Around the LeaguePlayoffs

Debunking stupid narratives

Last night, the Washington Capitals won their first ever Stanley Cup.  Now, as Rangers fans and division rivals, that may rub some of us the wrong way.  However, what it did was save us from one of the most irritating and stupid media narratives; that Alex Ovechkin couldn’t win a Cup.

When it comes to sports media, it is their job to create narratives for a couple of reasons. First, they need to appeal to the emotional needs or wants of its readership.  Second, it needs to craft a relatively simple through line that can help sum up a player, team or season.  However, this one is so catastrophically stupid that I found myself routing for Ovechkin to deliver us from this nonsense.

The theory is pretty straight forward: Ovechkin is too selfish and flashy to be a leader.  He is all about his own glory, his own stats and ultimately is better suited as a passenger than a driver.  Leave the captaining to soft spoken, quiet leaders like Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby.  They more traditionally fit the mold of what makes a leader a leader.

Now, in fairness, the Caps’ track record has not helped, here.  This year was the first season they got out of the second round during the Ovechkin era, despite winning three President’s Trophies since 2010. Watching NBC last night, all of a sudden Ovechkin went from a punch line to powering through and overcoming the “adversity” of those previous losses.

The reaches and mainstream acceptance of his narrative actually got so bad at one point that I was sitting in a locker room talking to a guy I skate with about the Caps/Lightning series.  This guy used to play D1 hockey.  He’s been around the game his entire life.  He knows it, he lives it, he understands it.  I told him I liked the Caps’ chances and said I would love to see Ovechkin get his Cup.  He replied to me “Yeah, he’s a great player, but he is really not much of a leader.  I don’t think he has what it takes to win a Cup”. I was floored.

Lazy narratives are easy to latch onto and let morph your objective perception.  Everyone is not a winner/leader/champion until they are, all of a sudden.  Years and years of perceived futility can be erased in one post-season.  Just look at Alex Rodriguez in 2009.  A choker and selfish cry baby until he was carrying the Yankees to a championship.

It is certainly possible that Ovechkin had to mature into a player that would be capable of winning the Cup.  He may have been more concerned with his own stats and legacy to truly commit to a team game.  He may have looked in the mirror one morning in 2017 and said “holy ****, if I don’t change the way I approach the game, I’m going to go my entire career without a Cup” and made those changes.  Only Ovechkin himself knows that answer.

If sports media members want to blast Phil Mickelson or Roger Federer or Lennox Lewis for never achieving their potential (all of them did, obviously, they never bother talking about individual players who don’t live up to the hype), be my guest.  In individual sports, it’s all on you.  You thrive or fail all on your own out there and there is no one else to blame.  In a team sport, however, and hockey specifically, you as a member of the media can create a lasting impression about who a player is, what their capabilities are and how they should be valued based on a guy playing less than 1/3 of the game.

I guess, as a Rangers fan, I look at this type of situation through the lens of Henrik Lundqvist.  I don’t believe for one second that he has been mistreated by the hockey media the same way Ovechkin has in terms of characterizing his legacy.  However, this antiquated notion that in order to be a great player, you have to win a Cup (usually multiple Cups), absolutely robs fans the joy and unique experience of watching a historically great player grace their ice.  The NHL didn’t have its first Draft until 1963 and had under 25 teams in the league until 1993.  It’s a lot easier to win a bunch of Cups under those conditions.

I don’t really have much of a point to this, honestly.  Just kind of ranting on a Friday morning.  Really, what I suppose I am trying to say is that it feels like the most basic snake-oil salesmanship on behalf of the media when they rob fans of the ability to watch a future first ballot Hall of Famer for what he brings on the ice.  Sports narratives ebb and flow, but to vilify or marginalize the legacy of a truly great player is only harmful to the sport and its fandom.  As a result, I found myself rooting harder than I ever would have thought I would for Ovechkin to win.  I just hope that this ridiculous narrative can die a quick, merciful death. I’m not betting on it, though.

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  • Michael Jordan didn’t win anything until Pippen and the others were added to the team.

    Lebron didn’t win anything until he was surrounded with other “stars.”

