Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NY Times Meets The Dark Ranger - A Preview

September 29, 2009, 1:32 pm

Hockey Night in Blogdom: 30 Teams in 30 Minutes, Eastern Edition

Graying Mantis of The Dark Ranger

Will the Rangers be better or worse than last year, and where will they finish?

The Rangers will be more youthful, exciting and energetic. They’ll go as far as Gaborik’s groin can carry them; I’ll wince every time he’s hit. Better? Worse? Who knows. The East is even tougher now. I’ll be hopeful and say a repeat seventh place.

What team would you most like to see fail this year, and why?

Flyers. Simply because they decided to go with ugly and nasty. Emery in goal? Pronger on defense? I can hardly wait. I relish the idea of another year celebrating their futility streak — 35 years and counting.

Your fondest memory of the Rangers or a Blueshirts player?

Eddie Giacomin’s return to MSG as a Red Wing because the fans showed that players count more than the jersey. My classmates and I were never so happy to see our team lose a game.

What player would you most like to see checked right through the Zamboni doors?

Is it O.K. to pick one of my own players? Brashear, because he ate up cap space and caused the exile of Colton Orr and departure of Blair Betts.

Automatic penalty for a check to the head – yea or nay?

Depends on who gets hit. Ranger player? Game misconduct. Opponents? A get-well card. N.H.L. welcomes back Sean Avery with makeup calls.

* * *

Semenov Is a Ranger

The New York Rangers have signed unrestricted free agent defenceman Alexei Semenov.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The 28-year-old Semenov played in 47 games with the San Jose Sharks last season, registering one goal and eight points, along with 57 penalty minutes. In addition, Semenov skated in his 200th career NHL game on March 7 at Vancouver.
The Murmansk, Russia native has 211 career regular season games under his belt with the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Sharks, recording seven goals and 26 assists for 33 points, along with 249 penalty minutes.
Semenov is a second round selection (36th overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Great Gretzky Quits


"This was a difficult decision that I've thought long and hard about," Gretzky said in a statement. "We all hoped there would be a resolution earlier this month to the Coyotes ownership situation, but the decision is taking longer than expected.  Since both remaining bidders have made it clear that I don't fit into their future plans, I approached General Manger Don Maloney and suggested he begin looking for someone to replace me as coach.  Don has worked hard and explored many options.  I think he has made an excellent choice, and so now it's time for me to step aside.
The Coyotes never made the playoffs during their four seasons with Gretzky behind the bench. From 2005-06 to 2008-09, he had a 143-161-24 record for a .473 winning percentage.
"The Coyotes scouting staff has put together a great group of young and talented players who are going to improve tremendously over the next few years," the statement read.  "I'm proud of the team we've assembled, the organization with which I've been associated and the thousands of dedicated fans who have never wavered in their support of this young team. I'm confident that the best is yet to come for hockey in Phoenix."

TDR says:  The irony of it all -- 'The Great One' is resigning as a loser coach -- perhaps one of the greatest hockey players of our day, Grets has only found failure in his attempt at coaching an expansion team, has had troubles in gambling and (albeit 'hot') wife that keeps him in the trashy headlines, and leaves a shaky organization that appears to be sitting in Glendale, AZ for one more year before Ba-gillionaire Blackberry-founder Jim Balsillie buys and moves the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton, Ontario at the beginning of next season.  Not what Sports Illustrated had in mind when they declared "Understanding His Genius" & "The Master of Modesty", is it?

Listen, I understand the franchise is in a horrific state of affairs currently and he may be sick-to-death of coaching a losing team, but regardless of how ailing your franchise is, there are still players showing up to training camp in the hope that your hockey family is still unified -- and get this...the Coach NEVER SHOWED UP.  It is horrible enough when a player, such as Brandon Dubinsky misses the majority of camp and throws the locker room into chaos because of contract negotiations, but the 'Great One' (a.k.a. Coach of the Phoenix Coyotes) cited ownership reasons as an excuse for NOT SHOWING UP TO CAMP.  This is bullshit.  The team comes first, above everything else (except actual family) and he never demonstrated leadership this entire off-season to the franchise. It is only recently that one of the two bids has stated that Grets wasn't guaranteed a coaching position, well after the beginning of training camp - and this is just an excuse to duck out of further embarrassment.  Truth is, he just couldn't be bothered any further.  Shame, shame, shame on you Great One.

