devils’ sponsored hockey league I coach in. I told a teacher last week, who had earlier assured me that her gut instinct was a Rangers-Devils Eastern Conference Finals match-up, “This is going to be war. I’ll be wearing my Ranger jersey every time I come in this place during the series.” Rest assured, though, there are still plenty of Rangers’ fans there, so either way, the result will bring forth plenty of gloating and an endless amount of jabs.
Well, as usual, my first round predictions were forgettable to say the least, getting only three out of the eight overall outcomes right, and none in the exact number of games played. As you know, there is a definition of insanity that can be seen as, “Repeating the same action over and over again, expecting different results.” That said, it’s time for my second round predictions. May I have better luck with these:
(1) New York Rangers vs. (7) Washington Capitals: Rangers in 7
(5) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils: Flyers in 6
(2) St. Louis Blues vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings: Kings in 5
(3) Phoenix Coyotes (4) Nashville Predators: Predators in 7
Long has been the talk of how ridiculous the NHL’s final standings alignment is, in awarding the top three places to each of the three division winners. Naturally, the number one spot is always deserving, but sometimes two and three are in a higher place as a mere formality and not because they actually deserve it. In most seasons, usually it is the number three seed that can be called into question, but this year, we have a complete mess from top to bottom, with teams jumbled all over the place. The guilty conference is the East, more so than the West, that only has one team, the Phoenix Coyotes, out of place in that infamous three seed. We can always find a way to live with one team sneaking into a place they don’t belong, but how about when two of the top three teams don’t belong? The following is a look at the final standings for the Eastern Conference:
Coming off a huge win over the Phoenix Coyotes, when Brad Richards scored the game-winning goal with .1 seconds remaining to give the New York Rangers the win and snap a two-game losing streak, the team finds themselves down a defenseman yet again, as Steve Eminger took a check and went shoulder first into the boards during the second period. While we do not know what exactly is wrong, we do know that he left the arena with his arm in a sling, and by looking at the replay, it seems as if he might have separated his shoulder. Severe or not, the Rangers are in a bind. Marc Staal has been out the entire season with post-concussion syndrome and Michael Sauer, more recently, suffered a concussion as well. The Rangers, who, at the beginning of the season, had one of the best defensive depths in the league, are now losing that by the game.
For many years, potential relocation scenarios for struggling teams have given writers like myself the chance to write speculative articles on where they might go, and dare I say, even think about certain teams being defunct all together. While the latter will never happen, tonight we have the news from the NHL (to be announced officially on Tuesday) that one of their failures in franchise placement is going to Canada, where more teams should be. The Atlanta Thrashers will be on their way to Winnipeg, Manitoba, the same exact city where the Jets struggled to draw fans (and income) from 1979 to 1996.
This is such a bittersweet moment. Part of me is joyous that Canada is getting another NHL team, because their fans actually know the difference between a blue line and a clothes line. However, of all the cities that could have supported a franchise, was Winnipeg really the most adequate? There is a reason why they failed once already. With Hamilton and Quebec seeming like better choices, being that one is near the major market of Toronto and the other is in a major province, the NHL had to choose a place that is not very appealing when it comes to free agency. There is zero marketability with this move, and despite the thousands of die-hard fans that I know exist in the area, if there were so many of them, why did it fail the first time around?
The Thrashers are not a team on the cusp of a winning season. Their defense may be solid, but their offense is in a funk. They have no superstar and their farm system does not bring any promising skill in the nearby future. What happens when they continue their losing seasons in Canada? At least Hamilton and Quebec are marketable areas. The people there are hockey crazy and the market for professional hockey is so enormous that a new team would not even dent the following of the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens.
Well, as the saying goes, what’s done is done. The Thrashers are on their way to Winnipeg while the former relocated team to play there, the Phoenix Coyotes, might also be on the move again in years to come. With so many teams struggling to draw fans and make money, perhaps those two other Canadian cities are not out of the question. The Predators and Panthers should be the next to go, and the NHL will have to admit that their asinine idea of placing all those teams in the Sunbelt was just a bad idea.
