Monday Mailbag Edition


This being an off day for the Rangers, I figured I’d take the opportunity to get to some of the most pressing questions that crop up here.

In fact, let me get a few out of the way right now:

  • No, I am not a complete idiot. A partial idiot, maybe. But there’s a big difference.
  • Yes, I am aware there’s a photo of some goofy looking guy to the right here. Sadly, that’s me.
  • And no, I don’t want to buy a year’s supply of vitamins.

    As for the Rangers, there’s plenty to discuss. Count on this being a semi-regular feature, unless, of course I run out of things to say. In that case, you’re all on your own.

    In the meantime, let’s start with a question from reader Nick.

  • Q: Hey Sam, please tell me you have some insight on what the Rangers are going to do about their defense situation. The math says someone has to go soon, before Kaspar’s 10-game conditioning stint ends. What do you think is the answer?….As an insider covering the team, I figure you may be able to surmise more than we.

    A: Nick, first you’re giving me too much credit. The Rangers aren’t tipping their hand too much on this one, so I don’t have any specific insight, but I do think something is going to come to a head when Kasparaitis is finished with his conditioning stint. In Hartford, he was awful the other night in a loss at home, and found his way to the bench for the third period. If that’s the case, I can’t imagine he’s going to just slide back into the Rangers lineup. My guess — and again, this is just a guess — is given his salary, waivers are more likely than a trade. It’s a shame because I do believe Kasparaitis provides much more to the Rangers than just hard hits. But most likely because of his groin, something is seriously missing from his game. And I’m not sure he’s going to get it back.

  • Now, from reader Pauls:

    Q: Is there a chance Ozolinsh gets back on first PP unit some time soon? It just looks like Jagr has a big influence on deciding who plays with him on PP1.

    A: There is a sense among Rangers fans that Jagr is making up the line combinations, choosing the team meals and warm-up music, and also telling Tom Renney which blazer he should wear with which tie. Easy, now. The guy is important, and I don’t doubt for a second that the team has tried to placate their leading scorer on occasion. But for all of his past history as a diva in Pittsburgh and in Washington, Jagr clearly wants to win, and he surely wants guys who can move the puck up ice on the power play. Which brings us to Ozolinsh, who had an impressive season debut at the Garden yesterday, and as regains confidence, should see more time on the man-advantage in the days to come.

  • Several readers took issue with “my criticism of the Rangers third jerseys”: From reader Jay W:

    Q: Sam – I just have to say, I like the third jersey.

    And from Inferno:

    Q: I LOVE the Rangers 3rd jersey.

    A: OK, it’s clear that you all have no taste. I’m kidding. Again, my issue with the Rangers third jersey is I don’t think it compares to the traditional home blue jersey that is one of the best in all of sports. But also, I think it has come to symbolize the years of futility that followed the Rangers Stanley Cup. There aren’t many Original Six teams in hockey. According to my crack research team, in fact, there are six of them (what are the odds?). And that’s something you should be trumpeting at every chance.

  • As for the struggling Marek Malik, numerous readers chimed in. From reader Chris:

    Q: Does anyone (Slats, Renney, Maloney, Dolan, Vaclav Havel) have a good reason Malik is still playing? I feel like his still being on the ice is the clue in a twilight zone or M. Night Shyamalan movie—No, Rangers fans, you’re not in the real world anymore…

    A: Ah yes, the big man. I honestly think he’s a pretty effective player provided THE PUCK IS NOWHERE NEAR HIM. Seriously, Malik is clearly fighting it out there, but getting back to an earlier point, I don’t think it has anything to do with Jagr. Instead, I think Renney is trying to let Malik either definitely play his way out of the lineup, or maybe, help him try to regain some of the confidence that he had last season. It’s easy to say don’t play him, but given his salary ($2.5 million this year), the Rangers have painted themselves into a pretty tight corner. I’m not sure how many takers there are for a player like that. And given the Kasparaitis situation, I can’t imagine putting two players like that on waivers makes much sense (since the team would still be responsible for part of their salaries). That’s not a very satisfying response, I know. But it’s reality.

  • Lastly, there’s been plenty of discussion about my mystery linemate from this weekend, who word is made another appearance at the rink yesterday. Among the guesses: Esa Tikkanen, Glenn Anderson, Pat Verbeek, Pat LaFontaine, Ray Ferraro, Steve Larmer. But my personal favorite comes from reader Cliff.

    Q: Nick Fotiu?

    A: No, Cliff, and that’s all I need. I can imagine leading him astray with one too many lazy passes in the neutral zone, and then suddenly get a two-hander across the back of my neck. My guy was a lot kinder than that, which is to say, if he was frustrated by playing alongside me, he at least just ripped me behind my back

    Keep plugging away, all. The winner gets…well, the winner gets my undying respect.