The Dark Ranger wants to nominate  Wayne Gretzky to our first TDR award.  In fact, I'd like to formally declare 'The Great One" the first recipient of the..


...for taking the low-road and displaying no sense of shared hockey integrity when the 'goings get tough'!  Well done, Grets....this is how you leave the NHL!!?


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Finally A Win, before the next round of cuts.

Everyone’s dander definitely seemed to be up after the last meeting and with a new round of cuts promised for the blueshirts the following day; players were sure to elevate their game for what could conceivably be their last chance to make the team. It could be seen in the games of:
- Artem Anisimov, who made a fantastic outside inside move to embarrass Penner of Boston with and outside inside move, and then go around the sprawled Tim Thomas to score a shorty with a diving Bobby Orr-esque Shot.
- Marc Staal as threw some big hits and played some shut down D.
- Michael Del Zotto as he really made some good plays at both ends of the ice.
- and unfortunately in the over effort of Aaron Voros who persistent stupidity saw him leave his feet on a check, paid for it with his usual punching bag performance courtesy of his co-star(Fata of Boston) and being relegated to his office in the penalty box for much of the period. Overall, it was a pretty offensive period for the Rangers as Ales Kotalik showed why he was viewed as a possible asset on the power play when he was signed this summer- Scoring on a hard one timer shot from the left circle off the feed from Prospal after some good puck movement on the PP. Even Sean Avery got into the act, burying a shot past Tim Thomas off a good effort by Youngster Jordan Owens, who seemed to be developing a bit of chemistry with Avery.
Boston Started the second period Strong with the man advantage. There was a scare midway through the second as Artem Anisimov was boarded by Lucic and was hurting on the bench. Soon after Valiquette would sprawl and find it not enough as Boston picked up the pace on its offensive game and scored again. It was at this point that i was begging for Chad Johnson to get some ice time. IT would appear Valiquette was also as he returned his water bottle back to its perch on top of the goal with a bit of disgust. Then he did. Dane Byers, a player I was hoping to get a look this preseason then challenged the Aforementioned Fata, Fata would decline but Byers soon found himself a willing dance partner. The fight was brief after the Boston player went for the take down midway through. Byers would earn the instigator for his trouble... unfortunately this only came moments before Semenov would get 2 minutes for a mystery penalty. Things we looking bleak for the Blueshirts, but due to the great effort by Marc Staal and Chad Johnson, Boston would be unable to capitalize on their man advantage. Later Ales Kotalik would score another goal on a shot from the point as the entire team seemed to be staring at each other till Matt Gilroy took the puck deep and spaced out the defense. There's a bit of mystery concerning what happened in the neutral zone, after Ranger antagonist, Milan Lucic turned up with a sore jaw and went to the locker room after an attempt to intimidate Michael Del Zotto. The last clue that was recorded was that new enforcer and Bruiser, Donald Brashear and Serial hugger Voros, had an impromptu meeting with Lucic in the neutral Zone. It's still unclear what happened.

As for the third period, it was fairly uneventful period with a lot of line changes as the coach tried to compress one extra evaluation into the final twenty before making his cuts. One of the line changes saw Anisimov and Avery Together. The bright spot of this period was Chad Johnson who made several sharp glove saves. Dane Byers would have some late reprieve as he received a chipped pass off the boards from Del Zotto in the neutral zone and cut across the neutral zone with a bruin on his tail before making a no look pass to Parentau, who scored from between the hash marks to make it 5-2 rangers.

So far, I'm rather impressed with Chad Johnson, Michael Del Zotto, Brashear and of course Matt Gilroy. I'm still a little puzzled by the efforts of some of our high priced D (who isn't?) and big bodies that play like they're made of glass. Also needless to say, I am a little annoyed at some of the rookies who felt that camp tryouts and bigger money was a mere formality... and look forward to pictures of Dubi sucking wind after cranking out those laps at what's left of camp.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Baby Rangers Stuff It In Lucic's Face, NYR 5, Bruins 2

Ripped off-straight from The Associated Press:

BOSTON -- Prospect Artem Anisimov had a short-handed goal and an assist Saturday, leading the New York Rangers to their first preseason win, 5-2 over the Boston Bruins.

