Now, remind me again, what happened the last time the Rangers played Toronto?


Oh yeah, now I remember.

Yes, the Rangers will be hosting the Maple Leafs tomorrow night at the Garden, and even if Sean Avery will be wearing a brace around his wrist and serving in his unofficial role as fan ambassador, the left wing remains a key part of the story.

It was against the Leafs last month, remember, that Avery got into his pre-game skirmish with Darcy Tucker and Jason Blake, leading to radio reporter Howard Berger’s report that said Avery made remarks about Blake’s bout with leukemia.

Since then, Avery and his lawyer have been preparing a libel suit against Berger, and in response, Berger even went so far as to offer a public retraction on-air on Monday. But apparently that might not be enough.

“I haven’t told my lawyer that he’s fired yet, so he’s still working,” Avery said.

Me being an idiot, I originally took that to mean that Avery was satisfied with the retraction.

“No, if I was satisfied, I would have told my lawyer, ‘You can stop charging me $495 an hour,'” Avery said. “I don’t really know what I can say and what I can’t say, but it is certainly not the end of it all, I can tell you that.”

While Avery appears to be holding his ground, Berger himself will be back in New York to cover the game, and the Rangers are denying “this report”: that says they are refusing the reporter admission into the press box. The team says Berger might not get a seat in the lower press box, but that, they say, is a numbers issue because there are only a select number of seats.

Oh, the drama.

Meanwhile, in other news:

  • It apparently has been a bad day for me picking up on jokes. First, there was Avery, and then there was Brandon Dubinsky, who when we popped over to his locker, made a reference to his “golf score” from the other day.

    “Sixty-eight,” he said.

    I was confused. Where did he play? Was this “Golden Tee?”

    “Four-under par,” he said.

    Finally, I got it: Dubinsky was minus-4 against the Canes.

    In my defense, I was out late playing hockey last night.

  • Paul Mara looks like he’ll be out another game with his sprained shoulder.

    “There’s definitely some pain and I’m sure there will be for a while,” Mara said. “But it’s something I have to deal with.”

    Just probably not tomorrow, which means…

  • Marek Malik will again be paired with Michal Rozsival, and it looks like he’ll have at least a few fans in the crowd. Malik’s two sons and his father were in the dressing room after practice. Talk about an eery resemblance. If you’re wondering what No. 8 is going to look like in 30 years, I suggest you track down Mr. M tomorrow at the Garden.

    That’s it for now. More later…

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    1. Ugghh, I was hoping Mara’d be back tomorrow. I can’t take much more of this Rozsival-Malik pairing, Malik makes Rozsival look like a ghost on the ice, whereas Staal made him look like a genius.

    2. haha – Doobs is pretty sharp.

      As long as Mara keeps saying there’s pain…there’s no takers on the other end of a trade. Smart thinking on his part. (don’t take that as I want him traded, i don’t)

    3. I’ve never been to msg and can only dream of one day getting there and attending a rangers game, is it as really as great as it looks in pictures and on tv, there just seems to be so much tradition there ( potvin chant, rangers chant, the atmosphere) I find myself watching on tv and just hearing the lets go rangers chants, it makes the hair on my arms stand up, anyone else agree with me?

    4. Potvin chant gets REAL old. So does the organ music. However, monday night for the first time in my life I heard the Potvin chant getting *shot down* all game…my father and I loved it… FINALLY a movement to MOVE ON.

    5. The Potvin chant in my opinion never gets old. I only wish the “beat your wife Potvin” chants could be brought back as well.

    6. Agree with Rob L. I would like “Buy a Porsche Potvin,” to be heard once in a while too.

      If you ever saw Potvin play, you would understand.

      With this Berger idiot, I say they issue him a ticket up in the 400s and let everyone know he is in attendance.

      Dubinsky…nice joke. You played your worst game of the season. Efforts like that will have you playing real golf a lot earlier than you would next Spring.

    7. 1. The Potvin chant doesn’t get old but there are too many people who can’t whistle for shit that try an do it and it gets annoying.
      2. i hope the people on the cameras at the garden are really stupid and put Malik’s family on the big screen so everyone can boo them… we are the most passionate fans but in terms of class, sometimes we have none and ITS JUST FINE!!!!

    8. Doodie Machetto on

      Rob, I likethat one too. I like using “Kill your teammates” or “Crash your car, Heatley” when Dany Heatley comes to town.

    9. I never understood why people refer to bad performance as “sub-par”. Technically in golf you WANT to be sub par. I get the “-4” from Dubi, but I’m not so sure it made as much sense.

    10. How bout a Devils suck chant? since the Fishsticks and Devils seem to be in some kind of a competition to see who can rip off the most.

    11. Oldkid,

      There’s nothing like a Rangers game in Madison Sqaure Garden (or a Pearl Jam concert there).