Now the only two questions that remain are what will their name be, and what will division re-alignment look like. People have been speculating that the new team will just have to play in the southeast division for this season until the league can figure it out. That is ridiculous, because of travel. I don’t even want to think at what it will look like, because this is the NHL we are talking about. Somehow, some way, they will find a way to mess it up. My only guess would be moving the Columbus Blue Jackets east, but that could be complicating as well. As for the name, just call them the Jets. People love vintage and their logo and color scheme were awesome in my eyes.
This off-season, the first priority this team should have would be to lock up Teemu Selanne for one final season, should he desire to end his career where it began. It could be a very special gesture, and put some fans in the seats, because even though he is going to be 41, he will still find a way to net 20-30 goals. Either way, I still feel this organization will remain destined for failure—the NHL spit the bit on this one.
If I had the time, I would photo-shop a wanted poster for New York Rangers’ General Manager Glen Sather. Crime committed? Robbery. For the second time in as many months, the Rangers have stolen unwanted parts from teams in an attempt to rejuvenate a struggling squad that started out hot out of the gate, but has since fizzled over. Wojtek Wolski was the first acquisition, and has settled in nicely since coming over from the Phoenix Coyotes for defenseman Michal Rozsival. This afternoon, the Rangers have added veteran defenseman Bryan McCabe, to the youngest defensive core in the league, whose oldest player is 27-year old Steve Eminger.
McCabe, 35, is renowned for his lethal slap-shot and powerplay ability, though his defensive struggles are well documented. With the way the Rangers have been playing, though, defense has not seemed to be an issue (with the exception of Michael Del Zotto would could very well find himself elsewhere after Monday), so if the Rangers paired McCabe with the rookie Ryan McDonagh, or even Michael Sauer, who have really impressed me, it could prove to be quite an effective pair. McCabe has also missed some time this season due to injury, and only has five goals and 17 assists, but a change of scenery could bring back the one-time feared point man that scored 19 goals and 68 points in 2005/06.
Even if McCabe does not pan out, the Rangers do n0t lose much here, because all they gave up was a third round pick and Connecticut Whale forward Tim Kennedy, who was not going to see the light of day any way, and McCabe’s contract expires after this season. The only person I can see having a problem with this is Larry Brooks, because we all remember his fondness for third round picks last season, when he ripped into Sather for trading one for Brian Boyle (how’s that looking now, Larry?).
Joe Aiello and I were even discussing this before, and Joe still believes that the Rangers are still going to get Brad Richards from the Stars, and for dirt cheap. If Sather calls Nieuwendyk’s bluff, that Richards is not going to re-sign in Dallas, then the Rangers can make a move for him. With the way Sather makes trades, don’t be surprised if they get him for Christensen, Gilroy, and a draft pick, because it seems old Glen just calls up teams and tells them what he wants, then gets it.
Bryan McCabe is a veteran of 1116 NHL games for the Islanders, Canucks, Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, and Panthers, with 143 goals and 379 assists for 522 points. He has also has racked up 1729 penalty minutes, though he does not fight often any more.
Looks like someone owes Don Maloney a nice steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris.
This is breaking news, as the New York Rangers have traded defenseman Michal Rozsival to the Phoenix Coyotes for left-wing Wojtek Wolski. This is a trade that is completely mind-boggling to me, at least from the Coyotes end as Rozsival is a struggling defenseman who has a cap-hit of $5 million dollars while Wolski is a young, sizable forward with a hit of only $3.8 million.
