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Category: Rants

NHL Drops The Ball With Simmonds

In case you missed it, Wayne Simmonds was not given a suspension for screaming a homophobic slur at Sean Avery during Monday night’s preseason game.  Apparently, Simmonds “forgot” what he said immediately after the game, but then somehow remembered during his disciplinary hearing on Tuesday.  When he “remembered”, he said he did not use a slur at all.  In fact, he was just asking Avery if he wanted to get some ice cream with him after the game.  Nice gesture, right?

So, the NHL listened to Simmonds, and decided he was right, and issued no suspension for the winger.  After all, it was just him asking Avery to get ice cream and discuss their difference.  But alas, there is video proof of this:

Funny how the refs say they didn’t hear anything, but there’s a zebra who goes and talks to him just one second after Simmonds ends his rant.  Maybe he whispered it?

The NHL dropped the ball on this one.  How can you possibly say that nothing happened?  I mean…come on…really?  Which blind guy reviewed this? Kobe Bryant got fined $100,000 for using the same slur, and Simmonds got nothing even remotely close.

But here’s the kicker: I’m willing to bet my savings account that if this were directed at anyone other than Avery, there would have been a huge fine and suspension.  But because it’s Avery, and his reputation precedes him, there was no penalty.  Amazing how the off-ice decisions mirror the on-ice decisions.  But that’s a story for a different day.

Listen, Avery is no angel. He has said and done way too many questionable things to get the benefit of the doubt.  However, this doesn’t even need the benefit of the doubt, this is clear-cut.  This isn’t about Avery, this is about the NHL essentially telling the world that you can’t have any discrimination for race, but discrimination for homophobia is just A-OK.  They should be one in the same.  Both are egregious acts of intolerance and ignorance, and should be punished the same way.

Good job dropping the ball, Colin Campbell. You just undid everything that Brendan Shanaban did in the past week with one poor decision.

MSG Renovation Needs To Scrap The “Sky Bridges”

Madison Square Garden is special. Some say it’s the prime location, some say it’s the history, others say it’s the people who fill the stands. Being the eternal centrist that I am, I think it’s all of the above. However, having been to arenas all over the country, I have to say that MSG is also special because of its unique architecture, which everyone knows is currently being redesigned.

There is no other arena from here to the Pacific that looks and feels the way MSG does. Most arenas I have been in look the same, even the new ones, they’re ubiquitous.  MSG is the only arena I can think of where you can look to the heavens after an amazing goal or a clutch save and see that gorgeous golden ceiling. Well, that’s about to change…

Dolan and company are renovating MSG, for good reasons no doubt, but the addition of a party bridge or sky bridge or whatever they’re calling it, makes no sense to me. It is not good for the fan experience and more importantly (to the suits); it doesn’t bring in any additional revenue.

Adding floor level suites makes sense. Companies have spent millions on sponsorships and in return received a box miles away from the ice. Now they’ll finally have a view reflective of the dollars they spend. Good for them.

Bringing back the Blue Seats makes sense. It’s part of the Garden’s history. The concourses will also be bigger (thank god), and there’s even a party deck – which will be up behind the Blue Seats – for those who wish to get out of their seats and socialize. No complaints here.

But this sky bridge thing is bugging me and I don’t get its purpose. Anyone care to explain?

A couple of years back fans launched lights from their thundersticks on to the ice endangering the players they supposedly adore. And now you want these people suspended over the arena? Um bad idea…

Ok, other than me, I’m sure there aren’t any other fans that care about that. Fair enough, but what about the view?

The whole purpose of a renovated arena is to make better sightlines. What kind of sightline do you have if there’s a bridge in your peripheral vision? If you look at the computerized mock-up, these bridges look pretty distracting. They’re right in your line of sight.

The MSG Renovation is a good thing, but if they want it to be a great thing, lose the bridges…

Weighing The Decision To Turn Pro

Everyone knows both John Tortorella and Assistant Coach Mike Sullivan threw tons of praise at Chris Kreider this past year and both coaches made it known via the media (Andrew Gross) that they would have liked Kreider to turn pro.

Soon thereafter, it didn’t take too long for Rangers fans to debate whether or not Kreider should turn pro after just two years of college.  And after reading most of your comments during that time, it looked like things were pretty split.

