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.

Sincerely,
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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Cautiously Optimistic

After playing the best first period of hockey I’ve seen anywhere in many a year, the Rangers took down one of the best teams in the West.  The Rangers put the pedal to the metal and outplayed the Avalanche for most of the game. All of a sudden they have become an exciting team, a contender even?

The Av’s played a hard won overtime game against the Devils on Monday. They came into the Garden a little worse for wear. The Rangers had three full days off after defeating the Islanders at the Garden last Friday night. This is the kind of game where the Rangers needed to come out flying and score first. They did just that, twice.

After winning their last four games and going seven and three in their last ten, things are all warm and fuzzy in Rangertown. The only fly in the ointment is the contract status of last night’s hero and number one star of the night, Captain Ryan Callahan.

As though scripted, Callahan scored the first two goals of the game (the second was the game winner). He sent a clear message to Glen Sather to “show him the money”. After a week’s worth of speculation in the press about Callahan’s demands, everyone needs to just simmer down and put this into perspective.

Ryan Callahan is one of the hardest working, consistent and mature young players ever to grace the Madison Square Garden stage. He reminds me a young Donny Maloney. That he should want a contract to guarantee he retires a Ranger is understandable. He’s home grown. He’s true blue.

If he can sign stiffs like Drury to big money, long term contracts, why does it seem Sather is digging in his heels about Ryan Callahan? Negotiating tactics not withstanding (Callahan asks for a luxury suite/Sather offers center ice seats on the Chase Bridge), last night should prove to Sather he needs to sign Cally long term. If Callahan needs to adjust his asking price to get that done, so be it.

When push comes to shove, I cannot imagine that Ryan Callahan would want to leave the Rangers. Every player that comes through this organization effuses about how great it is to play here. The treatment, the facilities, the Garden, the fan base are second to none in the league.

Let’s hope both sides see sense and get Callahan’s contract done so the Rangers continue to play their best and secure a playoff birth.

PS. Congratulations to Mark Staal on the birth of his first child, a daughter, Anna Veralyn Staal. It seems like only yesterday when I first saw Staal as an 18 year old boy playing his first preseason game against the Islanders at the Mausoleum.

Mark Staal, another home grown Ranger who I hope will stay with Ryan Callahan and Henrik Lundqvist until they all retire as life long New York Rangers.

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Bronx Cheer

Bronx Cheer – noun

a loud, abrasive, spluttering noise made with the lips and tongue to express contempt. Also called raspberry.

Yesterday’s Ranger/Devils game gave new meaning to the term Bronx Cheer. Ordinarily, giving someone “the Bronx Cheer” is derisive. It’s a way to denigrate the person(s) at whom it is directed. In that sense, I guess you could say that the “Marty” chants replaced “the Bronx Cheer” at Yankee Stadium.

But, on a positive note, the cheer in the Bronx for the Rangers yesterday was hardly derisive. The Rangers managed to come from behind and pull away from their cross river rivals in a remarkable fashion and in a spectacular setting.

After a shaky start by Henrik Lundqvist, the hockey gods looked down in favor of our boys in blue and they were able to turn the tables on the team in the Christmas Elf colors. After a delay of just over an hour (sun glare), the players took to the ice in front of over 50,000 fans. By some reports Ranger fans outnumbered Devils fans by 2 to 1.

The ice in the first period was more conducive to the east/west style of hockey preferred by Jaromir Jagr and Patrick Elias of the Devils. The box score certainly reflected that. But the Rangers managed to find a way to hang on and get out of the period only down by one goal.

One has to question the play of Henrik Lundqvist. For a goalie who usually plays so deep in the net, why was he coming out. The King said the delay had him out of sorts as he felt unready when game time came. With goaltenders it’s all about routine. Matinees are especially hard to players used to a nighttime stage.

Glad Henke was able to right his ship and play well for the rest of the game, despite the worsening ice conditions Brodeur was whining about post game. Henrik was facing the same conditions and managed to get the job done after the shaky start.

Is “Fatso” Brodeur kidding me? I was going to try and take the high road and not crucify “the greatest goaltender in NHL history”. But after his crybaby postgame remarks, he deserves all the crap we can dish out…

All Milbury and the other taking heads on NBC did was to fellate Fatso for a period and a half and when the tide started to turn against Brodeur, they shut up. While they were quick to ride Henrik in the first period, they lavished none of the praise they gave Marty when Henrik stood tall for the rest of the game. This is why Ranger fans hate the NHL on NBC.

They need to get rid of dopes like Milbury, Pang, Pierre and Edzo and get people in there like Ken Daneyko and Dave Maloney who are fairly impartial, call it as they see it and don’t drink the NHL’s koolaide.

And now, on to the ticket fiasco. As a former season ticket holder I would be remiss if I didn’t point out yet another rip off of the subscribers and those buying tickets directly from both organizations.

