Monday, June 30, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Martin Straka is no longer a New York Ranger.

Claiming he has not accepted his new deal (TSN) and will make the decision July 1, last night he apparently signed a deal with his former Czech Republic club, HC Lasselsberger Plzen to leave the NHL entirely - as the free agency deadline approached this coming Tuesday without any offers or consideration from Blueshirt management. Slats and gang were not interested in re-signing the three-year New York Ranger.

How might this effect the re-signing of Jaromir Jagr?

The answer to that will reveal itself no earlier than next Tuesday (July 1), but it sure doesn't bode well for maintaining Jagr's player 'support system.' As Glen Sather and Co. are looking to strengthen and rebuild the NY Rangers this off-season, they have made it clear to Captain Jagr their desire to bring him in under their terms, financially and expectation of play, for one more year. As it stands, Jagr is looking for two years extension.

Marty Straka leaving the Rangers may be revealing a little of how this team is looking to open the season this fall. How do you think Marty will feel watching his former Rangers from the stands opening in his home town of Prague this October?

The heat has been turned on slightly higher....


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

First Over A Rangers Website, Now This...

As "Schmuck-Egg-In-The-Face Bettman" addressed the league’s board of governors in New York last week, Gary Bettman admitted he had no clue that two of his closest NHL confidants – L.A.’s Philip Anschutz (responsible for last year's England opener debacle) and Minnesota’s Craig Leipold – had lent San Jose banker Boots Del Biaggio (alleged deadbeat and bankrupt NHL owner) a combined $17 million (U.S.) to help him pay for a $25 million stake in the Nashville Predators.

NHL owners were speechless, according to a source who attended the meeting, as Bettman grumbled he had been in the dark. Neither Anschutz nor Leipold had made him aware of the cozy back-door deal. In corporate North America, Bettman would be forced to find his 'exit strategy' with such blunders - honorable discharge - and he was obviously absent from his weekly NHL hourly broadcast as he had to attempt to keep his position as Mr. Know-It-All-of-the-NHL.

In other news, the NHL trade happened over the weekend. We acquired yet another no-name to send to Hartford -- funny that many of the current bloggers posted with "Who Cares?"(see jibblescribbits) or "It goes to show you it doesn't mean anything".....I just find the entire event premature and a little boring.

Mats Sundin a Ranger? Larry Brooks of the Post suggests that after Montreal has exclusive rights to discuss a potential free agent acquiring of the Maple Leafs beloved Captain, the New York Rangers are of interest to Mr. Sundin and discussions are already taking place. How ironic. The Dark Ranger was tipped last fall that there was interest from the NY Rangers camp on acquiring Sundin come last February during the trade deadline:

(The Dark Ranger sent the following email to Fabio, a Leafs enthusiast, the day after the Rangers slaughtered the Leafs, October 2007) The Dark Ranger sent:

"A heads up. Sundin's has always wanted to play for the NY Rangers, and is talking to NY Ranger management today (who wouldn't after last night!) -- discussions of trading Straka and Callahan and a first and second round pick - for a potential answer to our offensive challenges. Don Meehan, agent for Sundin approached the Rangers. He has told Sather he wants to play next to Jagr and Drury. Hate to ruin your day, but these talks are happening..... I am putting it on the blog later this afternoon when my source gets me confirmation of talks, launching The Dark Ranger site before Spector or HockeyBuzz knows anything about it."

I won't even post his offensive and "hockey-racist" response. As any Toronto Maple Leaf fan would do, it was filled with stereotypical cliche's about how great their losing team is --- and plenty of swearing. Regardless, it is fun to look back and verify that the people, we, hockey bloggers know within the depths of hockey organizations sometimes actually know 'inside' dirt. You will hear it here if there is anything to discuss that the mainstream columnists and bloggers aren't already talking about.

Next Tuesday is free agency day -- and perhaps we will see some important re-signings (Avery, "some would say Jagr") and some new acquisitions on the team; the likes of Brian Campbell, Mats Sundin, Brian Gionta, Ryan Malone and other potential dreamy free agents becoming Blueshirts would be a pleasant and unexpected surprise. As we saw the Rangers acquiring two of the three most-sought-after free agents last summer (Drury & Gomez) it is entirely possible that Slats and the Blueshirt management are smarter than we think they are.