Kreider certainly made a tough decision, a decision only he and his family can ultimately make. However, if I were his friend or his agent, I’d probably would have told him to go for it.  He’s performed well while he has been at BC and he’s done great things at the international level.

He may not have had the sexiest stats, but he certainly has pro speed, pro hands, and most importantly a pro body (6’1 200lbs) that can probably handle the physical grind of 82 games against men. Ultimately what he’ll need to work on is his hockey IQ, which could have been better served under the tutelage of Rangers/Hartford personnel.

At college, especially a competitive one like BC, the emphasis can often be more about winning than becoming what it takes to be an NHLer. In the end Kreider made his decision to return to school, but there is a lesson in all of this for future Rangers prospects.

If education is the concern with these youngsters, you can always sell them on what Jack Johnson and Ryan Miller did and take classes during the offseason. The scholarship of course is gone, but hey your signing bonus should take care of that pricey education anyway.

I’d also push these kids to get their names on a contract for insurance reasons. In case there is some god awful scenario where someone gets injured and can’t play anymore, college will pay them zipo.  If a kid gets injured while playing at the NHL or AHL level, he can cash out on a (seven) figure insurance settlement that would set them up for life (Dan Blackburn anyone?). I know that may sound trivial or anecdotal, but hang out around hockey rinks and front offices enough and you will meet more former standouts who got injured than one can count.

As far as whether or not the pressures of being a pro would kill their development ultimately depends on what’s going on in between the ears of these kids.  Sure MDZ and Grachev have had tough times and moronic fans prematurely called for their heads.

But you know what?  Ultimately, if they come out of it strong they will be better off for it. If you can survive New York City scrutiny, you can conquer anything.  If you don’t believe me, ask Mark Messier.  He had to slay the “dragons and demons” before ending the curse.

Get that sword ready Mr. Kreider, we will be seeing you soon.

Drury =/= Naslund

Chris Drury’s decision to retire is not under the same circumstances as Markus Naslund’s decision to retire.  Comparing the two is irresponsible, wrong, careless, and to be honest, idiotic.  It actually makes me ashamed to be a Ranger fan because of all the people out there bashing Drury’s decision to retire.  It’s like Drury can’t do anything right in New York.

With Naslund, he retired of his own free will.  He did not want to play in the NHL.  He wanted to return to Sweden, to his home, to his family.  So he did.  He did what was right for him.  The Rangers had no plans on buying him out.

Drury, on the other hand, still wanted to play in the NHL.  He did not want to or plan on retiring.  He realized his time with the Rangers was up, and prepared for life post-Rangers.  At 35 years old (just turned it today), he wasn’t expecting a long term deal.  He, like pretty much every single person in the hockey world, expected to get a call from a team needing a veteran presence to guide youth.  Naturally, the Islanders and Avalanche were the rumored teams.  It turns out those rumors were false.

Now, on August 19, Drury had not received any offers, and it did not look like he was going to receive any.  It also does not appear that he was going to be given any professional tryouts.  Not receiving offers was not in Drury’s plan, and definitely wasn’t in his vision for how the offseason was going to progress.  He did not want to have the situation linger, so he retired.

Chris Drury did not screw the Rangers.  He is not greedy.  He did not purposefully force a buyout and then retire.  Any inkling that he did is just stupid.  He did not get offers, so he made the decision to retire.  It is sad that his career ended in such a manner.

Guest Post by Sene: In The Spirit Of Youth…Why Not Get W(e)ise About Things?

I opened my email last night and received an email that intrigued me.  It was from a fan of the blog (Sene) who was just pitching a post (more of a rant) to me about Dale Weise.  This is a hot topic for Ranger fans, especially since the arrest of Sean Avery.  Without further ado, here is Sene’s post/rant:

The Rangers have been wiping the behind of Sean Avery for long enough.  With all the young talent that has been developed in the system and its recent success, why not give Dale Weise a (money saving) slot in sean Avery’s stead?