Ales Kotalik, who signed a three-year, $9 million free agent contract during the offseason, and AHL All-Star P.A. Parenteau also had a goal and an assist for the Rangers, who got two assists from veteran Vinny Prospal, another free agent signee.

The 21-year-old Anisimov's second two-point game in as many days featured a highlight one-man effort that capped a three-goal first period against Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas, who was making his preseason debut.

Anisimov's second two-point game in as many days featured a highlight one-man effort that capped a three-goal first period against Tim Thomas. The Vezina Trophy winner gave up the five goals on 19 shots in his preseason debut.

Kotalik opened the scoring with a power-play goal and assisted on Enver Lisin's second-period goal, while Parenteau assisted on Anisimov's goal and then closed the scoring with a late goal. Sean Avery also scored for the Rangers while Marc Savard and Zach Hamill scored for the Bruins. Thomas went all the way, yielding five goals on 19 shots.

Stephen Valiquette and Chad Johnson split time in the Rangers' goal, with Valiquette giving up the two goals on 14 shots. Johnson stopped 12 shots.

Boston's Milan Lucic was ejected for spearing New York's Michael Del Zotto at 16:06 of the second period.

The game was played the day after the Bruins shipped restricted free agent Phil Kessel to Toronto for three high draft picks.

Welcome Back My Boy......Dubie Signs

Brandon Dubinsky finally signed today.  The 2-year for $3.7 mill deal is done -- now we can get back to work and you can make that break-out season we've all been looking forward to.  Maybe your agent was right.....(or maybe Kessel wasn't signed by The Rangers)....ha!  Slats isn't stupid all the time, ya know

Go here, here or here for more on this.


MSG Math: 8 + 7.5 + 6 = A Big Fat Zero

Last night at Joe Louis Arena, the 3rd period began with the Rangers leading 2-0. A well-deserved lead, I might add. Henrik looked sharp again in the 1st and Matt Zaba -- with his lightning quick glove saves that he ends with flourishes -- took care of the 2nd period.

The Rangers had so little offense in the 3rd period,
that the Red Wings were able to really rest their defenders.

But a disturbing deja vu eerieness blurred my vision when I saw Michal Roszival take a humping, I mean holding, penalty in the last minute of the 2nd period. What was that feeling??? It felt so familiar. Why was my stomach turning?? Oh, that's right -- flashbacks to last season where Valiquette and company surrendered 4 goals to Toronto in the 3rd, 6 in Dallas and 4 more against Atlanta in the last 21 minutes of game -- each time blowing leads on the road. Put Matt Zaba between the pipes and Zaba Bing! it's 2008-09 all over again as the Red Wings potted 4. Someone tell Matt it was not all his fault. 2 of those goals were beautful top-shelf shots including the game-winner -- a still rising laser beam from the right circle by Jason Williams.

Whatever positives we saw in the first 2 periods evaporated faster than the Mets' bank account after Bernie Madoff was arrested when the Red Wings came out quickly and buzzed Zaba for 4 goals in stealing a 4-3 victory. Yes, it's preseason, but except for some spurts, the game made me keep looking for my remote to watch the Mets last night. Against the Nationals, in a battle to avoid last place.

The efforts of the Russians -- Artem Anisimov, Evegeny Grachev and Evner Lissin -- were laudable. Anisimov had a beautiful goal that was on YouTube before the 2nd period ended and assisted on Lissin's gaol in the 2nd period. He showed some Antropov skills as he used his lankiness and size to good advantage. His end-to-end rush that led to his goal had my mouth watering. Something that Gomez failed to do. His later move to the net showed some skill in getting himself into scoring position.
Nice elusiveness for a big guy.

Hockey is real easy when there is no one stopping your rushes.

As for the column's title -- perhaps only Bernie Madoff's client understands about getting so little out of so much. $20 million worth of contracts stinking up the place. The "D-" men of the blue line -- Roszival and Redden -- were simply awful out there. Read the official game recap here and notice that R&R are conspicuously absent from the game's description. R&R were on the ice for all 4 goals, sometimes literally -- the two of them floundering on their bellies like beached seals after a terrible defensive stretch in the 3rd period. That's $14 million on the ice. And yes, class, that only accounts for $14MM of my equation abouve. Let's not forget the other non-contributor -- Marian Gaborik and his $7.5 million -- he of the sore groin and out for the 1st 3 (preseason) games so far this season. Sounds like the Mets and Oliver Perez.