One can only hope.


Friday, June 20, 2008

The Dark Ranger Is Not Alone!

from this morning:

The Bettman Cartel
June 19th, 2008 by David Johnson

Sometimes (ok, more than sometimes) I wonder if the NHL has a clue what it is doing. The latest breaking story is that the NHL is threatening the New York Rangers owners (Madison Square Garden, MSG) with possible expulsion from the league for accusing the league of violating antitrust laws. The background is that the Rangers sued the NHL claiming that the NHL had no right to take control of the Rangers website and other marketing and promotion programs. Last year a judge agreed with the NHL and said the NHL was well within its rights to take control of the rangers website.

But instead of accepting victory in a dignified way, as any reasonable organization would, it decided to fight back and “asked a judge to agree MSG has breached its contract by challenging league rules and that it can force out MSG.”

Two thinks come to mind when I read this story:

1. MSG is one of the best owners the NHL could possibly have and in a time when good law abiding owners are seemingly very hard to find (see NY Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, and recently Nashville Predators), it seems very counter productive to be booting out one of the best and most stable owners around. Not only is MSG stable, but they are one of the biggest media outlets in New York and even across the United States. For a league that is starving for hockey coverage in the United States, booting out one of your better owners and media partners seems counter productive too.

2. It seems like this is just further evidence of a Bettman cartel in the NHL where Bettman will do everything he can to get pro-Bettman owners in the league (see Williams ”Boots” Del Baggio) and do everything possible to keep independent minded owners out of the league (see Jim Balsillie). With this action the NHL is trying to send a statement to all other owners in the NHL: “Do what we want or you’ll be gone”. I am no lawyer but it seems to me that this must break some sort of anti-trust laws.

So far Bettman has been successful in keeping tight control over the NHL and silencing those who might want to challenge him and his rule. One has to wonder if and when this might come back to bite him in the foot. Challenging a media giant like MSG with expulsion is a bigger battle than he has undertaken in the past and one wonders when he will have bitten off more than he can chew. Now that the players get a fixed share of revenue I expect the NHLPA is going to want to have a say in matters like this since such moves will potentially affect league revenues. If MSG, Balsillie, NHLPA and possibly other big market owners choose to fight back it could be wildly lopsided fight that Bettman and his cronies are sure to lose. It will be interesting to see how this will unfold.

THE DARK RANGER says: the draft tonight will be special. Every time Bettman speaks, the crowds will 'BOO' him. No one likes a bully. At the very least, this counter-lawsuit will keep talk at an all-time high regarding the NHL -- and you know the Dolans are going to strike back in a big way over the next couple of weeks. Thank the hockey Gods that we can finally now talk about something other than Sean Avery's speedo and Vogue internship.

Speaking of which, it looks like Sean Avery is actively discussing a return to his LA Kings -- who in rumor accounts- will provide him with the $4 million per year he is seeking from the Rangers. Glen Sather has publicly stated he has no intentions of talking to Avery before July 1 and his offer is in Avery's agent's hands. Otherwise, no deal. It has been mentioned that Avery was potentially contemplating a move over to the Island of Ted Nolen -- which would be terrific in reinvigorating the rivalry between the NY Rangers and Islanders. Not since Dennis Potvin would we have seen such hatred in an ex-Ranger. Fun stuff ahead. Tonight the draft. In two weeks, free agency. Yee haw.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bettman the Barbarian Takes On Dolans!

The National Hockey League is threatening to kick out Madison Square Garden, the owners of the New York Rangers, as punishment for accusing the league of violating antitrust laws.

The NHL filed court papers Wednesday that included a draft letter from commissioner Gary Bettman. In its court filing, the NHL asked a judge to agree MSG has breached its contract by challenging league rules and that it can force out MSG.

Madison Square Garden sued the NHL in September, saying it violated antitrust laws by monopolizing control of team promotions. And a judge said in November the league seemed within its rights to take control of the team's website.

Now here is the perfect example of the 'Battle of the Egos' -- where at some point Herr Bettman probably got in a room with members of the Dolan Empire and verbally shagged them, inciting imaginary rule #357a of the NHL franchise agreement regarding global league marketing and how big your C**k is....I mean New York accent.

