They pay me for this?


A curious sight in the Rangers dressing room after practice today: a dozen or so players opening up their paychecks and staring quizzically at the page ahead for several moments. I never asked what the issue was, although there’s always the chance these guys still don’t believe they get paid the money they do (“Don’t they know I’m a fourth-line wing?”).

Of course, there’s also Aaron Ward, who opened up his envelope and yelled to anyone who’d listen, “Holy Uncle Sam!”

Somehow I don’t think anyone’s mustering much sympathy.

Anyway, some odds and ends a day before the Rangers meet the Devils for a fifth time on Tuesday:

  • Where have you been, Jason Krog? No, let’s not start sculpting the Hall of Fame bust just yet, but the consensus was the center fared admirably in his Rangers debut on Saturday, both in the face-off circle and in creating some offensive chances. Still, you have to wonder why the former Hobey Baker winner hasn’t really stuck as an NHL player; and when I asked my “fellow UNH Wildcat”: how he’d describe his pro career, he offered a simple response: “A roller-coaster.” Krog then went into detail about injuries and numbers games, about recapturing his offensive spark while playing in Europe, but then failing to capitalize on his opportunities playing alongside Marian Hossa and Vyacheslav Kozlov in Atlanta. To be clear, Krog wasn’t making excuses, and he said his hope is that he can mesh well with the Rangers.

    “Every situation is different, but I definitely like the style of hockey they play here,” he said. “I think it’s more of a puck possession game. But it works different for different people. But I’m excited to be here. Hopefully I can help the team.”

  • Speaking of Krog, I made the mistake today of telling Matt Cullen that Krog and I overlapped for a year at UNH. I say “mistake” because there was me talking to Krog after practice, and there was Cullen on an exercise bike about 15 feet away, leaning forward and laughing as if at any moment we were going to embrace like long lost fraternity brothers. “He’s mocking me,” I said to Krog. “He mocks everybody,” said Krog, who played with Cullen in Anaheim.
  • After breaking up his traditional defensive pairings on Saturday, Tom Renney reunited those units today, citing as one reason the “synchronicity” between the top foward line and Michal Rozsival and Marek Malik. Meanwhile, outside the top group, the forward lines were revamped again, with Brendan Shanahan skating with Blair Betts and Marcel Hossa; Krog at center between Cullen and Jed Ortmeyer; and a fourth unit of Petr Prucha, Ryan Hollweg, and either Colton Orr or Adam Hall. As for Jason Ward, the forward was paired with Darius Kasparaitis at defense, which isn’t a good sign for either.
  • Both Cullen and Aaron Ward were debating whether to ask Glen Sather for permission to join their old Carolina Hurricanes teammates for a Feb. 2 visit to the White House. Cullen’s initial reaction was the two couldn’t go because it precedes an away game in Tampa Bay the next day. But Ward was arguing that it could work. Last I saw the two were both in the hallway talking to Renney.

    OK, that’s all for now. More later…

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    1. Is Renney running things with a magic 8 ball? How he has minimalized Prucha is really stunning. At least give the kid a few weeks of solid ice time with which to hang himself.

      It’s not a surprise about the checks — the Rangers players were probably startled that their paychecks were signed by Charles Wang.

    2. Sam –

      Betcha $5 they were not, in fact, looking at their paychecks, but at their W-2’s from 2006. And I’m not even an accountant.

    3. Oh, an please, let’s bring in the league’s top sniper – or one of them – and set him up with Betts and Hossa. Since you’ve basically relegated Shanny to the fourth line, Tom (oh wait, we now have THREE of those) make sure you give him fourth line minutes as well.

      Brother. Ill bet Shanny is thrilled.

    4. Does anybody else hope that A Ward would stay with the Hurricanes after the White house vist?

      Prucha on the fourth line is horrible.
      Malik back on the first defensive pairing is disgusting.
      I’ve got heartburn- To much to swallow

    5. Ah, then they’re probably noticing their checks looked “different” because Social Security got taken out.

    6. i cannot believe our best sniper is playing with betts and hossa. two borderline ahlers. hossa betts shanahan!?!?!? this is insanity i completely agree. so hossa betts shanahan (fourth line) prucha hollweg orr(fourth line) cullen krog orty(def a fourth line) wow. 3 fourth lines eh tom? good thinkin.

    7. there is a maximum paid into SS every year, once the new year it starts over, so there take home went down. Tell Ward most will take what he pays just into SS. He’s crying all the way to the bank. Death & Taxes.

    8. Doodie Machetto on

      I thought Hossa looked good on Shanny’s wing in Boston with Nylander in the middle, but I don’t understand Betts in the middle.

      “After breaking up his traditional defensive pairings on Saturday, Tom Renney reunited those units today, citing as one reason the “synchronicityâ€? between the top foward line and Michal Rozsival and Marek Malik. Meanwhile, outside the top group, the forward lines were revamped again, with Brendan Shanahan skating with Blair Betts and Marcel Hossa; Krog at center between Cullen and Jed Ortmeyer; and a fourth unit of Petr Prucha, Ryan Hollweg, and either Colton Orr or Adam Hall. As for Jason Ward, the forward was paired with Darius Kasparaitis at defense, which isn’t a good sign for either.”