Weise would be more support than Avery for Mike Rupp and Brandon Prust in the brawler department. He would also most likely be a bit more tame and respectable, taking on a Prust like role. The reason for this line of thought: John Tortorella. We’ve all seen Tort’s famous multiple smacks to the back of Avery (and Dubinsky) after they made disappointing decisions that cost the team. Such smacks led to tears in both players eyes. Not anger.

This coach commands respect from the team and for the team. Young players tend to look up to individuals like Torts and want to impress them like a son would his father. These players have not made it rich yet by any means. They are working for contracts, not putting up subpar numbers for a high salary while interning for Vogue.

If Avery is unimpressed by Tortorellas tactics, that’s fine. The Cup count is at Torts:1 Avery: 0.  Look at what Torts did in Tampa with its core youth. John Tortorella was the cherry on Brad Richards ice cream sundae when making his decision on what team had whored themselves out enough to bring him to town. Tort’s bond with Richards was strong enough, that said player was fine promising him nine years of service. (Maybe six years and a buyout).

While not yet proven, who is to say Weise can’t be the 2010-2011 Bruins’ Milan Lucic for the 2011-2012 Blueshirts.  He has the both the physical size and the heart.

Lets finally admit that as nice as the idea may seems (Mr. Brooks) , it probably wouldn’t be Avery to spark a long term flame under Marian Gaborik’s behind. People in the press box need to come to grips with the fact that Avery is just an agitator; no more, no less. Give a kiss goodbye, would you? Give Weise a go. What’s his criminal record like anyway?

Sene can be reached via his Twitter, or his homepage.

Side note:  This got me thinking.  If you have any ideas you want to pitch to us as posts, definitely feel free to shoot us an email.  You don’t have to write a full on post if you aren’t comfortable, but anything you want to see us discuss is always welcomed. 

Bettman Has The Final Call On Avery

If I was Sean Avery, I would be worried. I wouldn’t be worried so much about the fans reactions, any bad feelings likely ends the first time Sean hits someone into the boards. I wouldn’t worry so much about Glen’s reaction, the first time Sean feeds a teammate for an assist or scores a goal, likely furthers himself from being a roster casualty. And I definitely wouldn’t worry about Torts’ reaction, because if he had the power to get rid of Avery, it would have happened after the 2009 post-season…and numerous times thereafter.

No, the only person I would worry about is the reaction of Gary Bettman and company, since they treat Avery different than they do everybody else.

Sean plays under a different set of rules than the rest of NHL. Unfortunately for him, he also lives under a different code of ethics off the ice as well.  Almost three years ago, Bettman basically told Avery that he was living on his 9th live. Well is this the final straw? Nothing is certain, but you can bet that Sean will have to answer to NHL HQ before this thing is over.

If mouthing off has put Avery in the NHL doghouse before, then what exactly happens when he’s actually arrested? Any other player in the league likely gets a slap on the hand and is told, “here’s your lollipop kid, go home.” But Sean is different. Sean is despised at HQ, and the fact that fans still adore him, makes him even more despised.

To some people, this recent incident is easily forgettable, probably because people can relate. If you grew up in the suburbs, chances are you’ve had a least one party broken up by the police in your lifetime.

Of course, no one condones having an altercation with a police officer, but who knows how that really went down? Did Sean drunkenly fall into the police officer? Did he just slam his front door and accidentally catch the guy’s hand? Who knows? We don’t have the details, and TMZ isn’t a reliable source, even though Larry Brooks seems to think so.

While the fans may not lose a wink of sleep over this, since we are probably comparing this incident to Plaxico or Vick, Bettman likely is. And he could use this as an opportunity to make an example out of him. If I was Sean, I would be saying a prayer before that meeting…

Now before I open this up, I will say that I am not big Avery fan. To be frank, I think he’s overrated, and there are many other players that deserve to get the media’s attention before he does. However, that will never get in the way in what I think is just. Avery doesn’t deserve the pedestal the fans put him on, but he also doesn’t deserve irritable scrutiny by Gary Bettman either.

Does he deserve to get sh*t from Torts for taking bad penalties and for killing every rush by constantly being off-sides? You betcha. But does he deserve to play under a diffrent set of rules because he’s mouthy, or because he likes fashion, or because he stands up for causes that aren’t always symmetrical with blue-collar sports fans’ beliefs?