  • About Author


    1. Ouaaaah,


      Yeah, I know it´s all business but it wasn´t nice that you put me on waivers !!! My family members ( Lady Koala !!!) are doin´ great down here in Florida, but I am suffering. Nobody knows, how difficult it is to post on a Florida web blog, when you are a Rangers fan especially with a game coming up against the Rangers, par exemple yesterday I tried to make a point concerning Ed Belfour and Garry Roberts in relation with a retirement home for having one of the oldest teams in the whole NHL, but those guys obviously didn´t understand the scarcasm behind these words !

      The positive thing about it is that we don´t have any posters here abusing or attacking others or using disrespectful names….From what I have heard, the Rangers had a decent game last night against the Sabres, but Weekes fumbled on the third…Probably caused by some uninspired questions on game day practices of a first year Rangers beat writer :)

      So I have a very hard time down here .!!!

      But nobody cares about a small Koala !!!!

      P.S. I just realized that you still haven´t adjust your clock to the right time, it is 10.52, you have a different one up there ? :)

    2. DoodieMachetto on

      I have a friend that plays hockey with Bruce Driver and so I’m going to make that my first guess for now. My only problem with him is that you said he was an all-star and I don’t think I remember Bruce being an all-star. By the way, Bruce is too good to skate in the league and so he is forced to play goalie, which he does in spectacular form.

    3. Where were you sunday AM on

      Sam followers. Sam’s linemate was from across the pond and been retired a few years. So forget about Canadian and American players. That said, Sam made a poor showing or lack of one Sunday morning. And not to sell the skate short, there are a couple minor leaguers there and Sunday there was a former european player there in addition to Sam’s linemate. That said FU Dark.

    4. DoodieMachetto on

      Nemchinov wasn’t an all-star. And if he was, then the league must’ve SUCKED that year.

    5. DoodieMachetto on

      Kamensky is a really good guess at a more obscure player.

      Another more obvious player is Pavel Bure, whoc while unable to skate at the NHL level can probably play with Sam.

    6. DoodieMachetto on

      So far here are the clues:

      He was a Ranger at one point and a former NHL All-star and we just found out hes from Europe and has been retired for a few years.

      I like the Sandstrom guess too. Man, its fun to think about all of the players that the Rangers pick up past their prime!

    7. DoodieMachetto on

      He is Canadian. I heard he is the best player in England these days. He can fit right in with the hooliganism.

    8. I know it is Petr Nedved, He is no american or canadien and I heard he still lives in New York…

    9. If it’s not Sandstrom, maybe it’s Ulf Dahlen…was he an All-star? I think he fits the Erixon we need one of you now category…

    10. Where were you sunday AM on

      Well someone guessed it above. Not sure if Sam’s into outing the guy for dropping so low as to skate on dark with him. So I’ll respect some privacy.

    11. Where were you sunday AM on

      Oh and Nedved, who it isn’t, is technically canadian (defected before coming to the NHL)

    12. Alright Sam. I’ve got it figured out. New York City native, former Ranger and one-time NHL All-Star Brian Mullen.

    13. hockeymanrangers on

      Hey all I know this is a total different subject BUT what is up with the MSG Commentators???? Absolutley terrible I don’t know thier names but, the one guy was saying Shanahan was out b/c of his bad back, and he was in the penalty box. That is just one example they need more help than the Rangers do

    14. Yea, I don’t like Mr. islander himself Joe whatever his last name is. When i heard he was replacing JD I wasn’t happy to say the least.

    15. doodiemachetto on

      I think the logical answer to the color commentary for the Rangers is Mike Richter. Replace one mediocre former Rangers goalie for another. And yes, I’m ready to hear everyone tell me how great Richter was, but truth is, he was average with the exception of three seasons and a World Cup.

    16. Sam, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn for you :) if you really believe that Jagr’s starpower influence has little to do with the Ranger personnel decisions.

      The fact that Roszival and Straka play on the PP points instead of Cullen is a clear example. Cullen scored 9 PP goals last year, more than Straka and Rosival combined, and was a key figure in the Canes Stanley Cup win. He was signed and brought to the Rangers to improve that very aspect of the Rangers game that was lacking last year. And yet, he gets not one shift at the point on the PP, while Rosival has only one task in mind, and that is to slide the puck to Jagr at the right sideboards, period.

      And the fact that Rosival and Malik almost always play with the Jagr line 5-on-5 is another example of the posse effect. That is probably why Pock isn’t given a chance to replace Malik.

      A captain should be about the best interests of the TEAM, not the best interests of buddies and cronies.

    Leave A Reply