Thursday, July 31, 2008

Zipay Web Chat Transcript

For those of you who missed Steve Zipay's live web chat at Blue Notes, you can check out the full transcript here.

Chemistry the Key

Ryan Kennedy at The Hockey News has this to say about the Rangers...

"If the New York Rangers find chemistry amongst a crop of new faces, including Wade Redden, Nikolai Zherdev and Markus Naslund, the team certainly has the goaltending and depth to go far."

...lack of chemistry seemed to be a problem for the Rangers last year. And with the compacted preseason schedule which will include split squads, I'm concerned about the same problem reoccurring this year.

John Dellapina at the Blueshirt Blog says that Tom Renney will have to do some juggling to get enough veteran NHLers into the road games at Ottawa and Tampa Bay to satisfy league minimums. Dellapina is concerned that this will take away from Renney's ability to test various line combinations.

Rangers Confirm Nedved Coming to Camp to Play

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes has this quote from the Rangers...

"He has spoken with Tom and Glen and passed up some other offers in Europe, wanting to come to camp with the opportunity to earn a job here," a Rangers spokesman confirmed a few moments ago. "There is no commitment on our end."

For more on Nedved visit the Blueshirts Blog and Blueshirt Bulletin.

...i heard that if Nedved makes the team he will demand that the Rangers sign Jan Hlavac.

Column: Key to Rangers Success Is Letting Lundqvist Rest

Cross posted at The Bleacher Report.

During Mike Richter's bouts with concussions and following his eventual retirement in 2003, the Rangers suffered through sub par goaltending from the likes of Kirk McLean, Guy Herbert and Mike Dunham.

That is until the 2005-2006 season, when a seventh round draft choice named Henrik Lundqvist took Broadway by storm. During his first three seasons in New York, Lundqvist has brought much needed stability in goal, while accomplishing numerous personal achievements including a Vezina Trophy nomination each year.

However, despite his career 2.27 gaa, .917 save percentage and 17 shutouts, Lundqvist has suffered long stretches of average to below average play in all three seasons.

In 2005-2006, Lundqvist came back from the Olympic break to post a 5-5-3 record, including 0-3 with a 4.40 gaa and .835 save percentage in the playoffs.

In 2006-2007, Lundqvist started the season 5-5, with a 3.57 gaa and a .878 save percentage. And finally last year, Lundqvist went through a stretch from mid-December to mid-February going 10-10-4, with a .889 save percentage. Not good.

A logical explanation for those struggles is Lundqvist's work load, which has increased each year peaking with 72 starts in the Rangers 82 games last year. That's almost 90 percent!!!

Now Lundqvist supporters will note that he faded down the stretch in 2006 because of the wear and tear from the Olympics and last year he struggled with a large contract and his father's health hanging over his head. All valid excuses.

However, in my opinion, he would have been better physically and mentally prepared to deal with those factors if he had more rest throughout the season.

Last year, Lundqvist's back-up Steve Valiquette more than proved he could fill-in by posting a 5-3-3 record, with a 2.19 gaa, .916 save percentage and two shutouts.

With the new schedule structure, the Rangers play the Flyers, who Valiquette dominated last year, six times. Valiquette should get four of those games. They play the Maple Leafs in Toronto twice, where Valiquette has a proven success record.

The new schedule also gives the Rangers a chance to play the bottom teams in the West including the Kings, Oilers, Blue Jackets and Blues. All games Valiquette should be starting.

Throw in a couple of games against the lesser teams in the East and the second game of back-to-backs and Valiquette will have a nice little workload of about 20 starts.

By having 20 games to not only rest his body, but also his mind, Lundqvist is going to be better equipped to persevere through the grueling season, leading to more wins for the Rangers. Thoughts?

Nedved to Attend Rangers Training Camp

According to hokej.cz, Petr Nedved will be attending Rangers training camp in an effort to make the team...

Here is a bad translation from Google...

Third nejproduktivnější Bohemia in the history of NHL hockey Petr Nedvěd after spending a year in the Czech extralize tries to return overseas. Šestatřicetiletý attacker to leave at the end of August at Camp New York Rangers team which will seek to obtain a contract and get into the team. If he engaged in the prestigious league nevyjde, zamíří in breast Liberec. He said the diary Sport.

Nedvěd last year after the operation in Philadelphia went to Prague Sparty, and it appeared that his career in the NHL is coming to an end. Elapsed season, however, a world player nevyšla a Prague club dismissed him in March. When searching for a new engagement, Nedvědův overseas agent negotiated for his client to take part in the Rangers camp.

"We agreed that the Rangers try. (General manager Glen) Sather does not give me any certainty, but here I am after not want to. In America vyrazím that is their place in the group have porvat. I like to do , "Said Sports Nedvěd, for which the Rangers cardiac issues. At the Manhattan worked during two engagements generally seven years and loved club.

He said the arrival of next manager is Sathera coach Tom Renneym. "He confirmed me, that gives me the chance and it is curious to me alone. Know what I did Rangers, and I want to prove to him that they have something I can give. I'm not a fool, I thought about him, that there poison lajnu first cut. Nemíním even play a few minutes in the fourth, but in the third formation, I could get, "said Nedvěd.

Liberec native worked in fifteen NHL seasons, and only 18 matches he lacks the magic limit of 1000 matches played. "When is the possibility that I may have to limit the sáhl, and go after it on the head," he added attacker, who oblékal dress Vancouver, Wed. Louis, Rangers, Pittsburghu, Edmontonu, Phoenix and Philadelphia. In the NHL gathered 717 points (310 +407), which makes it among Czech hokejisty ranks third place in Jaromír Jágrem and Robert Holíkem.

Nedvěd is in her own words domluvený with Liberec club president Peter Syrovátkem, where does the camp Rangers will be in next season to defend the colours White Tigers. "When the Rangers to prove to be mission impossible, come about five to six extra rounds of the first, and then under the Ještědem I reported. I have to rozehrané pleasantly. Either the Rangers or the club where I grew up and where we can prove something big, "Added the owner of the Olympic silver medal in Lillehammer 1994, which represented Canada.

