Random thoughts on a dreary day

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Back from my sojourn to the Island, where the roads are turning treacherous, and where two hours worth of sports radio reminded me why I’m glad I don’t cover baseball.

Some quick thoughts:

  • From the Rangers side, Marcel Hossa has the flu and did not skate at practice today, and neither did Jaromir Jagr, who was apparently in need of a day of rest (the Rangers say he’s otherwise fine).
  • Last night was everything many of you described, both uninspired and undisciplined. That’s a bad enough combination against any team, but specifically a Capitals group that actually seems to have founds its game in recent weeks. And to think, that was without the Swedish Gretzky, Michael Nylander, who is out with a rotator cuff injury.
  • As for the real Gretzky, the Great One held court out at Coliseum, where his Coyotes are set to face the Islanders tonight. There were more than a dozen media members there to greet him, and Gretzky touched on everything from Rick DiPietro’s superb handling of the puck (“He’d have scored 20 goals on a line with Bossy and Trottier”); his anticipation of returning to the Garden on Sunday (“It’ll be a lot different than the last Sunday I played at the Garden,” a reference to his last career game in April of 1999) and even his take on the state of hockey in general (asked if he thought any of his records could be broken, Gretzky smiled and said, “Records are meant to be broken. Some will just be tougher to break than others.”)

    Of course, this is all standard fare for Gretzky when he’s on the road since he remains hockey’s resident icon. As the Arizona Republic’s Jim Gintonio said, “He’s mobbed everywhere except Phoenix.”

  • Meanwhile, a meeting with Gretzky for me is still somewhat uncomfortable since he has always been my greatest hero in sports (Marek Malik is a close second). I’ve written “about this before”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2006/10/28/wayne-and-me/ but it’s worth saying again that of all the A-list athletes I’ve interviewed before — Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus countless times, Michael Jordan, Mark Messier, Derek Jeter — Gretzky is the only one that evokes that childlike, “Wow, this is so cool” reaction from me. I doubt I let that part on today, but it’s part of the reason I’m glad I don’t cover him on a full-time basis.
  • Along with Gretzky, I also had a chance to catch up with Don Maloney, who after leaving the Rangers for the desert, has already enjoyed some success in getting the Coyotes on the path toward respectability. Don and I talked a lot about his current situation — the influx of young players in Phoenix, working with Gretzky, the oppressive, unbearable heat of Arizona in summer — but also about his time with the Rangers.

    Naturally, one conversation piece was why Maloney left in the first place since many assumed he was the heir apparent to Glen Sather. Maloney thought that as well, saying he figured he would have a good chance to be the team’s GM whenever Sather stepped down (“whether it was three years, five years, 10 years,” Maloney said). And while the theory goes that Maloney started looking once it became clear Sather wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, Maloney said that wasn’t necessarily the case.

    “It just seemed like time,” he said. “I thought in my own mind midway through last year, I sort of said, ‘I’m going to start looking the next time a job opens up just to go through the process.’….(Glen) was great for me. Working with Glen, a lot of his philosophies, I know a lot of people might think one thing from the other, but he’s one of those guys that the more you’re around him, the more you like him and appreciate him and respect his intelligence and philosophies about the game — even though there are some other quirks about it, too.”

    Maloney actually said working with Sather was instrumental in helping him get the Coyotes job, and that’s because many will tell you that Maloney was a driving force behind the Rangers post-lockout resurgence. Much of that has to do with Maloney’s work behind the Great Purge of 2004, and also in accumulating the young talent that we’re seeing on the ice today — from Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan, to Henrik Lundqvist and Petr Prucha.

    Another one of those players is Al Montoya, and it seems ever since Maloney set foot in Phoenix, people have expected him to go after the former No. 1 draft pick. Granted, Maloney wasn’t about to tell me who he was targeting and who he wasn’t. But what he did say was the Rangers might not be as quick to shop Montoya around as we’ve all come to believe.

    The reasons, as Maloney said, are many: one, you never know if Henrik Lundqvist gets hurt and Montoya is needed right away; two, Montoya is still young and the Rangers might want to see more of his development before deciding where he fits in; and three, backup Stephen Valiquette is in the last year of his contract, and the Rangers might well need Montoya around.

    That last part makes the most sense, and it lends credence to the theory that the Rangers might first want to see how their goaltending prospects pan out — this year’s second round draft pick, Antoine LaFleur, for instance — before making a decision about Montoya.

    Anyway, something to chew on while waiting out the storm.

    OK, that’s all for now. More in a bit…

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    25 Comments

    1. So sam, i went to the DC game and they had a beautiful mullet tribute to Jagr. Infact, they gave out red haired mullets for the day! Why no mention of this?

    2. SAM why didn’t ask him if he wants his 1st rd pick Jessimen, and thanks for picking him? ;-)

    3. Donald Brashear is honestly one of the ugliest looking human beings on this planet. His face looks like its been ripped apart and put back together wrong.