So instead of revisiting corruption in the NHL's referees, looking to greater expand the NHL in our own country (as opposed to England or Prague), securing a greater network (i.e. ESPN) for the NHL to mainstream North America, and making player rough-housing revisions, etc., Mr. Bettman is again looking to admonish and threaten one of the most profitable Original Six teams because he 'can.'

What a joke. If the Toronto Maple Leafs decided they wanted to keep profits in-house and ultimately coordinate their website marketing in tandem with the league, as opposed to letting Gary Bettman control it, there wouldn't ever be a problem. There are untouchables in the league, as we saw throughout the playoffs.

Perhaps this is another example of favoritism in the hockey world and how the league looks down on another New York City franchise.

Go get 'em MSG....


A Beginner's Guide to the Upcoming Season (UPDATED)

Jaromir Jagr craves a display of the Rangers’ affection for him. General manager Glen Sather says he is a fan but has yet to reach out to personally convey that sentiment to the sensitive captain.

So, with only 20 days remaining until Jagr can become an unrestricted free agent, it is anybody’s guess whether he’ll be in a Broadway Blueshirt when the club opens next season in his native Czech Republic. And because Jagr’s return or departure is the first domino that needs to fall before the Rangers can continue the process of assembling their roster for next season, such uncertainty at such a late date can’t be viewed as a good thing.

Of course, Sather has always enjoyed playing the cat-and-mouse game when his top players’ contracts come up for renewal. So his unhurried approach with Jagr is hardly out of character.

As long as Jagr’s situation remains not just unresolved but completely unpredictable, it seems difficult for the Rangers to make decisions regarding other potential unrestricted free agents, such as Sean Avery, Martin Straka and Michal Rozsival.

Season Highlight: Two springs after being battered by the rival Devils, the Rangers avenged that 2006 first-round sweep by eliminating New Jersey in five games in the 2008 first round. Lundqvist outplayed living legend Martin Brodeur—who was tormented by Avery shift after shift—and Jagr was a monster en route to leading the playoffs in scoring through two rounds.

Turning Point: A quirk in the schedule—back-to-back home games against an Atlanta team they own—produced 4-0 and 2-1 Garden victories (the second on the night Brian Leetch’s No. 2 was retired) to catalyze a playoffs-making 20-6-7 stretch run. Lundqvist was brilliant throughout the 11-week surge. Jagr routinely dominated games. And the Rangers capped a season in which they went an Atlantic-best 20-7-5 within the division by going 5-1-4 in their last 11 games, which all were intradivisional.

Notes, Quotes

While Sean Avery remains in the news because his publicists have passed along word of every move he’s made as an intern at Vogue magazine this summer, his contract negotiations with the Rangers have yet to produce anything of interest. Avery remains convinced that he is a top-six forward who should be paid in the neighborhood of $4 million a year. The Rangers have yet to budge off their early season offer of $2.75 million per.

Quote To Note: “It’s clear Jaromir’s a good player. It’s clear that we like him. And it’s clear that we’d like to have him back also. There are so many other free agents that are going to be available. But if you have the option of getting Jaromir the way he played at the end of the year and in the playoffs, he was a pretty dangerous hockey player. And we could wind up with no one.”—Rangers GM Glen Sather

Roster Report

Most Valuable Player: G Henrik Lundqvist battled through the most difficult of his three NHL seasons to lead the NHL in shutouts (10), finish fourth in wins (37) and sixth in goals-against average (2.23) and earn a third straight designation as a Vezina Trophy Finalist. Lundqvist was distracted midway through the season by worry about his father, who underwent emergency surgery in Sweden for a brain aneurysm, and had to fight to rediscover his form for the stretch run and playoffs.

Most Disappointing Player: Unable to develop on-ice chemistry with either C Scott Gomez or C Chris Drury, Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr went from averaging 110 points his first two seasons in New York to scoring a career-low 71. However, despite failing to approach the great expectations that are standard for him, Jagr mentored rookie C Brandon Dubinsky to a fine first NHL season.