...I'm not sure what to think of this.

How The Rangers Can Get Sundin

Although not endorsing it, Steve Zipay at Blues Notes gives his thoughts on how the Rangers can fit Sundin under the cap...

"Could the Rangers cobble together $3 million or more to clear space?

Purely for speculation: Prucha ($1.6 million), d-men Mara ($1.9), Kalinin ($2.1), Pock ($667,500)---couldn't Corey Potter at $500,000 replace one of 'em?---Rissmiller ($1), Fritsche ($875,000), Sjostrom ($840,000), Betts ($615,000)."

...Zipay will be hosting a live webchat today at 2 p.m. To join the discussion click here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rangers a Finalist in Sundin Sweepstakes?; Shanahan Still Waiting

Eklund at HockeyBuzz reports...

"A source had told me that the "Mats Domino" looks more and more to be falling to the East...as I have heard, the Canadiens and the Rangers are the finalists."

...i refuse to believe the Rangers are interested in Sundin. No cap room. Too many centers. Enough veteran leadership. I can go on and on. Plus Eklund is reporting it so you know its not true.

Eklund also says that Shanahan is waiting on Sundin as three teams rumored to be in the Sundin sweepstakes (Rangers, Canadiens & Canucks) are also considering Shanahan.

ESPN's Burnside to Hold Chat


Today at 12 p.m., ESPN.com's Scott Burnside will be hosting a webchat about the NHL's offseason. To join the discussion click here.

...sorry guys didn't realize this was an ESPN Insider webchat. Typical ESPN making sports fans pay for information they could probably find with a few clicks of the mouse. Awful.

Thank You & More Love Needed

Because of the outstanding support from the readers of the New York Rangers Blog, my story on who should be the Rangers assistant captains was actually put on the front page of The Bleacher Report, so I got some great exposure. I just uploaded my editorial on true Ranger fans being priced out. You can check it out by clicking here. Thanks again for your support.

Jet Lag

Steve Zipay at Newsday describes the Rangers very busy preseason schedule...

"In a crammed preseason schedule unveiled by the team yesterday, the Rangers will play eight games in 12 days in three countries - followed by the NHL regular-season opener in a fourth, the Czech Republic. The unusual campaign will divide the club into two squads and presumably present an added challenge in evaluating players because of the travel."

...not a big fan of this. How is the coaching staff supposed to make decisions on the final few roster spots with a split squad? With all the turnover in the off-season this is especially concerning this year.

...i wouldn't be surprised if this team struggles early due to this grueling travel schedule. Although, it could end up being a great bonding experience for a team with a lot of new players. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blogs: Faith, Age Games, Atlantic Division, Key Games, Shanahan Runs & Jagr Speaks

Jess Rubenstein at The Prospect Park says Ranger fans need to keep some faith.

Pucks on Broadway feels the Rangers have gotten younger, but not at the expense of success.

Michael M. Ramos at Outside the Garden checks out how the Rangers match-up with the rest of the Atlantic Division.

Kaveh at the Broadway Blues looks ahead to the key games this year.

M hurley at My Blueshirt Heaven wonders what makes Brendan Shanahan run.

Laurie at Beyond the Blueshirts has a great interview with Jaromir Jagr over in Russia.

Need Some Love from My Readers

I'm going to start posting some of my columns over at The Bleacher Report. The more hits my stories get the better exposure they'll give me. If you guys wouldn't mind giving me some love, you can help me out by clicking here. Thanks.

Barnaby to ESPN Gaining Steam

Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy gives numerous news and blog reports on why Matthew Barnaby would work as a roving ESPN hockey analyst not just a talking head...

"It's such a simple concept, yet such an untapped idea: The casual sports fan watching ESPN doesn't know jack and squat about a left-handed shot on the power-play point, so why waste an ex-jock with personality as a talking head when an EJ Hradek will suffice? Unleash a guy like Barnaby on-site to offer candid assessments, trade a few war stories, interact with players ... hell, I'd tune in to see him interview that guy with the painted chest in section 417."

...if used correctly, I guess Barnaby could bring something different to ESPN's minimal hockey coverage. Wyshynski also offers video of Barnaby's reporting skillz. Not bad.

Free Agent Duds

At FoxSports, Kyle "Spector" Richardson gives us some of the biggest free agent busts in recent history including Vancouver signing Mark Messier and the Rangers signing Scott Gomez...

On Messier...

"Mark Messier was already a living legend when the Vancouver Canucks signed him in 1997 to a three-year, $20 million contract, expecting his leadership, skills and experience to lift them into Cup contention.

Alas, Messier by then was becoming a spent force no longer capable of carrying a team as he'd done with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers. The Canucks missed the playoffs in each of his three seasons with them."

...unfortunately, Spector could have added Messier's second tour with the Rangers as well.

On Gomez...

"The top free agent signings last summer were Daniel Briere with the Philadelphia Flyers for an average salary of $6.5 million per season over 8 years and Scott Gomez with the N.Y. Rangers for seven seasons averaging $7.37 million per.

While both players finished second in scoring with their respective teams (Briere with 72 points, Gomez 70) and were key factors in the Flyers and Rangers making the playoffs, critics are suggesting they were grossly overpaid.

If Briere and Gomez fail to consistently elevate their production beyond the 70 point mark in the coming years, their hefty contracts could end up doing more harm than good to their respective teams by eating up valuable cap space."

...way too early for a verdict on Gomez signing. Spector will be singing a different tune if Gomez leads the Rangers to a Stanley Cup in the next six years.

Rangers Pre-Season Schedule Announced

Newyorkrangers.com is reporting...

"New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced the Rangers 2008 pre-season schedule today, featuring three games at Madison Square Garden and a total of eight games in 12 days. The Blueshirts will conclude their exhibition schedule with a back-to-back set in Bern, Switzerland against SC Bern of the Swiss National League A and reigning European Hockey League champions Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League."

Sam Weinman at The Rangers Report gives an analysis here. Steve Zipay at Blue Notes has one here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ranger Fans Never Happy

At least that's what Greg Caggiano at The Bleacher Report thinks...

