It is not unusual for your loyal correspondent to skip a road game (which I suppose makes me not-so-loyal, after all), but tonight’s game in San Jose marks a rare occasion: a regular season Rangers game in which not a single New York paper will be represented.
Both the Daily News and the Record have traveled regularly with the Rangers this season but skipped the week-long West Coast trip. And while the New York Post and Newsday were present for the back-to-back games in Anaheim and L.A., both papers decided to have their reporters return home rather than wait around an extra three days for tonight’s game against the league-leading Sharks.
The damage could be minimal. Since the Mats Sundin Saga has passed and the NHL is now in the midst of its Christmas roster freeze, there’s likely to be little in the way of news outside of the actual game, which we can all watch on TV or hear on the radio (and it’s not like a travel budget stopped Larry Brooks from writing “this critical and convincing argument of where the Rangers’ real problems lie”:http://www.nypost.com/seven/12202008/sports/rangers/sathers_cap_woes_simply_indefensible_145092.htm)
But what happens in the game is very often only part of the story. And there’s always a chance of an injury or an event behind-the-scenes that requires greater scrutiny. Plus, in this era of consistent cutbacks at newspapers, with hockey coverage already suffering worse than other sports, it’s still a dangerous precedent. For someone like myself who is technically on vacation and who has been more a reader than a reporter the past few days, I’ll be the first to admit we’re all missing out.
According to people in the Rangers organization who have been with the team for years, it’s the first time they can remember that at least one beat writer hasn’t been at a game. Granted, its a practice that’s become fairly standard in cities like L.A. and Phoenix, where hockey is seen as a fringe sport at best.
But this is New York, and Rangers fans expect more.
Update, 5 p.m.: A quick clarification: For one, Zipay says it was a mutual decision between himself and his editors at Newsday to have him return home after the first two games. And it’s fair to say both reporters would have stayed in California if the Rangers signed Mats Sundin.
Also, no lineup changes for tonight, meaning Corey Potter truly was only called up for insurance purposes.