      Let’s get this straight. The top line scored. The D shut the bruins down. Nylander scored when he was with Shanny and Hossa scored. What “synchronisity” is Renney talking about? The pairings from the last game worked really well. Surprisingly well to be honost. Why go back to the swiss cheese formation?

      Ortmeyer scores on a penalty shot and all of a sudden he’s higher on the depth chart than Prucha?

    9. “i cannot believe our best sniper is playing with betts and hossa. two borderline ahlers.”

      And one of them is a borderline AHLer who just signed a two year contract extension. Only in Rangerland.

    10. Doodie Machetto on

      PS, I like Jason Ward on Defense more than Malik. I like Sam on Offense more than Ward. Probably Defense too.

    11. Doodie Machetto on

      I don’t understand what Renney is doing, especially against the Devs. Madden and Pandolfo shut down Jagr. Why not spread the offense out like he did in the first period at Boston? They can shut down Prucha-Straka-Jagr, but they still would have to deal with (fillinplayer/Hossa)-Nylander-Shanny. Instead, he’s front loaded the team and made the bottom crap, essentially assuring that Brodeur gets his 8th shutout of the season and 7th career regular season shutout vs the Rangers.

    12. The TrueBlue Vermonster on

      Hey Sam,

      I don’t know if you saw or read the hrad copy of teh Journal News sports section today but your editor made a boo boo, referring to Sergei Brylin as Jim Dowd in a caption underneath the picture. He obviously pays about as much attention to the hockey and teh Devils as most of us do to the WNBA. See you next homestand!!!!

    13. Shanny with Betts and Hossa. Renney’s a genius. Hossa and Betts known for their large assist totals.

    14. I’m very close to joining the Renney nay-sayers here, given the aforementioned lines. Sam – is Petr Puck really on the outs with this team or is Renney just trying to get him some protection out on the ice? And what the hell happened to Jason Ward to fall lower than waiver-wire fodder since skating FIRST LINE with Jagr just last month(mind you, this is not a personal endorsement of his play). Lastly, if Krog couldn’t regain his college-years offense flanked by Marian Hossa and Kozlov, then how in the bloody hell is he going to do it with the somewhat slumping Cullen and Ortmeyer? Better yet, why is he on this team to begin with?

      As for Cullen and Ward, wasn’t there a ‘Canes celebration earlier this year that they opted out of “because we’re “Rangers now” or something to that effect? I say, you took the money on a different team, there’s no going back. Period. Not for banner raisings, not for meet-and-greets, and definitly not to blow off practice with your team to slink around the White House with your former mates. Hopefully Renney will explain this to those two dunderheads. But the more I’m seeing of this guy, they’ll probably be eating caviar in the Oval Office, while everyone else is preparing for a game.

    15. A few quick responses:

      1. Yes, they’re all still rich. 2. No, Prucha isn’t going anywhere. 3. Shanny with Betts and Hossa isn’t exactly ideal, but Renney wants to keep the top line together and wants to get more offense out of the third. But when he shortens the bench, as he always does, you’ll see Shanahan with others I’m sure. Still, I know, Blair Betts? 4. True Blue Vermonster (i.e. Lundqvist fan) Mistake has already been noted by the boss.

      More on Shanny later if I can crank out my newspaper story..

    16. Doodie Machetto on

      I wonder how much each pay check actually is for.

      The only reason I’m curious is because David Beckham signed that 5 year, $250 million contract, which will pay him about a million dollars a week for 5 years. bastard.

    17. czechthemout!!!!! on

      well,well.profesor tom thumb is at it again with the sat is funny how all he does is bloviate every time you enquire of him a questtion.he expounds endlessly with infinate hyperbaly and rhetoric too complex for us mere laypeople here on sam’s blog.what he should explain to sam is his strategicly inept line combinations and his agregious inability to comprehend the need to infuse some much needed speed and bulk on offense and defense .moreover he should figure out how to inject some testicular fortitude into the defense specifically the three ,now he’s got me doing it ,sorry all .bottom line krog looked lost ,malik is a pilon,rozy is just a little chicken sheet,and prucha will make all the differnce in the world on the 4th line when he gets 3to 5minutes of ice time.

    18. bklynblue is correct in his assessement of the SS tax. evgeni- i got my w2 last week. most decent payroll services have them rolled out the first week of january…..

    19. I don’t think Shanahan would be crying if he played with Nylander seeing how Nylander is the team’s best playmaking center. The problem there is that breaks up the top line, which is also problematic. I joked to Renney that maybe they should clone Nylander, although I don’t know what it says about that in the new CBA.

    20. they could get JR over from phoenix for a bag of pucks or Adam Hall. JR centering Shanahan, and Prucha would be nice #2 line.

    21. czechthemout!!!!! on

      hi sam-i watched the game on saturday . i wonder exactly what offense did krog create?what i saw was a player who did not know where to go on the ice , could be because he did not practice with them .he also looked slow.the one time they put him on ice to win a faceof in the second period on a 5on 3 , he lost it .any chance that he may only be here for a look until another option from withn is looked at?