      Anyway, hopefully the Isles lose again.

      Im happy we got a point in the last game, and i dont blame Shanny for what happened, i was counting how many times a Ranger would fall during the game, and Staal was winning. Its a shame we had to lose the game that way. Especially when Hank made that phenominal save to keep us in it and get a fuggin point.

      Either way, they still need to get on a streak here. There’s alot of tough games coming up and you gotta win the ones against the crap teams.

    4. Doodie Machetto on

      “Especially when Hank made that phenominal save to keep us in it and get a fuggin point.”

      Which he completely negated about 2 minutes later when he let in that softie form Schultz.

    5. Doodie:
      “There is simply no need for Hollweg anymore, and no need for Orr to play every night. I think Byers is nice combo of the two (he plays more physical than Hollweg and is tough like Orr, though he’s not a heavyweight) plus has more offensive upside than both of them combined.”

      It’d be nice to have 3 or 4 guys named Avery, huh?

    6. Ok, here’s my take on Nigel Dawes and the Rangers problems scoring goals.

      The sole reason Dawes is not being called up is so they can pay him as little as possible. This is the last year of his entry contract and he was on pace for 17-22 goals. He’ll be UFA so he is theirs as long as they qualify him with a 105 raise. If he scores the 17-22 goals, he’s due for a big raise which throws a monkeywrench when having to resign all of or some of Avery/Shanny/Jagr/Lundquvist/Roszival/Straka. He’ll be called up but like in a Callahan of last year role.

      Callahan-I think he can be like Graves, but he’s not being put in a situation as to succeed. He needs a fast center like Cullen was for him last year and he scores a lot of goals on the PP parking himself in front of the net. Gomez is his ideal center.

      Drury-He’s not a playmaker, he’s gritty. He scores a lot of his goals from in front of the net, he’s not a typical setup man. This is why he needs a playmaker like a Briere was for him last year or a Sakic/Forsberg/Tanguay was for him in Colorado. Look at him when he was in Calgary, he had an OK year, because they expected him to be Iginla’s setup man when in fact he is a gritty goal scorer.

      Prucha-He’s working his tail off, he needs to shoot more. I’m not ready to give up on him, but I’ve accepted that he might turn into another Pavelich or Mike York at some point.

      If the Rangers want to play better, they need to park someone like a Drury/Callahan/Shannahan/Avery/etc. in front of the net on the PP and mix and match small/big guys as wingers.

    7. I don’t think that whole salary scenario has anything to do with it.

      The cold, hard facts are that Jagr will not be a Ranger next year. Niether will Straka or Shanahan. Roszival is playing himself into a poor contract situation with each passing game. With what I’ve seen of him this year, he can go, for all I care. Jagr is making close to $9 million this year. Do you think he’s worth that? Do you think he’ll take a pay-cut? He’s gone. Straka almost retired last year, so with Jags gone he’ll be out, too. Shanny will be 40. You want to know what 40 year old power forwards look like, see Recchi and Roberts.

      There will be plenty of money to resign Dawes, and with 1 season under his belt, even at 20 goals, will not command more than $1 million per.

    8. Doodie Machetto on

      MikeA, not a bad evaluation, my only concern is that Drury played center in Buffalo, not wing with Briere in the middle, as your post suggests.

      Beer Me! I didn’t say that quote, did I? I certainly don’t think that Byers can be a replacement for Orr. Just Hollweg. And I don’t consider Avery to be physical on the level that even Hollweg is. He is a shrimp. Besides, that quote is about Byers, why would you mention Avery?

      bklynblue, funny you mentioned Jessiman. Mike Richards just signed a 12 year, $70 million contract with Philly. He was selected 24th overall in 2003, where Jessiman was selected 12. In fact, Jessiman and Mike Boyle are the only two members of the 2003 draft yet to play a game. The difference for Boyle though is that after being drafted, he went to college for four years and is in his first season of the AHL, where he is 4th in rookie scoring, and has 6 more points than Jessiman in 4 less games. Ouch.

      By the way, here is a list of players selected in the first, and second rounds that we could’ve taken ahead of Jessiman:

      Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Steve Bernier, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Corey Perry, Patrick Eaves, Partrice Bergeron, Dan Fritsche, Matt Carle, and Shea Weber.

      Later round selections:

      Alexander Picard (3rd), Lee Stempniak (5th), Nigel Dawes (5th), Nathan Paetsch (7th), and Joe Pavelski (7th).

      GO JESSIMAN!

      Let’s play a game: Over or under for Hugh Jessiman: *one* NHL game.

    9. Jessiman isnt gonna be an NHL player, just not gonna happen. That was a bad pick. Hopefully Cherepanov and this Karl Haglon dude from Sweden they got this year can kind of be the ying to Jessiman’s yang.

