Your questions, my answers (Part 3)


We’re on to our third installment, which proves either a) I am dedicated and thorough, or b) I have too much time on my hands today. You decide.

But as you do, let’s keep going…

What do you feel was Renney’s reasoning for sending down Nigel Dawes? I honestly couldn’t see a big enough hole in the kid’s game to warrant the demotion. — Jayman

It’s funny, Jayman, but I was one of Dawes’ biggest supporters earlier this season, and on several occasions even said to anyone who would listen, “There’s no way they can send this guy back down.”

bilde-4.jpgAnd then they did send him down, and I didn’t have much of a problem with it.

What happened in between, in my eyes at least, is that Dawes’ game began to dip. It wasn’t anything glaring, and I wouldn’t go so far to say there are “holes” in his game. But in a sense, Dawes is the equivalent of a sixth man in basketball who comes in the game and gives his team an immediate spark, but doesn’t quite have the consistency to be a starter.

That’s Dawes when it comes to his travels between Hartford and New York. And if you had to explain his inconsistency, it might be something as simple as this: when he first came up and was popped into the lineup, you noticed him a lot. Then you noticed him less. Then you noticed him even less.

And that’s just offensively, which is far and away his strength. Throw in the need for some refinement away from the puck, and the Rangers decided he still needed some seasoning in the minors.

Whether that was the right move or not is open for debate. The other argument you could make is that Dawes could get that seasoning here, even if he wasn’t playing every day. But it might be more palatable to everyone involved to have a guy playing on a regular basis in Hartford than shuffling him and out of the lineup here.

Either way, I would expect to see Dawes back in New York at some point this season.
Sam, do you ever get the feeling that for the Rangers power play, Renney just throws out his ‘top’ players at random? I know he has been working hard on their defensive system, but their power play system (or lack thereof) is not performing. — Jarret

All conversation about the Rangers needing to improve their power play reminds me of that moment in “Slap Shot” — otherwise known as the greatest cinematic creation of our time — when some drunk guy goes up to Reg Dunlop and says something to the effect of, “You guys gotta stop losing.”

In other words, no kidding.


What’s wrong with the power play?

Heck, what isn’t?

The Rangers have a difficult time setting up in the zone, they have a difficult time staying in the zone, and they have a difficult time getting a shot off once they’re in the zone and they’ve stayed there. Other than that, it’s a pretty good power play.

What I can tell you is the Rangers do work on it, and they do have a system which I think they follow to a fault (did anyone else catch the headscratching moment yesterday when the Rangers retreated behind their own net and then wait an eternity for Scott Gomez to swoop back to carry the puck up ice?).

I’ve already gone on record saying I’d like to see Ryan Callahan replace Petr Prucha on the Jaromir Jagr unit because Callahan at least can get shots off and to the net. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Chris Drury back on one of the points since he has the vision and the shot to make plays.

But even with all that, the power play is one of those things will likely start clicking again, and no one will be able to explain it.

Can you discuss your thoughts on the future of Al Montoya. Is he our biggest trade chip as we make a run this spring? Is he insurance in case Hank gets hurt? Is he a top ten pick who we are leaving to toil in the minors? — Elliot

There all kinds of rumors about Al Montoya going somewhere soon — the most recent one says Colorado — and they come with a reason. After all, why would the Rangers hold on to a No. 1 draft pick goalie when they clearly have their franchise goalie for the next decade?

a_montoya.jpgMy guess is they don’t, or at least they don’t once the team locks in Henrik Lundqvist to a long-term deal some time after the first of the year. To move Montoya before then would give Lundqvist and agent Don Meehan even more bargaining leverage — i.e. “You need us even more now” — but after that, I’d have to think the Rangers get serious about entertaining offers for him. If they haven’t already.

OK, folks that’s all for now. Perhaps more in a bit…

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  1. Beer me, you only drink beer when the Rangers win ????:):)

    If they don´t screw up and winning , I drink a screw driver !


  2. By the way what is best during a Rangers Game at Madison Square Garden ???

    A burger, popcorn or nachos with pepsi beer or ginger ???

