Where do you start?


One day later, the euphoria surrounding “the Rangers newest acquisitions”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070702/SPORTS01/707020347/1034/SPORTS is still intact.

Call me crazy, but those line combinations you’ve all been toying with for years seem more appealing now that you have the names Drury and Gomez to work with as opposed to Krog, Hall, and Isbister.

This was a bold, and largely succesful sweep at the free agent market, and yet given the size of the deals, there is obviously some risk involved.

Glen Sather was firm last night that the Rangers would still be able to lock up their own free agents in the next days and weeks even in committing so much to Drury and Gomez (the team is believed to have $12 million still available toward the cap). This pertains to restricted free agents like Henrik Lundqvist and Sean Avery, but also the unrestricted free agent Brendan Shanahan.

As I mentioned last night, the Rangers might not have been able to be so bold had Shanahan said he wanted to test the market. Knowing that he’ll likely sign Shanny below last year’s salary (my guess is he’ll get $3 million range) they could up the ante toward Drury and Gomez.

The other risk has to do with paying superstar money to two players who are not necessarily superstars. Don’t mistake: both are phenomenal, upper-tier NHL players. But in both cases, a lot of their contributions aren’t measured in goals and assists as they are in areas you might not see right away. Which is fine, as long as people realize that Drury’s 37 goals were a career-high last year and might not be easily duplicated; and that Gomez isn’t necessarily going to double his 13 goals from last season just because he’s now making $7 million. But we’ll see.

Some more notes:

  • Best of luck to “Jed Ortmeyer, who signed a two-year deal with Nashville last night”:http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/scorecard/hockeynews.asp?articleID=205454. In the age of the salary cap, Ortmeyer was a necessary casualty. But given the intensity he played with, he may be more difficult to replace than the Rangers anticipated.
  • Still no word on Michael Nylander. There are unsubstantiated reports of him going to Edmonton, but I haven’t seen anything solid. I’ll pass it along when I have it.

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    1. Sam,

      Excellent coverage yesterday! Thanks so much!

      I agree with Sam, Drury and Gomez are not superstars. I said this last week. That being said, they are 2 excellent players who do more than just score goals, and will be a definite upgrade to our team. I just hope they have enough left over to keep Henrik, Shanny, Avery, and Prucha. I have to think Slats has a plan to move a salary (Malik?).

      One other thing to consider here is how will Jagr react to these moves? They brought in 2 US-born players and are getting rid of a centerman he’s shown a lot of chemistry with. This makes the Rangers top 2 lines much more North American now.

      Also, the signing of Drury definitely made Ortmeyer more expendable. Drury is an exceptional PKer and will easily replace Ortmeyer. Yes, Ortmeyer was a heart and soul guy who was great on the PK. But lets face it, his offensive contributions to this team were zero. But that being said, we’ll miss you Jed.

      Finally, consider the events of the last 3-4 months:

      Fishsticks trade first rounder (#15) for 2 months of Smyth
      Rangers draft Cherepanov at #17

      Fishsticks lose Smyth and Blake on the same day
      Rangers sign Drury and Gomez on the same day

      All is right in the world.

    2. The Rangers have a month to sign the players they wish to sign and then play the Lou Lamierello Cap Space Game Show. Stay tuned for Time and Channel… On the Island front: Captain Canada has opted to play for the Avalanche, 5 years 31.25 (Associated Press)…Guess three first round picks for less than 20 games is a smart move Garth Snow……

    3. Sam, great coverage – unfortunately due to time zones i was asleep when it was all announced but it was great to read with my morning coffee.

      The risk definately paid off. I can’t wait to see them on the ice and who TR will line them up with. According to quotes we have about $12m left under the cap – with probably $3 going to Shanahan. You have to think Henrik is worth $4+ and Avery about $2 and Prucha about $1.5-2 which doesn’t leave much wiggle room.

      Sam – do you think we might see a couple of trades freeing up some cap space and making room for Staal and possibly Dubinsky or Dawes? All of a sudden Cullen and Malik look expensive for what they could be replaced by.
      Good luck to Nylander and Jed Ortmeyer wherever they choose to sign.