    Henrik, other than the 2013-14 team, has never been surrounded with a cast of players that could win a Cup (doesn’t mean that the coach did not get the best out of what he had, because he didn’t, lol). The man is probably the best goalie of his era, which makes him a HOF lock.

    The fact that he hasn’t won a Cup, and may never win a Cup does not dilute his greatness as an individual player.

    Congrats to Ovi, a truly great player, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it, because we don’t.

    • Err, no, on so many levels.
      Rangers could have won a cup. Easily. A few bounces against the Kings, stupid lineup decision against Ottawa etc. Were the Rangers ever great in the last 10 years? No. But plenty good enough for a Cup or two.

      Lebron left a team that went to a championship series and the year after they won 22 games. He is on another level.
      But. There is no comparison between hockey and basketball. In basketball, a great player plays 85-95% of the game, and in hockey the best forwards play 20-25% of the game.
      There is much less chance of a direct impact.

      • I did say “other than the 2013-14 team.”

        Even if they beat the Sens, I do not think they win the Cup.

        Actually, you are proving my point, meaning that even great basketball players need other stars to win a championship.

        As a hockey fan, I am happy for Ovi, as a Ranger fan, I am not.

  • “Last night, the Washington Capitals won their first ever Stanley Cup. Now, as Rangers fans and division rivals, that may rub some of us the wrong way”.

    Let me start by saying congratulations to both the Caps, for winning, and the Knight, for coming from nowhere to get to the finals. As much as I hate saying this, Ovie was great, and the best team won……….I would rather see Ovie raise the cup over Cindy!!!!!!!!!

    “The NHL didn’t have its first Draft until 1963 and had under 25 teams in the league until 1993. It’s a lot easier to win a bunch of Cups under those conditions”.

    This is a true statement, but it was the Canadians who embraced the draft, and Sam Pollock who was the force behind the nine cups they won under his time frame, 14 years, as their GM. Our first draft pick ever was Brad Park, who I loved watching play in an era where he was always the second best d-man, behind Bobby Orr.

  • The “Ovi sucks in the playoffs/as a leader” narrative has always been wrong, anyone who believes it doesn’t pay attention to the game of hockey. Ovechkin has had exactly one sort of bad playoff run in his career—2012-13, where he had 1 goal and 1 assist in seven games played. Despite taking 30 shots in the series, he only scored once, against a Ranger team anchored by Henrik Lundqvist. (Arguably Henrik has done more to damage Ovi’s teams and reputation than any other player.)

    Even with that poor series, Ovechkin has 60 goals and 116 total points in 120 playoff games played. Those are the numbers of an elite player, not a choker. I’m glad he won a Cup, and couldn’t be happier that the Pens were dethroned. And nothing against Vegas, but it would’ve been pathetic and shady if an expansion team had won the championship in its initial season.

    • Eh you’re giving him way to much post season love. It’s weird but when hockey fans want to talk about the past post season play they tend to leave out 2010-13. It’s like that time frame has never existed, I guess it’s because it involved the start of the Crosby era and Hawks Dynasty. 2012 Pitts vs Philly will be the only series I hear about.

      2008-He was a heat sinking missle who would go out of his way to make a hit. That Philly series was insane, he was a mess.

      2009-11- He didn’t try, those athletic type of goals in the slot area that he could get off weren’t there because it took extra effort in the playoffs. He was still taking himself out of play to make the big hits and never backchecked.

      2012- Hunter turned turned Ovi into a respectable 200 ft player. The Bruins showed it which btw series was the most underrated matchup of the year. I’ve never seen so many runs taken at him in a game. I thought against the NYR he didn’t try hard enough and reverted back to his old ways. He made Girardi and Staal look like a couple of droids who can’t be stopped.

      15-18 he seemed to be much more committed. He got the cup by not facing the NYR and Hank. CBJ being involved in one of the first two rounds made his demons easy to face. Pitts was never up to the task and needed another breather in between back to back runs. TBL didn’t want it bad enough. All they wanted was to foolishly take the broken spare parts and be called NYR. 2.0 of the South. All in all I’m not impress by Ovi’s journey. They’re were a few weeks shy of getting dismantled and called one of the biggest choker’ s since the lockout. Everyone was playing their part to that until things went their way. Trots calling out names to the press to justify 4th liners in the top 6. Rumors swirling that the team gave up on Holtby.