    Haven´t been to MSG for quite some time so I DO NOT KNOW!!!:)

  3. NO, I drink beer for every game. Cause if we win, then they’re celebrating beers! If we lose, then they’re sorrow beers…and it makes the pain of a loss easier to take! haha

    its win / win for me.

  4. Sam,

    Funny you should mention Montoya to Colorado as a possibility. This was posted to Eklunds site not too long ago….I don’t read into these too much.

    Quick Hits: Rangers/Avalanche RumourQuit hit rumours for your monday…

    Still working through the details, but the rumour has Liles and Svatos going to NY for Prucha, Montoya, Malik and an “intriguing prospect.” The Leafs reportedly also have interest in Liles.

  5. Montoya is a damn good talent but I’d prefer dealing him before he gets too hurt. I’m an avid Wolf Pack fan so I’ve been watching him since day one and he’s just never 100% healthy for a great amount of time.

    Dawes on the other hand should not be in the AHL. He’s already had back to back 60 point seasons and he’s just absolutely tearing things up for Hartford since his demotion. He had a 5 point game the other night.

    But hey, the Rangers are free to keep as much young talent as they want down here. :D

  6. Any thought to putting Staal on the first power play point? He seemed to have played extensively on the pp in juniors, has a very good shot, is smart with the puck, can keep the puck in, is a great passer, etc.

  7. I’ll have to pick
    a) Dedicated and thorough

    Sam, thanks for all the in-depth answers (especially mine), and although this was my first comment/question (certainly not my last), I’ve been a consistent reader!

    P.S. Need a goalie on your team w/ Kamensky?

  8. Mr. Weinman,

    I personally hate Eklund’s HockeyBuzz website, and in fact I was banned from commenting in 2007 again because I kept calling him Dwayne Kessler (his real name). I believe he just throws random stuff out there half the time, since none of his stuff ever seems to stick.

    But, this is interesting…

    Liles and Svatos to NYR for Prucha, Malik, Montoya, and an “intriguing prospect.”

    Any thoughts? I think Liles is a RFA or UFA after this year but I’m not positive.

  9. The problem with Dubi is Jagr.

    Bring up Moore and Dawes and put Dubi between them. Put Drury with Jagr and Straka and Gomez with Prucha and Shanahan. Put Hossa on the 4th line, bench Hollweg.

    Send Callahan down for conditioning. He’ll be back.

  10. I dont buy into Eklunds rumors, but that one sounds weird. If it was true…Isnt that much?

    I mean Prucha for Svatos seems even, Montoya for Liles seems a bit much, even with Malik in there, it seems like much, and then a draft pick, i mean cmon.

    Im not buying into it, but if that were to happen, i dont know, it seems like alot.

  11. Prucha and Svatos have comparable stats, but Prucha is WAY more durable. Colorado is probably just taking Malik as a throw in because they want Montoya.

    That being said, wy would they want Montoya? They have Budaj and Theodore. Why add $1 million to their cap in Montoya, and give up their best offensive D? Prucha for Svatos is a wash, and if Svatos wore out his welcome there, why would we want him?

  12. Dwayne “Eklund” Kessler’s “rumors” are typically full on fantasy and he often steals stories published first on other blogs/bulletin boards and treats them as his own. Hardly anyone worth reading in my opinion.

  13. As an aside, Svatos and Dawes both played for the Kootenay Ice in 2001-2002. We really don’t need any more small forwards. I’d rather make a deal with Edmonton and get Raffi Torres.

  14. How about this trade:

    To NYR:
    Raffi Torres and Jarret Stoll

    To EDM:
    Petr Prucha, Marek Malik, Al Montoya, and Alex Bourret

  15. Being Back Dawes. Its just silly that he has as many goals (4) in his 16 games as Prucha, Hossa and Cally have in like 70 games combined. Dawes is ripping up the AHL and only got scapegoated because his 2-way contract allowed it.
    Prucha has only 2 goals in his last 40 games going back to the playoffs. Its not fair to Dawes to be sent down and Prucha plays regardless of if he produces or not

