Hometown Hobbit

Aside from the fact that Glen Sather managed to secure the services of all star defenseman Keith Yandle, Ranger fans are over the moon that Mats Zuccarello took a hometown discount to remain a New York Ranger.

I can’t think of the last player to do that. Even the Messiah, Mark Messier, left his adoptive hometown to go to Vancouver for the money.

Zuccarello is a smart player and an even smarter person. He saw Ryan Callahan get shipped out last year for playing chicken with Glen Sather over contract negotiations.

He realized that even a fan favorite and a team captain like Callahan was no match for the great and powerful Sather.

Who knows why Mats gave the Rangers a hometown discount? If he had hit the open market he surely could have gotten more. The fans and his friends on the team are glad he did.

Tweeted by Carl Hagelin @CarlHagelin

Congrats to @zuccarello36 on his new deal. A great player and friend but an even better chef #boysinblueshirts

How sweet is that?

How can you not love the Hobbit? He’s like my French Bulldog. Relentless on the bone, I mean puck. Energetic. Fun Loving. Affectionate. Loyal. Hard Working. Good Temperament. And, he has a permanent smile on his face.

Thank you, Mats. Thank you for staying. Now I don’t have yet another superfluous Ranger jersey hanging in my closet.

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Where Should The Buck Stop Tonight?

So, the Rangers have lost their third straight game to the Islanders in embarrassing fashion. After the first two losses, where the players looked lethargic and heartless, fans were fast to place the blame on the players. In this third loss, one has to start looking to the scouting and coaching staffs for some answers.

I’m not buying that the Islanders are so much better than the Rangers. The Rangers were able to sweep their Western road trip for the first time their history. They beat league leading Anaheim. They went 8 and 2 before the All Star break. Why can’t they beat the Islanders?

Many Islander fans are quick to spout off that they have such a great team. As usual, they would be incorrect. The reason the Islanders are where they are is because of Jack Capuano.

Who is the first person to get shipped out when a team goes on a prolonged losing streak? The Coach. Just ask Tom Renney. But when things are going well, the coach just stands in the background and the players get the glory.

The Islanders may be in the Rangers heads but I think it is more a case of Capuano being in Vigneault’s head. The Islanders are where they are because of Capuano. For once they have a decent goalie. Picking up Boychuk and Leddy didn’t hurt either.

Some Islander fans have been whining that their season is over because they lost Kyle Okposo for two months. Let’s hope moving forward their worst fears are proven right. They certainly weren’t tonight.

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Rangers Boulevard of Broken Dreams

The joy that you find here, you borrow
You cannot keep it long, it seems
Gigolo and gigolette
Still sing a song and dance along
The boulevard of broken dreams

– Tony Bennett version, not Green Day.

That was the worst home opener I’ve been to in a while. And what is really sad is that the afternoon started out so good on 33rd Street. The Rangers organization put on quite a show with the pregame festivities outside Garden.

I wonder why they haven’t done it before? Perhaps the Dolan’s feud with the city ended when Mayor DiBlasio took office and MSG was granted the permit to have a street fair. Just idle speculation….

The event had something for everyone and left those walking into the Garden with a smile on their faces. Blue carpet interviews with the players, hosted by Kevin Weeks, were fun and informative. They had a small plastic rink for the kids, a slap shot 360 photo booth, Ranger Alumni signing autographs and giveaways. It was everything a Ranger Street Fair should be.

They may not have raised the Conference Championship banner but they gave out a nice Ranger flag on the way in. Once the lights went out and the team was introduced, everyone was disappointed to learn Zuccarello would not be playing. It was a game time decision.

So the Rangers would play without the Hobbit, Boyle, Stepan and eventually Nash(who left because his wife was in labor). The Maple Leaves came out banging. Dominic Moore took an unfortunate penalty and the Rangers never recovered. It seemed like all the noobs on the team were intimidated and made poor decisions.

The Rangers got beaten to most pucks. To add insult to injury, Lundqvist turned in his worst performance in recent memory. He let Leaf players stand in front and screen him and never once made them pay.  He keeps forgetting my advice to channel his inner Billy Smith and chop at their ankles and legs.

