Remember hockey?

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If you want to know one of the real disappointments of the Rangers’ current position it’s that with football over and with spring training a few weeks away, hockey has suddenly reappeared on people’s radars.

Take a random practice like today at the MSG Training Center, where it wasn’t just myself and the usual core of beat guys, but a few extra camera crews, and even a handful of reporters from the Czech Republic who are busy preparing a three-volume biography on the life and times of Marek Malik (OK, not really, but they were here).

sather_glen.jpgFor at least a little while, the Rangers have a share of the sports stage. The question is what they intend to do with it.

And that’s especially relevant now given that there are eight games left before the Feb. 27 trade deadline. All along the assumption has been the Rangers will be making moves to upgrade, but as Glen Sather told Larry Brooks at the Post, the idea of the team becoming sellers hasn’t been ruled out, either.

Naturally, it would likely require a tank job of the first order — even worse than what we’ve already seen — but according to Jaromir Jagr, the memories of the 2004 sell-off alone should serve as incentive.

“That was awful. It was not easy to play that way,” Jagr said. “I hope that’s not going to be the issue this year. We have a good schedule. We’re not far off, six points, and 28 games is still more than a third of the season. That’s a lot. So it’s a different situation than a few years ago. So I just hope we’re going to be in the race after eight games.”

Aaron Ward, who could conceivably be one of the veterans discarded if the Rangers move fall further out of the playoff picture, said a sell-off isn’t a concern yet.

“I think that upper management is operating under the assumption that we can make the playoffs and go from there,” Ward said. “I think the philosophy is how to better the team and not dismantle it.”

Some updates:

  • Well, it was fun while it lasted, but sounds like Malik will becoming off IR on Friday to face Tampa Bay. In preparation, the Rangers have already returned Bryce Lampman to Hartford.
  • Still more praise for Sean Avery, who had his first full practice with the team, and whose nameplate was literally being screwed in above his locker as he spoke (in either a knowing attempt at team harmony or a random bit of irony, Avery’s locker was next to that of Kevin Weekes. Avery, you may know, was accused of a racial slur by Georges Laraque a few year ago). I’m not sure one player can push a team over the hump, but Tom Renney acknowledged the difference Avery has already made.

    “This was certainly an upgrade to our lineup,” Renney said. “In retrospect after his first game it’s one of those things where you’d like to have done it a little bit earlier.”

  • As for Ryan Hollweg’s absence from the lineup last night, Renney said it was more a reflection of wanting to get Colton Orr in the lineup against Cam Janssen.

    “It was more making sure we had room for Sean and getting Colton in the lineup,” he said. “Cam didn’t do what he usually does and maybe it was because Colton was in the lineup. Those are the decisions coaches have to make in order to win. It’s always at the expense of someone but it really doesn’t go further than that.”

    OK, apologies on the long post. More later…

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    64 Comments

    1. Apologies for the long post? Come on, man. You’ve got scores of jackasses waiting for more info — keep it coming.

      Also, one of the ESPN guys mentions shortening the season in his latest “how to fix the league” essay. I’ve liked that idea for a while. Is there a reason that isn’t financial for why the NHL wouldn’t consider this?

      Go Rangers.

    2. God I hate Malik. If I were Sather I would offer Malik for a bag of Pucks. Could we trade Nylander and still be on track for a playoff birth? Who would take him? What about Montreal, they need a center and we could get back someone like Souray who can shoot it 100mph AND hit the net.

    3. For one night, Glen Sather looked like the GM we had all hoped he would be when he came aboard—back in the day. Sean Avery, and his energetic North South game, looked like a top 6 forward against a formidable opponent, and the shot of adrenaline he provided gave me hope the rush will last a little while. Truthfully, it will take a 10 game surge of say 17 points out of 20, to turn this mess around. Let’s hope it occurs.

    4. I like shortening the schedule to 70-75 games and having the All Star game at the beginning of the season (and on a weekend, so the World’s Strongest Man on ESPN2 doesn’t get better ratings). I like Buccigross on ESPN, but his advocacy for bigger nets pisses me off. That’s a dumb idea.

    5. Ill give Avery his due. He had a relatively solid game, despite coasting on the back check against Langenbruener on the second goal, and taking that stupid interference on Brodeur penalty, but thats nitpicking.