    4. Robby Bonfire on

      To those who “celebrated” winning the Cup in 2008, on July 1, 2007, in this space, I must observe that your euphoria is a SUBSTITUTE for actually winning the Cup. Not that the Rangers are not in the hunt, and cannot win it all, given the breaks and solid management decisions from here on in, but the reality is that other contending teams are stonger, on paper, this morning also, plus there are numerous questions still to be answered for this team. Such as:

      1. Who is the back-up goaltender? Will Montoya be given a fair shot at the job, or even
      retained in the organization?

      2. Will Mara, if retained, revert to last season’s regular season Boston, or New York
      playoff (hideous) form?

      3. Will Straka and/or Shanahan hit the – looming large – career wall around mid-

      4. What key and untimely injuries every team suffers will crop up for this team?

      5. Will Staal be promoted or buried in Hartford?

      6. Will Sather promote from within, from among a now talented young corps of
      players in the system, as the season progresses, or will he revert to picking up
      the usual Krog, Studwick, Isbister, Dupuis-type dead-head suspects, in-season?

      7. WIll Jagr rebound, or, at 36, show signs that the super-stardom aspect of his career
      is behind him, and continue to tail off, production-wise?

      Most of these questions must be answered positively for this team to actually drink
      champagne, next June.

      I do like axing Nylander in timely fashion, as he comes up on 35 years of age. I do like the fact that Drury and Gomez are not in the 34-year old bracket, and that the team has actually become somewhat younger, as a result of their signing.

      Looks like an interesting, possibly even a special season, upcoming, but let’s watch it unfold with cautious optimism, not mindless premature euphoria, before this team has even won a game or shown how the new acquisiitions will blend into the mix.

    5. Guys, don’t forget that Nylander had never scored more than 64 points in his 12 years before coming to the Rangers. Once teamed with Jagr, his point totals jumped to 79 and then 83.

      We’re still not sure whether Drury or Gomez will be playing on JJ’s line (I’m thinking Drury), but any center playing with Jagr is going to boost his point totals.

      Gomez has already had an 84 point season. A full year with JJ should put him in the 90-100 point range.

      Drury has averaged in the high 60s for his career. Playing with Jagr should put him in the 80+ point range.

      Whichever one plays on the JJ line, he’s going to also ring up some game-winners that Nylander would pass up if he had the same chance. Nylander scored some nice goals over the last two seasons, but he didn’t have that clutch ability of Drury or Gomez.

      IMO, both of these guys are on a higher tier than Nylander, and either one of them will also boost Jagr’s production.

      Conversely, I’m thinking that Nylander without Jagr will revert to his 50 to 60 point production in Edmonton.

    6. bonfire:

      agreed that there should be cautious optimism not “irrational exuberance” at this point. However, all of your questions would have been valid regardless of whether the R’s had signed Drury/Gomez or not. These two moves don’t guarantee anything, but they do make the Rangers a lot stronger down the middle.

    7. I would bet that its Gomez centering JJ as Drury will draw alot of PK time.

    8. Great reporting. I am very happy with the signings, but I am definitely going to miss Jed he had tremendous spirit.

    9. first:
      “Looks like an interesting, possibly even a special season, upcoming, but let’s watch it unfold with cautious optimism, not mindless premature euphoria, before this team has even won a game or shown how the new acquisiitions will blend into the mix.”

      Absolutely…please save this and repeat its message all the way through the season….Buffalo has learned us well that nothing is rewarded before its OVER…so never get ahead of yourselves. Remember, we’re Ranger fans…and should never get comfortable because something 99% of the time…something goes wrong. You know this, I know this…this is awesome news but it guarantees nothing!

      That said:

      I think both Drury and Gomez will each get their shots on both lines one and two. Gomez and Jagr could become very dynamic, Gomez appears to be a pass guy. I also like the thought of Drury and Shanny on a line. I smell friction between Jagr and Drury…Jagrs a happy go lucky guy whos been accused of lazy non-chalance before…Drury is a stone faced straight soldier who does not seem to take much lightly. I think it’ sonly a matter of time before Drury develops a problem with Jagr slowfooting it on the back check or back to the bench after a shift. Clearly i hope this is not the case but I am setting myself up for the worst.

      Also, here’s something to toy with:

      Both Drury and Gomez wear 23…who gets it? Perhaps neither (Rachunek stays/retains)?