The answer is no. The answer should always be about hockey.

The People vs. THN

In a sport that lacks sufficient media coverage and usually falls short of having the unbiased analysis needed to truly grow the sport, hockey fans are often left listening to and reading over opinionated idiots. No media platform offers more tired preconceived bull s*** than The Hockey News.

What was once a proud magazine that delivered compelling narratives has turned into a cesspool of verbal diarrhea that blows in any direction with neither purpose nor principle. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a place for over opinionated stupidity. You’d just figured it wouldn’t come from an entity that has been covering hockey since 1947.

Adam Proteau’s little jab at the Rangers/Sather’s acquisition of Richards is just another case of lazy journalism, which has been the best adjective to describe THN since Ken Campbell was hired.  This is essentially the same formula THN rolled out last year when they emphatically claimed that the Rangers fate were tied to that of Marian Gaborik. It’s almost like this guy regurgitated THN’s 2010 pre-season rankings.

And were they even close to being right last year?

Of course not. To no surprise the Rangers succeeded without Marian Gaborik, and probably could have defeated the Caps in the post-season had Ryan Callahan not been injured.

Anyway, it’s not just Proteau that’s dragging THN’s “analysis” down. Last year you had Griggs saying “there’s not a lot to get excited about when it comes to the future on Broadway. Unless you like overpaying free agents.”  I mean there’s not a single hockey publication in the world that would agree with that statement. Seriously, how much effort does it take to read up on our prospects and learn that we have one of the best minor leagues systems out there?

Then you have Ken Campbell, who uses frequent leaps in logic (like rookie initiation dinners as a reason to be anti salary cap) to prove otherwise worthless points. It almost feels like that these writers hate on us for two reasons.

A) They’re jealous that the Rangers actually spend money more efficiently than their beloved Maple Leafs/Canadiens.

B) They’re just using negativity to generate page-views.

Take your pick.

To me, nothing screams phony more than someone who always goes against the establishment.  But in writing as in life, the loudest people in the room are seldom the smartest.

The official verdict: I think The Onion might have better hockey coverage than this disaster of a publication.

The Obligatory Stamkos Post

Warning: this post is a rant.  If you don’t like sarcasm or me being somewhat arrogant, then don’t read it.

Well, it’s July 13, and Steven Stamkos hasn’t been signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning.  This really isn’t anything surprising.  Stamkos is a star, and he expects to be paid like a star.  However, he is a RFA, and has little leverage.  He doesn’t even have arbitration rights.  But yet, there has been no offer sheet, no trade, and no signing.  Every single hockey blog has asked why their team hasn’t presented Stamkos with an offer sheet or traded for him. (If you want to skip to the part where I discuss the Rangers, it’s after the jump.)

Well, I can answer both for you.  I’ll start with the latter.  He isn’t being traded. Period.  End of story.  Don’t bother with the “what-ifs” until December, when it’s a “sign him or he can’t play for the year” scenario.

Now, why hasn’t he been offer sheeted, like some in the media think he should be? Well, let’s start with the basics: It’s poor form and poor relationship management to offer sheet a team’s star player.

But Dave, why do relationships with other teams matter?

Well Jimmy, it’s because if you have poor relationships with other teams, good luck trying to trade with them.  Yes, that was an R-Truth reference.

Anyway, more reasons why Stamkos hasn’t been presented an offer sheet: It would have to be a ridiculous sum of money to both a) sign him and b) not have Steve Yzerman match the offer.  I’m talking a max contract until Stamkos is 50.  Ok, maybe not 50, but probably until he’s 27 (five years).  That’s $12 million a season.  That’s Marc Staal’s AND Marian Gaborik’s contracts combined!

A third reason: Compensation.  Not many teams are willing to hamstring their cap (see point above) AND give up four first round picks in the process.  An offer sheet for Stamkos would actually be counter productive.  It kills your farm system and your cap.  People complain about the Rangers having $12 million tied up in Player X and Player Y….but Stamkos’ contract would be a combination of the two.

