Guest blogger: Mike Aker … an alternate NHL universe

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Alternate Reality Rangers: How The Last Lockout Changed The Scope of The NHL….Maybe Forever

By Mike Aker

Whether on television with various incarnations of Star Trek, in comic books with the X-Men, or even in Greek literature, we’ve all learned about an alternate reality, where there exists another realm that might be similar to our own, but is slightly different by as little as one or two minor or major events.

Even readers here who may not be sci fi geeks or care for the Classics have most likely fantasized or at least been involved in discussions about an alternate reality when it comes to sports and specifically the New York Rangers.  The ultimate fate and decision to prematurely part with players like Rick Middleton, Mike Ridley, and Sergei Zubov among others, and the health of athletes like Jean Ratelle and Ulf Nilsson has often been talked about for decades and is still debated on message boards across the internet to discuss how different things would have been, and then of course there’s the infamous “I’m not going to Edmonton” disagreement between Mr. and Mrs. Nylander in the summer of 2007 after the Rangers decided to part ways with the underrated center.

While we’ll never know the answer to any of these “What If?!” scenarios, it does bring up the very chilling point that sometimes as little as one or two events, a chance meeting, or a split-second decision based on impulse or to “prove a point” can have a direct impact on the lives of others for years to come. Even hockey fans.  Two such events were postponing the beginning of the 2012-13 National Hockey League season and ultimately deciding to play an abridged 48-game version from January that concluded with the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks this past June.

It’s interesting to think about how different everything would be in Rangerland right now if the entire season was cancelled instead of having the January sprint.

The biggest difference of course starts with right behind the bench.  We’re all debating how new coach Alain Vigneault will finally(!!!) fix this Rangers power play, and whether or not Brassard and Scott Arniel can coexist, when with no season, we’re all thinking of what new fitness tests John Tortorella has in store for his usual training camp, and whether or not Mike Sullivan WILL have a clue on the power play.

Injuries and players performance are something else radically different. With no season, Callahan, Staal, and Stralman never suffer serious injuries, J.T. Miller’s still lingering wrist problem isn’t a concern, and everyone’s favorite whipping boy and possible (hopeful?) summer of 2014 buyout candidate Brad Richards has enough time to either get in shape for the upcoming season or is quickly scratched and doesn’t leave management and fans debating if it’s age vs. fitness.  Before I continue, keep in mind that Carl Hagelin, who originally hurt his shoulder in the Swedish Elite League late last year is in fact ready to start the season … because his surgery is up to six months earlier.

The final difference would have to do with the depth in the organization or as everyone found out this season, the lack of.  No 2012-13 season means Gaborik is still here and no John Moore, Brassard, or Dorsett.  Instead of having to rely on Kris Newburry and Michael Haley for fourth-line duty, Tortorella would already have the prospect pool of Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, Michael St. Croix, and others available for either spot duty or fulltime service, and the Chris Kreider “Yo-Yo” world tour never exists.  With these rookie options and one or two other potential differences, maybe depth would have never been an issue in the first place, or maybe it would have been worse than before. We shall never know.

The overall makeup of the league would have been very different as well. Does Ilya Kovalchuk continue his self banishment (or more like his wife’s) to Russia? What other team does our favorite lovable mercenary-for-hire Jaromir Jagr join (surely it wouldn’t be the Devils)? Does Boston have to tell Tyler Seguin to grow up somewhere else or is it status quo come training camp? Are Nik Antropov, Mason Raymond, Ron Hainsey, and other notables still unemployed into early August and maybe if they’re lucky have to settle for training camp invites because of cap restraints? With a fully missed season, are the Coyotes still in Glendale?

Finally, the biggest question of all; does this awful (as Ebert would say I hated hated hated hated this) and unbalanced realignment go through? Are the Rangers playing in an awfully named division, and which sixth-place team with more points than a third-place team in another division and misses the playoffs will have the most furious fan base?