      The best part about it is these guys are young and very well may have their best years ahead of them. Imagine this: Scott Gomez enters HOF as New York Ranger, NOT a Devil. Goosebumps.

    10. These guys not only score big goals but both are great defensively. That is what makes these moves so worthwhile. Thses guys play both sides of the puck. These guys will help us after Jagr. I think these signings were geared towards that as well. Great moves.

    11. Robby: On paper, the Rangers are AS good, if not better than everyone in their division. The Islanders are done, baring a trade of the whole organization. They lost pretty much everything. Likewise for the Devils. There are dark days for both teams, especially seeing as though they hardly had any DPs this year…Philly will be GOOD, perhaps even challenge for first. But Hank is a better tender than Biron or Niittymaki. Pittsburgh will also be a force, but again, with a sieve like Fleury between the pipes, they’re nothing.

      In the conference, Ottawa will continue to be good. But while their first line might be better, they don’t have the depth the Rangers do now. With Drury and Gomez, THIS TEAM HAS DEPTH. So to make a short statement long, I disagree that other teams look better on paper. And to answer your questions:

      1. Who cares who the back-up goalie is? Lundqvist will skate 70 games again. If he doesn’t, they have Montoya, Wiikman and Valliquette.
      2. Mara is already retained for another year. Given the fact that he’s got almost NO playoff experience outside of last season, I’m not going to hold his showing against him.
      3. No. They didn’t last season. They had BAD injuries.
      4. Who knows? Hell, the top two lines could go down before the first puck drops. That’s life. And the bonus of having a solvent farm system is that as they go down, there are GOOD replacements. Just look at what Buffalo did last season.
      5. Without Rachunek, Staal has a roster space that is his to lose. I doubt they aquire a defensemen FA.
      6. Who knows? If there are spots that can be filled within, of course he’ll do that.
      7. No. He’s a world-class player that has a game that isn’t exactly rough on his body. Plan on seeing JJ’s production increase with two top-flight pivots.

      No, I’m not hoisting a banner yet. I’d like to see how the new blood skates with the old chemistry. As last season proved, there are problems with tinkering too much. Ward threw of the defense, the loss of Moore and Ortmeyer the PK and there never was a center to feed Shanny. But the moves this year several differnt areas in the lineup that desperately needed fixing. Though I’m a bit nervous to see the launch of these new Rangers, common sense would say they’re going to be one of the toughest gigs out there.

    12. Every team has issues to face. Quite frankly, I think the Rangers have a lot less than their rivals right now. The Devils just lost their #1 center and #1 d-man. The Fishsticks are completely done. The Flyers are improved, but not as good as the NYR and PIT. I think it will be Crosby vs. the NYR for the division title this year.

      I just hope Jagr clicks with Gomez. I’d hate to see the NYR spend all that money only to see Gomez and Drury play on the same line because Jagr needs his Eurotrash line of him, Straka, and Hossa/Prucha.

      I think the best thing about signing Gomez and Drury is that we are now a MUCH better team with faceoffs. Cullen and Betts won’t have to be on the ice for every important faceoff now. Drury is our go-to guy for defensive zone draws now.

      Is the 3pm press conference going to be televised today on MSG, and on the radio? Anyone know?

    13. Nylander the Greedy One….we OWE him because had he taken that generous offer in May, or even the one given to him yesterday, we would not have gotten both Drury and Gomez!


      year 1 Nylander: 12 goals, 27 assists. 39 points fans very upset at the $ thrown at him, as he circles with the puck and yells out, “Jaromir! Jaromir, where are you?” pathetically. Attempts to trade him in the offseason fail.

      year 2 Nylander 8 goals 19 assists. 27 points Several attempts to demote/trade him. His wife, now so sick of Canada, moves back to Europe. He continues to lose sleep, tossing and turning, crying out, “Jaromir, Jaromir, where are you?”

      year 3 Nylander, age 38, put on waivers after several attempts to go to the press to get him to retire.