"For once, there will be a Rangers team with no overpaid forward. This is a team that I've been waiting to see for quite some time.

But instead of being happy, fans complain about what we haven't done. They don't appreciate the excellent work Glen Sather has done in putting this team together."

...i don't think this is a Ranger fan problem, I think its a New York fan problem. New York fans are never happy. You just won a championship, good for you, win me another. 10 game winning strike, big deal, I want 11.

...the most recent example is Giants fans. Eli Manning was just named Super Bowl MVP while leading the Giants to one of the greatest upsets in sports history and now just as the Giants start training camp you're actually hearing Giants fans questioning Manning.

...New York sports fans also have a win now or get out of town mentality. The best example of this are Yankee fans. They're so spoiled from the championships of the late 90's and early 2000, that they actually wanted to get rid of the greatest baseball player of this era, A-Rod, because they haven't won a World Series since his arrival, despite him being a major factor in getting the Yankees into the playoffs every year. Do you know what a Kansas City Royals fan would do just to get his team to finish the year over .500?

Redden a Fantasy Producer

In Sean Allen's Fantasy Hockey Top 75 for ESPN.com, he has this to say about Wade Redden...

Wade Redden, D, Rangers (48): I find it astounding that this guy can get such a bad rap after one bad season. Redden finished last season with 38 points, but the disappointment stems from the fact that he did that while playing in 80 games. The previous season, Redden had 36 points in just 64 games, and in 2005-06, he scored a ridiculous 50 points in only 65 games. While last season a little bit of a let down, the way the Sens let Redden walk after the year was ridiculous. It was just two seasons ago when the brass in Ottawa said the only reason they traded Zdeno Chara was that they knew they needed money to lock up Redden and couldn't afford both. If anything, we should look at last season as a sign of good things to come thanks to Redden playing 80 games for the first time since before the lockout. Bottom line: The Rangers breed good plus/minus, Redden is a lock for 60 penalty minutes and he has a chance to quarterback a very good power play. That makes him a decent No. 1 defenseman in my book.

...Allen makes some great points in his analysis. I can't believe how down Ranger fans are on this guy. I've seen thousands of posts on numerous Ranger message boards killing Redden. While I think a lot of it has to do with the contract, not necessarily his play last year, Ranger fans should start taking it easy on him as he's locked up for six more years.

...one thing Ranger fans might not be aware of is Redden can fight. Check out this video...

Barnaby to Take Over as ESPN Lead Hockey Analyst?

Sean Leahy's Going Five Hole blog reports...

"Barnaby, who makes the occasional appearance on TSN, noted he was going to meet with ESPN executives about the open position as lead NHL analyst with the WorldWide Leader."

...just when I thought television couldn't get any worse. Although, Barnaby can't be worse than Melrose.


Rangers, Sjostrom Agree to Terms

Newyorkrangers.com reports...

"New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Fredrik Sjostrom."

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes has this on the terms....

"Freddie Sjostrom, the winger who was acquired from Phoenix at the trade deadline last season, has accepted the team's $840,000, 1-year, qualifying offer..."

...nice to have Sjostrom back in the fold. Hopefully he can regain some of the magic that made him a first round draft pick.

In other free agency news, TSN is reporting, the Florida Panthers avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a one-year, $4.875 million contract with defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Blogs: Chemistry, Killin' Time, Dog Pee, Over the Cap & High or Low?

Jess Rubenstein at The Prospect Park emphasizes that no matter what, chemistry is key.

Scotty Hockey kills some time on a Friday night blogging about numerous Ranger issues.

Leedsy99 at Rangersland.net let's his readers know what he'll be drinking if Aaron Voros scores 10 goals for the Rangers this year.

Pucks on Broadway says with the Rangers about $350,000 over the cap they're going to have to make some moves if they want to bring back Shanahan.

Gootzman at the Corner of Section 420 & Glendale feels players' perseverance and determination make low scoring games better than high scoring ones.

Brendl Shining Overseas

Brian Costello at The Hockey News gives his top 10 ex-NHLers shining overseas...

8. Pavel Brendl - Multi-time NHL bust was third in Swedish Elite League scoring after a 30-goal season in Brynas.

...maybe we should try signing him. Just kidding.

Shanahan Wants to Return for 1 More Year

Michael Farber at SI.com has this piece on Brendan Shanahan wanting to return to the NHL...

"Shanahan, a free agent, is seeking a one-year contract. If a deal with the Rangers can't be worked out -- and currently New York is his only focus -- he would be willing to listen to offers from other teams. He already has deflected off-ice offers, including from media outlets."

...i've already stated my position on Shanahan numerous time, see here and here.

York Signed By Columbus

Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch is reporting...

"The Blue Jackets have signed veteran NHL center Mike York to a one-year contract, The Dispatch has learned.

It's a two-way contract that will pay York $750,000 with the Blue Jackets and $100,000 with the minor-league Syracuse Crunch."

...York was a fan favorite at the Garden who couldn't replicate his success on Broadway with any other team. Good luck resurrecting your career Mike.

Renney on WFAN

Tom Renney was on WFAN's Boomer & Carton radio program this morning. For audio click here.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rangers Release Liffiton

Mitch Beck at Howlings reports...

Dave Liffiton's time as a hockey player in Hartford can best be summed up in one word...competitor. However, Liffiton told Howlings in a brief conversation that he will not be coming back to the Wolf Pack.

"The Rangers didn't offer me anything they let me go." The 6'2" 210-pounder from Windsor, Ontario said.

...a pretty bad concussion and other various injuries were Liffiton's downfall. He looked like he was going to be a nice physical defenseman in a couple of years. Too bad.

...although, even without the injuries, there was probably little chance he was ever going to get a legitimate chance with the Rangers with all the defensive depth in the organization.

What No Name?


Here's a picture I found of Jaromir Jagr accepting his new jersey for Avangard Omsk courtesy of Puck Daddy.

More Productive Year for Drury?