No doubt Charles Ponzi chuckles to himself in his grave everyday when he watches Cablevision dollars flow out the door to overpaid Ranger (and Knick) players. The fireworks and breast-beating over last night's 3rd period on other boards made my terminal glow last night from the heated anger over those two.

Near the end of the game, Joe Michelletti tried to put a gloss on the defeat noting that this is what preseason is good for -- seeing what the youngsters can do. He ominously mentioned (unintentionally for sure) that the Rangers already know what the veterans can do. I am afraid that Joe has more common sense than he gets credit for. We Rangers fans certainly know. Yet, for now, I will comfort myself with the thought that it's only preseason.

This afternoon, the Rangers get to see the Bruins who finalized their trade of Phil Kessel to Toronto last night.
No more chowdah, no more bisque. Phil Kessel
being helped out of TD Pavilion last night
after his trade to Toront
o was finalized.

---Graying Mantis

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Cuts Announced

From Rangers Rants, Andrew Gross covers the Rangers for The Record:

After this weekend, coach John Tortorella said the team will go down to two goalies. Tortorella, while addressing the media, also said he was happy with the way his young defensemen were playing but had not been happy with his veterans' performance. As for the young defensemen: Bobby Sanguinetti may play both games this weekend and Michael Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy would each play at least one. Ilkka Heikkinen was kept over second-round pick Mike Sauer and Tortorella said Heikkinen would probably play one game this weekend.
Tortorella also ruled out Marian Gaborik for tomorrow night's game but did not rule him out for Saturday at Boston. Earlier in the day, Gaborik said he hoped to play in Monday's home game against the Red Wings.
CLICK HERE for a list of those moving to Hartford


'Old Time Hockey' Promised Tonight!

Two teams I despise are playing tonight - The Toronto Maple Leafs and The Philadelphia Flyers, but if you are a fan of 'old-time hockey' (think Broad Street Bullies, 70's and bench clearings), if you watch tonight's game you are GUARANTEED a pre-season brawl like no other.  7pm EST.

With the publicly lauded Brian-Burke-Brawler-Bully-Leaf-Machine revamping now in place in Toronto and Philadelphia's rebuilding of it's blue(collar)line with the addition of 'The Wall' Chris Pronger, sparks will fly when the first puck drops.  Last night against the Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Leafs there were four fights and plenty to prove by the recently acquired veterans and the newbie prospects attempting to impress the Burke-ism Philosophy.  Old-time hockey still remains a vital part of what the fans want in the NHL -- and both teams tonight will not disappoint.

Pension Plan Puppets in response to Toronto's new appetite to fight, states it nicely:

And if you think there's a chance this is going unnoticed by the Flyers, think again. Is there a reason Matt Clackson made this trip? Are you naive enough to think that it was just a coincidence last night when Riley Cote, Dan Carcillo, and Arron Asham all sat out last nights game in Detroit?

There are going to be fights tonight, and there are going to be lots of them. Get ready.

So New York Rangers this game tonight, because it will certainly demonstrate how our Blueshirts need a little more than just a veteran defenceman and someone to center Gaborik on the first line.  Colton.....Colton......Where Art Thou, Colton?

Some fun facts about The Philadelphia Flyers that the Toronto Maple Leafs need to keep in mind:

Philadelphia was the NHL's most penalized team last season, averaging 17.5 minutes per game in the box, but it didn't really hurt the Flyers because they had the sixth-best penalty-killing unit in the league. They were so good that the Flyers managed to score a league-high 16 short-handed goals. And Philadelphia's other special team wasn't too shabby either, with the power-play unit ranking sixth in the league as well.

No one calls the Flyers the "Broad Street Bullies" anymore, but some of the numbers suggest it might still be appropriate. And that's even without cheap shots from Pronger. Philadelphia's lineup will include Daniel Carcillo, who led the NHL with 254 penalty minutes last season; Arron Asham, who had 155 minutes; and Ian Laperriere, who led the Colorado Avalanche with 163 minutes. Don't forget Riley Cote, either. He averaged less than five minutes of ice time but led the Flyers in fighting majors with 22, the fourth-highest total in the league.