      When I hear that goal scoring song on TV the hair on my arms stands up. The atmosphere is amazing… the spoked ceiling, the numbers hanging from the rafters, the way the “Let’s Go Rangers” chant is yelled down the staircases/escallators after a win.

      Nothing like it.

    12. Doodie…I am with you 100%. When Dany Heatley comes to town I start yelling out “murderer” everytime he does something that warrants a remark.

    13. “The Potvin chant in my opinion never gets old. I only wish the “beat your wife Potvin” chants could be brought back as well.”

      I hear the Beat Your Wife Potvin” chant almost every game that I go to.

    14. if you think the ‘potvin sucks’ chant is old…and it is! go to a rangers – bruins game in boston…’yankees suck’ chant starts pre-game outside arena, continues during the game, ends with a post-game stairwell serenade, jeese, somewhere a village is without its idiot… wrong sport, wrong team, wrong venue, wrong season!

    15. Wow Richard. You really are a dick. How is someone dying anything to make fun of?

      Heatley isn’t OJ. He got into a car accident when he was 20. He wasn’t even drinking. Would you be talking shit if he were a Ranger? Fuckin asshole.

    16. Riche’…you forgot to mention the smell of piss and vomit in the parking garages outside the garden.

    17. I am sure this has been covered here before, but I am relatively new to the blog and I don’t see a search function. Where do you play hockey Sam?

    18. And the rest of my post was as follows: I am almost as much of a PJ fan as I am a Rangers fan.

    19. I was at the Peal Jam concert that they made the DVD of. AMAZING!! It was the best show I have ever been to and in my opinion they are one of the best, most important, and long lasting bands of our time. If you haven’t already, pick up the “Immagine in Cornice” DVD. Amazing!!!!

    20. MSG = *Phish’s* bitch

      See: *New Years Eve ’95, ’97, ’98, ’99, 2003*. Not to mention various other shows sprinkled throught the year. Phish has also birthed many a hellborn elfchild in Nassau.

      No one has ever rocked it harder on a more consistant basis and on the biggest night of the year.

    21. Sam,

      Any Ranger reaction to Sanguinetti making Team USA for the World Juniors?

      That has to be inspiring if you’re a Ranger fan because a bunch of those blueliners that starred for the US, over the past 2 years, are now playing for their NHL teams; Eric Johnson, Jack Johnson, Matt Niskanen (Dallas).

    22. Doodie Machetto on

      I don’t know if I’d group Niskanen with the Johnsons. He’ll be a decent player, but those guys will be stars(no pun intended)

      EF.. if you’re so buddy-buddy with Heatley, why don’t you go for a car ride with him?

    23. I wore my Rangers jersey to the PJ show they put on DVD… it promted a let’s go Rangers chant in the stairway after the show. Talk about the best concert ever! Then they put it on DVD and on a poster. What a way to stroll down memory lane!

      The poster hangs in my livingroom across from my 1994 Stanley Cup Champs Banner.

    24. I wasn’t at the PJ show at MSG, however I have been to a handful of other ones they rock so damn hard. I love them.

    25. I think if Dan Rather was pushed out for faking a story then Berger should have lost his job as well. I can understand his hearing half something in gossip from someone who heard half something from someone speculating and running to the radio without checking assuming it was a true story and that he would be vindicated, if that’s what happened. In other words he cut a corner. But then a few days later when no one confirmed his story and he didn’t do the simple thing, and even stir up the pot a lot more which is what a good journalist would have had done if he had the goods, meaning name his source, the mysterious “Ranger player” who gave him the information “privately,” he went up on the Eklund site and wrote a column repeating everything and claiming it was all true. This was a live broadcast so the radio station couldn’t have stopped him but they must have grilled him and found out he faked the story, so they knew they had to get off the hook with an apology. I don’t blame Avery for pushing this thing because Berger owes him an explanation especially over the Eklund column. On the other hand I think Berger did enough to cover his butt, because he has removed the element of malice, so Avery is just throwing good money after bad at this point.

    26. Sanguineti, Staal, Tyutin, Girardi, Sauer, Henrik… I like our defense for the forseeable future.

      I don’t know if the money spent on Gomez was necessary. I like Drury, he is what he is, but Gomez? He’s a perimeter player who so far is nowhere near worth the $5 million he is receiving.

    27. EV – I drive a car everyday to work and see plenty of assholes driving fast and reckless unfortunately Heatley did not know how to drive “Heatley was found to be speeding and driving recklessly” yes he was not drunk but regardless he is a Murderer anyway you look at it. He should have known that getting head from Synder and driving at the same time real fast is dangerous. Like DM said, Heatley is looking for a new passenger.