  • Congratulations to Ovie (along with Backstrom) and company. Good for him and very well deserved. I find it very hard to digest the Capitals finally getting over the hump, considering our Rangers were not able to do so during this most recent successful era of post lockout hockey. For me, this was an especially hard post season to watch given the diverging paths of these two snake-bitten franchises- one whom I love, one whom I hate.

    • Alex Ovechkin is a beast on the ice and has been ever since he came to the league. 600 or so goals and finally a cup which is icing on a illustrious career. Sure, I root against the guy when they play the Rangers, but I was rooting for him and the caps this time round. He has some pretty awesome teammates and no player does it alone as he readily acknowledged. But it was a fitting night of glory for a great player.

      • Trotz got the most out of Ovi, huh?

        Got him to play a 200 foot game, so I do not know what the issue is for Trotz to come back to the Caps. Especially after winning a Cup.

  • Ovie was a different player this season. Whether it was because he had a epiphany of sorts himself, or the well publicised talk Trotz had with him before the season caused the change is anyone’s guess. Fact is he was a real leader this season, and not just in the playoffs.

    What is beyond dispute is the Caps are a big, talented and PHYSICAL team. Their physicality isn’t left to Smith-Pelly and Beagle on their fourth line and Orpik on D. Their STARS hit and hit and HIT. Led by Wilson, stars like Ovie, Oshie, and Carlson ALL hit and hit and HIT.

    Physicality isn’t just dropping the gloves. Physicality, hard checking, continually hard hits, wears down the opposition. Especially the opposition’s D.

    I was pulling for Vegas because it was a great story, expansion team and all that. However, I’m not disappointed to see the Caps win it all. They won, not exclusively with talent, they won by good coaching and imposing their will against their opponent. You know, being a hard team to play against.

    So JG, you said you wanted a “harder team to play against”, now go out and put one on the ice.
    Make Ranger hockey fun to watch again!

    • Look, the Caps are great and I’m happy for them and Ovi and Backstrom … but

      A) let’s not call that giant POS Tom Wilson a star

      B) let’s not hope that the Rangers add clowns like Tom Wilson to the organization

      Wilson is trash and there’s a good chance he gets a 20-30 game suspension at some point in his career. Hard hitting is great, playing dirty and looking to injure the other team is not great. It’s a testament to how great Ovechkin and Kuznetsov are that they can carry a boat anchor like Wilson to a championship.

      • Agree 100%, Chris A. Tom Wilson is just another Raffi Torres, or Matt Cooke—a garbage player who plays with the intent to injure other players. He will feel karma’s bite before too long.

        • but wilson, if he doesn’t turn into a complete idiot and can control himself, can be one hell of a hockey player.

        • Never understood how fans could side with living breathing garbage humans like Wilson or Cooke or Torres or Sandy McCarthy or Chris Simon or Scott Stevens.

          These men play or played the game like murderous thugs.

          Sean Avery was annoying, but, for the most part, he was too chicken-s*it to actually try and hurt someone. Those antics were somewhat entertaining. Old school enforcers like Darren Langdon or Bob Probert were just doing their jobs, dropping the mitts, but they rarely (ever?) tried to hurt someone outside of a fight. It’s the intentional stuff I can’t stand. Boarding, head shots, taking out a knee, stick work, stamping, a slew foot, that is the kind of crap the league needs to throw the book at players for.

        • Come on man… Torres and Cooke were different breads when it came to throwing checks. Wilson is more like Hartnell, the guy you love to hate but shouldn’t be considered the villain. Those two will hit you 2 seconds after a hit or come in with a flying elbow. Meanwhile Wilson tries to awkwardly use his shoulder into people’s chest with this arms and elbows down. Ovi has more of a history of cheap shots with charging and jumping into his hits all in the play. Krunitz is 5× more dirty than Wilson is.