Biggest Needs: The Rangers’ first order of business is to figure out whether RW Jaromir Jagr is coming back. Then they can deal with their free agents and work on improving their defense.

Free Agent Focus: The Rangers remain committed to upgrading their underwhelming defense corps—by adding offensive ability and/or physicality. And while finding a scoring winger who can skate with C Scott Gomez will have them at least expressing an interest in Marian Hossa, it remains unlikely that the Rangers will shell out the at least $7 million per he is expected to command on the open market.

Player Notes:

D Michal Rozsival, whose play dropped off over the season’s second half and in the playoffs, was to undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum muscle in his hip June 11. Though Rozsival scored a career-high 13 goals this past season, none came after Feb. 3. And the Rangers are considering whether to re-sign him—he’s likely to command at least $4 million per on the open market—or look elsewhere to upgrade the top end of their defense corps.

LW Martin Straka is nearing the time when he must decide whether to sign on with a team in his native Czech Republic and effectively end his NHL career. Straka said last week that he is struggling with the decision, and it is unclear whether the Rangers want the classy, 35-year-old veteran back.

RW Brendan Shanahan’s return for a 21st NHL season remains uncertain. The venerable winger, who turned 39 in January, sagged badly over the second half of the season. He blamed the effects of failing to give himself enough time to recover from a Jan. 5 collision with Dustin Penner that left him with a sprained knee and led to hip and back problems.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

For Those Already Missing Hockey Season

The Dark Ranger cannot help but think about holding a nice, cold one at MSG come September. Until then, don't let the economy stop you from having a couple of brewski's here and there, as this picture made me laugh and, strangely, think about hockey.

So I share.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Breaking News!!! Rangers Sign Mini-Holmstrom

Swedish player Andreas Jamtin is now officially a New York Ranger --a free agent as of June 15. Previously tied up by the Detroit Red Wings, unsigned up until yesterday's deadline - Jamtin was once compared to Thomas Holmstrom (at the time he was drafted), except a meaner and faster version. That being some time ago and his having never played in the NHL, Blueshirt Bulletin suggests that his level of play is fast, with the attitude of Sean Avery -- unafraid to throw himself into any situation presented. Though his performance has been mediocre over the last couple of seasons in Europe, he is considered someone who might 'break out' once reaching the NHL level.

The Rangers management have not officially announced his signing, but sources at MSG have suggested that this will put much needed pressure on the Sean Avery re-signing over the next couple of weeks, as Jamtin the agitator is known by opposing teams as a 'gnat' and 'distractor' - someone who is highly disliked throughout the Finnish Elite League.

Add some speed and good shooting skills, Andreas Jamtin may just be one of the affordable components necessary to improve the Rangers' front lines. More to come...


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hey Billy!!!!! Welcome Back....

A huge 'shout-out' to the ultimate combination of 'New York Ranger' fan and East Village artist here in the Great NYC. Billy the Artist is back and MSG will welcome back a great fan and a great NYC institution after a long hiatus in painting hot chicks and gratuitous pictures of hot chicks never ruined a hockey fan's day.

With all of the rumors and trades happening in the blogosphere, I thought it best to wait and see what the 'Great Slats' has to show over the next couple of weeks as we approach "free agency-land" July 1. For anyone watching the "What the Rangers Need Most" post, you'll see the two top voted needs are:
1. re-SIGN Sean Avery. & 2. Reinforce the blueline with defense that means something

Ironic that these were the most important issues for the Rangers one year ago -- only now we have a handful of free agents that (should) will leave, freeing up close to $20 million in salary cap. If management treats this right, we could be looking at an improved 2009 playoff picture and a long-term veteran/youth mix for years to come. But they won't....if Coach Clueless and SLATS the Barbarian refuse to adapt to new opportunities. least we have Billy the Artist...for now.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pittsburgh Are The Losers! Red Wings Win Cup in 6!

In 1991, the Giants won the Super Bowl
In 1991, there was a Bush in the White house
In 1991, there was a Clinton running for President
In 1991, there was a war in Iraq
In 1991, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup

In 2008, the Giants won the Super Bowl
In 2008, there is a Bush in the White House
In 2008, there is a Clinton running for President
In 2008, there is a war in Iraq
In 2008, the Penguins?



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