      Still, talk to me in 28 games about Avery’s season with the rangers, and even if he continues to play as well as he did last night, it’ll be a total 180 from what he did in Los Angeles, which was play selfish, be offsides all the time (twice last night, chalk it up to new linemates), dive, complain about every penalty he took, miss the net most of the time etc.

      Hey, I hope he plays well, I want the Rangers to succeed, but Im not counting on either happening unfortunately.

    6. ALANIS MORISSETTE on

      Avery next to Weekes? Oh the irony.

      It’s like a traffic jam when you’re already late…a no smoking sign on your cigarette break.

      Expect better from you Sammy

    7. Nick, couldn’t agree with you any more: bigger nets is a stupid solution and what makes me generally dismiss him.

    8. Hey everyone. I am a new poster here. Sam, this blog is fantastic!

      Just 2 points I want to make for my first post:

      1. I read that same article on ESPN.com. I think the best idea Buccigross had was to make the 4 on 4 OT 10 minutes. That would certainly eliminate half of the shootouts and go a long ways in determining a real winner.

      2. Call me crazy, but I’m not in panic mode just yet. Like Jagr said, there is still more than a 1/3 of the season left and they aren’t back by much.

      The way I see it, 92 points is what will be needed to make the playoffs. Last year, Tampa Bay grabbed the #8 spot with 92 points. The year before that, the Fishsticks got in with 91 points. For the Rangers to get to 92 points, they need to go 18-9-1…or win less games and lose more in OT. The biggest key is they need to re-establish home ice. They have a ton of home games left, 16 I believe.

      Oh, and I’m all for getting rid of Malik for anything. Problem is no team in their right mind would take him or his contract.

    9. We’ll never be a good defensive team with the weak link still on the team. Malik needs to ship out.

    10. The reason Malik is probably still here is because of the size of his contract.

      I’m sure whenever Sather makes a call to a GM to talk trades the other party starts out by saying, “Do not even mention the name Marek Malik.”

    11. I hate Buccigross because he’s a hypocrite. He talks about how much he loves the new rules, but then after the Buffalo game where Shanny was screened, all he could do was give a reach around to Chris Drury and said he didn’t mind the interference because it helped the scoring. Can’t have it both ways Bucci, either the interference is going to be called or it isn’t.

      He also has a really bad taste in music.

      Samsonov cleared waivers. Let’s hope the Rangers don’t try and pick him up on re-entry.

      I’m really glad that Sather passed up on the Staal deal, even though that deal would have almost assured us a playoff spot and possibly even a round or two. The fact that LA approached him about it is probably the reason that we didn’t pick up Avery any sooner. It’s not like Ward had been playing over the past few games.

      Sather’s words were very encouraging.

      Messier as GM or coach would be a collosal failure because of his strong preference for vets and what I will call an almost dislike of youth.

    12. He’s also said fighting should be banned, then a couple of weeks later, say its necessary.

      Bucci is a tool, common knowledge.

    13. Never appologize for a long post– all the information is always great and appreciated.

      Please, not Malik… as if this team didnt have enough problems on D… who would then sit, Girardi, or pock? my guess is pock since that has been renneys whipping boy..

      and i can not wait to see avery and hollweg in the same lineup…

    14. bleecker, you said in the last post that we should be happy we didn’t pluck Samsonov, but that danger isn’t gone. No one was going to pick him up there because they would’ve paid full price on his hefty contract. On re-entry, he’ll be half price. That’s when we should worry.

    15. Please, no Samsonov!!

      And I agree, Buccigross is a tool (for all of the reasons you guys mentioned, and then some). But I do like his idea about the 10 minute OT.

    16. Why is everyone saying that Avery is an upgrade to the current line-up like its a surprise? Of course he’s a better player than Jason Ward. But is his ability to help us now, good enough to offset what Cliche and Marek could have done for us in the future? That’s the real question.

      Anyone know what the Kings fans are saying about the trade?

    17. I read a post by someone here that said LA fans are upset. But he didn’t cite any sources.

      The way I see it is Cliche is a 3rd line winger. We’ve got PLENTY of those, both on the big club AND in the pipeline. Even if he turns out to be good, he’s at least 4 years away both in terms of his development AND in terms of players that are above him in the depth chart. Additionally, he’s had a concussion already. At 19. He could have an eggshell skull, a la Lindros (Eric, or even worse, Brett)

      Marek didn’t really want to come to NY. His demands for a contract were ridiculous compared to what he is actually worth. Plus, I’ve been led to believe that at his age he will become a UFA at the end of any contract he signs. Can someone confirm that?

