Never a dull moment with No. 16

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Sean Avery made his first appearance back in the Rangers dressing room since his arthroscopic surgery last Thursday, and his ebullient mood was telling.

After pushing himself through off-ice workouts and ribbing Perry Pearn for not calling or texting him after his surgery, Avery, wearing a fairly light wrap around his wrist, said he figured he was only a couple of days away from getting back on the ice.

Then came the disclaimer: He had no idea what he was talking about.

“I’m just completely talking out of my (rear end),” Avery said.

To which, Joe Micheletti responded, “You should be a broadcaster.”

“Or a writer,” Steve Zipay chimed in.

“Right, a great writer,” Avery said. “You took that one away from me.”

Then Avery acknowleged the way the team is playing, there might not be a spot for him in the lineup.

Zipay, clearly on his game after an off day, couldn’t resist. “You’ll like Hartford,” he joked.

Pretty soon Avery was walking away. “You have a better chance of seeing God than seeing me in Hartford.”

As for other updates:

  • Paul Mara is still experiencing discomfort in his shoulder, and didn’t skate again this morning. That means the defensive pairings — and the forward lines, for that matter — stay the same as Saturday’s win over Ottawa.
  • Marc Staal has had three head-to-heads with younger brother Jordan, but tonight gets his first crack at older brother Eric. The two have never faced one another in the game.

    “Well, Jordan’s younger so there’s a different dynamic,” Marc said. “Eric’s three years older so he’s someone I’ve looked up to growing up watching him have success. In that way it’s a little different. Plus, Eric’s a different play. He’s more of a one on one player who comes at you with speed while Jordan’s better down low.”

    For the record, I asked Marc if Eric ever beat him up when he was younger. He said only when he harrassed youngest brother Jared.

  • Matt Cullen returns to the Garden tonight after his uneven lone season in New York. Tom Renney was only complimentary of his former center, and said he wasn’t surprised by his success after returning to Carolina, where he already has six goals and 19 assists.

    Most of you will remember I was down on the Rangers trading Cullen last July. He was not only a good guy to get to know, but someone I thought was a much better player than his numbers showed.

    But in hindsight, it was probably the right move for a number of reasons.

    For one, if Cullen stays, the Rangers don’t make the investment in Brandon Dubinsky that they have, and we can all see how that’s gone. Two, word is he and his family were never quite comfortable in New York, and it might well have carried into a second season here. And three, it did free up salary cap space that could serve the Rangers well down the road (i.e. the looming long-term deal for Henrik Lundqvist, expected to be done after Jan. 1).

    All that being said, Cullen is the type of guy you enjoy covering, and I’m glad to see he’s rebounded in Carolina.

    More later…

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    38 Comments

    1. Getting rid of Cullen was definitely the right path to take for the Rangers. He didn’t fit in with the plan, he had hands of stone, and he was an offensive minded player relegated to a defensive role. He didn’t fit with the Rangers. It’s just too bad they couldn’t get more from the Hurricanes in the deal.

    2. So SI.com and ESPN.com have rumors about a big deal that might take place for the rangers…Sam, have you heard anything through the grapevine about that? If so, who would they want to get, and who would they want to get rid of?

    3. DB –

      Totally unsubstantiated rumors. They’re based on nothing except for Larry Brook’s article this morning where he basically speculated that with the wealth of young talent on the roster and in Hartford, Glen Sather could pull off a prospect-for-veteran type deal without signifacntly impacting the future of this organization.

      No one’s going anywhere any time soon. No one would even fit under our cap until the deadline when salaries are worth less.

    4. Jeff – you seem to be a typical NY fan who trashes a guy when he is no longer here. hands of stone with a point a game this yr I don’t think so. he also embraced his pk role and like Sam stated was better than his stats. it’s not his fault he wasn’t used to his strength including point duty on the pp.

    5. Hey Jeff,
      If Cullen has hands of stone, then why does he have 9 goals and 19 assists? I don’t think he had hands of stone, I do think he was never comfortable in NY and it showed on the ice, and he played a defensive role on the Rangers, that didn’t lend itself to much offensively other than the occasional burst.