      They should’ve picked Parise, but it was probably something stupid like “Oh, this guy’s dad essentially ended the late 60s/early 70s Rangers of Gilbert/Giacomin/etc. with one goal so we can’t pick his son” type deal.

      Giving Dawes over one million? It might not make a big deal to us, but this is Silus Stingy Sather we’re talking about, the same guy who wouldn’t give Marek Zidlicky $300,000 or Mattheui Schneider a little raise. He’s been good post lockout, but he’s still a penny pincher. It might also make the difference between weather or not they bring up Montoya or go with Valliquette.

      Just next season; please say no to Marion “Can’t Play In Thr Playoffs” Hossa and Marcus “Gonna Be The Wrong Side of 30 I’m having a good year because it’s my last big contract i’ll get-soon to be Valerei Kamensky part II in Broadway Blue” Naslund.

    10. Ya I was at the DC game too watching the mullet tribute. While they were showing a bunch of people from the 80’s I was like the last person will be Jagr and he was. When they showed his picture on the screen everyone booed. Then they showed Jagr sitting on the bench and I think he was laughing.

    11. Picking Jessiman is a bad move in hind-sight, but it was a pre-lockout draft. No one knew how the rules would be changed, letting players like Parise excel. If this was pre-lockout NHL, Gionta, Parise, Prucha, Dawes, etc. would be getting the shot kicked out of them on the nightly basis, or probably wouldn’t have even been up in the NHL.

      Not to make excuses, just trying to gain some perspective.

    12. Mike A – glad we have you to get to the bottom of the Dawes situation. read or watched one too many detective/crime stories.

    13. Mike A- maybe you’re on to something re this conspiracy theory. let’s see what else we can do

      play wide open like last night to keep Henrik’s stats down
      play Girardi or Tyutin with Malik for 2 minutes a shift
      play JJ and Straka with Dubinsky to make sure JJ does not meet his incentives (oh we’re doing that already)

    14. Haha, at least people are paying attention to my posts now. It’s a theory at the very least, never said it was true. This is Sather we’re talking about. I’m actually really LI Mike myself, lived there for many years, so to paraphrase Naughty By Nature; “Don’t go into Nassau cause you don’t understand Nassau, stay out of Nassau”

    15. Sorry DOODIE. My bad. it was ‘zzyzx’ that i was referring to. HE actually ref. YOUR post.

      It applies there b/c he was pointing to the fact that if you had a guy that played like hollweg, with much better fighting ability, better hockey skill than Orr,…losing my train of tought here, but if you take hollweg & orr, and add some talent – your result is sean avery. A PLAYER WE’RE MISSING REALLY BAD RIGHT NOW.

      As I said before, I would like to see a deal made. If not in the next week, certainly before the deadline. Every team wants the same thing in the NHL. A puck moving Dman to command the PP. I think if we have a bit of patience we’ll see it Bobby S.

      It’s nice to be competitive again after so long, and I for one can wait out the year or two longer to see a team that could be as successful as DET, and be good for a long time. Throw in a few Cups, and call it the best 10-year stretch the franchise has ever seen.

      A loss to the Caps isn’t the end of the world.

    16. czechthemout!!!!! on

      thats right beer me,a loss to the worst team in the league after being up by two goals isn’t a bad thing,it’s the type of loss that builds character and we now need to also lose to the second and third worst teams in the league than we are ready to compete for the stanley cup!!!!!!!!LOL,LOL

    17. czech that doesn’t happen until April. You can surrender now, but I doubt the NYR will join you. It’s slightly too early to come to that conclusion, unless that’s was your hope all along.

    18. DOODIE

      That really wasnt a softy, the puck clearly went off Girardi’s leg or hip. Not saying that Hank played his best, but still, he did what he could to keep the game close.

      BTW Doodie

      Please stop with the Jessiman stuff, lol your depressing the hell out of me, i knew about Getzlaf, and Parise in that draft, but i didnt know about Richards, Bergeron, and Perry. This guy is the biggest waste of a pick. To think we could have had one of those players, the worst part is, they are so important to there team.

      Jessiman embarrissed himself when he got beat up by that psycho Steve Downie.

    19. Henrik would return to form if we actually HIT the folks who park in front of his net with impunity.
      Prucha works hard & takes a pounding but he just seems to have lost his ability to put the puck in the net, & many times even ON net although he gets numerous chances.
      Avery is the HEART of our team. Rangers follow his lead & play harder & more physically with him in the game. Don’t know why someone else won’t lead the way in his absence.
      Scoring goals isn’t our real problem as long as we play our sound defensive game & don’t commit so many turnovers as evidenced by our scoring 2 games worth of goals (4) & losing. More physical play in front of our goal would help, as we have one of the best in the nets.

    20. Orr…Talented Mr. Colton…..

      Brashear is human??? Maybe UFO…but I will agree it is UGLY and REPUGNANT!!!! Whew…need a barf bag to look at it….

      LET’S GO RANGERS!!!

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