May the best fighters win tonight!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Matt Gilroy Impresses All, NYR 2, NJ Devils 3, SO (pre-season)

There's nothing like a good 'ole fashioned rivalry between the New York Rangers playing the NJ Devils of Newark....regardless of when or how they are playing (pre-season tonight) you generally get an emotional game and a competitive match.

Official recap here.   

Both teams went at it and showed up -- both displaying a good mix of veterans and prospects playing professional hockey, or at least for a night or two before some will officially receive the team cut and trek north to Hartford (NYR-AHL affilliate) and some to Lowell, MA (NJ-AHL affiliate, a random little bankrupt town where they spawn little-fire-eaters).

One current Blueshirt who is certain to stay in New York City through the season is defenceman Matt Gilroy, who scored multiple goals, one in regulation and the only NYR goal in the shootout.  Gilroy drove to the net, shifting from backhand to forehand to backhand, before lifting a shot over NJ Goalkeeper Danis in the third period to make it 2-1.   Gilroy signed with the Rangers in April after winning the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate player and helping Boston University to the NCAA title.  Dare I say we might have an All-Star in the kid, say two, three years down the road?  Seasons ago, we saw early glimpses of what was to become of both Marc Staal and Dan Girardi -- and this 25-year old rookie looks greater, more confident and a perfect fit with the Torts system.  Am I wrong, people???  

I know, I know -- it's only pre-season and the 'big leagues' answers all the unknowns, but there is 'foreshadowing of greatness' for Mr. Gilroy and his future with The Rangers.  Two pre-season games into this season, the young'ens in Blue are impressing me and I hope...John Tortorella.   Perhaps it's just me -- desperate for hockey after a long, long four month hiatus, but tonight's game and the last half of yesterday's pre-season match against Boston (both losses) showcased an energy that we had only seen toward the end of last year's regular season.

It's refreshing to see kids wanting to be on the ice and wanting to make the squad. that you?


Tonight New York Rangers vs. NJ Devils (Pre-Season)

via The New York Rangers Insider:

Tonight's Game
The Rangers face-off against the New Jersey Devils tonight at the Prudential Center (7:00 p.m.), in the second of four games in five nights. New York is currently 0-1-0 in pre-season play following a 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins yesterday at Madison Square Garden. Following tonight’s contest, the Rangers will travel to Detroit to face-off against the Red Wings on Friday, September 18 (7:30 p.m.) at Joe Louis Arena, before taking on the Boston Bruins on Saturday, September 19 (4:00 p.m.) at TD Garden. The Blueshirts will begin the 2009-2010 regular season against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, on Friday, October 2 (7:30 p.m.), at Mellon Arena.
TV: MSG, MSG Plus.

Blueshirts Impress With a Loss, NYR 1, Bruins 2

The 'new' New York Rangers opened the pre-season last night against the Boston Bruins and certainly held their own.  Our Blueshirt squad consisted mostly of prospects vying to impress coach John Tortorella in making the starting team, with only three or four slots that may be in question.  Visibly absent was our center Brandon "Dumb-ie" Dubinsky, but they counted on Ryan Callahan to pick up the tempo when necessary.  Most of our starters were a scratch with the exception of our dear Captain Drury, newbie Kotalik (who demonstrated what might become of the power play), Christopher Higgins and the 'much-booed' Donald Brashear.

Official recap here.

Though a loss (that doesn't count), there were impressive performances by both Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto, who if they continue to play throughout the pre-season as they did last night, will certainly find themselves professional Rangers come opening day.  Both were impressive, confident and strong --- and most important to Torts - forward moving blueliners. For anyone not watching the pre-season games, I would highly recommend you watch these two rookies, Michael Del Zotto at 19 years of age plays an aggressive game and wasn't backing down from Boston's Lucic -- "please the coach, please the coach..." - a very different style than former coach Tom Renney.  Matt Gilroy at 25 years of age, looks as solid as Blueshirts Dan Girardi and Marc Staal.  Missing, though, is our "stay at home" defensive stud.  Chris Pronger would have been nice.  Higgins and Kotalik were extremely impressive on the point, and will certainly make a difference in the power play.