  16. SAM I can’t keep up with your answers, but thanks for the response. I’m not a kid booster, and not opposed to the kids either. Dubinsky has not earned being on that line & can’t handle the role. He had a good kid center here last season, and basically refused to use him claiming he was too slow. But the kid put points up on Shanahan’s line. And they really needed a second line center since Cullen wasn’t right for it. Instead he broke up Straka from Jagr. So I’m not convinced Renney always see things clearly & fairly. He seems to have a few double standards. The NYR can’t afford having Jagr continue to lose confidence, and be a tutor. Why Renney has waited, is an exercise in bad judgement. But he also thought Gomez would be good with Jagr, not realizing they’re both puck possession players. Drury did need time to adjust to a new team, but taking him off Jagr’s line was & is a mistake. For a coach to flounder thru seasons like he has this one & last, & to not change fast enough when it’s not working as he has in all three, leads me to question his judgements & non-actions. For a guy that talks & thinks so much, he seems to get paralyzed in changing lines, & coaching during games. He needs more passion, especially with the refs but also with his players. Since he’s asking it from them. He needs to lead more, not stand behind the TEAM.

  17. “Ian
    December 10th, 2007 at 4:09 pm
    Any thought to putting Staal on the first power play point? He seemed to have played extensively on the pp in juniors, has a very good shot, is smart with the puck, can keep the puck in, is a great passer, etc.”

    I’d like to see it – Why not?

  18. Adam and his apple on

    sam i think youre the one who should be asking the questions and well do the answering ;)

  19. First, Sam I disagree with your thought of Drury on the point. He is not a guy with a huge slapper. He is much more of a tip-in around the net, redirection, pick-up-a-rebound-and-stuff-it-home kind of guy. We need guys on the point who can quickly move the puck (maybe Drury) and have a big shot (def not Drury). The idea of Staal back there is a good one if the guy can hit the net. Lately he has been missing everything. Girardi quietly is starting to show a little O, btw.

    Second, guys I thought we learned our lesson with the Avery BS story by that clown Berger in Toronto. Don’t believe anything you read, esp on a blog, unless you know and trust the source. I have known Sam for a long time. He and my bro played hockey together growing up. His dad and mine play tennis together. I know Sam is not full of S. These other jokers seem to want to sell papers, draw news hungry readers and hockey junkies to their websites, and just plain tell stories. Any loser who chooses a pen name of “Eklund” cannot be trusted for a second. He took the name of Pelle Eklund a never-was of the Flyers, and you guys are reading his blog and believing that it is Don Cherry speaking. Come on kids, you’re smarter than that.

    Third, did I misread the Q & A hopes of the original blog Sam? I like hearing you opine. But I thought you were going to ask the players some questions too. I want to hear what Shanny, Jags, Gomer, and Drury have to say about the incredible amount of shots that get blocked and the lack of scoring that I referred to in my earlier posting.

    Last, re: the powerplay….why not just stick Avery right in front of the goalie? This will force one of the D to play in front of the net with him and draw one of them away from the down low wings. We need Adam Graves back (I kid).

    Keep up the good work Sammy.

  20. Why not get rid of Jagr!! All he does is stick his fat ass out playing with the puck in the offensive zone. Great if you got the lead but definitely not conducive to catching up if you are behind.

    Time to give Chris Drury the C.

  21. bklynblue I assume you’re talking about Immonen. He was never that good and is currently playing in Europe. If he was as good as you and some others think how come no other NHL team made a play for him.

  22. LIJOE Dubinsky has 7 points in 30 games. Check the points Immonen had in about 10 games. And tell me how Renney decided he can’t play , when this team needed a center. Did he have Dubinsky’s potential, no. Very simply pointing out , Renney has some quirks with kids. Dawes & . Pock are further proof. Let them try & recall Pock, guess what happens. And the same for Dawes if he had to clear waivers. Do you think, maybe Renney calling him slow, putting him on the 4th line, & sky boxing him gave teams a good impression, or half a blackball? If you can tell me Dubinsky has earned being the 1st line center for Jagr, step away from the kool-aid. Drury is the center that Jagr should want to play with. But Jagr has only talked what he was going to do this year, while feeling sorry for himself. Having Dubinsky is another crutch, with him & Straka almost ignoring him .It’s time for Jagr to put up or shut up. Sather spent big money on 2 centers, and he can’t score with all three. Gee it must be somebody’s fault.Why not blame Dubinsky and send him back to Hartford, for all his mistakes and not getting Jagr to score? Do you think Renney couldn’t spin a bad rap for Dubinsky?

