Standing in for Sam


Sorry folks, this is not Sam but former Rangers’ beat writer Andrew Gross, who for one glorious day is getting to relive all the fun of being around a hockey rink.

Remembered how to get to the Nassau Coliseum (not hard, considering it’s right across the street from the Jets’ Hofstra facility) but I have to admit, the one thing that struck me walking into the Rangers’ dressing room is just how much turnover there’s been since I switched beats in July.

Ten of the 22 guys on tonight’s roster are new and I’m not even counting the fact that Aaron Ward and Adam Hall, not to mention Pascal Dupuis have passed through the room this season.

As for news on tonight’s rematch of Tuesday’s thrilling 2-1 shootout win over the Islanders, defenseman Paul Mara is definitely going to play. He told me while his shoulder is still sore, there’s nothing to keep him off the ice.

“Everybody at this point of the season has bumps and bruises,’’ Mara said.

Mara is likely to be paired with Karel Rachunek tonight. I asked Rangers coach Tom Renney if there were any thoughts of dressing seven defensemen tonight and he said, “That’s a thought, but that’s about it.’’

Also spoke to Islanders captain Alexei Yashin, who’ll be back on the ice after missing 16 games. Islanders coach Ted Nolan expressed no concern that the mercurial Yashin will have any trouble assimilating back into the lineup. It looks like he’ll skate with Miroslav Satan and Viktor Kozlov. Yashin said his biggest concern is playing his injured knee back into game shape.

As for the Rangers, the lines from yesterday’s skate still seem to be in place:

Martin Straka-Brandon Dubinsky (first NHL game)-Brad Isbister

Sean Avery-Michal Nylander-Jaromir Jagr

Petr Prucha-Matt Cullen-Jed Ortmeyer (spent a little time catching up with him as he watched his Michigan Wolverines face Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tournament)

Colton Orr-Blair Betts-Ryan Hollweg

Also in the catching up department, subtitled the how-time-flies department, had a nice chat with Islanders backup goalie Mike Dunham, who did not fare so well in his attempt to replace Mike Richter on Broadway. Dunny reminded me that his oldest child, a daughter, is now four. Since I remember talking to Dunham in Montreal about her impending birth, it doesn’t seem like four years ago.

More kudos to Dunham, he actually remembered my first name.

Anyway, thanks for letting me chime back in, you’ll be getting Mr. Weinman back shortly enough. Meanwhile, don’t be afraid to say hi over at “Jets Journal,”:, NJ Mark can vouch for me if anybody needs references.

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  1. Jonathan Probber on

    Nice to see you Andrew. Enjoyed your stuff for many years, as well as your contributions on XM last season.

  2. Andrew,
    Count me among the disapointed when the season started and I found out you’d no longer be covering the Rangers. You always offered a perspective that was slightly different from the other beat writers and I really appreciated it. Good to see you back, if only for a day or two.

  3. Thanks for filling in Andrew and giving us updates. And yes, I’ll vouch for you!

  4. Nice to see Dubinsky getting his shot. But one has to wonder where this puts Immonen. I think Immonen is more NHL ready, but for whatever reason Renney does not believe he is NHL material. I know, I know, the phantom foot speed issue. Totally bogus to anyone with some understanding of the game.

    To be honest I was personally less than impressed with Dubinsky’s foot speed in the AHL this year. He is not slow, but I doubt that he is any quicker than Immonen in real world applications.

    I think it is time to cut bait on Immonen in the summer, or we risk him getting too old to be a prospect anymore. Dangle him at the draft table and see if we can move up to the top 5 with a Pock/Immonen package along with our #1 and pick Esposito.

  5. I have to be honest, I was all or Immonen all year long. But he’s been kind of invisible since he’s been given a chance. i dont expect a tear, but this is your big chance… show me a little something!

  6. We want Sam back! ;)

    I heard Renney might reunite our BIG line – Straka-Nylander-Jagr – any news on that?

  7. forget Esposito. he is rated 13th. Pat Kane is rated 2nd behind some Russian kid. Kane is the real thing. anyone who watched the WJC this year saw how great Kane is, even though he is small. he is the best puckhandler in the world outside the pros.

  8. So quiet here today… even Sam is not here… I guess everybody is on the way to Nassau County, isn’t it? ;)

  9. what chance now? Renney barely plays him. Last 2 games he didn’t even play.

    in the last 3 games Immonen averaged only 9 minutes of icetime and scored 2 assists.

  10. but give renney a chance, so he can make more excuses for his incompetence this year and the end of last year.

  11. Well I would like to trade up to get Pat Kane, but now way is Immonen and Pock enough to get into the top 3 picks, which is where Kane is going to go.

    I was thinking Esposito because with that package we could probably only trade up just inside the top 10. More power to Sather if he could turn Immonen, Pock and our #1 for Pat Kane.

  12. Sather isn’t gonna turn Pock for anyone. The trade deadline has passed an he will be a UFA at season’s end. No team will trade for a UFA after the season is over without a deal in place.

  13. “This is his (Immonen’s)chance now. Girardi siezed his opportunity from game one.”

    Girardi has had important minutes from game one. Immonen’s been jerked around 24/7, still performed well, still gets Renneyed. Facts are a bitch.

  14. I did not suggest that Kane could be gotten for that package. he couldn’t. I simply said he was the best pick available. It would take much more to trade up for him.

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