Ryan Dixon at The Hockey News has this to say about Chris Drury...

"Year 2 on Broadway is going to be more productive for Chris Drury as the Rangers slowly, but surely, become his team…"

...while Drury had a down year numbers wise, I thought he was really good for us in other aspects such as face-offs and penalty killing.

...to me Drury had the typical first year for a big time player coming to New York. Look at A-Rod, Clemens, Beltran and Santana. It takes time to get used to all the media and expectations. Drury should be in for a better year as he'll be more comfortable with his surroundings.

Today's Headline

Here's Steve Zipay's full story at Newsday on Marc Staal being excited about the Rangers off-season moves....

Staal on Michal Rozsival...

"I got pretty comfortable playing with him last year," Staal said, noting that he had no preference for a pairing with either Redden or Rozsival. "It's not up to me, but I want to play as much as I can, so I can probably get the minutes with either of those guys."

...hopefully with a full year under his belt learning the NHL game, Staal will be more confident offensively this year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Blogs: #9 & Are We Better?

Scotty Hockey feels the Rangers should retire #9 in honor of both Adam Graves and Andy Bathgate.

While Mike Savino at the Ranger Pundit says the Rangers are definitely different, but wonders if they're better.

NHL.com Interviews Messier

Dan Rosen at NHL.com recently interviewed Mark Messier on topics including free agency, the Detroit Red Wings, the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Winter Classic. Here's an excerpt...

NHL.com: And, finally, if you could rewind time and relive one moment of your career — and only one — which of the many would you choose?

MM: Impossible to answer. I have been asked it a lot, but I just can't answer it. The first Stanley Cup was a dream come true. Making the NHL was a dream come true. The Cup in New York was a dream come true. The Canada Cups; to pick one is just impossible.

...c'mon Mark we all know it's the Cup in New York you're not fooling anyone.

Rangers Possibly Looking to Move Prucha

During a live web chat at Puck Daddy today, when asked if the Rangers will Trade Petr Prucha, Lyle "Spector" Richardson of Fox Sports and The Hockey News said that Prucha's name was out there but there were no serious discussions.

...this isn't groundbreaking as most people figured the Rangers weren't done and Prucha seems to be the most likely candidate to be moved.

...Prucha's situation is hard to explain. I've seen the argument on both sides. Some say it's Renney's fault for not playing him enough especially on the power play, while others say Renney wasn't playing him because he wasn't producing. I'm of the opinion that Prucha wasn't given a proper chance to redeem himself. Despite being only one year removed from his 30 goal (16 on the power play) rookie season (his second season wasn't that bad either as he scored 22 goals) Renney refused to insert Prucha on the struggling power play or give him a regular shift on the fourth line. Now I'm not saying Prucha was going to regain the scoring touch of his rookie year, but I don't think he was given a fair opportunity.

...to me Prucha's now lost confidence in himself and probably needs a change of scenery.

Staal Likes Changes

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes has Marc Staal's feelings on the Rangers off-season moves...

"I'm excited about the guys we got," he said. "Redden's an All-Star, a great player, he'll really be good. I know Naslund from watching him when I was growing up (in Thunder Bay, Ontario). He's got experience, he's been on the power play."

Newyorkrangers.com has more Staal thoughts on being a Ranger and his up-coming sophomore season here.

Despite Staal's endorsement of the moves, there are still Ranger fans out there furious with the changes. Adam Protreau at The Hockey News prints this letter from an obviously sarcastic Rangers fan...

Adam,

You are so wrong about the Redden contract. As a loyal Blueshirts fan, I love the idea of Redden and our other elite defenseman Michal Rozsival combining to make nearly $12 million next year.

That No. 1 pair is nothing compared to elite game-breaker Markus Naslund, who is primed to score 18 big goals and 47 HUGE points for us and make us forget that Jagr dude.

If that isn't enough, since those three guys make up, like, I don't know, two thirds of our cap space, you are going to be shocked and awed by the precocious Petr Prucha flying up and down the wing on our FIRST LINE. Watch out, NHL, here come the Rangers.

(I will now drop the radio into my bathtub. God, I hope I don't miss).

Jim Mauceri, Staten Island, N.Y.

...as I've said numerous times on this site I like the moves. Not necessarily the contracts, but I like the look of the team. Nice mix of veterans (Drury, Gomez, Naslund) and youngsters (Dubinsky, Staal, Callahan, etc.). Along with the infusion of some much needed speed (Zhedev). Oh yeah and we have this guy named Henrik Lundqvist in goal.

Column: So Who's Wearing the "A"s?

If you're like me you've come to the conclusion that either Chris Drury or Scott Gomez will end up having the distinction of being named the 25th Captain of the New York Rangers before the start of the season. With the other player being designated as an Assistant Captain. So the question is who gets the other "A"?

Let's look at the contenders...

The Favorites

Markus Naslund
Positives - Naslund was named captain of the Vancouver Canucks before the 2000 season (after the departure of Mark Messier) and held the title for the duration of his career in Vancouver. Naslund is a Lester B. Pearson Award winner (2003) and former Hart Memorial Trophy nominee (2003). He is also a three-time First Team All-Star, chosen in 2002, 2003 and 2004. After being traded to Vancouver in 1996, he became the franchise leader in goals and points. In 11 seasons with the Canucks, he was named team MVP five times and led the team in scoring for seven consecutive seasons — both team records.
Negatives - Naslund finished last season with his lowest points total since 1997-98 and apparently became frustrated with coach Alain Vigneault's defensive coaching style. I guess Naslund didn't watch many Ranger games last year, because if he became frustrated with a defensive coaching style in Vancouver, it's not going to be much different here.

Michal Rozsival
Positives - Rozsival is the longest tenured Ranger defenseman and just recently signed a 4 year, $20 million contract. Rozsival's defining moment with the Rangers was his overtime winner against Buffalo in Game 3 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
Negatives - Rozsival is coming off of off-season surgery and his worst year defensively. Rozsival frustrated fans all year with his hesitancy to shoot on the power play. While he ended the season with a career high 13 goals, most Ranger fans will tell you he should have had close to 20.

