It has been a crazy few weeks in the New York sports scene. The Big Blue Wreckin’ Crew beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, Yankees fans are drooling over the fact that A.J Burnett may be on his way out, the Knicks and their fans are caught up in “Linsanity”, Mark Sanchez asked Santonio Holmes to be his Valentine, and the Mets…well, they are the Mets. Oh yeah, and the New York Rangers just shutout the defending Stanley Cup champions on the road and now lead the Eastern Conference by nine points and have the best winning percentage in the NHL. Only the Detroit Red Wings (surprise…) are ahead of the Rangers with 80 points, but New York has three games in hand on the them; having a 21-game winning streak (and counting) at home will certainly help you get there.
But looking at the back pages of the New York papers, you would never know. “Linsanity”, “ThrilLin”, and yes, even “Amasian”—the New York Post never fails to impress, right? Yes, I get it. New York is never going to be a big hockey town unless the Rangers start winning consistent Cups. Actually, I am completely fine with that. However, ignoring what is going on right now with this team is a shame that cannot be overlooked. Let us put into perspective what is going on right now between the Knicks and Rangers.
Jeremy Lin has come in and been a spark-plug and gotten the Knicks going. From beating the Lakers to last night’s last-second buzzer beating three-pointer, Lin has gripped New York City in excitement at the possibility that their basketball team may be on its way back up. I’m all for our teams being on top, but Knicks fans and the New York media need to put things into perspective. Lin scored the last-second shot against a team that is 9-21. That is right, math wizards. A scalding .300 winning percentage from the Toronto Raptors. Now Jeremy Lin is being hailed the king.
On the other hand, we have Henrik Lundqvist’s performance from last night. The King (notice the capitalization, grammar kiddies) stopped 42 shots for his league-leading 7th shutout of the season. Oh yeah, he did it against the defending champion Boston Bruins and has vaulted his team further towards the ceiling of the NHL standings. And yes, he even made a save with his back to the puck. What I am saying, is that the media and fans need to take a step back and look around here. Which of these feats is more impressive? Throw off your fan hat for a second and look at the comparison with no bias, but in an objective view.
Knicks fans can actually take a lesson from Rangers fans when it comes to players like Lin who take the team by storm. Let’s go back to the 2005/2006 NHL season. After the return from the lockout that crippled the league for a year, the Rangers found a scrawny little guy who wore his heart on his sleeve and put everything he had into every shift. His reckless abandon often got him laid out, but he could score goals. His name was Petr Prucha. Ask any Ranger fan and they will tell you how much they loved Prucha and the way he played. His rookie season he scored 30 goals. I even saw people saying that Prucha would end up better than Sidney Crosby (no, I am not joking).
So where is this player now? He is in Russia playing for St. Petersburg after he had no offers from NHL teams. Prucha’s NHL career lasted just under six seasons and he was gone, his point totals shrinking in every ensuing year, leading to his trade to Phoenix, and his name becoming nothing but an obscurity. Knicks fans can enjoy the ride of Jeremy Lin because we all love an underdog story and a comeback for a franchise which has had its fair share of troubles over the last decade. Know that the ride can end abruptly, and rather rough.
But under no circumstances can you tell me that what Jeremy Lin did last night is more impressive than what Henrik Lundqvist achieved. This was ignored by most of the New York media. The MVP chants that rained down for Lin are a jest at this point. The ones that may be coming for Henrik Lundqvist sometime during this season? No joke at all. At that point, Lin won’t be king, but just a jester for the real King of New York City.
Chris Hoeler is the assistant director of player personnel for the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League. He has been a fan of the New York Rangers his entire life.