As to be expected, the first period was sloppy and dribble - in other words, a pre-season debut - but the Blueshirts picked up the tempo in the second and third periods, controlling the last half of the game. 

I actually enjoyed last night and look forward to tonight against the NJ Devils -- as we've all read that NJ's Jamie Langenbrunner has been scratched in place of Brendan Shanahan tonight (look out for that upcoming trade, folks...ha ah ah aha h ).   MSG at 7pm.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dubinsky Is A Schmuck!

So it's official.  (Questionable) New York Ranger, Brandon Dubinsky, is a schmuck.

For months now, Rangers fans have anticipated a multi-year deal to be locked and loaded with our home-grown Brandon Dubinsky -- though despite his PIMs of last year, he could be one of the most awkward fighters in the league -- but most important, this guy wears his heart on his sleeve and we have watched it dangling for two seasons now.  I remember the young kid under former NYR coach Tom Renney centering Jaromir Jagr adding points to every game, Jagr the proud Papa and his newly found hockey pup.  Brandon represents to us what we expect of all our Rangers:  Aggressive.  Caring.  Loyal.

But hang on folks...

As a restricted free agent this season, we have waited for the contract that never came, even after Brandon's reassurances to the media and fans two weeks ago that the deal would be made and things would be worked out.  Being given another shot at centering a world-class sharp-shooter, this time under the tutelage of the Torts system and our newly minted Blueshirt star-power Marian Gaborik, we had expectations of a much larger Brandon Dubinsky - and even a product of the new New York Rangers youth movement.   And so....the promises....the doubt....the reassurances.....belief again..on again.....but still no contract.

If you are a stranger to the off-season, we are now back in-season as today was the first day of training camp for the Blueshirts, where young'ens got to challenge the veterans for the limited number of spots on the third and fourth lines for opening night - Oct. 1 against the Penguins and the first home game Oct. 2 against the Senators (without the Heat).  And guess who didn't show up?   Our very own 1. Aggressive 2. Caring and 3. Loyal, Brandon Dubinsky.

After two days of last minute sitdowns with NYR General Manager, Glen Sather and Brandon Dubinsky & 'His Agent', things went sour and no contract or agreement came to pass.  Where he has the option to take a minimal salary, prove himself for one more season, and go to town with a multi-year and 'hog-money' contract, he (and his agent) are choosing to bend the Blueshirt organization back 'n forth.  Perhaps Henrik Lundqvist's one-year contract with the Rangers, followed by his six-year re-signing would be good precedent in the Sather Caves.....obviously, Agent Dubie has something else in mind and now it's affecting the team.

This is what our coach John Tortorella, who has been quiet about these affairs until now, had to say about this situation:

“It’s stupid, “ the Rangers head coach said after 50-plus players went through a series of medical tests and wind sprints. “He’s a young man that needs to be here. I think a player needs to be with his teammates. I’m hoping he realizes that. I think his agent’s stupid….I think Dubi understands my feelings. I thought Glen (Sather) was very honest with Dubi a couple days ago---I was privy to that conversation---as a general manager and man-to-man as a friend.”

So now the Coach feels like the fans.  He may be signed one minute after this posting, but I wanted to get the message out there that we all feel Brandon's agent is misguiding him and setting a very bad precedent for his future career as a professional hockey player. And ultimately, this is Dubinsky letting this happen.

...and all of this makes him look like a sore loser.  Not quite Dany Heatley, but something related.   Not what we had in mind from our young hopefuls, 'Dubie'.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Armageddon In The Desert

All hockey fans are watching closely as to whether or not NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will lose the fight to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Phoenix, AZ and in/out of the hands of Blackberry-creator Jim Basillie.  The result will mark Bettman's greatest victory or greatest failure in his tenure running the league.  No middle ground here, folks.  This is serious stuff because it essentially vaporizes Bettman's expansion plans for the NHL and questions how the league has essentially controlled their own legal system.

