When it comes to hockey analysts, Russ Cohen is a jack of all trades. He hosts a hockey radio show on XM satellite radio, runs Sportsology, and even co-authored the ultimate book for New York Rangers fans titled, “100 Ranger Greats”, along with Adam Raider and the late John Halligan.
In this, our second interview, I asked Russ about the NHL playoffs, the upcoming draft and off-season, and of course, the New York Rangers. Russ also recounted his memories with John Halligan, fellow hockey historian who he worked closely with, who passed away just a few short months ago.
GC: As of right now, who are your favorites to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, and who will be the eventual winner?
RC: Greg, I originally picked the Capitals and Canucks in the preseason, and I will continue to pick these teams. I think the Capitals’ overtime win woke them up, and their goalie change to Varlamov was a big factor as well. Vancouver’s blue-line is beat up, but I think they can weather the storm.
GC: San Jose once again finds themselves having a phenomenal regular season only to struggle in the playoffs. Why do you think this is so? And if they fail to get out of the first round, whose jobs do you think will be in danger?
RC: I think they will get out of the first round. I don’t think anybody in management is in danger but I think there could be some personnel changes. If I were the GM, I might try to move Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton.
GC: With the NHL draft coming in the end of June, which player do you think will be the first overall pick? And who do you see the Rangers taking with the 10th pick?
RC: Greg, I think the first overall pick will be Taylor Hall. You can’t teach speed and that sets him apart from anybody else in this draft. The Rangers need a goalie in their system in the worst way. Now I would pick Jack Campbell, but the question is who do I see them taking? Hmmmm. Ryan Johansen.
GC: The Rangers played their best hockey of the season down the stretch and still missed the playoffs by a point. What do you think was the main reason for this? And do you see Sather or Tortorella getting fired?
RC: Greg, It doesn’t appear that there will be any changes going into next season. I thought the choice of not using Marian Gaborik in the shootout was indefensible, considering Danny Briere was 0-2 or 0-3 in his career against Henrik Lundqvist and he scored. [Tortorella] didn’t give an answer to the media about that decision after that game which was weak. I think the fact that they didn’t carry seven defenseman for most of this season was a mistake as well.
GC: We all know what it would take salary-wise, but what are the chances of the Rangers landing a free-agent like Ilya Kovalchuk? And although I do not want him, will the Rangers make a push for Patrick Marleau?
RC: Well I think Marleau might be available and he is a top-line center. Kovalchuk will want $8-10 million so the Rangers can’t afford him. Marleau will want around $6 million and the Rangers could swing that with some moves.
GC: The question that every Rangers fan wants answered, is whether or not Wade Redden will be demoted to Hartford before next season. Is there any chance this can happen?
RC: Greg, I think the pressure to do that will be there this season. It’s my understanding that he has to attend camp before they can do that without taking a big cap hit. I think there’s a better than 50% chance that this will happen.
GC: Finally, this is our first interview since long-time Rangers PR man, author, and enthusiast John Halligan passed away. Can you tell us what it was like co-authoring a book with him?
RC: Greg, it was a life changing experience. He and I instantly formed a friendship, something he and Adam had already shared. He treated me like an equal, and I certainly wasn’t. He took my opinions into consideration no matter how wacky they were. And at times during these conference calls when we were determining the final list in “100 Ranger Greats”, the conversation did get silly at times, no thanks to me. The three of us were a team and I enjoyed every minute of it and it didn’t end there. John would join me on my XM Business of Hockey Show, he taped some Authors Roundtable Podcasts on our site http://www.rangergreats.com, and they are still there for anybody to listen to. There will never be another John Halligan and I will do everything I can to keep his legacy alive. Thanks for asking about him and thanks for the interview.
I want to thank Russ for taking the time to do the interview, and to also ask that everyone check out his websites and if you have XM radio, give his show a listen!