    6. Before joining us and after leaving us, Cullen was used on the PP as point.. that’s where most of his points came/come from, but was he ever used in that role in NYC? Nope.

    7. Renney did the same thing with Sykora. He’s one stubborn coach. Just look at his boy Hossa.

    8. Had Cullen stayed a Ranger, our top 3 centers would have had a combined 15 years worth of contract between them. In other words, Brandon Dubinsky would have been enjoying Hartford’s many charms until traded in a deadline deal.

      Incidentally, while we’re on subject of centers, almost-a-Ranger Michael Peca has 2 goals in 18 games for Columbus this season.

    9. I am going to the game tonight. Here’s to first place in the conference boys. Actually we will be tied for first. But Ottawa has games at hand. I think.

    10. the good news are the Rangers are legit and have a loaded farm system so if they do not blow things thay can be legit for yrs.

      Imagine how things have changed in about 5 yrs. they stunk and had very few good prospects… Sather, maloney, and the gang have really turned this organization around…

    11. Adam Z. – Combined 15 years worth of contract? That’s really a non-point because it doesn’t mean anything…Anyone can look back now and say it was a good trade because Jagr happened to find chemistry with Dubinsky.

      At the time, it looked like a pretty bad trade. People automatically assumed Gomez and Jagr would click, and having a top 3 of Gomez, Drury and Cullen would have been pretty formidable.

    12. Prucha27

      Doesn’t meant anything? Really? Forget how he’s clicked with Jagr. It’s almost beside the point. At a minimum, it would have meant our top 3 slots were taken for several years-Gomez for 7, Drury for 5, Cullen for 3. It would have meant there’d be a slim-to-none chance of having any youngster break through- be it Dubinsky, Anisimov, Tom Pyatt, or any other young guy we’ve got. And it would have meant Blair Betts being the number 1 option to move up in case any of them went down- and we all know how he does when put into a scoring role.

      Full disclaimer: I pushed for Peca as a good fit in the offseason (though in my defense, just for a one-year deal as a stopgap). But from a depth perspective, and salary considerations, not to mention his personal unhappiness, the Cullen deal made quite a bit of sense. Everything else so far has been gravy.

    13. P.S. Even if the players we got back in the deal don’t amount to much, an extra 3rd round pick is nothing to sneeze at.

    14. Adam Z. – Had the Rangers not signed BOTH Gomez and Drury, I would have been fine with keeping Cullen. Signing those guys mad Cullen a bit more expendable.

      While I think Dubinsky is great and I hope Anisimov will be, I think we sometimes get so caught up in what we have in the minors that we forget that the players we have up here are pretty good, too.

    15. Speaking of which, any thoughts on the Rangers new website ever since the lawsuit was thrown out? I like some of the features, including stats on the front page and easier access to the schedule. That said, as with all the sites now, it’s way too Gary Bettman-ish.

    16. Who here is going to the Viewing Party at the WAMU Theater at MSG on *Leetch Night*??? I couldn’t get any game tickets so I’m going to the viewing party, Section 101!! haha, I’ll be the one with the Connecticut & Brian Leetch sign. If anyone is interested on getting tickets go to ticketmaster now!!! It’s $29.50 + a $12.15 ticketmaster service charge so a total of $41.65! Get them before they sell out!!

    17. Dubinsky has 7 pts in 26 games so let’s not annoint him as the next Sid the Kid or whoever. The team is allegedly going for the cup this yr and a trade of Cullen after this yr could still have been made when Dubinsky would have been more ready (Dubi could have been 4th center this yr with a trade or Hartford bound of Malik being the salary cap solver). And Drury could also play wing. So to say we have all these yrs on the contracts is a bit over stating it. And Cullen could have helped on the pp at the point if Renney would have just tried it. And continued pk duty to save someone else from it whether that be Drury or Shanny or whoever.

    18. LI Joe

      Dubinsky’s worth to Jagr is not in his point total. It’s about backing the defensemen up on the rush, digging for pucks in the corners, clearing space, and freeing up Jagr to do his thing. The points will come, but they’re not the most important thing for him.

