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Category: Rants

Dear Rangers, Don’t Fear The Power Of HBO’s 24/7, Embrace It

It’s long been known by both Knicks and Rangers fans, as well as the media who covers them, that Dolan operates MSG behind an Iron Curtain. Interviews are rarely given, team analysis is supposedly directed to never focus on the negatives, and the message always appears to be very controlled.

Things were so bad a couple of years back that when Dolan hired Donnie Walsh, Donnie had to answer a litany of questions at his first press conference about whether his media policy would be any less stringent than past regimes. Things have improved a little on the Knicks side since then, but the relationship between the Rangers Front Office and the fans/media remains tense.

Glen Sather has been the Rangers GM for over a decade, and Rangers fans still don’t know him any better than they did the day he moved to New York from Edmonton. Whether or not this is because of Dolan’s policy or because Sather is just aloof is unclear. Either way, how many times can you say you have heard the man speak? Now compare them to beloved Capitals owner, Ted Leonsis. Big difference right? Well, Ted blogs, tweets, and does interviews.

Then there is Tortorella, who operates in a Tom Coughlin/Bill Belichick, close-to-the-vest type fashion when it comes to divulging information. He’s quick to tell you what he thinks of your questions (as Larry Brooks can attest to), but not so much about his reasoning behind his decisions.

All of this makes me think of The Joker’s infamous line, why so serious?

And why are they so serious? What could Torts or Glen possibly say that will distract or disrupt this team? A better question, will their inhibitions with the media affect what we see on HBO’s 24/7?

The optimist in me says that Bettman called these guys and explained the positive effect this show had on how people view and understand professional hockey. The pessimist in me says that the Rangers PR department will demand to see the final edit and cut out anything diehard hockey fans might find interesting.

If the Rangers Front Office is smart they will use 24/7 to their advantage, and this includes how we perceive Sather and Tortorella as people. For Torts, by allowing us into his office and into the Rangers locker room unfiltered, we can learn what it truly takes to coach a young and upcoming hockey team in the world’s toughest city. For Sather, I am willing to bet all my silk ties that if he actually opens up to HBO’s cameras, he will change cynical opinions of him FOR THE BETTER.

Remember, people always fear what they can’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer. Maybe it’s time for Rangers fans to understand what really goes on behind close doors. Maybe it will be a start to repairing our relationship.

Disgraceful

Most of you who read this blog regularly know that we are generally optimistic here at BSB. It’s easy to complain all the time, and complaining gets webpage hits. That’s not what we are about here. We generally try to find the silver lining with the Rangers, and prior to this year they have been few and far between. But last night’s performance, when combined with poor performances in Buffalo and Ottawa, was an absolute disgrace. There is no silver lining after watching the Rangers act like they would rather play golf in April than be in the playoffs.

News flash to the Rangers, it’s April, and it’s 30 degrees. You won’t be playing golf even if you miss the playoffs. After last night’s putrid performance, Carolina is just three points back with a game in hand. That’s not the same comfortable lead you worked so hard to build up when you went 8-1-1 prior to the losses against Buffalo and the Islanders. Where was the urgency from the Rangers?

Let me re-phrase that question: Where was the urgency from the Rangers not named Henrik Lundqvist?

The effort on offense wouldn’t have bothered me so much last night if they played in front of Hank. He has been their rock in net for six years, and has been the only reason why the Rangers have made the playoffs for half of those years. If they didn’t want to play for the playoffs, at least play for Lundqvist.

They were beat to loose pucks, they missed assignments, they left people open in front of the net, they have been letting people run their goalie with no consequence, they just don’t appear to care. These are the most important games of the year, and the Rangers look to be sleepwalking through them. They have four games remaining, and all four are winnable games. Get it in gear Rangers, or suffer the wrath of New Yorkers who will compare you to the New York Mets.

But since we are the eternal optimists here, let’s end this rant on a high note. There are plenty of things to be excited for in the future. The Rangers this year have shown that they have great depth at scoring, and the high end talent to compliment this depth is hopefully en route (Chris Kreider, Christian Thomas). The Rangers defense is one of the best in the game, and the youngest in the game, and this is with Steve Eminger and Matt Gilroy splitting decent minutes as a third pair. They have an All-World goaltender. Most of the pieces for a Cup run are in place, but there are a few missing pieces here and there. The plan is working.

Time To Criticize

This isn’t an emotionally fueled rant that was written immediately after the game, this is about something that has started to eat away at me the last few weeks. Tortorella has admirably stood by – and in front of – his players. He’s been kind when they’ve made mistakes and we all know it’s a young team so it’s only fair mistakes will happen as they grow. However, as in all walks of life sometimes the proverbial kick up the backside (AKA genuine criticism) is the best course of action.

