It was inevitable that the focus in L.A. today would turn to Ryan Hollweg, the rare (or is it the only?) NHL product from Southern California. A couple of my colleagues on the Rangers beat have compelling profiles of the Rangers resident fullback in skates, “as does the L.A. Times’ respected hockey writer, Helene Elliott”:http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-elliott30oct30,1,6141956.story?ctrack=1&cset=true
It’s funny, a couple of days ago I used this space to talk about my childhood devotion to Wayne Gretzky, and yet I’m also aware that a tenacious player like Hollweg may be even more an embodiment of the NHL ideal. Between this year and last, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the guy take a shift off. If he’s lucky, he’ll score maybe seven goals this season. But given the energy he provides in every game, his value to the Rangers is immeasurable.
It explains why, a week or so ago, when Tom Renney was asked if referees were targeting Hollweg unfairly, the coach was clearly getting emotional. Maybe the Rangers this year go only as far as the likes of Jagr and Lundqvist will take them. But if the early part of the season has proven anything, it’s that they don’t have enough players like No. 44.