  23. Right now Dawes is still a defensive liability & needs more time in Hartford. Re: Sun nite’s game, successful hockey is always played from the goal out. Positional play and discipline will always win games as the Rangers proved vs. the Devils

  24. Bklynblue Agree with you on Jagr but not Dube. He’s strong, controls the puck and is an impact player in the corners. He’s young & improving every game: a keeper

  25. bklynblue – I am not in favor of Dubinsky as “1st line center”. In fact the line with him on it is really 3rd line. Maybe he’ll improve over time but I see him as 3rd line center down the road as well. But 3rd center to me is an important position – one I wanted filled this yr by Cullen along with pp duty at point. Something Renney would not give him.

    I don’t get the hype and hysteria re Immonen other than people see him as a part (albeit a much smaller part than they realize) of the Leetch deal. Bottom line is we did not get much out of the Leetch deal (but i think but not sure that Sauer was indirectly part so time will tell). Toronto had several prospects they would not give up in that deal and Immonen was I guess the best of the rest. Other organizations are not stupid. If Immonen was that good someone would have “stolen him from us”. He was not that good and is plying his trade in Europe – where he belongs.

  26. If the team is going to continue playing soccer, going for 1-0 victories in a shootout, and I think that’s their best bet right now and for the foreseeable future, then Dubinsky makes sense on the first line. That gives you four shutdown lines with Drury providing the talent on the third line. As long as Jagr is backchecking like hell, I have no problem with his falloff in production — the idea is to win, and four guys in the top 10 scorers last year at this time led to a seven-game losing streak and a late struggle to make the playoffs. If for some reason Dubinsky can’t hack it, move Straka to centre and insert an Isbister type on the left wing. The main thing is to win and hope that somehow the PP comes alive by the playoffs.

  27. loner I wasn’t putting Dubinsky down, just stating a fact. He hasn’t earned and doesn’t belong being the center for that line. How many centers does Jagr need to not produce with for Renney to figure out he’s enabling Jagr to continue coming up with excuses. Since he wants Straka, it’s time to finalize the last piece. Drury, Prucha, Hossa, Avery , pick one & try it for 10 games. That will bring him close to the end of the season to finally make a decision, unless Sather wants to go out & find some more centers to try ;-)

  28. The problem with Jagr is Jagr and nobody else. 90% of the wingers in the league would absolutely salivate over the opportunity to play with Drury or Gomez. The fact that Jagr can’t make it work is just ridiculous. Put Drury back on the line and tell Jagr he’s got to figure it out. Otherwise we need to start the post-Jagr era already.

  29. PETER

    I hate to say it, but i agree with you. Im not saying trade Jags, but at the end of the year, they might have to let him go. Unless he can really get his sh*t together. But i cant see why nobody but Jags would have a problem playing with 2 of the top centers in the league.

    As far as Dubi goes, people keep bitching about how dumb Renney is for keeping him on the line, but every NYR fan was bitching last season about playing the kids, and wah play the kids, and waaah play them on the top line and give them minutes. Dubi was on the 4th line, now he’s on the 1st, i mean, shut up already, every NYR fan always has to find something to complain about.

    Anyway, the way i see it. If Jagr ends this season, with bad numbers, and doesnt show up for the playoffs. Then it may be time to let him go. If we do, then who will be our go to guy, of course its Drury, and Gomer, since Shanny may retire, and Straks for that matter too. Will NYR take a run at Hossa? Who knows.

    It is pointless to talk about next season, since its so early into this seaoson, but it is interesting to know what will happen. With all these guys considering retirment, and all these rumors, and free agents, like Hossa, and Redden, its gonna get pretty interesting.