Speaking of Fishsticks, let’s hope Henrik and the boys don’t get smoked by Halak and Boychuk tomorrow night. Let’s keep Hempstead Turnpike the Boulevard Broken Dreams.

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Overcharged and Shortchanged

So the powers that be at MSG have decided that the players and their fans don’t deserve to see the 2013 – 2014 Eastern Conference Championship banner raised to the rafters.

In my opinion, that’s a smack in the face to the players still on the team who earned it and to their fans who have supported the franchise throughout the Reign of Dolan and Sather. The players and the fans are being shortchanged.

Seeing as the fans have had little to celebrate since 1994, one would think MSG would take this opportunity to create a memory that they can use to push their koolaide in the event of lean times in the future. I guess they are confident that the lean times will not be revisited.

After being overcharged a Dolan’s ransom for playoff tickets (some subscribers had to sell their playoff tickets to pay for their season), the subscribers and the rest of the “Garden Faithful” get nothing to mark an occasion that may not happen again in their lifetime.

Some say that there shouldn’t be a banner raising for coming in second. The Rangers lost the Cup.

To that I say, turn in your Ranger fan card.

They WON the Eastern Conference CHAMPIONSHIP.

Another bad decision by MSG.

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Congratulations to Tom Renney

Congratulations to my friend, Tom Renney, who yesterday was named the head of Hockey Canada.

When Tom lost his job with the Rangers in 2009 I told him “when a door closes somewhere a window opens”. Such has been the case for Tom’s whole career. Every step along the way Tom has improved his resume and it has brought him to pinnacle of hockey in his homeland.  I can think of no one more deserving.

I will always root for the USA over Canada. But, I will continue to follow Tom’s career with interest and wish him the best in this new endeavor. I also lament that I won’t be seeing him around the New York arenas as he is no longer with the Red Wings.

Though his time with the Rangers was too short, I will always remember Tom as a great coach,  a gentleman and a class act. The NHL’s loss is Canada’s gain.

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Here’s To The Winners

Here’s to the winners, lift up the glasses
Here’s to the glory still to be
Here’s to the battle, whatever it’s for
To ask the best of ourselves, then give much more

Congratulations to the LA Kings
2014 Western Conference Champions and Stanley Cup Champions.

Congratulations to the New York Rangers 2014 Eastern Conference Champions

After the Montreal series, I begged for hockey with honor. That’s exactly what we got from the New York Rangers and the LA Kings. Both Clubs are to be congratulated for playing honorably in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Rangers overachieved this season. Prior to the playoffs, the Kings had underachieved. I say this while looking at both teams depth charts. The Kings had the better horses, the deeper roster  The Rangers pinned their hopes on a Hobbit, a Mac Truck and the King.

At the end of the day, the talent on the LA Kings showed up. Too bad the same cannot be said for the Rangers. To add insult to injury, Alain Vigneault succumbed to the same mistake as the last four head coaches of the Rangers.

Vigneault went to the high priced talent, Richards, Nash, Girardi, in the clutch. They let him down. It’s Vigneault’s own fault. He kept putting Richards on the point on the powerplay. It didn’t work for Torts and it didn’t for Vigneault. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

LA made a move at the trade deadline that put them over the top. They acquired Marian Gaborik. Marty St. Louis played admirably but didn’t have the complementary pieces on the Rangers that Gaborik did on the Kings.

Marian Gaborik, once the Rangers 40 goal scorer, the player Torts pissed on, has his name on the Stanley Cup. Good for Gabby.

The people involved in these playoffs that were dishonorable are the incompetent officials. They have been castigated by the fans and the media nightly over all the games played in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. At times they have made the NHL a laughing stock.

It’s time for Colin Campbell and Stephan Walkom to be replaced by people who know what they are doing and can educate their on ice officials properly. Kerry Frazier would be my candidate. Get a committee of retired referees to help him.