      Since you feel like ripping into DM’s mother. I believe I owe Doodie this…

      EV lets get off the subject of mothers because I just got off yours last night. She squealed like a stuck pig.

    28. RICHARD if you have an accident, you could be charged with vehicular homocide if someone dies. Same if a pedestrian walks in the way of your car….Now for all you genius’ cut out the nonsense with the mother talk. GROW UP!

    29. Sam,

      Is there really no way to curb the crap? I’m all for some of the nasty chants, and, personally, I don’t think the Potvin Sucks chant gets old, I think it’s tradition. But the stuff on here about people’s moms? There’s kids logging on here — of course, maybe that’s who is writing the crap.

      On another note: Niedermayer’s back. What’s with the new trend of athletes coming back mid-season? Am I the only one who thinks that is lame and self-centered? Whatever happened to no “I” in team? Did Clemens disprove that? And, yes, I am aware there’s an “I” in win, thanks.

    30. I saw a bunch of Dead Shows at MSG…They rocked it pretty good and like Salty said so did Phish.

      7 years for Gomez as well too early to tell anything. If he is playing like this in his third year, after the retiring individuals and Straka are gone, then I would have to agree with Vogs.

    31. If Avery wants to really win the fans over, he should dance with Dancin’ Larry. That would be the greatest thing ever.

      Pearl Jam? I don’t know, I liked every other early 90s band more. After Vitalogy, I just didn’t like their music.

      Yeah, the Potvin sucks chant is old. Twice per game, max is plenty. I prefer 1983 because when I was first becoming a hockey fan and a Rangers fan in the late 80s and growing up on LI (during the Ogrodnick-Kissio-Mullen Sandstrom, Granato era), all those stupid Islanders fans used to torment me.

      Bruins fans don’t really exist. I mean, anyone I’ve ever met from Boston under the age of 35 gives me the “I don’t really like hockey, but I know the Bruins were good in the 70s with Bobby orr” response. My sister goes to school up there and out of all her Mass friends/colleagues..TWO liked hockey.

      Worst cheers go to the Islanders with their stupid chicken dance. I hate their organ too. I want to either break it, or do something useful and ship it to Greg Allman.

    32. Chris – re Niedermeyer that’s good for the team as well. they’ll have him rested and ready to play and come playoff time a lot left in the tank. plus most importantly they fit the cap better since the time he missed does not count which is probably 1/3 of the season.

    33. Chris F, you are right, sorry Sam/everyone.

      Chris F. Clemens could not make it a whole season without steroids is what I think because that was the era. They had not had mandatory testing until his first half season with the Astros.

      I am not saying that this is the same situation with Neids in Anaheim. When I saw him win the cup last year it did not look like he was ready to hang’em up. He probably stayed in shape and misses the game. That too, LI Joe.

    34. This is from the “this report” link from Sam’s update. Very interesting article comparing scoring from the 03-04 pre-lockout thur this point in the season.

      “Larry Quinn is proposing that an independent committee look into ways to rid the game of the neutral zone trap.

      One obvious way to do that, in the long term, is to increase the width of the ice by seven or eight feet. That would give the team with the puck more room to get around the checkers.”

      IMO: It would be a good idea. It would do away with the Brashears and Orrs of the league and increase the offense, speed and excitement. It would become a very offensively creative game. Like the Olympics. Opinions?

    35. Doodie Machetto on

      I’d like to point out that when my mother (saint that she is) was brought up, I took the high road and didn’t respond with a mom joke as well.

      As for Niedemayer, it’s actually terrible news for the Ducks, as they will have to get rid of their future to absorb his contract. They signed Schneider with the understanding Nieds wouldn’t return, and now they’re in salary cap hell because he felt like playing. He should have just started the season with them if he was going to come back, or should have told Burke that he would’ve come back mid season so that Burke wouldn’t have signed Schneider.

      Not having Niedermayer isn’t what’s killing the Ducks. It’s not having Selanne that is ruining them. Look at McDonald’s numbers this year. Toilet compared to the past two years when he had Teemu. He’s playing more like Ronald than Andy (bad joke, I know, but I couldn’t resist).

    36. Damn Devils. Did anyone watch the game? If you did, is it just me or did Ken Daneyko look like the Devil himself. The guy was so worked up during the post game telecast that he was beat beat beat red and you could see the veins in his head. Maybe he is the Devil, or maybe he is back on the crank. Either way, I said this in the beginning of the season. The damn Devils always find a way to win games and make it to the playoffs. Damn them. They are now tied with us for first. We need to get the show on the road here and win. No more clunkers like Carolina. Avery heal up and get back ASAP!!

    37. Doodie Machetto on

      “Worst cheers go to the Islanders with their stupid chicken dance. I hate their organ too. I want to either break it, or do something useful and ship it to Greg Allman.”