Greg Esposito of Ultimate Faceoff did a nice recap:

And then there were two.
According to court filings by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, the third bidder in the Coyotes saga, IceEdge LLC, has in
formed the NHL that they do not intend on taking part in the auction for the team scheduled for Thursday. That means the bankruptcy auction is down to a Rocky Balboa versus Apollo Creed-type showdown between the NHL and Canadian Superhero billionaire Jim Balsillie (not quite sure who is Balboa and who is Creed, but $140 million is certainly the underdog to $212 million).
With both Jerry Reinsdorf and IceEdge out, bidders are officially dropping faster than pants in Paris Hilton’s house. Or for you die hard hockey fans, they are dropping faster than personal references in a Jeremy Roenick press conference.   More here.

Slightly larger than MSG suing the NHL for a website, more interesting than wherever the hell Dany Heatley will play, and, most importantly, this entire Phoenix to Hamilton debacle has nothing to do with the New York Rangers and Glen Sather.  Whew.  Truth be told, if you like him or not, Gary Bettman is one mean son-of-a-beech when he needs to be, but can money ultimately beat the small-man's iron fists!!?

Enjoy the grudge match from a distance.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Betts Your Bottom Dollar

So I'll make this a double-Flyers posting day, as everyone is now reporting that Brashear-bashed Blair Betts will be joining the Philadelphia Bullies in training camp next week.  This obviously frees up more cap space for The 2009/10 New York Rangers and our 'alleged acquiring of every important free agent left' mantra (see Dany Heatley, Phil Kessel, Mats Sundin, etc.) as we approach our own training camp.

Gee speaking of which, we sure will miss Tom Renney and the West Point cadets tackling the New York Rangers during pre-season training camp, which always seemed strangely related to the premise in the movie Mystery, Alaska (without the skates and pond hockey) -- big bad professional team comes to local institution and challenges the locals.  Maybe it's just me.   But so I digress...

Wishing Betts the best of luck, as some say Philly has a chance at the Golden Cup this year.  It is not a terrible idea to play for the City of Brotherly Love --- someone named 'The Donald' will be ready for your return to the Garden.  When that moment happens, there will be at least one Rangers fan at The Garden cheering for you Blair Betts....and cursing his own NYR enforcer to hell and back (his name rhymes with Motty Trockey)!!!


Some 2009-10 Hockey Predictions

What???  A NY Rangers site not predicting them to win The Cup???  Heresy...I know.

As summer feels gone and we are 22 days, three hours and 19 minutes away from the debut of our new and improved 'Tort-shirts', one of our part-time contributing bloggers - BlueNationLeafs - wants to share his predictions for both conferences and who will eventually win the 'Bacterial Lord Cup of Post-Sid'.   Scream at us, comment at will, and if you feel you have any questions on his hypothesis -- send them my way and I'll be sure they are answered.    I will agree that he is putting great stock and prestige in our Atlantic Division rival - the Philadelphia Flyers -- something The Dark Ranger is not happy about in any form.  Chris Pronger is the missing piece in probably the strongest blueline in the East, a team with great depth, but that doesn't mean we need to like them.  In fact, I think they stink.  (but it is inevitable that Chris Pronger will lay out the welcome wagon for an overconfident Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby...hence this picture), but I digress....

So I introduce to you --- another list by another expert.   TDR

Eastern Conference 2009/2010 Predictions                        
1. Philadelphia Flyers 
2. Boston Bruins 
3. Washington Capitals
4. Pittsburgh Penguins 
5. New Jersey Devils 
6. Carolina Hurricanes 
7. New York Rangers 
8. Tampa Bay Lightning 
9. Ottawa Senators 
10. Buffalo Sabres 
11. Atlanta Thrashers 
12. Toronto Maple Leafs 
13. Montreal Canadians 
14. Florida Panthers 
15. New York Islanders

Western Conference 2009/2010 Predictions

1. Detroit Red Wings 

2. Vancouver Canucks 
3. Anaheim Ducks 
4. San Jose Sharks 
5. Chicago Blackhawks 
6. Calgary Flames 
7. Dallas Stars 
8. Columbus Blue Jackets 
9. St Louis Blues 
10. Edmonton Oilers 
11. Los Angeles Kings 
12. Nashville Predators 
13. Minnesota Wild 
14. Colorado Avalanche 
15. Phoenix Coyotes

The Final Four 2009/2010
Philadelphia Flyers vs.  Boston Bruins  (Flyers in 7)        
Detroit  Red Wings vs. Calgary Flames (Flames in 6)
The Stanley Cup
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Calgary Flames (Flyers win Stanley Cup in 6)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Give Them Free Food, They Will Come

So The Dark Ranger and his Dark Juniors spent the day at the Rangers Fanfest in Tarrytown, NY at the New York Rangers training facility, a free to Season Ticket Holders (that use their Amex cards) event designed to get us excited for the upcoming season.