Lastly, Gary Bettman is the biggest disgrace of all. As if it isn’t bad enough that NHL fans have to see this little pisher when he presents the Cup, he did so this year without once congratulating the New York Rangers on their wonderful but improbable playoff run. A mistake? I think not. He hates the Dolans and by default the New York Rangers.

I cannot imagine how it feels to be so universally despised.

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Shop NHL Reneges on Ranger Jersey Price

Yesterday, Ranger fans were delighted to go on line and purchase customized White Ranger Stanley Cup Jerseys for $63.99 as advertised on the Shop NHL website.

It seemed to good to be true. Turns out it was. Shop NHL sent out the email below this morning reneging on the price. I’m no lawyer but I do not believe they can legally do this.

If the NHL already charged my credit card and I have a confirmation number, aren’t I legally entitled to receive  the product. They made no claim on my confirmation email that they were out of stock. They even said it would be shipped within 3 business days.

I know many people in the same situation. Shop NHL should be forced to make good, just like any other retailer would. This needs to go viral and, at the very least, a class action suit should be brought against them for false advertising.

If they refuse to make good, maybe Ranger fans should consider not purschasing items from the Shop NHL website in the future.

Here is their retraction email:

“We are emailing to let you know that unfortunately, there was a pricing error for the New York Rangers NHL jersey that you ordered on our website. Despite our best efforts, occasionally an item may appear on our website with an incorrect price and, in this case, a member of our staff mistakenly uploaded a product with the wrong price attached. This type of human error does not occur often, but we do apologize that it affected your order and are doing our best to make it right.

We will be honoring the pricing shown on our website for orders placed on a first-come, first-serve basis for the limited number of jerseys we have in stock. Those customers will receive a confirmation email when their order ships. For the remaining orders for which we do not have stock, we will be cancelling the order for a full refund, and in the cancellation confirmation email we will be providing $10 in promotional credit for the trouble.

Again, we apologize for the inconvenience that this mistake has caused and do hope that you will give us another chance to provide you with your NHL gear.

Customer Service at www.Shop.NHL.com
If you have additional questions, please visit our online Help Desk.”


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Hockey With Honor

As hockey fans, we cruise around the different websites and message boards to get a barometer on how fans are feeling about games, especially in the playoffs.

Ranger fans are reporting that other fans around the league are rooting for the Rangers over the Habs in this series. I’m not just talking about Boston fans, either.

The Hab Hate is palpable. I think most fans around the NHL want to see good hockey, not the Cirque du Soliel hockey coming out of the Montreal Canadiens.

They want fair and consistent officiating. The officiating gaffes we have seen go on throughout the playoffs have even the most jaded NHL sycophants, ie Pierre McGuire and Barry Melrose, incredulous at some of the calls and non-calls.

Many NHL media members were also scratching their head over the ridiculous scheduling. Fans want to see their teams play at times and dates favorable to the players and not cater to networks and their needs.

If the arena owners (especially Dolan) have to change or cancel other events to accommodate the Stanley Cup playoffs, so be it. Isn’t the NHL catchphrase “Because it’s the Cup”?

True fans of the game want to see players play a tough but respectful game. They want to see the best players in the league, those with skill and speed, display their skills.

Real NHL fans are sick of the goons, the diving, the cheap shots, the mind games and the ridiculous media coverage that turns a great game in to a soap opera.

Get rid of the over-hyped coverage and the talking heads out of whose mouths comes drivel, the Kool-aide the NHL pushes.

If you want to watch a soap opera, watch Scandal or Revenge. If you want a Punch and Judy show watch the WWE.

The NHL needs to hear over and over again that real NHL fans, the ones they are always thanking for coming back after every Owner and Bettman/Daly induced lockout, want to good, clean hockey.

We want hockey with honor.

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How Suite It Is…

Last night I got to see the Rangers take down the Flyers from a luxury suite at the newly renovated Madison Square Garden. We were living large, just  like the 1% of the population Dolan rebuilt the Garden to attract.

Right on the center red line, the view from these seats was incomparable. Our suite was bigger than most studio apartments in Manhattan. There is a waitperson to cater to your needs. The food and beverages are ordered by the person/organization hosting the suite. Best of all, the suite has it’s own bathroom.