    14. Robby raises some good points.

      1. The backup IS important. One injury to Lundqvst and we collapse without a good back up.

      2. Mara. Can we move him? Boston did…for a reason.

      3. Malik. Just horrid.

      4. Staal. Has to play. Renney HAS to play kids.

      5. Drury and Gomez are NOT superstars (as said above) but EXCELLENT pieces to a winning puzzle.

      6. Avery must show that he can play discplined hockey, consistently.

      7. Stratka and Shanny: Renney overused Shanny and burned him out terribly. will he have learned ANYTHING from last year? We don’t have a great coach and his history of blunders and thumbing his nose at the fans speaks for itself (Jagr v devils playoffs; giving Malik the A after fan booing, putting Malik in at the last 60 seconds of one -goal games, etc).

      8. our defense: Lundqvst deserves a real defensive corp and he will put up phenom numbers, if he stays healthy. We have some dead wood issues, and Malik is worse than dead wood, but I do think these can be addressed.

      Media pressure may help. Brooks is an insane fan and when Staal has ANOTHER great camp, Brooks will put on the heat. We need Callahan and other young players to step up now. I love Prucha, but he is a concussion waiting to happen….package him and make the team that wants him take Malikenstein, for a solid, punishing stay at home defenseman.

      Robby Bonfire made a real sober-minded post in the midst of this euphoria. Unlike the Hockey Rodent, who is brewing that we got Gomez, can you imagine, AGAINST the wishes of this illiterate???

      Gomez will SHINE under our offense. NO TEAM can double team on Jagr any longer. A healthy and rejuvinated Jagr scores 100 points with Gomez. They try to double him up and Gomez scores 30 goals, even while keeping his keen defensive eye.

      I am VERY optimistic and hope that some of the issues Robby Bonfire brought up are addressed. Teams without a back up goalie find that a groin pull can mean 6 straight losses……………..

    15. My Edmonton Oiler fan friend send me a message at 4:48 this morning saying Nylander went to them… However after looking at NHL.com there was no proof. We will see. If it is true, holy crap, I never expected that one.

    16. Broadway Roe on

      Here’s to Jed!

      He played his heart out every single shift.
      He worked through a potentially life-threatening situation.
      He never gave up, whatever the score of the game was.
      He was amazing with the fans, especially the kids, even when he was out with injuries.

      Thanks for your hard work. Good luck!

    17. Broadway Roe on

      Bye bye Nylander.
      You drove me nuts every single game.

    18. there will be backup goalies available for pretty cheap as the season gets closer. Boston for one now has Fernandez, Thomas, Toivenen(sp?). There will be others around. Also, NYR could go into the season with Valiquette backing up HL and Montoya in Hartford and if an injury occurs to HL have Montoya be given the chance to be the man. I believe that Montoya has the talent to be an NHL goalie, he’s just yet to show it consistently enough.

      I’d be more concerned about the defense and the coaching. As long as Malik is on the team there are going to be horrible giveaways committed. Mara played solid for a while, but it is a legitimate question what we’ll see from him next fall. Girardi looked good but is a rookie. Tyutin and Roszival had up and down years, although Roszival was a force in the playoffs. I like Pock’s game, but the coach doesn’t seem to have confidence in him. It’s still way too early to tell about Staal.

      As for the coaching, Renney will have more options which means more decisions and let’s just say his in game decision making hasn’t always been stellar. Can he continue to keep JJ happy while ensuring that Drury and Gomez get their TOI as well? We shall see.

    19. I am so excited about what happened yesterday. What worries me more than anything is the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are loaded and also have a great goaltended coming into his own. They will be a true impediment to the Rangers winning the cup.

      That being said, I think this was a BRILLIANT MOVE. Drury and Gomez are relatively young. When Straka, Jagr & Shanahan are gone in 2 years it will free up a ton of cap space. They will only be 32 and 29 respectively in 2 years. The rangers are absolutely LOADED on the wings in the farm system. You would thing that out of Cherepanov, Dubinsky, Pyatt, Korpikosky, Dawes et al. you will be able to find three top notch forwards to slide into the 3 spots of the players who will depart in a few years. {I know that a player like Jagr is almost irreplaceable, but maybe we hit a home run with Cherepanov/}

      On defense, this team is absolutely loaded! As it is we had the 2nd lowest GAA in the Eastern Conference even after our HORRENDOUS START. People who watch the rangers closely know what solid and YOUNG D men they have in Rozival, Tyutin, Girardi, Pock and even Mara. The #1 defensive prospect in hockey is probably Marc Staal. In 2006, an offensive defenseman {bobby Sanguinetti} was our #1 overall pick. Although I have not seen them play, I keep hearing great things about Michael Sauer and Ivan Baranka.