Wade Redden
Positives - In 1999, Redden was named alternate captain of the Senators, a position he has held for nine seasons ever since. Redden scored double-digit goals in five of the six seasons between 1999 and 2006. During which time he was one of the premier power play quarterbacks in the league. He is a two-time All Star and was part of a strong defensive pairing in Ottawa's run to the finals in 2007. He also just signed a 6 year, $39 million contract, meaning he'll be manning our power play for a long time.
Negatives - After scoring double-digit goals in five of the six seasons between 1999 and 2006, Redden has not scored more than seven in the last two seasons. Last year, Redden was an assistant captain on a Senators team that absolutely folded down the stretch and lied to the Ottawa fans when he said he would take a hometown discount to stay in Ottawa right before he signed his $39 million deal with the Rangers.

The Dark Horses

Brandon Dubinsky
Positives - Dubinsky in his first full year as a Rangers rookie ended the season centering the team's number one line. He was one of sixteen rookies selected to participate in the 2008 YoungStars competition at the 56th NHL All-Star Game as well as receiving the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award.
Negatives - Dubinsky is only 22-years-old and this will only be his second full season playing in the NHL. However, the Chicago Blackhawks just named 20-year-old Jonathan Toews the team's 34th Captain, so you never know.

Blair Betts
Positives - Betts has been with the team since the 2004 season and has quickly become one of the teams most reliable penalty killers and face-off men. Betts was also 6th on the team, 1st among forwards, with 98 blocked shots last year.
Negatives - Betts is a fourth line player who was a -4 last year and has yet to show any leadership qualities.

Ryan Callahan
Positives - Callahan personifies hustle on the ice. He was one of the keys to the Rangers run to the playoffs in 2007 as well as last year. His hustle play to score in Game 1 against New Jersey last year encapsulates what Callahan is about. Not to mention his work along the boards in Game 5 against New Jersey which helped clinch the game and the series.
Negatives - Callahan is only 23-years-old and has yet to play a full season in the NHL.

Looking at these contenders my feeling is that Naslund will end up rounding out the assistant captains. I think that Naslund's seven years as a captain in Vancouver can't be overlooked despite coming off his worst offensive season. And his being named team MVP five times says a lot. If one of our assistant captains gets injured, it should come down to Redden and Rozsival. However, Rozsival's three year tenure with the Rangers and my anticipation of a big year from him with Jagr not around clinches it for Rozsival in my mind.

However, if the Rangers end up re-signing Brendan Shanahan this whole article will be for not. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Young Players Ready to Take the Lead

Jess Rubenstein at The Prospect Park says the young Rangers are going to be the real leaders on this team for years to come...

"We are talking about Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Brandon Dubinsky, Nigel Dawes and Ryan Callahan as they are the true core of the Rangers and will become the leadership of the team. These are the ones who will step up on and off the ice when the team needs someone too now they have NHL experience under their belts."

...this post by Rubenstein really got me fired up about the future of this franchise.

...no mention of Jessiman as a potential leader. What's up with that Rubenstein? Just kidding of course.

Fans Say Jagr & Avery "No Great Loss"

Stan Fischler at MSG.com has quotes from Ranger fans on the loss of Jaromir Jagr and Sean Avery, including this one...

DAN AKESON, Long Island: "Jagr scored only 25 goals last season and had injury problems. Is he worth the same money as Scott Gomez or Chris Drury? No. His replacement, Markus Naslund, is younger, cheaper and had similar points last year. The team is now in the well-conditioned hands of Gomez-Drury, as it should be.

I like the other replacements: Nikolai Zherdev for Marty Straka. A stud winger for one who is on the way out.

As for Avery, he has never remained with a team for more than a couple of seasons because his 'shtick' gets old. Should a character guy like Drury have to answer for Avery's antics? No!"

...i've said this already, but I actually like the way the team looks right now with Drury and Gomez leading the way. I may be eating those words in December, but right now I'm excited for the season. More than if the Rangers only moves were to re-sign all their free agents.

Jessiman: I am Coming to Make the Team

Mitch Beck at Howlings has this quote from Hugh Jessiman after re-siging with the Rangers...

"I am coming to make the team (the Rangers) right out of camp. If for some reason I don't, then I'm going to the AHL and play so well that they have no choice but to bring me up."

...love the determination Hugh, but unless the Rangers are in a situation that I don't even want to think about you won't be seeing MSG till at least next year.

Blues Interested in Shanahan?

Andy Strickland at HockeyBuzz reports...

"Shanahan is still out there and Blues President John Davidson is observing the situation rather closely.

Don’t confuse this to mean the Blues have thrown Brendan Shanahan an offer, but it might not be long before they do."

...i would love to see Shanahan headed back to the Western Conference. Just so I won't have to see him regain his scoring touch and light the Rangers up with a team from the Eastern Conference.

Hugh Signing

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes reports...

"Hugh Jessiman, the 6-6 right wing and Dartmouth grad who was the 12th overall pick in the 2003 draft---a major disappointment---has apparently accepted the Rangers' qualifying offer. He's coming off his best season for Hartford (18-24-42, 154 PIM) in 71 games. No terms available just yet. Assume he will continue with the Wolf Pack."

The Rangers Report has more here.

...Jessiman actually had pretty solid numbers last year. Maybe he'll be a late bloomer.

Rangers Blogging From Youth Camp

Over at MSG.com, Colton Orr and Marc Staal are blogging about their experience at the Rangers Youth Hockey Summer camp. For more info on the youth summer camp click here.

What Have Our Opponents Done this Off-Season?

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes looks at how other teams in the East changed this off-season...

"Reeling in Sundin, in my opinion, would make Les Habs the favorites in the East.If Sundin goes west, they haven't done much.

Pittsburgh is weakened by the losses of Hossa and Malone; the Flyers will be strong offensively again, perhaps a bit better on defense and uncertain again in goal. Ditto for Washington; I liked Cristobal Huet more than Jose Theodore.