Prior to our leaving, my 4-year old Dark Junior (pictured below) and I reviewed last year's team program to decide who'd we like to see at the FanFest.  Ironically, most of those players he wanted to see were no longer on the team.  In fact, there were only four or five players listed in the souvenir program that still remain on the team (with the exception of the unconfirmed 'Dubie Bran-Bran').  I know, I know...he'll be signed.  I subsequently attempted to explain that he'd need a PhD to know, let alone pronounce, all the new players on our newly assembled Blueshirt squad, but perhaps his blank look was the result of being only four years old.

Once we arrived, I realized this was an event built around NYR fans with KIDS ONLY - basketball hoops (great for a hockey event), a merchandise shack, liability waiver forms, pickup street hockey rink with plastic hockey sticks, oversized number 9 for obvious Adam Graves pictures later in the day, and plenty of hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and free sponsored drinks galore!  So with kids, I was in luck.  Arriving sharply at 10am, we slowly worked our way into the event and took advantage of everything they had to offer. 

What was a bit surprising were the number of grown-ups without kids, die-hard fans getting face painted!!?  Most of them wearing jerseys, many fans wearing jerseys with their own names on the back (bad, bad form and just not right - though, I could be wrong if anyone's ever heard of 'Rubenstein' as a Ranger).   It was an expected party-planner party with mounds of food, prizes for all and a fan-forum tent where you were treated to Sam Rosen from MSG interviewing the regulars:  Adam Graves, Ron Duguay, and a very different looking Nick Fotiu (than the much younger headshot he was signing for fans).  It was full of the usual questions (SAM:  "So what we're missing is a big Center this do you think the Rangers will compensate for this missing piece.  Is Dubi ready for the job?"  This question was answered by all alumni at the forum with the expected answers on believing in the new Coach Torts system and believing in our youth, yada, yada, yada).   I am one jaded Rangers fan, obviously, as most in the tent seemed to be hearing this garbage for the first time.  Apparently, Mark Messier later showed up for Sam's avant-garde questioning and quickly disappeared before he was savagely assaulted by overstuffed, face-painted jersey wearing adults without kids.

And then there was free food...tons of it -- the least MSG could do for those of us loyal enough to stick around during the 21st Century Depression.  My family ate the equivalent of $455 worth of food at The Garden.  So thank you Mr. Dolan.  We appreciate the give-back.

The training facility opened late at the event - around 3pm - so five hours worth of attendees were disappointed -- and we were all sad not to hit the ice as expected, but....

In my book and overall, the event was pretty awesome if you were one of three things:

1. A huge Rangers Fan (and you stayed past 3pm for the pickup games with Cally and Girardi)
2.  A Kid
3.  Or Father of a Kid.  

As a season ticket holder for almost ten years, I thought the timing was right for this to happen pre-season and I actually commend all of the Garden employees that worked a Saturday to be interested in 'the everyday season ticket holder' - to ask what section I sit in, and how long I've been there...and mostly to thank me for continuing to support the franchise.  I was proud as Father DARK and I was proud of the organization (for once).  Mostly, this event with my kids reminded me how proud I am to be a Rangers Fan.  Thanks guys!

(indulge me with some pictures with my very own Dark Junior at the Ranger FanFest):

 Dark Junior & Ron Duguay doing an impression of Michal Rozsival & Wade Redden. 

Dark Junior & Tyler Arnason in a Death Match playing NHL10

Tyler actually programmed himself on the Rangers' first line.  Dark Junior stole the puck from him a number of times, which in itself, is not a good sign of Tyler actually making the cut this season.  Hello Hartford!

Dark Junior actually said, "Take That Marty! on this shot"

Confused, I told Dark Junior that this is what was left of the NY Knicks...

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