      I have to give credit to the mgt. I think we have the potential to have an excellent team for the next 10 years!

    20. Jagr:

      He’s a veteran. He made it known that he wanted Nylander back on broadway and Nylander turned down the offers presented to him.

      My guess is Nylander goes to Boston or Jersey or even Buffalo.

      Nylander missed his chance. He had to figure there were two other players out there in Drury and Gomez who, at the end of the day, wanted to play in NYC, and he allowed 7/1 to get here and he was passed over by two players who have Stanley Cups and are all-stars.

      Nylander’s agent I am sure told him there was no way the Rangers would be able to sign both Drury and Gomez plus Henrik, Shanny, Prucha and Avery.

      Jagr is the captain of the team and the main man, it’s his job to get over these issues and bring the team together.

    21. We do not need anyone else on this team.. These moves are the perfect serum to our major problem, lack of a top line center. It remains to be seen whether Dubinsky will ever be that and Pyatt and Dupont appear to be nothing more than 3rd line C or wingers. I do think Gomez will play with Jagr and either Straka or Hossa..(wow what speed if its straka)…Drury, Shanny and Avery is a very formidable 2nd line…3rd line has to be the CCP line again(could become one of the best 3rd lines in the nhl) and 4th you can play Betts with Hossa and whoever.

      Defense we are set for this year, whether we play Staal(most likely) or not. After this coming year, Mara, Roszival and Malik are all free agents. Goodbye to all 3. I just pray we do not sign Souray, who will be just like Malik, if not worse, in his own zone. If we want Hank to be his very best, we need to surround him with the best possible DEFENSISVE defenseman we can. That means no one worse than Malik and Mara and Pock. Just remember too the depth on D we have now in the minors and/or Juniors between Staal, Sauer, Busto(who sounds awesome, 6’2, 220 with a big offensive game) and Sanguinetti. Baranka maybe too, although he sounds soft and much like Kondratiev. I am cautiously optimistic about the future of this team.

      Think about it, once Jagr, Straka, Shanny, Malik, Rosy and Mara are gone after next year, we will have guys like Cherepanov and Animisov coming in, while we still have Gomez, Drury, Callahan, Avery, etc..We have hopefully created a situation where we are constantly competitive while remaining young at the same time. Way to be Slats, you’ve almost duplicated, finally, the Edmonton situation from the late 90s here, except that we have money to fill spots when necessary through free agency. Cheers to the Rangers and to me not caring at all what the Yankees do the rest of the year….HAH.

    22. Ian,
      why on earth would you want to get rid of Rozy so quickly? I thought he was by far, our best D last year (when he was healthy).

    23. Sam, is there going to be a televised press conference today introducing Gomez and Drury? And, if so, when will it be on? Thanks!!!!

    24. Is there any internet coverage of the press conference at 3pm et from Greenburgh ?????

      It would be great to have a link from the Rangers Website …..


    25. longtimesufferingrangerfan on

      Maybe this year I can lose part of my handle (suffering). I was thinking of not buying Center Ice this year but now, no way.

      So long Jed…you WILL be missed.

      If everyone would just ignore Dump, Ivana, Pork et al, he, she or it would just go away!

    26. Doodie Machetto on

      I think Gomez will mesh VERY well with Jagr. The man can skate circles around pretty much every player on the team. He can carry the puck into the zone with speed, avoiding the dump and chase game that Jagr dislikes. In coming in with speed he will draw defenders, leaving Jagr without double coverage to make things happen. And if they do double Jagr, Straka will be WIDE open. I expect Gomez to EASILY break 80 pts.

      Drury is the perfect center for Shanahan. He wants to dump and chase, crash the net, etc. Here’s the best part: He’s perfect for Callahan too, once Shanny is gone.

      Dawes will be buried in Hartford again, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for him. There will be a lot of spots opening up next season, and I like the idea of Dawes and Bourret building chemistry with the Pack for a full year. Dawes can also concentrate on other parts of his game to make himself a more complete player, like Staal was able to do this year in juniors.