These are very obvious reasons as to why he hasn’t been presented with an offer sheet, but yet a ton of people STILL think he should be.  Lesson number one: Just because it was published doesn’t mean it’s a) accurate, b) thought out, or c) all of the above.  Just because a team needs to hit the cap floor doesn’t mean they are going to destroy their future cap situation by signing Stamkos to an absurd contract.

Let’s also factor in that the Islanders, who hemorrhage more money than desperate fat guys at a strip club, are not operating on a cap that is dictated by the NHL.  They are operating on a cap that is dictated by Charles Wang.  That internal cap is likely right at the current salary cap floor, or possibly even below it.  Would it shock anyone if the Islanders didn’t hit the cap floor?  Maybe saving that $10 million is more important to Wang than the mid-round draft pick penalty it will cost to get to the floor*.

*-No one knows what the penalty for this is yet. I am guessing it won’t be extreme.

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ESPN’s “Ultimate Standings” Nothing Short Of A Mockery

If you haven’t seen them yet, ESPN released its annual “Ultimate Standings” where they rank every professional sports team in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. The list ranks each team based on ownership, title track, coaching, stadium experience, affordability, fan relations, players, and bang for the buck (which is the same thing as affordability if you ask me).

My problem with this list is they don’t admit that it is completely subjective. They try to quantify these rankings with weighted averages, polling, and determining a team’s cost to win ratio, but they completely do all of this rather unscientifically.

So where do the Rangers rank? 85th out of 122. That’s the bottom third…yikes!

Look, I know hockey will never get a fair shake in anything ESPN produces, but what really baffled me about this list wasn’t the fact that the Rangers were behind perennial losers like the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, and Jacksonville Jaguars (who often have home games blacked out), but that NHL teams like the Senators, Flames, Kings, Stars (really, they were bankrupt?), Sabres, and Ducks were all chosen over the Blueshirts.

Hey maybe I’m biased having friends working for teams across all major sports, and perhaps I am aware of too much inside scoop. Still, on what planet do losing organizations that can’t draw, draft, retain core players, or spend anywhere near the salary cap surpass an organization that can do all of the above consistently?

Also, in case you’re wondering, no NY area team cracked the top 50. I’d bet my entire wardrobe that it’s because of this “affordability/bang for your buck” element. How could a NY team ever be an affordable attraction in this day and age? This is the most expensive market on the continent by a pretty wide margin. Ticket prices will always be reflective of that.

Anyway, I hope this didn’t come off as an angry post, I’m actually laughing as I write this.

Brad Richards Is Not Injury Prone

All of the focus of the offseason talk will be around Brad Richards.  He fills a big hole for the Rangers, and is the only premier free agent on the market this summer.  It makes sense that all the talk will focus around him.  When looking at Richards, the talk centers are two things, of which only one is true.  The first is that he will command a high salary, which is very true (assume he gets Marian Gaborik type money).  The second is that he is injury prone.  That can’t be further from the truth.  In fact, Richards is the exact opposite of injury prone.

Richards has played at least 80 games in all but two seasons in his career.  He even played 84 games in 2007-2008, when he was traded to Tampa Bay to Dallas.  He missed significant time in 2008-2009 when he broke his wrist, playing just 56 games.  The wrist has not bothered him since that season.

What people are focusing on is the concussion this past season, which limited him to “just” 72 games.  Concussions are a tricky thing, and I can understand the concern when signing a player to a long-term deal who has had a concussion in the past.  But that doesn’t explain the blatant mis-labeling of Richards as both concussion prone and injury prone.  One concussion does not mean either.  It is actually very tiresome to have this discussion a lot, hence this rant.

Let’s all take a step back and think about this rationally.  Is someone who has suffered just one concussion and one broken wrist over a period of ten seasons injury prone?  Would you call this player injury prone?  Of course not.  Let’s remember that Derek Stepan had a concussion prior to the 2010 Frozen Four Championship game.  He still played, and he had a great rookie season this year.

Let’s stop with the concussion prone and injury prone talk with Richards now, ok?  Please?  It’s completely illogical and irrational.  If you want to fear that giving a long-term contract to a 31 year old is risky, then that makes a lot more sense.  Worried about concussions?  Sure, I mean, let’s worry about Henrik Lundqvist head-butting the puck every game too.  That killed Mike Richter’s career.  See what I did there?