    22. wait I don’t understand the money thing… were they suprised that they got a nice, hefty check, or were they suprised that they got such a small amount?

    23. Betts and Hossa on the 2nd line. nothing could be more telling of the mediocrity overtaking the “synchronicity”.

      this team continues to be run for the pleasure of Jagr, who you will notice in the paper called Sather “Glennie” as though they are close buds instead of his employer.

    24. Doodie Machetto on

      JR can’t even cut it on the Coyotes. Why not trade for Trevor Linden while we’re at it.


      But speaking of the Coyotes, the Rangers should’ve signed Perreault while he was in limbo. That would’ve solved the 2nd line center problem in a hurry.

      CTO- I remember that faceoff. As soon as it was over he went to the bench. But that was the only one he lost (5 for 6). If he can win faceoffs like that on a regular basis, I have no problem with him centering a bottom line, so long as we sit a lot of other bottom feeders like Ward, Orr, Hall, and possibly even Betts. Put Krog on the 4th line to take faceoffs in the defensive zone.

    25. Hey Sam, Got Jarkko?? If you think about it, Jarkko Centering a line with Shanny and Cullen would be the most logical thing to do………. Too bad we are talking aboutthe Rangers and they are run by people that cant define logic

    26. czechthemout!!!!! on

      doodie – 5of 6 is good but he still looked lost the rest of the game he also did not look like he had much speed as well . it’s just that it is no longer fun and exciting to watch them ,that is why i sound so sinical in my posts.last year they were the complete feels like the previous seven seasons to me.

    27. czechthemout!!!!! on

      doodie – to be perfectaly honest with you ,i would prefer that they put krong on the 6 line with hall and orr.

    28. Doodie Machetto on

      Winning faceoffs is a really valuable asset. If he cancome in to win a draw and then get off the ice, as was intended on that 5 on 3, I would take him over Hollweg centering the 4th line. Hollweg is a natural winger. The problem is, it leaves us with a glut of 4th line (and i dont mean 4th line quality, i mean our own actual 4th line) players. That’s why Ward, Hall, and Orr would have to sit and probably Betts too.

    29. Anthony (Abev) on

      Sam, I like that you write about your actual experiences behind the scenes. It gives us (me) a sense that I am there. I can completely see Ward and Cullen scheming to get to go to the White House.

      It’s also nice that you don’t make up pseudo trades like some other guys.

    30. czechthemout!!!!! on

      doodie- i know it is but immo was very good on faceoffs too but i guess they just don’t like him here . maybe they should package him and malik the pilon and get someone like jackman from the blues .

    31. Shanny’s specialty is one-timing passes from the slot. good luck getting passes from 2 guys who spend most of the night in the corner with their back turned to the play.

    32. I think clueless coach Tom has listened to The Police album Syncronicity too much. I would like to see half the team syncronized out of here!

    33. Hartford won their team record 6th straight win on the road over 1st place Manchester. Now are 22-16-3, and just 4 pts. out of first place.

      2 goals by Callahan, who now has 24

    34. Sam what is Renney thinking if Jagr is complaining about teams matching up against them, so he puts the whole line back together? Most of the league is doing it against Jagr, so he’s giving away home ice advantage by refusing to counteract them. Can you get his logic? Doesn’t he realize he’s making the opposing coaches job easy, while he’s being too predictable?

    35. Doodie Machetto on

      Yeah Immo was good at faceoffs, but I wouldn’t want him in that limited role I described for Krog. I’d like to see Immo on the 2nd line.

    36. from Dellapina column…

      Jagr believes the defense pair playing with his line also must be part of the plan.

      “If I’m coming back and the defensemen dump it in, it doesn’t look good,” he said. “Nobody’s going to get it and I’m back in our zone.

      “If we’re not going to do the matchups, then we need to have five guys together who know what we’re doing. That’s the only way we can beat it.”

      and that is why Malik is back with the 1st line again.

      anyone still want to try to pretend that Jagr is not running things?

    37. Doodie Machetto on

      bklynblue- that’s exactly what I was talking about.

      The last game he came out with something different than expected and it worked. Then in the 2nd period he reshuffled back to the original and it confused the B’s enough to get Jagr away from Chara-leading to Straka’s goal. It made Renney look competent. Too bad he is just showing that the Bruins game was an exception to the rule.

    38. Doodie the devils will be happy to send out pandolfo & madden along with probably white & rafalski to shut down the #1 line , while Renney stares into space. This is where Jagr is not getting through to Renney, so they’re co-running in different directions.

    39. Hey guys, about the checks. Wouldn’t be suprised if it was the 2007 social security deduction, medicare deduction, federal tax, NY State tax and NY city tax taken out along with SUI (state unemployment insurance).

      “Holy Uncle Sam” would definitely fit that scenario.

    40. I’m curious as to what Renney has against his only defenseman in the plus column. His rant in the Post today can only be categorized as peculiay.

    41. I can’t believe that someone seriously suggested that we acquire Jeremy Roenick.

      What an incredibly stupid idea!

      Just unbelievable…


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