      IMO, not really much of a loss on either of those.

    18. Bobby Orr WAS better than Gretzky. The only hockey player I ever felt terror about when he was behind his own net with the puck, ready to head up the rush, still a mile away from Giacomin or Villemure. No one touches TGO’s offensive tools at his peak, not even Mario — but Orr stands alone. The greatest 200 x 85 feet hockey player who ever lived, by a mile.

    19. I liked the Avery trade simply because he’s 26. He’s younger than Jan Marek, and Marc-Andre Cliche was not considered a “top” prospect. Had they parted with someone like Staal or Dubinsky, then I would have said same old Rangers trading away youth.

      Avery is a RFA this summer, so I’d fully expect him to be back with us next season. The fact that he’s not a rental player makes it a good trade.

      Lets just hope this trade doesn’t haunt us like the last trade we made with them in 1996.

    20. Really love the Jagr comment.We are only six points out with 28 games to go.Does Jagr realize the Rangers have captured only 15 out of a possible 44 points in the last two months?Only 8 games remain before the trading deadline

    21. Realistically, to make the playoffs, we need to take 7 of the 8 remaining possible points against the Pens. Nothing else will matter if we don’t do that.

    22. Nick,

      I realize your point, but what else is Jagr supposed to say? It’s true, there is a lot of hockey left to play and the Rangers do practically control their own destiny if they can beat the teams ahead of them (Pittsburgh, NYI, Carolina, Toronto, etc.)

      All it takes is one hot streak. Look at the Devils last year. They were in the 6th seed with 10 games left, won all 10, and wound up winning the division.

      I know it’s tough to be optimistic when you’re a Rangers fan, but I can’t give up hope just yet. These next 8 games will be key.

    23. Thanks Doodie.

      Not sure why my post got cut off, but I was saying in regards to Samsanoz he’d be more less than 1/4 of the price as the season is over 1/2 over.

      Nick, I truly agree. Its not that they are truly statistically eliminated, but they’d have to not only play a little better than they have all season, they’d have to become one of the best teams in the league over-night.

      This team has showed us all season that they are not that good. They have the talent, but the chemistry is missing. Lines are being shuffled day-in-and-day-out. Defense is not being held responsible for their mistakes. Lundqvist can only keep a low GAA in games where we don’t score, and has been very beatable. Nothing is given, everything is an up-hill battle. Nobody is consistently good. I’ve already started selling off the rest of my season tix.

    24. Sather has lied in the past before the 05-06 season he said the team would have 10 rookies, he also stated they’d make room for kids this year didn’t happen. If the team is 6-7 or even 8 points out of a playoff spot by the trade dealine a couple of kids will be traded for a vet or two.

    25. 2005-2006 rookies: Prucha, Lundqvist, Ortmeyer, Hollweg, Moore, Tyutin, Kondratiev, Orr(halfway through),and I think Betts was still technically a rookie as well. That’s 9.

      Kids who made appearances (all rookies): Pock, Immonen, Liffiton, Lampman, Wiseman, Holt(10 mins of relief), and Fedorov(I think he was technically a rookie too).

    26. NJ Mark

      Renney said it’s going to take 92 points to make the playoffs in the east.Figure the 92 point number is correct.The Rangers have to take 37 points out of the remaining 56 points.The Rangers need to win 18-19 games out of the remaining 28 games.This is from a team which is 3-6-1 in their last ten.Has lost 4 straight games.2-4 since the ASB.Has the 2nd fewest wins at home.It’s not happening

    27. I’m not necessarily upset that we haven’t seen another infusion of youth like we did last year. I simply think the majority of our prospects aren’t ready yet. I’d rather them develop and fine tune their game before coming to the NHL.

      The only ones I wanted to see on a nightly basis were Immonen and Pock. And we all know how the 2 of them were treated this past season.

    28. Doodie, not as much as the Ranger’s defense. Ouch!

      Is Avery sticking with 16 or should I hold off on my Rangers jersey order?

    29. It could happen. I’m not saying it’s likely, but it could.

      Pittsburgh is 9-0-1 in their last 11 after being 3-8 in the 11 before that.