Wolski has been struggling this season as well, nearly as bad as Alex Frolov was. In 36 games this season, he has only six goals and ten assists for 16 points, but the 24-year-old will provide much more than that, he will serve as cap relief. The Rangers pick up an additional $1.2 million here, combined with approximately $1.5 million they lost due to Frolov’s injury. It’s funny that the Rangers lose these two players, but their needs stay exactly the same. The team sorely lacks a veteran defenseman who can eat up minutes, and a playmaking center. These were the same needs they had with both Frolov and Rozsival in the lineup. The Rangers now have some flexibility to try to pursue these types of players.
I do not know much about Wolski, but I would like to think that he can provide what Frolov didn’t, and that’s secondary scoring. His large six-foot, three-inch frame could be a welcome sight on the top line with Gaborik, or even on the second line. Chris Hoeler, a Coyotes fan, tells me that he is not a checker, so his is either a top-six forward or bust.
Just as a warning, do not expect much out of Wolski. He has already fallen out of favor on two different teams, and actually has only one more point than Rozsival, who put up three goals and 12 assists in four fewer games. In other words, see this move as cap relief and not the solution to an offensive problem.
As much as everyone loved to hate on Rozsival, he really was not that bad and if they cannot acquire a veteran defenseman at some point this season, trading his presence may cause more harm than good. He has his slip-ups, like we all do, but he was basically made scapegoat for some bad teams in the past few years. He had an excellent shot from the point which he did not use enough, and combined with his slower stride and susceptibility to giveaways, made him an easy target for the fan base. I won’t miss him, but it could come back to bite the team. In 432 games with the Rangers, he scored 42 goals and recorded 134 assists for 176 points; he was also a +44. Those are not bad numbers at all.
We will just have to wait and see how the deal works out. If the Rangers acquire a defenseman, then it is a win-win situation. If they don’t, then this may not be the amazing trade that we all think it is.
Glen Sather has now gotten rid of three of the four terrible contracts that people thought would forever plague this franchise. For a GM as smart as he is, in orchestrating such deals, it’s amazing that he even signed them to begin with.
Would you say that a game between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins would be an exciting one, full of intensity? Wouldn’t you want to tune in to see one of the league’s best forwards lead his team against one of the league’s best goalies? How about seeing if the Rangers take any action against the Penguins from the last game, where Crosby slew-footed Callahan and got away scott-free? Well, if your answers are yes to all these questions, tonight you will have to do some searching to see what channel the 7pm start between the Rangers and Penguins is buried on.
It appears that Dolan and Co. could really care less about Rangers fans, because two games on the MSG Networks tonight will get priority. The first is the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics game, which I can understand since the Knicks are playing incredible basketball right now. But the second game is a head scratcher—the New Jersey Devils and Phoenix Coyotes are getting top billing over Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin. The Devils, who are in 29th place in the league and on a five game losing streak, have played some of the most boring hockey the league has seen this season, and they will be doing so in front of
a sold-out an echo inducing Prudential Center tonight against a team that no one outside of Arizona cares about (do they even care?).
Sure you can go onto MSG.com and find their channel searcher, but you shouldn’t have to. For me, since I have Comcast Digital Cable, the game finds it way to a lofty channel 709. However, I only have two digital cable boxes in my house, and the computer room, which is where I watch all games from so I can Tweet updates and get a head start on the game recaps, is not one of the rooms with a box. So I will have to watch this one downstairs. Normally that would be beneficial, since the TV downstairs is HD, but MSG2 is not broadcast in high-definition.
I just think it is disgusting that the Devils in their current state would get priority before the Rangers, especially since it is the Rangers that have carried the network with the Knicks struggles these past few years. This is nothing new, though, as it has happened at least once already this season, if memory serves me correct, and I was equally as angry. I guess it could be worse, though—they could have lost priority to the Islanders.
What can we do about this? Absolutely nothing. I would say email them, but they could care less about what we think.
Looks like there will be no game-recap from me tonight, because work will cause me to miss the first half of the game. I will be missing the game tomorrow night as well, so that will be four straight games without a recap. I apologize for that, and hope to get back to it for Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers.