And one more for the road…


I am back from my one-day hiatus thanks to a now healthy son, who jumped into my bed this morning and demanded to see pictures of Zambonis on my computer. It’s a strange fascination for grown men, maybe. But for a boy not yet 2, the Zamboni ranks right up there as one of the wonders of the world.


Or put it another way: if I ever brought Charlie to the rink to see the Rangers practice, I’m not sure he’d even notice the players.

On, then, to some updates:

  • The tentative lines for tomorrow, or at least based on what was practicing together today:


    Note that Colton Orr and Adam Hall would again be the scratches. At defense, Darius Kasparaitis looks to be the odd man out again, but Tom Renney will skate all seven D during warm-ups and decide then.

    As for Jason Krog moving between Matt Cullen and Brendan Shanahan, maybe that’s not the answer to getting Shanahan out of his scoring slump. But Krog certainly has more playmaking ability than Betts, who readily admitted his shortcomings in that department the other night.

  • Speaking of Shanahan, Renney acknowledged that the right wing could be eased out of the penalty killing rotation as a means of lightening his load. But as with everything else about Shanahan, Renney said the veteran’s heart gets in the way.

    “He loves it,” Renney said. “The guy just loves playing hockey.”

    Asked whether Shanahan is now showing the effects of assuming too much ice time in the early going, Renney said it could be a factor.

    “How can you not look at that?” the coach said. “But at the same time, we talk frequently, and he feels great. Maybe he’s telling me what I want to hear. But to me he’s a pretty straight up guy, and I said to him right at the beginning of the year, ‘Shanny, you’ve got to let me know when you’ve got to have a breather, whether it’s game off or a practice off, because I’m not going to guess my way through that.”

    “Having said that, even as his production has dipped, he’s still such an influence in our lineup. He’s great to have out there.”

  • Remember how I said Jaromir Jagr has “his contrary side”: I asked several Rangers today about whether they in particular can benefit from the All-Star Break, if only to gear up for the crucial 34 remaining games of the season. All of them said yes in some form or another, that the break is probably a good thing given what lies ahead.

    Everyone, that is, except for Jagr.

    “I don’t know,” he said. “You’re asking me something I can’t answer. And every team has to deal with the same thing.”

    Of course, Jagr also joked that as opposed to last year, when the Olympic Break came at the most inopportune time for the Rangers, this year’s team doesn’t have to worry about halting any momentum.

    “We’re not going to get any worse,” he said, laughing.

    In theory.

  • Just in from the team: Rangers’ prospects Tom Pyatt, Bobby Sanguinetti and Marc Staal have been selected to participate in the 2007 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) All-Star Classic on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan.
  • I should be done criticizing the Rangers, or at least for today, seeing how right now I am now the single worst hockey player in America. OK, I exaggerate, but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty last night. In a related story, I took a puck right in the chest in the early going. I’m OK, although I’m still waiting for the words “Made in the Czech Republic” to fade from my skin.

    OK, more to discuss later…

  • About Author


    1. Jason is playing 2nd line center. come on give me a freakin break. Does tommy really need to try this out to see it fail. Dubi wrote on the bulletin hollweg was paired with orts? wouldn’t mind seeing a line of betts, hollweg, and orts…krog on the 2nd line is just a joke.

    2. “How can you not look at that?� the coach said.

      Nice going Tom. Shanny’s tired and everyone knew he would be when you played him 21 mins a game.

    3. Rangerbillyank on

      So far this year we have acquired Isbister and Krog. If Garth Snow can do a better job than Sather, what could Mike Richter do as our GM?

    4. “I said to him right at the beginning of the year, ‘Shanny, you’ve got to let me know when you’ve got to have a breather, whether it’s game off or a practice off”

      Tom showing his ineptitude again (or maybe he’s just too honest for his own good). No self-respecting hockey player is going to ask for time off. They all want to play. It’s the coach’s job to recognize that the guy is 38 and manage his ice time accordingly.

    5. im bringing my gear to NY sam.
      and were playing.
      1 on 1 hockey, first one to 100 wins. FULL RINK.

    6. renney basically just said that Krog, a washout never was, is better then the up and coming Immonen. which in my mind just reiterates what i thought all along and that is that Immo was just a throw in on the leetch deal. not a master plan move by upper management. they probably didnt even know who they were getting in return.

    7. honestly, i know fans are always second guessing coaches, but how does renney possibly justify KROG on the 2nd line and prucha on the 4th when it’s so clear to the rest of the free living world that this is a move that doesn’t make sense…

      im at my wits end with this guy.

    8. Tom Renney=Loser
      He will never be a champion because it takes a brain to win the cup and it appears Tommy boy doesnt have one. Im sure Immonen can do whatever Krog is doing.

    9. Doodie Machetto on

      Sam, after there is a score of about 3 I think it’s going to be two guys hanging on each end of the ice and trying to score from the opposite side of the rink.

      Krog is a center, Prucha is a winger. I’m not saying either position for either player is a good choice, but the “how can he…while…” posters need to realize that krog isn’t the reason Prucha is on the 4th line.

      Oh, and Krog is an excellent example as to why having big AHL numbers doesn’t translate into NHL success. In 25 GP, 19-33-52. Those numbers are much better than ANYONE on Hartford, this season or last season.

    10. well put it this way if he continues to keep the jagr line together he can mix up the rest of the forwards ON THE ROSTER all he wants its still going to look like 3 fourth lines. we’ve got a coach who keeps all his eggs in one basket and a bunch of fringe nhlers. mix it up however you want whether its betts, ward, krog as the second line center they are all terrible. what i dont understand though is how he doesn’t at least use cullen as the third line center in which he WOULD be successful. its crap anyway you look at it.

    11. Sam,

      My 2.5 year old loves the Zambonis. It’s the highlight of the game as far as he is concerned. Anyway, I’m going to take the contrary position and say that I’m glad to see Krog centering Shanny. If he’s going to be here, play him where his skill or (potential skill) is most suited. I’d be happier if Cullen were dropped to center the third line with Prucha taking his place on wing on the second line.

    12. I notice that the all-star selections of Ranger prospects Pyatt, Staal, and Sanguinetti get very little response because it has become disgracefully obvious that it will be years before they even get a chance to sit in the stands for months and get “Pock-checked”.

    13. Sam,

      Great blog and thanks for all the info. I was wondering if you could give us an update on exactly what the Rangers do in practice.

      Is there a system being taught? If so what is it, a trap, a lock?, Hand the puck to Jagr and hope for the best?

      What does the coaching staff preach? puck possession, defensive positioning, back-checking? finishing their checks?

      Do they practice odd man situations, PP, PK, 5 on 3, ect,

      Does Renney or the any of the coaches stop practice during scrimmages to tell the player where their positioning is wrong?

      And could you let us in on your opinion as to why these tactics do not follow over to the games, or maybe they do but the tactics are flawed.

    14. has wildcard really stopped posting here? is it possible that my continued harassing finally got him to shut his stupid piehole? i’ve never heard dumber hockey sense from anyone

    15. “”We will see plenty of Pyatt, Staal, and Sanguinetti after they get traded for stiffs.””

      right. they won’t be able to beat out such stalwarts as Malik and Betts.

    16. I just don’t see Krog centering 2nd line…

      Anyways, here is what I’d do with lines if I were Renney:


    17. Here is the worst line in the league. this is a line that should be traded for an old jockstrap.


    18. Doodie Machetto on

      I’d approach it completely different.


    19. Hey Renney- Try these genius combos out-
      Ya never know, right.


    20. Well, we are getting close to what I feel are better line combinations. This is my note from Sat.

      If you are going to keep the 1st line as is then I would give Krog a shot at centering the 2nd line between Shanahan and Prucha. Betts centering Cullen and Hossa and Hollweg centering Ortmeyer and Ward/Hall.

      I am coming to the realization that mgmt does not believe Prucha can help this team offensively. He is not being used when/where he can blossom. He is being relegated to a 7-10 min per game guy with the hope that he scores every so often, basically just filling in the roster. All the signs are there that he will not be a Ranger on 2/28. I can’t imagine that they have taken the 2nd highest goal scorer from last year and don’t play him when offense is needed. Clearly the team is yearning for more scoring from others than the top 4 but they continue to give Cullen, Hossa, Betts more time and most importantly play them in better situations. I will venture to say that the next one wearing a green jersey will be Prucha so he doesn’t get hurt and diminish his trade value.

    21. Dolan and MSG spit on Ranger fans once again.
      from Blueshirt Bulletin


      (SPOILER ALERT) If you’ve been following the “The 50 Greatest Moments at MSG� DON’T READ THIS…

      James Dolan and his management team last night (Thursday) revealed before specially invited guests and season ticket holders the final segment of “The 50 Greatest Moments at MSG� and again managed to infuriate Ranger fans. The vast majority of those in attendance were dressed in Ranger Blue. They had all come to see the 1994 Stanley Cup win named as the top moment in MSG history. It was not to be. Ranger fans booed loudly when it was revealed that the #1 moment was not the one “that will last a lifetime� but was instead the 1970 NBA Championship Game 7 that is primarily remembered for injury hobbled Willis Reed’s incredibly gutsy and courageous first half appearance.

      The Knicks game wasn’t even a close game, the Knicks winning 113-99.

      The ceremony opened with the appearance of “Mr. MSG,” Al Trautwig, talking about the great history and support of the gullible, I mean loyal fan bases of both teams. He then turned the proceedings over to some VP or other who thanked the MSG organization and in particular one James Dolan. At the very mention of his name, Junior received a very loud and enthusiastic round of boos to which the VP responded with, “Come on guys, work with me, will ya?” After a few more pleasantries, the DVD player was hit and away we went.

      The special, to be aired on Saturday, began as all the rest and we’re told the final moment is one to treasure forever. Here are the moments that were named as numbers 5 through 3:

      #5 The Pope arrives at MSG
      #4 The Concert for New York after September 11th
      #3 The first Ali-Frazier fight (the one Frazier won)

      Then it was time for the most shocking moment of the evening. When actor and series host Matthew Modine showed up on the screen with a Ranger uniform behind him, the room immediately broke into shouts of “No way!” and “You’ve got to be kidding me” and then a pretty hefty round booing as the 1994 Stanley Cup highlights and interviews were shown. A bunch of people nearby, on seeing that the Rangers had again been slighted by MSG, said, “This is total BS,” and promptly got up and left.

      After the tribute to the Knicks and their lopsided victory, there was the chat session where Al asked a couple of questions of George Kalinsky, the girl the Pope picked up who is all grown now, the cop who at the Concert for New York so proudly declared that Osama Bi Laden “could kiss my big Irish ass,” and Jimmy Fallon (who if you saw the Concert for New York was probably the least talented person that evening but got to hold the honor again of representing the event). Next was Garden regular Spike Lee,, the referee of the Ali-Frazier fight, a hobbled Joe Frazier himself, and then Adam Graves, Mike Richter (who got an enormous ovation), and birthday boy Mark Messier. They were followed by Clyde Frazier and Willis Reed.

      The most memorable moment was Messier paying tribute in an amazingly classy speech honoring those assembled and especially congratulating Frazier and Reed. Al Trautwig had a wonderful comment afterwards saying, “That’s why he’s such a great Captain. Because that’s what a Captain is supposed to do.”

      Bottom line on this is that the Rangers remain second class citizens even in their own building by their own management. There was hardly a single Knick fan there and once again Ranger fans had to sit there and take it with a smile and get humiliated. Why? Well, because it only makes sense that a 1970 blow-out basketball championship game that was decided, according to Clyde, before it even began, with two great performances (Clyde’s 36 points and 19 assists and of course Reed appearing and sinking of his first two shots) would eclipse a team’s first championship in 54 years in a game that wasn’t decided until the final buzzer. I have defended Ranger and Garden management, but this was inexcusable and they should be ashamed of themselves.

      As Susan Powter used to say “Stop the insanity!�

      Posted by Dubi on January 19, 2007 at 01:27 PM | Permalink

    22. Sam who else is Renney going to try at 2nd line center? There’re J Ward, Prucha,& Hollweg, left who have played center. He’s running out of choices besides breaking up the 1st line like he did last year. Do you and more importantly Renney know their record from last year with them separated and together?

    23. Doodie Machetto : those lines I like….but for next year…not becasue of lewtting youth develope…but jsut let this year go, still try to make the playoffs, but forget about trying to make it perfect…get a better draft pick, and not so much for the pick, but for waht it could bring in a trade….meaning trade down and pick up a leter 1st rounder and a 2nd rounder. Draft a bunch of centers, but anyway…I do liek your lines best of all the ones I have seen…by a long shot as well..

    24. “4Rangers

      Here is the worst line in the league. this is a line that should be traded for an old jockstrap.


      And Dolan in goal without any equipment!!

    25. The Rangers winning the Cup wasn’t the greastest moment in the Garden?

      I am sick of Dolan, Sather and CO.

    26. Sammy,

      Not sure where you’re from but we stopped using those CR pucks up here a long time ago – they break glass. Comforting…I know.

      At this point in time it’s encouraging to hear Tom mention Shanny and icetime in the same sentence. However, he also, could be telling us what we want to hear. For with an answer of “how can you not look at it now?” I’d tend to ask “how could you not look at it September 30th?”

      Glad to hear your boy is better, Sam.

    27. Other possible second line centers:

      Colton Orr: For the karma.
      Kevin Weekes: He’s not busy anyway.
      Marek Malik: for his innate playmaking ability — even if they’re mostly plays for the other team.

      I agree, Krog might not be the best option, but if you subscribe to the whole Jarkko’s not ready theory — and many of you don’t — there’s really no harm in trying, if only to then rule it out.

      Also, someone asked about practices. What I will say is they are all very structured, with a lot of 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 type drills, followed by plenty of systems work, and then invariably some shooting drills. Today there was a breakaway competition at the end where the losing team had to sprint. This is usually the most entertaining time, in part because you’re seeing these guys flaunt their skills, but also because there’s tons of ribbing. In the breakaway competition, when Matt Cullen was coming in on Henrik Lundqvist, Brendan Shanahan threw him off by firing three pucks at him in quick succession.

      Other than the end, though, they’re pretty intense sessions, with plenty of interjections from the coaches. Put it another way: I don’t think the Rangers problems lie in what they’re doing or not doing in practice. Other than maybe who the team has on the ice.

    28. What about the 1940 Stanley Cup win? That should be #1.

      Why?? Because they didn’t win another cup for 54 years!! Yeah, that’s right, right Bones??, 54 long unproductive years!!

      We are gluttons for punishment!

    29. The Rangers are not ready for prime time. The frustration is that their prospects are 19,20,21 years old. None of the Prospects have Sidney Crosby type talent.
      What is really frustrating is watching Hall, Ward, Hossa, Malik, Rosival taking up spots every night to hold us over till the prospects are matured enough.
      Next season, Stall, Garardi,lampman, and Baranka have no where to go but to MSG. The same with Callahan,Dawes,Dubinski, and Immonen.
      That is a total of 8 new Rangers on the roster. If it doesn’t happen, I would say it is time to put all our efforts together to make a run at Cablevision and take it over!

    30. kovy-

      an excellent point. with the current personnel and keeping the top line intact there are limited options for anything that does not evoke a stomach-turning reaction. Renney is shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic somehow hoping this season turns into an episode of the Love Boat.

      As you and I have discussed on other boards, there is no reasonable explanation for the Ranger personnel moves. What about the play of Immonen, Dawes and Callahan – on the NHL level – has shown that they are not ready? They have a much smaller sample size than the entrenched stiffs, but their #’s and markedly superior to the likes of Betts, Ward, Hall, Hossa, Krog types. But no matter how often their mediocrity is demonstrated, there is no escape from these guys. In fact, their ranks have swollen with the additions of Isbister and Krog.

      This raises the question as to who within the organIzaion is responsible for this nonsense. Is it Sather who is responsible for stuffing the NHL roster with these guys? Is it Renney forced to choose among the guys that Sather sticks him with, or does he have the authority to call up the kids from Hartford? Does he have the authority to ask to waive useless veterans?

      Sam, over the break would you care to write a column on how authority flows within the Ranger hierarchy?


    31. keep dreaming. 5 vet Dmen are signed for next season. Rosival-Malik, Ward-Tyutin, Kasparaitis. and Pock and Rachunek are RFA, meaning they will also likely be back.

      the chance of 4 new kids on D is beyond slim to none.

      the same mediocre vet team that you see now is going to be in place for the most part next season because most of them are already signed, and who else would take them?

    32. Doodie Machetto on

      I would trade Immonen at the deadline. Package him with Hall, Krog, Hossa, Ward, Malik, and/or Kasper.

      I think he’s a very intelligent player, but he’s slow. Speed kills in the “new” NHL. Unfortunately, you can’t really teach footspeed. Deal him for a 2nd line center or a solid defenseman. Dubinsky can fill the 2nd line spot next season, with Cullen on 3rd, and Betts 4th.

    33. Renneeee

      Nowhere is it written that some of our vets couldn’t be traded (wishful thinking) or waived. Other organIzations would bite the bullet on some of lifeless bodies on the blueline we are stuck with, but hockey is different here…

    34. Doodie

      Would you prefer a fast guy who doesn’t know where he’s supposed to be on the ice or a guy who uses his brains to be in the right place at the right time?

      And while you’re at it, please elucidate us as to how speed is part of Jagr’s and Shanahan’s game – or would you also contend that they are too slow for the New NHL?

    35. pemoco : Shanny is a bit slow for the new NHL…its not hurting him becasue he is so smart. I think Immo could develope into a good 2nd line center, but by the time he dose I think there will be other kids who are younger now at teh saem level. And there is nothing to say that Dubinski isnt going to be ready next season…and than what, have Immo play because he is older or has been around longer??? The Ragners are going to ahve to many up and comeing palyers soon…not a bad palce to be in…the will have 6 to 8 kids pushing for NHL spots, and they will be ready near 100% for it, they will have kids who are developing in juniors, teh ECHL and NCAA who are going to be trying to make teh Wolfpack roster, and every year it will be the same thing for a few years. Not all the players will become anything, but SOME will have to be moved or let go…I say traded is the best way….for more picks to keep the pipeline full or a couple together for 1 better player…I think Immo is the best choice to trade right now, there are other Ragners prospects ho will probably end up just as good as him, so while his value is still good, he should be moved. Its not like he is a long time Rangers prospect, he was gotten in a trade, and if he can be traded to help the team good.

    36. Hey Sam,

      I love the way you try to bring some humour to the current Ranger situation. You really do help at times distract fans with it so that your blog stays relatively upbeat.

      “seeing how right now I am now the single worst hockey player in America”

      Maybe just worst Ranger writer .Supposedly reporting for the fans, but really doing the masters’ bidding. We all know the others are schmucks. But Diamos and the rest have nothing to worry about. And nor do Sather and Renney so long as you continue to appease the masses with senseless drivel to have the reader finish with a schmaltzy grin on his face. Ask real questions and report on them, or admit that you’re golf reporter out to make a few extra bucks and not prepared to rock the boat.

      Sorry, I just think this mirage got old quick.

    37. “Diamos and the rest have nothing to worry about. And nor do Sather and Renney so long as you continue to appease the masses with senseless drivel to have the reader finish with a schmaltzy grin on his face.” Do you realyl think that if somone askes difrent questions…and trhe fans get angry, that they will be gone??? I eman…come on…do you really think that??? or am I reading what you wrote incorectly?

    38. pptime:

      Hit the road, man. Sam doesn’t claim to be the Bob Woodward of NY Rangers journalism. And, you know what, good for him. He seems to enjoy his job, do it well, and allow those of us who want to indulge in the privilege of reading what he has to say beyond his articles the chance to do so (not to mention bicker with one another over minutiae and b.s.) So if you think he’s a crappy journalist, write a letter to his editor. But don’t come here and insult the guy with your juvenile righteousness. It’s not just uncalled for, or or out of place, it’s pathetic. This is a frickin’ sports blog, it’s supposed to be fun not gospel.

    39. “Renneee January 20th, 2007 at 1:18 am
      keep dreaming. 5 vet Dmen are signed for next season. Rosival-Malik, Ward-Tyutin, Kasparaitis. and Pock and Rachunek are RFA, meaning they will also likely be back.
      the chance of 4 new kids on D is beyond slim to none.
      the same mediocre vet team that you see now is going to be in place for the most part next season because most of them are already signed, and who else would take them?”

      The only thing more depressing than this is to add in that the same moron will be coaching next year as well. His legacy will always be what he did to Jagr last year’s final playoff game.

    40. pptime – that was a bit over the top re Sam. at least 90% of those who post here really respect him and his work.

      general comment re the youth mentioned – please stop mentioning Immonen he will be 25 in 3 months and has shown nothing and was not a big part of the Leetch trade.

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