    30. ALANIS MORISSETTE?!?!?!…WOW!!!!….

      Sam, look at the type of people you’ve attracted to this board!

      AMAZING!!!

      :-P

      ehhhh….

      anyways, yes Malik could command one hell of a trade IMO!!!…Marek Malik in a deal for a pair of laces and a used pair of pants….and i don’t even mean hockey pants…just any kinda pants…dockers, jeans, just pants!

      i can’t stand him as well!…herman munster now stands alone though since lurch was traded…

      as far as the 92 point barrier is concerned, i’m not even sure that guarantees anything….but who knows…it’s not exactly like the Eastern Conference has had the set of most consistent hockey teams this year…

      AZ

    31. I was asking how much youre selling your tickets for. What did you think I was asking about. I want that joke to make sense.

    32. Pittsburgh is a fresh,young team.They are getting better and better with more experience.The Rangers look like they are on fumes.Sid the Kid had a great 2nd half last year and is on pace to have an even better 2nd half this season.He is doing for Pittsburgh what Jagr should be doing for the Rangers

      Regarding the 92 point barrier,TB was the 8th seed with 92 points last season.Edmonton was the 8th seed in the west with 95 points

    33. Figure anywhere from 90-95 points is what it will take. If they play the way they did last night (for the majority of the game), they have a shot. But I agree, it’s not going to be easy.

      Personally, I wouldn’t focus on Pittsburgh so much. Pittsburgh currently sits at #6 in the East. Here’s a better stat: if you look at points per game, Pittsburgh is 4th in the East. They have some games in hand.

      The teams they need to beat most importantly are Tampa Bay, Carolina, Toronto, and the NYI. Don’t get me wrong, 2 points is 2 points. But I don’t see them catching Pittsburgh. Translation: Friday night and next Thursday’s games are huge.

      If they miss the playoffs, the games that will irk me the most are those games in Tampa and Florida during that 7 game losing streak. They had them won. That’s 4 points right there.

    34. stop looking at point barriers. they don’t matter under the new scheduling system. With how often every divisional team plays each other, it will be almost impossible for 4 teams from one division to make the playoffs. The Northeast has is the strongest and so they will definitely have 3. The Southeast is stronger than the Atlantic, so it will have 3 as well. That means, in order to squeak into the playoffs, the Rangers will have to finish 2nd in the division. That means Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, who are unfortunately hot, hot, hot.

      A story on Sather’s reaction to Messier’s comments:
      http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/news/story?id=2757012

    35. Ahh, haha. I said my grammer sucks, you said how much?….

      I’m not sure what the blog etiquette is here in regards to ticket promotions. I’m not trying to turn Sam’s blog into stubhub. If you are seriously interested, send me an e-mail at rfahrer@gmail.com. As of now, I’m just auctioning them off on Ebay.

    36. I think the 10 minute OT would be a mistake, seems like overtime overkill. And just adds more grind to a schedule that’s already too long.

    37. The Northeast is definitely the strongest, and will definitely have 3 teams in the playoffs (BUF, OTT, and MTL). But I don’t think it’s a definite that the Southeast puts 3 teams in as well. I’m not that impressed with Carolina and Tampa Bay…especially Carolina. Consider that Carolina is 6 points ahead, and the NYR have 2 games in hand. I wouldn’t go writing off the season just yet when we could be only 1 game behind a weak Carolina team.

      Right now, Toronto is 8th in terms of points per game. They are on pace for 91. If that means anything.

    38. Doodie half the guys you mentioned weren’t rookies. As far as the Pens turnaround it has alot to do with there young players maturing like Fleury who is the Pens real mvp. If some of the old goats on the Rangers mature anymore they’ll end up in a nursuing home.

    39. NJ Mark, I suppose you’re right. Carolina can be caught. That means the game against them will be HUGE.

    40. I still think Pittsburgh is playing a bit over their heads right now. Not that they aren’t a good team, but this run they are on is ridiculous.

      If any playoff push is going to be made, the NYR need to do 2 things:

      1. Get top notch goaltending from Henrik, which he has done lately (aside from the Detroit game).
      2. Score some PP goals.

      That’s going to be a problem though when you don’t have a defenseman who can hit the net.