    I think its safe to say Malik is gone, so thats something to look foward too. Also, im hoping that spot is taken by Sanguinetti. Hopefully he can slip into the lineup as easily as Staal did.

  30. nothing like a fan complaining about complaining fans , stating EVERY fan has to find something. Well self discovery works.

  31. bklynblue – What is it that makes you think that all personel decisions go through Renney? (a serious question)

    And anyone pointing at Immonen as anything more than a ‘never-was’, I have a question. If he was so good, then why did none of the other 29 teams in the league pick him up, and let him go play in finland? He was a lesser version of Prucha. With less vision than Dawes.

    Peter – I agree with you also. But this is Jagr we’re talking about here. When he’s not happy…this is what you get. At this point, I don’t think he would want to re-sign anyway.

    A side note: Did anyone notice that 3-4 guys fell down in the Rangers end(on both teams) the other night? The puck seemed to be bouncing off sticks too a bit. I always hated the fact that we play in The Worlds Most Famous Arena, and it’s just as (in)famous for the incredibly bad ice.

  32. Why dont they play Staal on the PP? He seems like the only D man on this team that will actually shoot the puck.

    Tyuts and Danny have 4 goals but when there on the PP, they move the puck around alot before taking the shot. But then again its the smart thing to do, you dont wanna take the shot and get it blocked and risk a shorthanded breakaway. But im all for Staal on the PP. In fact my lines would be this…

    Straka – Avery – Jagr (Aves & Jags worked well together)
    Drury – Gomez – Shanahan
    Prucha – Dubinsky – Callahan
    Hollweg – Betts – Hossa / Hollweg


    1st unit (as in the unit that goes BEFORE JAGR)

    Drury – Gomez – Shanahan
    Staal / Mara – Rozsival

    2nd unit

    Prucha – Avery – Jagr
    Tyutin – Girardi

    If you put Rozi on a shooting PP, then he’ll most likely shoot the puck and not feel like he needs to pass to Jags. And put Staal there just for the hell of it, he has a good shot, or you can put Mara. And the 2nd unit, you have to D men that are good at moving the puck.

    I dont care who is centering Jagr, it would be interesting to see Aves do it, because last season they were pretty good together, and this season, there only shift together was an amazing one against the Cats. But the one thing i wanna see is Drury on the wing with Gomer and Shanny.

  33. beer you think Renney is not deciding where to play Dubinsky? I don’t think Sather bought Gomez & Drury to play him there. Maybe Jagr requested him, but I think Renney will come out of his fog & put Drury back with Jagr. In case you didn’t notice I didn’t say Immonen was great, but his #’s where better than many. Who cares what teams do?. Take a look at what happens every draft. They all passed on Girardi there. The fan notion of logic doesn’t always equate to what was possible, or should have been done. It’s so nice of many to think the NYR can do no wrong. While that same group have trades and different lineups on a regular basis.

  34. my proof, look at the post before me. That’s a guy who was complaining about complainers, complaining & looking for more changes with line ups for the PP. Where’s Dubinsky in that post? 3rd line, amazing!

  35. bklynblue – I ask you that b/c it seems that every post you make, the problem lies with the coach. You look for no accountability from anyone else in the org.

    We weren’t talking about Girardi, we were talking about Immonen. You think that he would’ve been the difference last year? really?

    I thought it was made clear that no one here cares to see peoples ideas of line combos. Its annoying. But ORR, I have to agree that last year all we heard was ‘play the kids’, now we’re hearing ‘get him off the line’. Same idiots calling for a new coach every year too.

    My bottom line on everything pretty much till the end of the reg. season is this… We will not be successful if Jagr isn’t playing well. HE will not be successful if he doesn’t get what he wants. I don’t believe that we should accomodate him at the expense of the rest of the team who actually play like they give a damn. Tom Renney’s system works. When Shanny says that it works, it works. Let’s look back at the team he came from. Still successful today playing the same system for some 15 years in Det.

    I could go on and on, but I fear it is falling on mostly deaf ears. Pretty much everything on this thread is rhetorical anyway.