This Rangers team cannot finish. At all. To the point where chances are made and no matter how good the chance is you do not expect the Blue shirt to score. Now, it’s time to call out Dubinsky, Callahan, Anisimov and several others. Yes, I have just called out a few of the Rangers royalty and it’s deserved. I don’t know how many times this season I have screamed at the screen for Callahan to lift the puck on a gilt edged chance but it’s a lot. I don’t know how many times I have seen Dubinsky choose the wrong option close in front but it’s a lot. Anisimov? How often does he actually win one-on-one battles around the net? You see where I am going?…

And the most frustrating part of it all is that it’s amendable. Scoring is, in my opinion, technique and that can be taught. Creating/Getting the chances is about instinct and you can’t necessarily teach that. It’s similar whatever the sport. If its finding space in front of the net in hockey, timing a run behind the defender in soccer or losing your coverage as a receiver in football, it’s knowing what to do in that moment. The annoying thing is, the Rangers seem to have this instinct, what they don’t have is technique and ability. So, this calling out is also aimed at the coaching staff – they need to teach. You may all disagree and that’s fine but something has to be said.

Ryan Callahan, the overall package, what he is and does; he may be one of the top 5 of that kind of player in the whole league but he is a god damn awful finisher. Now is the time to get him in practice and drill it in to him – hundreds of shots. Every practice. Same goes for others on the team. This needs to be public criticism. They need to be aware of their faults because being nice and saying they are young only goes so far. Their major deficiency is costing a serious amount of points. This team has good upside and a bright future but only if they start to convert occasionally. So… Tortorella and Sullivan – this criticism goes for you as much as it goes for the players. Let’s try and learn to finish shall we?

A Rant About Lazy Journalism

Let me begin with this lazy piece of journalism from THN’s John Grigg:

Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan have showed promise in spurts this year, but after them, Marc Staal and a couple of guys in the system, there’s not a lot to get excited about when it comes to the future on Broadway. Unless you like overpaying free agents.

Dear Mr Grigg; how wrong can you be? How lazy can you be? If anyone else was this lazy in their place of employment their job would likely be under threat. Mr Grigg is wrong as there is alot to be excited about in terms of the future and that is not an opinion coming from biased Rangers fans but from Hockeys future, a widely respected prospect website. Recently ranked 9th overall (of 30, obviously) that puts the Rangers in the upper echelon of NHL teams in terms of having potential NHL’ers on the horizon. Many current Rangers prospects are tearing up their respective junior leagues, prospects such as Mats Zuccarello are turning it around in the AHL and the Rangers recent draft history and ability to turn middle round picks into value is a good one.

Then there is the Rangers free agency issues, which is a dated theory. This is likely to be an unfortunate stain on the organization for decades but one or two contracts aside – especially recently – and the Rangers dealings haven’t been bad at all. They got rid of the Redden problem, the contract for Alex Frolov cannot be mocked as it was very low risk high reward (regardless of his current performance levels) and when scanning the Rangers roster the majority of it is drafted by the Rangers or made up of trade acquisitions. All of this makes you wonder how significant and relevant free agents are in the Rangers recent history. In fact when considering the free agency element on the roster right now, Marian Gaborik has been a significant success and is usually deserving of his salary, Ruslan Fedotenko has been a solid depth signing and even though Derek Boogaard is overpaid somewhat (although it was only a minor raise from his Minnesota deal) he did address a need when he was signed. So what really is the issue?

Free agency – for every team – can be hit and miss. The Rangers have had their share of misses such as Ales Kotalik or Aaron Voros but rather than always writing unoriginal columns pointing these misses out how about highlighting the excellent returns Glen Sather was able to get when he brought in the likes of Steve Eminger and Brandon ‘Part of the Core’ Prust. That isnt written about because its simply not cool to praise a guy like Sather. Praise also doesn’t generate site hits or sell papers like negativity does. I’m OK with journalists such as John Grigg criticizing the Rangers. It sells papers and fills columns and sometimes it certainly is warranted but it also needs to be accurate. The Rangers have nine players on the roster right now that they developed and have eight players who are 25 and under, a figure which increases if you take the age up to a still young 26.  The Rangers are young, have shown they have potential and have a solid future, they are indeed performing adequately during a transition year. No reason to think pessimistically right now.

Now Let’s All Take A Step Back From The Cliff

The Rangers are 1-2-1 for the season. It’s been four games, out of 82 total. Sure, the Rangers have some injuries, and some very tough injuries at that. But let’s remember, it’s been less than 5% of the season so far (4.8% to be exact). The Islanders are currently in first place in the Atlantic. The Devils are currently in last place. The Toronto Maple Leafs are undefeated after finished 29th last season. The Phoenix Coyotes are in last place. Brent Johnson leads the league in goaltender wins. Let’s put all of this in perspective for a second. It’s been four games.