I was convinced my attendance at this game in a luxury suite was a guaranteed loss for the Rangers. Murphy’s Law and all. But Henrik Lundqvist stood tall and once again secondary scoring saved the day. Contrary to what the NBC talking heads would have you believe, the Rangers were dominant for most of this game.

I was surprised that the Rangers gave as good as they got in the hits department. If anything, the Flyers seemed a little flat. The stats show that the two teams were pretty much even in shots, hits, blocked shot and faceoffs. The Rangers executed Vigneault’s game plan, puck possession. That, and most times when the Flyers entered the Rangers zone, there was a Ranger marking the trailing Flyer.

There were Flyer fans in the suite next to us. One of the men looked like he would have been rather unpleasant if the score had been reversed and the Flyers winning. He started spouting off half way through the third period that the Flyers needed a spark, that Simmonds to start a fight. Typical Flyer fan mentality from a Philly suit.

Overall, it was a clean game and for once the Stripes gave the Rangers the benefit of the doubt on some calls. I guess both teams had been warned about taking stupid penalties when the most important two points of the season were on the line. There were no cheap shots by the Flyers until the very end of the game. Simmonds got away with a couple vicious slashes to Ryan McDonagh’s hands.

Some players (other then the obvious guys) stood out for me tonight. I am liking Diaz on defense. This guy has a howitzer of a shot and made some nice defensive plays. Like Klein, another good pick up by Sather. If Stralman wants to stay in NYC, these two boys will keeps his salary demands down.

Every game I say it and last night was no exception. Richards must be bought out at the end of the season. The Rangers powerplay has gone AWOL again and it’s because AV has Richards out on the first unit.

I am beginning to worry a bit about Marty St Louis. He’s about ten games in now and still looks lost out there. I know he has to get used to a new system and different team mates. But if he doesn’t start potting a few pucks, the fans are going to be riding him on the blogs and in the  building.

Finally, you may ask how this humble denizen of the old Blue Seats wound up sitting down with the suits. I was invited because I’m good at my job. But I will never consider myself a suit.

Regardless of how good the view, it’s the atmosphere, the characters in the stands, the Garden Faithful that make the in game experience fun. We never needed a “Blue Crew” or Human Puck Races to have a good time.

I will always miss sitting with all the nut jobs (myself included), our old friends in Section 409 and remember those times up “in the Blues” as the best of times.

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Heart and Soul? It’s All About Goals!

I’ve kept silent while all the speculation was going on. Now that the situation has been resolved, I can only say that I feel sorry for Ryan Callahan.

I say sorry because I do not think any team will pay Ryan the money Glen Sather was willing to give him. I also do not think he will get the terms he was demanding. What GM in their right mind is going to give a marginal second line player a full no movement clause? Garth Snow?

Ryan Callahan will go down in Ranger history as one of their best captains. He lead by example. He blocked shots. He hit anything that moved. He sacrificed his body. He was a warrior. He was not a prolific goal scorer.

It will be interesting to see what happens in July when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Now that he is a man without a country, so to speak, he should go to the highest bidder.

It’s sad to think that Callahan might find himself on some backwater NHL team. He’s left his home, his friends and fans on Broadway seeking a contract that he probably will not get.

The fact the fans are not calling for Sather to be tarred and feather should be an indication to Callahan that he was pricing himself off the Rangers. Callahan shouldn’t have played chicken with OverLord Sather.

I blame the damn agents that fill players heads with grandiose ideas. They do their clients a disservice.

Sather doesn’t come out of this unscathed. In my opinion he gave up to much to get St. Louis. He should have gotten St Louis for Callahan straight up.

I applaud Glen having a “win now” philosophy. But a first and a second round draft pick is too high a price.

If the Rangers make it to the conference final with St. Louis, this trade will just be worth it. If they don’t, at least there will be money left under the Cap in July to add another piece to the puzzle.

Ryan Callahan could come back in July but it will be for a lot less money and worse terms then those he just passed up. He would lose face. He would have to swallow his pride.

Pride goes before a fall.

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