        • I 100% disagree and think Wilson is not as bad as you are making him out to be. I think Brad Marchand is a much dirtier player but cause he can score he doesn’t get the same line of BS.

          go watch golf….I tired of this soft version of hockey.

      • Maybe not a star, but no Tom Wilson then no Cup for Washington. Surely everyone can acknowledge that as a hockey player he’s grown out of the 4th line goon role previous Cap coaches placed him in.

      • Wilson is a throw back and by that I mean more than half of his hits are legal in the beginning of this decade. His timing of his checks weren’t any different from when big Buff played forward for the Hawks and would crush somebody. I think the league is lacking in those types of players and I’m not saying for the better or worst. Mike Richards finished his checks a lot like Wilson, nobody ever batted a eye to it during his time with Philly. I think Wilson needed a Raffi Torres or Ben Eager to show him that they could do worst than him. If he was facing AV’s old team from Vancouver than he would have gotten taken out. Point being there’s actually more dirty player’s out there than him. I wish Kreider brought that authority in the neutral zone and DZ.

  • Jerry

    “Physicality isn’t just dropping the gloves. Physicality, hard checking, continually hard hits, wears down the opposition. Especially the opposition’s D”.

    Great post, and I love the above quote. I especially love the fact that someone put into words what I have said time, and again, while being told that the game has changed, and speed is the only way to go. The game has indeed changed, but when everything is on the line, it’s defense, and hard checking that rules the day, and the Caps proved it, old time hockey isn’t dead after all!!!!!!!

    Have a great day my friend……….

    • Thanks Walt. You among others know the difference between being physical and being a goon. I am not advocating we have a “goon”, but I’d love to see a Tom Wilson clone wearing Ranger blue.

      Although I wanted Tampa Bay to go all the way this year, for all the ex-Rangers on Tampa as well as Tampa’s next years 2nd rounder we own, I was so impressed to see Wilson go after Braydon Coburn when Coburn threw a Cap sweater to the ice. It was a playoff game, yet Wilson showed his team that the sweater means something and he will not allow anyone to disrespect it. Can you imagine if a Ranger did that under AV. Nailed to the bench, hell, the player would be nailed to the locker room.

      AV’s Rangers were predictable and EXTREMELY easy to play against. Lack of passion on the ice was directly due to lack of passion behind the bench. A head coach doesn’t have to be insane behind the bench, but hey stop chewing gum every now and then and……….well you get it.

      • Jerry,

        I understand the point you are trying to make about physicality and being a goon, but I don’t think Tom Wilson is the example you want to hitch your wagon to. The guy is reckless and dangerous and if the Dept of Player Safety had any teeth, he would no longer be in the league. Every time he steps on the ice, he endangers the players around him and shows no regard for his actions. He is a goon.

        And to your point about hitting, during the regular season the Caps were middle of the road in hits per game. They finished 5th out of playoff teams. Vegas hit, but the other two final four teams were in the bottom quartile. Hitting has zero correlation to winning.

        Sure, be physical, be aggressive and force your opponent to work for every inch of ice. When you prioritize the physicality over the skill, you distance yourself from the goal.

        • Justin. I totally disagree with you. Give me Tom Wilson on my team any day. Caps win without him is speculation, Caps winning with him is a fact. He was a huge factor along with Eller and Smith-Pelley.
          Wilson is a damn good player

          • I never said he wasn’t a good player or that he didn’t help the Caps win. I said he is a dangerous player who has no business conducting himself that way on the ice.

            As I said before, play with an edge, be physical, stand up for your teammates, but you have a responsibility to not recklessly endanger other players.

            He is a big picture issue. Players are assets that create success and revenue for the league, he jeopardizes those assets every time he steps on the ice.

          • I read he is a goon, which I do not agree with.

            Fact is Knights disappeared after game 2 and the main reason was Tom Wilson.

            Players need to protect themselves, not the league. That hit on Marchessault was a huge factor in why the Knights faded. They played anxious after that and were not the same team.

          • That’s ridiculous. This isn’t a prison yard, it’s a multi-billion dollar business. The league has a duty to its players and the players are governed by a code of conduct (which unfortunately isn’t enforced).