Boston is treading water. The Devs added a winger whom many had hoped the Rangers would land: Brian Rolston; but they need more offense and improved defense, methinks. Tampa's changed the landscape as well. Ottawa's offense is formidable, but goaltending remains a question.

So who can right now say how the re-made, re-modeled Rangers will fare against this lot?"

...if the Rangers can gel early I think we've got a great chance to finish in the top 4. Question marks everywhere. Including Montreal, where, even if they get Sundin, have uncertainties in goal with Price.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Blogs: Shanahan, Gretzky & Bettman's Blunder

Despite being a die hard fan of Brendan Shanahan, Inferno at the Rangers Review says that the Rangers should move on without him.

Adam Rotter at Rangers Blog reminds us that 12 years ago today the Rangers signed Wayne Gretzky.

M hurley at My Blueshirt Heaven feels that Gary Bettman and the NHL made a huge marketing mistake by not scheduling the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings to visit any of our local teams.

Jagrless Rangers Not As Big A Draw in Prague

Tereza Tomíčková at the Czech Business Weekly says that the NHL opener in Prague will be less attractive without hometown hero Jaromir Jagr...

Although his image has been fading over the past season, he has been an undisputed hero for home fans.

Česká sportovní, the organizer of the NHL season openers in Prague in October, worked hard to bring over the New York Rangers. They did so despite it being the most expensive option for them.

“The Rangers have got tremendous Czech appeal as there are a handful of Czech players and mostly [because of] Jágr,” said the company's general manager Miroslav Černošek.

Indeed, the two games between New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning were sold out within hours after the tickets were put in sale last spring. Jagr’s departure caused a blow to Česká sportovní. Karel Tejkal, spokesman of Česká sportovní, admitted that some people could return their tickets. “However, we don’t expect that more than a few dozen tickets will be returned,” he said.

...the Rangers organization must be ruing the day they agreed to participate in this fiasco.

Islander Follies

On this very slow news day, I give you this photo series on the downfall of the Islanders franchise courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

...hat tip to the Blueshirt Bulletin for the link.

Brooks Rips Rangers Again, 1997-98 Redux & Moore Signs

Just some house cleaning as I'm a little late getting started today...

Larry Brooks at the New York Post rips into Glen Sather's head scratching summer here. Sam Weinman at the Rangers Report says this year's addition of the Rangers may resemble the 1997-1998 version here. And finally the Rangers have re-signed Greg Moore, see here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Column: True Fans Being Priced Out

I've decided to bring in a new feature at The New York Rangers Blog. Writing my own columns. When I first started this blog, I never had any intentions of writing my own column-type blog posts, as there is so much opinion out in the blogosphere on the Rangers, I didn't think that my opinions would add all that much. But over time there's been a few subjects I wanted to tackle, but never had the time. With the dog days of summer here and most of the Rangers news being nothing more than a minor signing, I figured this would be the best time to start. My first column will deal with the excessive cost of going to a Rangers game.

When I was a kid I never went to many Rangers games. I never asked my dad to go. I think I was more interested in playing street hockey in the nearest parking lot than sitting on a train heading into Manhattan. But as I got into high school and college, I went a bit more frequently even attending a few playoff games. After college, a couple of buddys and I bought a 10 game package and despite the fact that the Rangers were awful we had a blast.

After getting married, purchasing a home and having a daughter, I never thought I could afford to go to games. I became very content sitting on the couch with a beer enjoying Sam and JD. But that all changed after the Rangers made the playoffs coming out of the lockout.

A friend of mine called the New York Rangers box office inquiring about another 10 game ticket plan, but to his surprise he was told that season tickets were available. Without even consulting with anyone else he said give me two in the 400s. It was probably about $2,400 for the pair. As soon as I got the call, I said I was in. For a quarter share (11 games) it only cost me $280. I was in shock at how cheap it was. I was always under the impression that Ranger tickets were much more expensive.

The 2006-2007 season was amazing. The Rangers started so poorly, and by the middle of February we all but lost hope of a playoff year. We even thought about not sending in our playoff ticket vouchers. But sparked by the Sean Avery trade the team made a run and got into the playoffs.

When the playoff tickets were sent, I was a little apprehensive of the cost, as I had bought playoff tickets in the past which cost me in excess of $100. But to my pleasant surprise the tickets only cost around $35 for the first round, $45 for the second, $60 for the Conferense Finals and $75 for the Stanley Cup. Wow now that was affordable.

With a great run in the playoffs that year, we all expected a ticket increase.

It turned out to be a little bit more than I had hoped as my $280 for the season ballooned to $350. It may not seem like a lot to some people, but when you've got a mortgage and a kid its not that easy.

But I sucked it up. I even started cutting some corners, as I would eat a sandwich on the train from Long Island and sometimes snuck a flask full of Southern Comfort into the game.

Once again the Rangers needed a late season run to make the playoffs and we were all excited as we were two for two with the Rangers qualifying for the playoffs. But my excitement was quickly quelled as the prices for our playoff tickets came in.

$55 for the first round, $75 for the second round, $100 for the Conference Finals and $150 for the Stanley Cup Finals. Say what?!?!?! What had happened to my affordable tickets from the year before. Between the train, tickets, food and booze I was in over $800 for the season!!!

Again it may not seem like a lot to some, but by the look of the very late arriving business types in the lower section of the Garden who seem more interested in checking their blackberrys and seeing who else is at the game than the game itself, I would say most people agree.

The final blow took place two weeks ago when we got this year's ticket prices. The cost for me would be almost $400. I couldn't afford it. The Dolan's had finally priced me out. I begrudgingly told my follow season ticket holders that I was out.

Thankfully they were able to find someone to take my place so that no else had to incur extra costs. But there in lies the problem. There will always be someone to pay these astronomical prices. If not a richer fan then most likely a company who will give them out to their clients who aren't even interested in hockey. While the real Ranger fans, like myself, will be priced out and sitting home.