Ultimately it will be business as usual for the National Hockey League and its 30 franchises and fan basses this September. But the next time John Moore skates a puck out of the Rangers zone, Jason Pomminville scores a power-play goal for the Wild, or the Sedin twins lay their bodies on the line to block shots, think of how different the league would be now had the entire 2012-13 season been missed.

Photo by Getty Images.

 

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71 Comments

  1. Good morning, boneheads!

    Well written, Mike. Thanks!
    I’ll take it. Having an abridged season was still better than not having a season at all, no matter what impact it will or will not have. You make the best of what your life gives you. Hockey included.

  2. Second again…nice to see a fresh new post this morning! Thanks for the narrative of almost-beens, Mike!;>))

    History is what we are given, and history is what we mull over when we contemplate the future…other than prayer, that’s what we have been handed as food for thought. Of course, science and theory do account for some genius in changing the course of history…so much for 6 AM epistemological rants…ciao. May the gods of hockey inform us that BR has been traded for some first round picks!

  3. Realignment is betman bonus points worst idea yet. I think it’s even worse than the dumb trapezoid.

  4. Guest bloggers are the best on

    And just to be clear, I do not meant to disparage our esteemed non-guest bloggers. I just want to show my appreciation for those who give us content to read over the long offseason

  5. Thanks Mike! What ifs are always fun to kick around. Like ilb, I’m glad we had the season we did.

  6. ‘New Post’ Town Crier has been laid off due to budget constraints and sequestration.

  7. Rob in Beantown on

    New York Rangers @NYRangers
    TRANSACTION: The #NYR have re-signed forward Brandon Mashinter (@BMash23)

    The Rangers sure have a lot of borderline forwards on the roster

  8. Rob in Beantown on

    McDonagh – Girardi
    Staal – Del Zotto
    Moore – Stralman
    Falk?

    Who is the odd man out?

  9. _TRANSACTION: The #NYR have re-signed forward Brandon Mashinter (@BMash23)_

    Another puzzle piece to mediocrity kingdom!

  10. Can Falk drop the mitts? We really need someone else who can dance. Dorsett is willing but he can’t police the whole team. Who fills that role, Boyler? Zucc?.

  11. Uh oh! Guess what day it is?
    Guess…what…day…IT…is?

    Aww C’mon…I know you can hear me!

  12. Moore delivered a decent pugilistic performance once last season. Doubt, though, that he will take on the tough guys as Ash, Bicks, and Dorsett did, and will.

  13. Rob in Beantown on

    Bungee cord Lundqvist to the net and tell him the trapezoid has been extended to cover anything that isn’t in the crease

  14. If McDonuts and Moore, our only true speed on D, are to be given a more extended leash in the O zone, they’ll need to be paired with someone who can get back and I don’t see it as presently constituted.

  15. If the coach told DelZ he needed to be bungeed to his focus, he’d turn up the radio and tie his legs to the steering wheel.

  16. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    Think it’s time for an offseason WBM(c)

    0) Boyle
    1) Richards
    2) MDZ
    3) Nash
    4) Pouliot
    5) D. Moore

  17. Rob in Beantown on

    Boyle is 0 by tradition. The WBM wouldn’t be right if it were any other way.

  18. Hi, ok I’m ready for the season to begin and I would like GO time now. Thank you very much!

  19. Ahh, Musky..The only legacy Torts left behind..aside from the chunk of Marc Staal’s eye ball that’s in a little glass jar somewhere..

  20. Good evening all! That was quite funny ilb!!! I see that changing diapers hasn’t ruined your sense of humor :)

  21. Fun read. Thanks, Mike!

    Is there a single GM in the league who sees Richards in the same light as Canadian broadcasters? If so, find him and get three first round draft picks, a high level prospect and a scoring power forward from them.

    However, speaking of alternative realities, I doubt any gm would take Richards for any package/price. Maybe if Hank and McDonagh are included.

  22. Hags and MDZ for Kassian? It makes perfect sense. Torts loves how Hags smells on the power play and he thinks MDZ is swell. Kassian is the type of player Torts hates. How can this trade not happen?

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