Sure, the Rangers are beat up. Sure, the Rangers have looked awful for three games. It’s called adversity. Even the 1998 Yankees dealt with adversity, they started the season 1-4 before winning 125 games and the World Series. No, these Rangers are not the best team in hockey, but they are not the worst team either. Did you really think the Rangers would go 82-0? 81-1? As impressive as that win against Buffalo was, the Rangers were never going to dominate like that, especially with the injuries.

But yet, everyone and their mother is jumping ship. Let’s go over the ridiculousness I’ve seen on Twitter and in comments, with my reaction in bold:

  • Boogaard won’t fight. It’s been four games.
  • Grachev is a bust. He’s TWENTY.
  • The Rangers need Kovalev. AGAIN?!?!
  • I want Betts back. I thought we covered this last year?
  • Why isn’t Valentenko on the roster? Because he wasn’t ready?
  • This team can’t score. Neither can you.
  • This team can’t play defense. Neither can you.
  • Stepan fizzled out already. Ok, I didn’t see this one yet, but I get the feeling it’s coming.

The point here is to relax. Every team goes through this. Are the Rangers a Cup contender? No. They never were, even after all that excitement after the Buffalo game. Let’s all take a step back, and realize that the Rangers are a #8 seed at best this season. You cannot fix a team in one year, it’s impossible. The Penguins needed six years, the Caps needed five years, the Hawks needed seven years. It takes time. If you really want the Rangers to trade for a scorer, why not just wait until next year when Chris Kreider makes the team. He will be that complement to Marian Gaborik that the Rangers need. As for defense, the team has it, it just needs to grow and learn and develop. Patience is key. I feel it’s a lost art amongst many though.

The Dumbest Rumor of All Time

Let me begin by saying that I absolutely cannot believe I have to write a post about this stupid rumor. I am going to quote the asinine rumor:

Another rumor that just broke is the Rangers are considering trading Marian Gaborik to the LA Kings and signing Kovalchuk. Very interesting rumor indeed. We all remember Gaborik had wanted to play in LA going into last summer’s UFA period prior to signing in NY.

Let me ask you this: Why in the world would Sather do this? This serves no purpose in the grand scheme of things for the Rangers. Trading one superstar to sign another one to a larger cap hit? Is anyone even taking a step back to think about this? Marian Gaborik is actually the better all around player. When he’s healthy, he actually scores at the same pace as Ilya Kovalchuk. Remember, Gaborik scored at a point per game pace in Minnesota under Jacques Lemaire.

Let’s ignore the fact that Gaborik is signed to a manageable $7.5 million a year. Kovalchuk wants $10 million for the same production. Let’s also ignore the fact that Gaborik actually had more goals and more points, albeit by one in each category, than Kovalchuk. Let’s ignore the fact that Gaborik carried this team in the winter. This is the single dumbest rumor of all time. General managers do not trade superstars so they can sign a different one. It does not happen.

Let’s define what a credible source is when it comes to rumors. A credible source is a beat writer. A credible source is pretty much everyone working for TSN. A credible source is James Mirtle. These are credible sources.

Let’s define people that should never be taken seriously: Eklund at HockeyBuzz, that guy from NHLSourcesSay, or pretty much anything from Bleacher Report. If you believe anything from any of these sources, then you deserve any kind of stress or worrying you encounter.

Look, GMs are always calling each other. There is constant chatter between GMs. In this scenario, what likely happened was LA missed out on Kovalchuk, so Dean Lombardi called Sather and asked about Gaborik. Sather probably told him the cost it would take to get him out of NY (probably something like Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and a 1st rounder to start the conversation), and Lombardi probably said thanks by no thanks. General managers in the NHL, or any sport for that matter, talk all the time. Hockey is a business, and constant chatter is a part of the business. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say over 90% of any kind of chatter amongst GMs is just tire kicking (Note: I am just using logical reasoning here. I am not in the business, thus I am not a credible source for much of what was said in this paragraph. Thus, I made use of the words “probably” and “likely”).

I am going to give everyone some advice. When you hear a rumor, take a step back for a second, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the rumor make logical sense?
  • Does the rumor help make both teams mentioned stronger?
  • Does the rumor work under the salary cap? (check CapGeek)
  • Do any of the players involved have no-trade or no-movement clauses?
  • Does the rumor make logical sense? (This is not repeated by mistake)

By following these simple steps, you will save yourself a lot of aggravation.