With the Garden due for a major renovation and personal seat licenses all the rage, I can only imagine how expensive tickets are going to be for the opening of the 2010 season. The Blue seats are the last bastion of true Ranger fans at the Garden. But how much longer can these working class fans hang on? Just ask Giants fans. How long will it be before every spectator at a Rangers game is wearing a suit instead of a Rangers sweater?

Maybe I'm just sour because I can't afford to go to the games anymore. Or maybe I'm spot on. But either way don't worry I'll get over it and cheer the Rangers as hard as I can this year. But the next time anyone is looking for me to go to a game with them, don't bother calling I'll be too busy playing street hockey in the nearest parking lot.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Best Ranger Goalies, Part I

In anticipation of tonight's Fans' Most Wanted: Rangers Goalies on MSG at 7:00 p.m., Stan Fischler at MSG.com gives us Part I of his list of best Rangers netminders...

"Over the years the Rangers have been blessed with outstanding goaltenders, starting with Lorne Chabot, who stopped pucks for the first Blueshirts Stanley Cup-winning team.

From then on, such amazing blockers as Andy Aitkenhead — he played for the 1933 champs — graced the Rangers roster.

But the best was yet to come, starting with Davey Kerr, and concluding with the present goalie Henrik Lundqvist."

...I'm wondering if Guy Herbert and Jason Muzzatti are going to be named in Part II of Fischler's list.

Interesting Numbers for the Upcoming Season

John Kreiser at The Hockey News looks at some of the more interesting numbers for the upcoming season. Two of which include the Rangers...

3 — Longest homestand for the New York Rangers, who have four of them. The Rangers are the only team that doesn't have at least one four-game stretch of home games.

40 — Actual home games for the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, each of which will play their 41st "home" game during a season-opening two-game trip to Europe. Pittsburgh and Ottawa will face off twice in Stockholm, Sweden, while the Rangers and Lightning will play a pair of games in Prague.

...neither of these numbers seem to benefit the Rangers. Bettman strikes again.

Rangers Report Live Web Chat Transcript

For a transcript of Sam Weinman's live web chat at the Rangers Report click here.

Rangers History is Made

Greg Caggiano at The Bleacher Report reports on the new jersey numbers for Markus Naslund and Dmitri Kalinin...

"For the first time in the 80+ year Franchise history of the New York Rangers, the numbers 91 and 45 will be sewed or ironed nowadays to the back and sleeves of a jersey.

It is all but official that winger Markus Naslund will be taking No. 91 while defenseman Dmitri Kalinin will wear No. 45."

...riveting stuff.

Rangers to Make a Push for Bouwmeester?

Eklund at Hockeybuzz reports...

Talking to multiple sources throughout the day and there is a feeling out there that there are five teams that "aren't yet, but very soon could be talking trade for Jay Bouwmeester."

The five teams are Washington, Buffalo, Calgary, NY Rangers and St. Louis.

...not sure why the Rangers would be interested in Bouwmeester, they're pretty much set at defense. I guess it's Eklund so I shouldn't be putting too much stock into it.

Rangers Report Holds Live Web Chat Today

Sam Weinman at the Rangers Report will be holding another live web chat today at 11 a.m. To join the discussion click here.

Today's Headlines

Daily News - Jim Dolan fires back at NHL tactics

Daily News - It's official: Rangers will open season in Prague against Lightning

Newsday - MSG asks judge to dismiss claim

New York Times - For Rangers, First Stop on Schedule Is Prague

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rangers File Response to NHL in U.S. District Court

John Dellapina at the Blueshirts Blog reports...

"A quick read through of the document plus two attached letters that Jim Dolan sent (one to all the league’s other owners last September and another to Mario Lemieux recently) seems to add up to the following:

The Garden freely stipulates that NHL teams, at Board of Governors meetings, voted to approve all of the new media (internet) policies in question. Nevertheless, insisting that such policies are an illegal restraint of trade, the Garden reiterates its claim that the court should step in and declare them so."

...man if we thought the refereeing bias in the playoffs against Pittsburgh was bad, just wait until next year.

Graves Night Speculation

With the Rangers 2008-2009 schedule announced today, Steve Zipay at Blue Notes speculates on when Adam Graves retirement ceremony might be...

"Nov. 10: Possible date of ceremony to retire Adam Graves' No. 9 before home game against Edmonton, where Graves starred. Team says no date has been set. Other possibilities: Jan. 7 against Montreal, Jan. 20 vs. Anaheim."

...if I were a betting man (and I am, not a very good one, but one nonetheless) I would go with Nov. 10th against Edmonton.

Avery Back at the Garden Named Can't Miss Game of 2008-2009 Season

Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy gives his 10 can't miss games of the up-coming 2008-2009 season...

Dallas Stars at New York Rangers (Oct. 20, 2008)
Sean Avery plays against his former mates and you can be sure he won't mind stirring some crap up. Ex-teammates be damned, Avery is going to be drawing penalties, turtling, and yapping his gob the entire game. I guess we'll see how some of his former teammates felt about him now that he'll be wearing an opposing jersey.

...this will be the Rangers ninth game of the season. If they start out 2-6 or 3-5 the crowd will be all over the Rangers while praising Avery every chance they get. However if the Rangers start hot (6-2 or 5-3), I still think the crowd will applaud Avery, but not as passionately.

...although I'm sure Avery will do something stupid to get the crowd into a frenzy either way.

Looking at the Newest Rangers

Stan Fischler at MSG.com gives his take on the newest Rangers and has this to say about the new team...

"With all deference to the contributions of Jagr and Avery -- not to be underestimated here or anywhere -- more has been gained by Glen Sather's moves than lost. Or, to be specific, the Rangers will be terrific."

...i don't know about terrific, but I'm actually happy with the way the team looks right now and would be very disappointed if this team didn't advance past the second round this year.

Sjostrom to Get Pay Cut, Not Pay Raise

Dubi at the Blueshirt Bulletin clarifies Freddie Sjostroms contract situation...

"Freddie Sjostrom is apparently more clearheaded than we are -- he is not seeking a big raise over last year's $800,000 salary, he is actually ready to accept a cut to $650,000 in exchange for a two-year deal, with negotiations over those terms still ongoing. Kudos to Sjostrom -- those are the right terms for him."