    41. Correction: Ortmeyer wasn’t. And after doing the math, neither was Betts. But everyone else was.

    42. Sather is such a liar. If he was serious about playing kids, Callahan would already be up on the team in a regular role.

      Instead, he trades for a winger.

      People get all excited about one game. remember the one game by Orty-Cullen-Prucha. that sure lasted, didn’t it?

      And, unless there was a misprint, I thought the Rangers LOST last night.

      so now everyone is back on the squeak in, more of the Malik same next year bandwagon. Sather loves to hear that.

    43. Doodie- i agree, the worry on samsonov will be later, when he is half price.. i think he is on the hook for 2 years at 3.5 per, correct? nothing like another undersized foward to add to our list, and on top of that, all the injury problems… god, i hope sather stays away— yes, he can be an offensive threat— but this one, i am just not really for…

    44. Hossa,

      I agree about Callahan. But to me, the Avery trade shouldn’t block him from being on the team. It should just force someone else out of the lineup (see: Colton Orr).

      What else are we to do as Rangers fans, not root for them? They aren’t going to get a top 3 pick in the draft if they miss, so we might as well hope they get in the playoffs, even if it is as an 8th seed.

      And yes, the Rangers did lose last night. That doesn’t mean if they play that game every night, they are going to lose. They won’t be facing Brodeur every single night, so maybe there is some reason for hope.

      All I know is it’s February 7th. 2 months of hockey left, to the day. Too early to write them off.

    45. One other point I would like to make. It all starts with goaltending. Look at the teams ahead of us: Tampa Bay (Holmqvist), Toronto (Raycroft), NYI (DiPietro), and Carolina (Ward). Does anybody think those goalies can carry their team into the playoffs? I don’t think so. And I know Ward won a Cup last year, but he’s not the same goalie this year (neither is his team). His SV% is below .900.

      Point is if Henrik keeps playing the way he has for the past few weeks (Detroit game aside), I still think this team can make it in.

    46. If they squeak in, there will just be more of the same next year.

      I find it ridiculous after a lot of the posts here over several weeks that anyone who claims to be on the side of more homegrown kids would want to go thru the Renney-Bozo-Malik-kids scratched for 2 months-Krog-Isbister-Jagr cronies-circling back into your own net-popgun PP-Ward on the first line-Prucha on the 4th-line mishmash-losing most home games-fans pulling out hair-mgmt. zoo again next year.

      apparently there are a lot of masochists on here.

    47. First post-it’s nice to seean area where devoted, knowledgeable Rangers fans still exist.

      Great point NJ Mark. Let’s also not forget about the dicey Aebischer/Huet tandem in Montreal. We have one in hand and three left vs. the Habs and they’ve been brutal. I also don’t think Raycroft can continue the way he’s been backstopping the Marlies, er, Leafs defense.

      Just trying to be optimistic here.

    48. Hossa,

      I don’t necessarily think it will be the same next year. I think the problem is that some of our best prospects (Staal, Dubinsky) are too young and aren’t ready just yet.

      However, I do think Immonen and Pock should have been given every chance to be regulars this season, and Callahan should have been given a longer look than 2 games on the 4th line.

      I am curious to see how Staal does if he gets to play any games at Hartford or in NY if his junior team finishes up early enough.

    49. Avery looked awesome. He has alot of abilities. He can skate really well which is one of the more important things. He made a lot of real nice passes last night and with him they looked like a different team

    50. you are wrong. almost all of the same motley suspects are signed for next year. they even gave a contract extension to that useless Betts. even Krog is signed for next year.

    51. Longtimerangerfan on

      To all you Wolfpack players that read these posts…at least you know we fans want some room made for you up at the “big” club even if our wonderful management doesn’t see it.

    52. you mean “some fans” want room made, Longtime.

      by today’s posts they are far between.

    53. If that’s Mark Heaslip the player—as opposed to a fan of his using that name—posting here, than perhaps you can give us your point of view on the team’s woes. Is it lack of scoring or crappy defense? Obviously, not too many Bobby Orrs (and one too many Colton) are available, but do you think an upgrade on the blueline is the way to go before Feb 27?

    54. SykoraMooreRucinskyRucchinPotiStrudwick on

      For the record, Aaron Ward was drafted one pick HIGHER than Forsberg in 1991.

    55. Thanks Colorado Mark. I saw there were a few Marks on here, so I figured no one had that handle yet.

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