      Actually, I think worst chant goes to the Thrashers. they have some kind of stupid “you suck!” chant. it’s REALLY lame.

      I once saw a game where they were playing the chicken dance and Richter was bobbing his head along with it when there was a draw to his left. The Isles caught him off guard and scored.

      By the way, anyone know Buffalo’s average attendance this year? I’m just curious since they had all of those “fans” last year when they were in first, and now that they’re last in their division, and near the bottom of the East and NHL, if they still have those “fans”.

    38. Doodie – you must be in my fantasy league where Heatley was almost brought into trash talk.

      Actually, Niedermeyer fits fine for the Ducks right now, especially after they jettisoned Bryzgalov. Part of letting Penner go was probably thinking Nieds would come back, however.

    39. Doodie Machetto on

      SP: they do not have enough cap space to absorb his contract right now. Bryz was jettisoned for 1.3 million, but they brought in Sutherby for 800k. They have about 6.2 in cap space, and Niedermayer is a 6.5 cap hit. Not to mention next year, when Getzlaf, Kunitz, Miller, and Perry’s salaries will be higher. Niedermayer has screwed the Ducks.

    40. Anaheim is going to be a very tough team. Niedermeyer is much better than Selanne especially come playoff time.

    41. Doodie – the numbers are pro rated so it should work. the numbers you quoted I think are full season.

    42. Doodie Machetto on

      if theyre prorated then they have to include the money that theyve already paid on Bryz’s contract. Burke has to make moves to fit him in. He has 21 days to do it from when they announce that he is active.

      Niedermayer is an excellent player, don’t get me wrong, but Anaheim’s problem isn’t that they aren’t loaded with top defenders (Pronger, Schneider, Beauchemin), it’s that their offense is more anemic than ours. They have Penner, Getzlaf, and Kunitz (11, 13, and 9 goals, respectively), and then no one else on the team has more than 3 (correction:Mcdonald got his 4th tonight). During the offseason, they lost Penner and Selanne, two of their best scorers, and replaced them with Bertuzzi (HUGE drop). As for Niedermayer, they replaced him with Schneider. While Schneider isn’t Niedermayer, he’s not a massive drop.

      Last year, their were only two offenses in the west that were better; this year they have the lowest goals per game in the West, and fourth lowest in the league (caps, us, and the worst are the fishsticks).

      Meanwhile, their defense was 6th last year, and this year is 8th in GAA.

      Big drop in offense, small drop in defense. Selanne and Penner to Bertuzzi, Niedermayer to Schneider.

    43. Doodie – Niedermayer will only be playing a part of a season so it will be pro-rata’d against his salary.
      eg $6.5m for half a season would be $3.25m etc…

      As for Roszival, he is better when Staal is there because he can play his own game and doesn’t have to worry about his partner making some boneheaded play in his own zone or getting out-muscled/hustled by a smaller quicker forward (mention no names Malik….)

    44. Anaheim’s troubles can be attributed to the salary cap, which is fine because it creates more parity and without it, there’s no way so many young players are up with the Rangers.

    45. bklynblue, in Sam’s update above there are two words in blue “this story” click on those words and it should direct you to the story.

    46. Blue, let me try that again…”this report” are the words. Have not had my coffee yet this AM can you all tell…ha

    47. Never saw PJ at the Garden, but have seen them and agree they are an absolutely fantastic band live. I have, however, seen many a Phish show during NYE runs at MSG. 12/30/97 is tops in my book.

    48. I would say most people are tired of the Potvin chant — no one cares anymore — good whistler or not.

    49. Eh, Dead shows at the Garden – I was a fixture. They were awesome. Those 20 minute jams are why you show up in the first place. It’s not for everybody…..

    50. I’ve seen hundreds of shows in all kinds of arena’s/stadiums. Even saw the Foo Fighters in a record store on Lexington. NOTHING compares to the garden. Any band. For the full spectrum or music – I’ve seen Metallica, The Black Crowes (last new years eve) where Trey(phish) opened up – and they all friggin rocked. Clapton was bad ass @ MSG too.

      I hate the Potvin chant. Shows no creativity. I wish that effort would go into a ‘lets go rangers’ chant. They’re always so untimely, I wonder how many real FANS there are in the bldg some nights. DON’T CHANT DURING THE PK – THEY NEED TO COMMUNICATE!

      I refer you to the IND Colts when Manning is trying to communicate changes at the line.

    51. Here we are 27 games (1/3 through the season) and we still have a team 1.96 GAA. That’s good enough for #1 in the league.

      This one’s for you Coach – and another for you D/Hank!

    52. Good question. That would be dead last.

      Thanks “””Captian?”””

      Toronto is #7 in GF & … dead last in GA.

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