I heard that the Ranger subscribers had to purchase both the Sunday game and the Wednesday game at premium prices as a package to get any tickets. Not sure about how this went down for the New Jersey fans.

I have heard that prices to Wednesday night’s game against the Islanders are going for as little as $30.00 per ticket on the resale sites. That’s way below the face value of what the subscribers and direct purchasers had to pay.

I’m glad the Rangers won so those who laid out all that money got some small comfort from the victory. Their hearts are true. They love hockey. The NHL and Dolan just love money. They don’t deserve such a loyal fan base.

Finally, to those who are going to the game on Wednesday some advice:

Bring a small piece of cardboard (from a box) to stand on. It will insulate your feet rather than standing on the cold concrete.

For those not driving, if you are going through Penn station, take the E train uptown to 7th Avenue and switch to the D train uptown. Get off at 161st Street and River Ave.

It’s better than being outside on the elevated platform waiting for the #4 train.

 

 

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Small Packages

Whoever said good things come in small packages could have had Mats Zuccarello-Aasen in mind. That this 5’7″ 175lb bundle of offensive dynamite is one of the Ranger’s leading scorers and is a testament to the faith and good sense of Alain Vigneault and the hard work of “The Hobbit” himself.

The Ranger’s Little Big Man is tied with Brad Richards with 13 goals and has one less assist. The disparity between their salaries is as different as chalk and cheese. Richards makes over $5.5 million dollars more the “The Hobbit”. Rick Nash has one less goal and 14 less points than Zucca and makes $6.5 more than Frodo from Modo.

If Tortorella were still the head coach of the New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello would be in Hartford or even Europe right now. So would Kid Kreider. Thank God Sather gave Torts the bum’s rush when he did.

From the little interaction we get to see among the players, it seems all the big guys on the team enjoy having Zucca as their mascot. He’s a source of boundless energy. He’s a great play maker and passer. He has the smarts, the vision and the fire that make him the spark plug the Rangers have needed since the departure of Avery and Dubinsky.

And to think Zuccarello went undrafted. In 2000 the Rangers had a chance to claim another vertically challenged forward named Martin St. Louis. Marty went on to win the Stanley Cup with Tampa and has since put in a Hall of Fame career.

And for all St. Louis success in the NHL and on the international stage, Steve Yzerman, GM of Marty’s own team, Tampa Bay, and the head of Team Canada’s Olympic Team selection committee passed over St. Louis for a spot on the Sochi Olympic team.

While Marty St Louis may be angry and disappointed, he scored four goals for Tampa in today’s matinee loss to the San Jose Sharks. I’d bet good money that Yzerman will be kicking himself in the ass for not choosing  Marty St. Louis in favor of Kris Kunitz or Rick Nash.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Small players deserve it too.

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41 Skidoo

After the home stand from hell, the Rangers are quite unbelievably one game over .500  and -8 points on the 6 points in 5 games playoff clinching paradigm. For all the gloom,  doom and bellyaching I’ve heard from coming from some quarters, that’s really not to shabby.

As of this posting, the Rangers, with 42 points, are two back in the Eastern Conference Wild Card Race right behind Toronto with 47 points and Detroit with 46 points.  The Devils are tied with the Rangers in points (42) but Rangers have 3 more regulation wins.

Coming in closely from behind respectively are Ottawa 41 , Carolina 39, Columbus 38. Florida 36, Islanders 33 and Buffalo 26 are bringing up the rear.

The Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist MUST be better in the second half of the season. Five hundred hockey ain’t gonna get it done. What with this being an Olympic year, it’s not going to be easy to pick up the points the Rangers squandered in December.

While Henrik hasn’t been overworked so far this season, the Rangers may find themselves up against the wall because Lundqvist will be “the” starter for Team Sweden. Remember what happened in 2006? I’m praying for Sweden’s early elimination (not likely).

If Cam Talbot can’t get it done and help Henke, Lundqvist will bear the load down the stretch. Since Lundqvist has been less than stellar, in truth mediocre so far this season, the Rangers must be better defenseivly and they MUST score more goals.

Compound Lundqvist playing for Sweden with Callahan, Stepan and McDonagh being chosen for Team USA and the Rangers need to pick up all the points they can before the Olympic break. How does the selection committee pick Callahan and Stepan over a Bobby Ryan or Kyle Okposo?

Fortunately, the Rangers do not have as a demanding a schedule (travel wise and rest wise) down the stretch as they did at the beginning of the season.

If you want an accurate picture of the Rangers chances in the last 41 games, of how the rest of the season should play out, visit the HockeyRodent’s RealSchedules and RealStandings.

http://hockeyrodent.com/rodent.htm6

http://hockeyrodent.com/rodent.htm22

Rodent doesn’t show the Rangers making the playoffs. Let’s hope the Tree Rat is wrong. Rodent’s projections are scientific and weighted and there’s pretty colors on his graphs, too. :)

Happy New Year

Let’s Go Rangers!

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