...now that makes a lot more sense.

Dubi also links to a story from the Winnipeg Sun on hometown boy Nigel Dawes re-signing with the Rangers.

2008-2009 Rangers Schedule Released

Newyorkrangers.com reveals the Rangers 2008-2009 schedule which includes the home opener on Friday, October 10, against the Chicago Blackhawks. For the press release click here, for complete schedule click here. Here's a reminder of the new scheduling for this year...

"With a newly formatted schedule, the Rangers will face each NHL team at least one time over the course of the season. New York will face Atlantic Division foes New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the Islanders six times each. The Blueshirts will face all other Eastern Conference opponents a total of four times apiece."

Lundmark Signs with Flames

TSN.com is reporting...

"The Calgary Flames signed free agent forward Jamie Lundmark, the club announced Wednesday. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Lundmark, 27, spent the first two months of last season in Russia playing 14 games for Moscow Dynamo before finishing the year with Lake Erie of the American Hockey League, posting 13 goals and 20 assists in 51 games."

...thought some of you might be interested in how a former first round bust (9th overall) of the Rangers is doing.

Sjostrom Should Accept the Offer

Dubi at the Blueshirt Bulletin says that Feddie Sjostrom should take the Rangers offer and run...

"Sjostrom might be a speedy and hard working winger, but a guy who scores a goal and an assist once every seven or eight games should not be asking for more at this point, not with the team right up against the salary cap already."

...not sure why Sjostrom is playing hardball. Being a high first round pick he has basically been a bust and now he's looking for a raise? C'mon Freddie, you're living in a fantasy world right now.

No Cap Room for Shanahan

Larry Brooks at the New York Post reports...

"And what with people like Pat Rissmiller and Aaron Voros in at $1M per and Fred Sjostrom sitting with a qualifier of over $800,000 - management is trying to sign him to a two-year contract in the neighborhood of $650,000 per - the Rangers seem to have no room for Brendan Shanahan, regardless of what Glen Sather repeatedly has said about the winger remaining in the equation."

...its not that I don't like Shanahan or think he can't be a great presence in the locker room. I just don't think he fits in with the new much sleeker Rangers. Could you imagine Shanahan on a line with Gomez and Zherdev? By the time Shanahan finally entered the offense zone on a rush, his line would have already scored, celebrated and sat back down on the bench.

...having said that I do agree with what John Dellapina said yesterday (See here) that Shanahan deserves to know what the Rangers plans are for him immediately. He has definitely earned that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wrigley Field to Host 2009 Winter Classic

NHL.com is reporting that Wrigley Field has been named the site of the 2009 Winter Classic. The Chicago Blackhawks will face off against fellow Original Six team Detroit Red Wings at 1 p.m. on January 1, 2009. For more information click here.

...too bad, would have been cool to see the Rangers close out Yankee Stadium.

Dawes to Sign Today; Shanahan Owed An Answer

John Dellapina at the Blueshirts Blog has this on the Rangers re-signing Nigel Dawes...

"The club will announce sometime today that it has re-signed Nigel Dawes to a one-year contract in the $600,000 range."

Dellapina also feels that Brendan Shanahan is owed an immediate answer on whether the Rangers plan on bringing him back or not.

...great news on Dawes. I was getting a little worried for a second. The Nigel Dawes Fan Club lives on.

For the official announcement on Dawes click here.

Dawes, Sjostrom Qualifying Offer Update

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes is reporting...

Forward Freddie Sjostrom's qualifying offer was extended past yesterday's 5 p.m. deadline to Aug. 4. "We're still negotiating," Sjostrom said in an email late yesterday. No word from Nigel Dawes, but I believe his offer was extended as well.

Zipay also notes that Opening night at the Garden is expected to be Oct. 10, the All-Star Game in Montreal was announced yesterday and the January 1st Wrigley Field outdoor game should be official today or tomorrow as well.

...wonder if the Rangers are trying to low ball these two in an effort to save money to bring in Sundin.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rangers to Possibly Extend Qualifying Offer Deadline for Dawes & Sjostrom

According to an e-mail I received from Steve Zipay at Newsday, the Rangers will probably extend today's qualifying offer acceptance deadline for restricted free agents Nigel Dawes & Fredrik Sjostrom. Zipay wasn't sure what the new deadline would be.

Earlier this off-season the Rangers gave both Dawes and Sjostrom qualifying offers. See here.

...wonder what these two guys are waiting for. A better offer? Let's go guys, accept the offer and start thinking about the up-coming season.

For anyone who is not familiar with the qualifying offer system read below...

Teams are required to extend a one-year “qualifying offer” to any current restricted free agent by June 25 in order to receive the right of first refusal or draft choice compensation should that respective player sign an offer sheet with another NHL club. The qualifying offers will expire at 4 p.m. (Central Time) on Sunday, July 15.

Players have until July 15 to accept or decline the offer. Depending on their NHL experience, certain restricted free agents who decline their team's qualifying offer can opt to go to arbitration to settle their contract.

Qualifying offers fall into three categories:

- A player whose prior year salary was equal or less than $660,000 must receive a qualifying offer of 110% of their prior year’s salary.
- A player whose prior year salary was more than $660,000 and up to $1 million must receive a qualifying offer of 105% of their prior year’s salary (but in no event shall such qualifying offer exceed $1 million).
- A player whose prior year salary was more than $1 million must receive a qualifying offer at 100% of their prior year’s salary.

If a team does not give a qualifying offer to a restricted free agent, he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and can sign with any team with no compensation required to the player’s former club.

Blogs: Leash, Leadership, Division Champs & Top Ten

Jess Rubenstein at The Prospect Park wonders how long of a leash Ranger fans should give the coaching staff this year.

The Hockey Rodent feels that leadership qualities are overrated.

The Dark Ranger predicts that the Rangers will win the Atlantic Division title this year.

Gootzman at The Corner of Section 420 & Glendale gives his top ten Rangers. How is Jaromir Jagr not in the top 5? Just kidding.