  36. This defensive style is a borefest. You’d think we take more offensive rinks with Hank in goal..

    I love Jagr, always have, but he doesn’t have it any more. Drury and Shanny should be co-captains, as far as I’m concerned.

    Jagr is on pace for 19 goals this year.. 57 points.. WOW.. Avery had 48 last season. That’s all I’m going to say.

  37. PAVEL

    People were saying that when he was with the Caps. Who knows, maybe he has lost it, but anyone who says he’s playing like shit because he’s not with Nylander is a complete moron. Jags might be picky but he’s not that bad of a hockey player, where he needs one guy in the whole NHL to center him.


    I never said i wanted to see Dubi playin with Jags, i liked the idea to see what it does for Jags, but he should be between Pruchs and Cally. Thats where he belongs. And just incase you didnt notice, the PP does need a fuggin change, and they should have two god damn D men on both. We have to lead the league in giving up shorthanded chances, for the love of god we gave the Cats a breakaway while on a 5 on friggin 3. You cant have Straka, Drury, or anyone else. You need 2 D men. And i put Dru on the wing because were not paying a guy to center two kids that cant even hit the net right now.

    But im guessing you’d feel alot more comfy and cozy with Imo along with Shanny. Lol cmon, there’s a reason why Imo isnt in the NHL right now, cause he sucks, and he isnt worth a damn thing.

  38. ORR

    I don’t think Nylander has anything to do with it. Jagr hasn’t been the same since the shoulder injury. He rarely plays with any passion out there.. he rarely looks happy. A smiling Jagr is a multi-point game Jagr. IMO, Dubi is a third liner at best.

  39. ORR – THANK YOU! There is a reason…and that’s it (re: Imo).

    On the PP….I don’t know, you don’t necessarily NEED 2 Dmen on the points. A lot of other teams are successful with just 1. I think for us, just like even strenght, it’s about the 5man picture.

    In a broad perspective, I see this year as a bigtime transition year. One from a team that relied on 1 guy, or 2-3 guys to carry them. It’s now starting to become a team that may not have anyone contend for the Art Ross every year (barring any offseason moves), but one that may have multiple worthy winners of the Pearson.
    A team.

  40. Other than Montoya, I wouldn’t trade any of the kids away. Its nice to know we have depth down at the farm. Don’t forget, some of the players currently on the team may not be here next year; JJ, Avery, Straka, Rozi, etc. I’d hold on to that youth. Next season, there may be 4 or 5 rookies on the squad.
    Montoya, fine no prob. But hold on to the kids…PLEASE!
    I hope the Cullen trade is not a sign of things to come. Fine, it was done to unload salary and we got Hutch (who!), Barnes(who!) and a 3rd rounder. I would have liked to see us get maybe a 2nd round pick for Cullen and forget Hutch(who!)and Barnes (who!)
    Anyway LGR

  41. nothing like jumping to conclusions and making them facts. And assuming through what are not really facts, but sound like the party line.

  42. Hutchinson is the Packs’ leading d-man.. he’s not bad at all.. I’d say he’s a solid third pair guy.. put him with Mara :) Bye, Malik!

  43. This schedule sucks.

    Even with the NHL Network, Center Ice, and the locals – I still get bored when we have so many days off. Yeah, I know, this is only a 2-day break, but then there’s a 3-day break that I’m already tired of.

    If any of you caught the Brian Burke interview a few days ago, he had a GREAT point. Something along the lines of ‘it’s not the goals that make the game exciting, it’s the scoring chances’. Saying that, ‘it’s just as much fun to see a great save as a great goal’. This guy is such a credit to the NHL. An attentive student to the game.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing him as the next commish. With JD kicking Soupy’s dumb-ass out of his office too.

    Just thought I’d throw a comment out there since I’m sitting here at work bored out of my mind.

  44. It’s pretty clear that Dawes doesn’t belong in the minor leagues. He’s tearing it up down there. Since Renney doesn’t think he’s ready defensively maybe calling him up to play on the 4th line and on the powerplay wouldn’t be a bad idea. I’d sit Hollweg, he’s just a boarding penalty waiting to happen anyway.

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