      The last thing is that I REALLY don’t want Avery on the 2nd line. I don’t think he has enough offensive talent to warrant such a thing. He would be an excellent third liner. In fact, I think we have the potential for the BEST third line in the league. My ideal lines:


      I only include Hossa because it gives Renney the option of sliding him on the top line if he wants to give a different look in the middle of the game.

      Defensively, I don’t know what Pock was thinking to resign here. He’s the odd man out, again. You know Roszi, Malik, Tyutin, Girardi, and Mara are all gonna be there, whether they deserve it (Roszi, Toots, Girardi) or not (Malik, 50/50 on Mara). He’s hoping that he can outplay Staal. Risky.

      PS, as terrible of a playoff that Mara had, he did have his moments, like that kicksave he made.

    27. Ian — Edmonton in the late 90’s? Between 1995-96 and the 1999-00 season they had one winning record. They qualified for the playoffs four times, but lost in the first round 3 of those times and in the second round the other time. I certainly hope that Sather hasn’t recreated that!!

    28. PS:

      Looks like an interesting, possibly even a special season, upcoming, but let’s watch it unfold with cautious optimism, not mindless premature euphoria, before this team has even won a game or shown how the new acquisiitions will blend into the mix.

      let me have my mindless premature euphoria for awhile….it was really fun to wake up this morning with all that adrenaline rushing through my veins……………………

    29. I think Jagr is absolutely tickled to death thinking that Scotty Gomez’ clever passes are going to be coming his way. I thnk he has to be absolutely thrilled over what Sather has done.

      Now if we just get rid of Malikenstein and find a way to get a solid, punishing, stay at home defenseman, I will be glad.
      Rosi won me over.
      Girardi looks good
      Staal, I believe, is a lock
      Tytutin is a good player with more upside to show

      Mara and Malik are awful. Boston got rid of a young Mara for a reason.

      Our offense is really sitting well and we are deep. Youngsters should compete well.
      I think Pittsburg is going to be tough.

      I also think giving 4 and 5 year contracts to 35 year olds is just plain stupid.

      Gomez contract was brilliant. IT expires when he is 1 year younger than Greedy Nylander is.

      Nylander did nothing and let good money go by, and apparently didn’t want to play with Jagr so badly….will he really get THAT much more money to play elsewhere? He is 35 and someone is going to pay 4 million for him…….to circle with the puck and cry out for Jagr.

      I wouldn’t sign him now if he came begging. We have 3 solid centers…..let’s develop from within.

      Also, Prucha might not be traded due to his low salary, CAP wise….I hope he is bulking up.

      I wish Jed well.

    30. Robby Bonfire on

      I like Ian’s observation about “being constantly competitive, while remaining young at the same time.” This is the key to winning the Stanley Cup, and the foundation for a SUCCESSFUL organizational philosophy.

      A young,competitive club might not win it all this year, but will have several consecutive annual shots at the big prize, and win at least one Cup, and maybe more, when it all comes together. The Detroit organization was brilliant, in this respect, putting a top-caliber team out there every year, and winning multiple Cups for their acute sense of timing related to where the players were in their careers, and as a unit.

      The WORST organizations are the ONE-SHOT organizations which put all their marbles in one basket and have to completely regroup and rebuild as a consequence to their short-sightedness. The Ranger organization seems to be turning this corner and assembling a talented YOUNGER team, and supporting it with upgraded talent in the minor league pipeline. This is the real case for optimism, for Ranger fandom today, as I see it. I don’t want just one Cup, I want at least three Cup championships over the next 5-7 years, here. Astute planning beyond any given upcoming season can accompish just that.

    31. At least two of Malik, Hossa, Hollweg & Betts will be included in a package (or two) to clear up space.

      I think Sather is still looking to land Preissing as well.

      If Malik is included in a deal, Pock may get his chance. My fingers are crossed.

    32. Doodie Machetto on

      Robby, I agree with you. I think that they are capable at a srious run this year, then they will be competitive but fall short for one or two while they work in some new talent to get experience, but we wil be set for another run within 3 or 4 years, and then consecutively every year after that for another 2 or 3 years, not coincidentally the lengths of the Gomez and Drury contracts.

    33. Ivana Kachanatsov on

      “But in both cases, a lot of their contributions aren’t measured in goals and assists as they are in areas you might not see right away.”

      not in physical play either. So what else is there? They are decent defensively, but nothing special.

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