Tuning out, turning off… and the Future

Being based in the UK (and the UK time zone) poses a challenge to your average European NHL fan. It requires dedication. So… I stayed up late (despite an eraly A.M. work meeting) to watch the Rangers take on Montreal. I wont lie to you though, I got the sleep that I needed all along. Why? come the 1st intermission I tuned out and turned my laptop off and went to sleep. I couldn’t watch any longer. Why you ask? I knew we’d lose. I had no faith in a comeback.

The way the Rangers played against the Habs disgusted me. I won’t go into detail about why because you all know it. Lets keep it brief: work rate, desire and a lack of offense. Thats some key reasons right there why the Rangers lost. I can handle a lack of talent but not desire and work rate reminiscent of the NYR 1997-2003.

As Dave points out, mathematically they can still do it, but despite being an optimist im telling you they wont. This team cannot win 9 of 12 right now. So what now? Im all for a high draft pick as I’ve said before but this team also has other concerns.

If the Rangers lose the next two games I’d start planning for next year. Of the final ten games they should rest Lundqvist and give Alex Auld 6 starts. This team was not helped this year by its goaltending beyond Henrik. Lets see if Auld can provide them with the back up next year that they need. Give him a real audition. I think he can be the perfect 15 start compliment to the King and solve one problem area.

Bench Redden and Roszival (I know, never going to happen) and give Sanguinetti and Heikkenen or McDonagh (apparently might be coming out of college) extended looks. Give Grachev a game or two (even if he hasn’t earnt it just yet)… Dont hold back, start the audition process now, and look to this years draft and next season.

The problem with all of this? It’s unlikely to happen because a) it means Tortorella would be putting his own job on the line because you know Sather wont take the fall for a lottery ending season and b) until the playoffs are absolutely 1000% ruled out, this team (read: senior management) wont look to the future.

But wouldnt it be good to know – ahead of camp – that Sanguinetti and co. can make the grade and wouldnt it be nice not to be the Caps 1st round cannon fodder and instead have a Seguin, Fowler or Tarasenko to plan with?

Forget 2003

Forgive me, but I have a feeling this is going to be a very unorganized rant. But, bare with me.

I’ve been reading and hearing fans, reporters, and commentators bemoan the fact that the Rangers selected Hugh Jessiman instead of Zach Parise, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf and others. It’s true. Zach Parise would have been awesome, because he’s, well Zach Parise. Hugh Jessiman is, well, Hugh Jessiman. There’s no denying the talent dropoff. There’s no denying the Rangers made a mistake.

The funny thing about drafts, though, is that they are very unpredictable. No one would have guessed that Henrik Lundqvist, picked 205th overall in 2000, would be one of the world’s best. Same goes for Henrik Zetterberg (210,1999).

Furthermore, no one expected Alexandre Daigle, (1, 1993) to become a huge bust. Raffi Torres was picked 5th overall in 2000. Nice player, but not 5th overall worthy.

So, mistakes happen in drafts. Great players get overlooked. Bad players get picked too high. It happens. In 2003, it happened to the Rangers.

But, in the last couple of years, that’s been the last bad pick.

2004-Brandon Dubinsky/Ryan Callahan

2005-Marc Staal

2006- Bobby Sanguinetti/Artem Anisimov

2007- Alexei Cherepanov (RIP)

2008- Michael Del Zotto/Derek Stepan/Evegeni Grachev

2009-Chris Krieder/Ryan Borque/ Ethan Werek

So, the future is bright. While the Jessiman picked sucked, it wasn’t like it set the franchise back years. The Rangers are stacked in the farm system. Would the Rangers have been a better team with Zach Parise? Of course. But, they didn’t pick him. They picked Jessiman. It’s over. 2003 was a long time ago. Focus on the present and future.

Really ESPN? Really?

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I was watching ESPN. It’s a part of my morning routine. Much to my surprise, they actually covered the Pens/Caps game, despite the overwhelming Super Bowl coverage. As they were rolling to the highlights, the genius anchor has this wonderful quote:

And now to Penguins/Capitals, which features the two best in the game, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. This may as well be the Super Bowl for the NHL.

Really? Really Lloyd? The Super Bowl for the NHL? Yes, they are great players, but it’s a freaking regular season game, and there are 28 other teams in the NHL. Maybe this is why hockey isn’t on ESPN, because the anchors are this retarded. I mean really, how stupid do you have to be to say that? The NHL has playoffs too. Just because football’s biggest game was last night, doesn’t mean hockey ended it’s season. They are two completely different sports. Schmuck.

I can’t believe it’s come to this for the NHL. Good job Gary. Idiot.

Quote of the Night

This quote comes courtesy of my friend, who I was at the game with:

“We should get a refund for this game. If the Rangers don’t show up, there’s no reason why we should pay.”

Yup, that sums up last night.