      Billy

      It’s a great promotion for a great cause. I wish the Rangers would do it.

    19. Adam,

      Of course it’s a great cause and I hope they get a ton of toys.

      Have you checked the Rangers website? There are 6 Rangers who will be signing autographs in Bryant Park, tomorrow, for toys for tots, which is free (including skating with Rangers legends). I only mention it, because who do you think has to take these kids to the game..parents, and I am quite sure that the tickets for them won’t be free.

      The Rangers do more for charities than I have seen the Devils or Islanders do in the last 10 years.

    20. Billy,

      If you read the article (which by your arrogance points to a no), they are giving tickets to Long Island kids, from an Islanders program. Personally, I think it is a great program to get kids into hockey, seeing as how the general population really doesn’t care about hockey at all.

    21. Lauren:

      You are so quick to take a shot at Billy, yet the fact remains that the Islanders are making a truly classless move by using Toys-for-Tots as a marketing ploy to get people to Isles games. Read between the lines, please. Toys-for-Tots primarily focuses on children that are in need. I believe the Rangers have outreach programs where they give tickets to children from low-income families. The Isles program, however, has no qualifications other than being under the age of 16. In other words, anyone can get free tickets regardless of economic status, which, in my opinion, undermines the mission of Toys-for-Tots. Quite frankly, the whole thing makes me sick.

      Very truly yours,

      zzyzx

    22. Adam – I agree that other things besides points count for a lot. Hence when I see value in a player more than his points I’ll point it out (examples Straka, Drury and Cullen when he was here). And when I see a player I want no part of despite his points like Atl’s Hossa I’ll point that out as well. But I do see some uneven play (looking awkward at times) in Dubi. Hopefully he’ll grow out of it. But I don’t want that to interfere with our playoff run hopes. And yes I do like his defensive side of things which is important as well. And it’s not just a youth thing as I am very comfortable with our young guys on d. I think Dubi is more of a 3rd line center in a perfect world. But we weren’t getting 1st line center type play from the other 2 either playing with JJ. So we’ll see how it goes but I could see a rental center coming here at the deadline.

    23. Billy and ZZ

      Of course the Rangers do wonderful events- so do all the other 29 teams, including the Islanders. The NHL is particularly strong at those efforts, and the players league-wide are probably the nicest, most giving athletes on the planet.Surely there are better things to do than to pan/laugh at/criticize the Islanders charity and community outreach efforts, simply because they’re the Islanders?

    24. LI Joe – I think the only way a rental comes here at the deadline is if Dubinsky goes the other way. Where would he play otherwise? I’m not opposed to trading Dubi, considering our depth @ center. But we better make damn sure that pivot can play with Jagr, or we’re beat.

    25. Hold on.
      Dubinski is still learning the game at the NHL level and he has been nothing short of great. Sure he has some rookie moments but in the last 5 games his game has matured incredibly. The Straka, Dubi, JJ line played the entire first half of the ottawa game in the offensive zone. When Gomez played with JJ they were terrible.
      Dubi is gonna be a stud…
      and I think the points and goals will come.
      I hope they change nothing!

    26. Doodie Machetto on

      Marcel Hossa has been surprisingly good playing in Avery’s spot. I still would rather have Avery there, but he’s been surprisingly good.

      Jed Ortmeyer scored a goal a couple of days ago. if you watch the NHL.com highlights of the game, you’ll see him BLOW two tap in chances, but finally get a goal on a Huet mistake that he slams home into an empty net.

    27. Prucha27 – re any trade for a rental. don’t assume that a player like Dubi has to be a part of the deal if it happens. 1st it would just be for the playoffs. 2nd people can be moved around whether Dubi or Drury to wing or Dubi to 4th line. And like you said it would ahve to be for a guy they know can work with Jagr and also for a reasonable price – that for me might include a Dawes but certainly not a player like Staal. Remember especially come playoff time you can’t have enough depth especially at center and on d.

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