            You’re not wrong in the impact that these types of events can have on the game, the point is that if you look at the big picture of hockey management, these types of events shouldn’t be happening. Hockey is a dangerous enough game as it is without guys deliberately trying to (or not at all caring if they do) injure each other.

          • To think that Vegas saw Marchessault take a dirty hit in Game 2 and became so scared and intimidated that they gave up on the season is … well, there are no words for it. It’s such a ridiculous idea. These are pros.

            And Wilson is absolutely a goon. Every shift he’s looking to take a player from the opposition out of the game by putting him in the hospital.

          • Chris A

            Shows how much you know…laughable…Yeah they disappeared after game 2 and mainly due to Wilson because they lost focus…they did not play the same way and played anxious not focused

            So laugh at that concept

          • Vegas turned back into a pumpkin. Bad timing, but it happens.

            The Caps had the talent up and down their roster to expose Vegas. Maybe having to face 2 of the better teams in the league over a 4 week stretch was way too much for Vegas and their underwhelming roster to overcome?

            Wasn’t it telling that when Vegas had to look for a boost they only had Lindberg and Tatar, to turn to?

            That makes more sense to account for why Vegas was terrible in the finals than ‘Vegas was scared of Tom Wilson’.

          • Might be a billion dollar business, but it’s a man’s game.

            Torts got run because he treated every game as the Stanley Cup final and AV got run because he treated the President’s Trophy like it was the cup.

            The regular season is for two things:
            1: To entertain your fan base
            2: A planning tool to optimize your team for the playoffs.

            If guys want to fight, let em fight. Don’t ever tell em to fight, don’t sign a guy who can do nothing but fight, but sign guys who are such a PITA to play against that opponents are lining up to fight them.

            Kings had a guy in their system named Keith Redmond who thought his way to the NHL was by gooning it up.

            During a game in the minors where he got a 2-5-10-game on his 1st shift, he grabbed a seat by me after he showered. I rolled up to him and told him that the Kings knew he was willing to go, but what he needed to do was actually play the game and be a PITA to where guys are trying to jump him.

            He started doing that, just drilling guys, creating space for teammates and had a nice little run in the playoffs, but then he one punched the coach between periods for some reason and his career was pretty much done.

          • Tom Wilson is a criminal on skates, no thanks.

            If you really want a guy like this then get a guy like Chris Stewart who can kick Wilson’s ass.

          • Chris Stewart probably could kick his ass but with all of his talent he sucks at hockey,he disappears for about three quarters of the season & the only time you notice him on the ice is when he’s in a fight.
            If he makes the NHL this coming season he’ll most likely be making around the league minimum & spend most of the season in the AHL,
            i’m not defending Tom Wilson,as a person I think he’s a dirtbag,but take away the dirty hits,he’s actually turned into a very effective player.

          • Wayne Gretzky turned Dave Semenko (RIP) into a hockey player too.

            Barzal turned Gropp into a hockey player too.

            Just sayin. I don’t know how effective Wilson is away from the Caps.

            And unfortunately, Wilson’s “effectiveness” greatly stems from the fact that opponents are more focused on his intended dirty hits than his hockey playing. If the league ever did the right thing, then Wilson would be a continuous suspended player, and then the nonsense would stop, rendering him useless.

          • Truth be told I was rooting for the Caps,but was hoping at some point in the series either Engelland or Reaves would toss him a beating because he does need one.

          • Agreed on the beating, lol.

            Ovi deserves a Cup, no question, but I could not root for the Caps at all.

          • I never thought I be rooting for the Caps either,but I’d have a hard time with a first year team winning the cup when we’ve only had 2 cups in 78 years.
            One player I would love to see the Rangers pursue is Josh Anderson from CBJ,maybe Vesey & fourth round pick next year for him,not sure if that would be enough,but he’d be worth investigating.

          • I do agree with, in a way, that a first year team wins the championship seems cheesy, but I would still rather have Vegas win.

            Anderson’s name has been bantied about. Nice “under the radar” suggestion. And righty I believe.

          • Yeah he’s a righty,something we need more of & only 24yrs old,plays a high energy game & can score.

        • Thanks Justin.

          I agree Willson does have some borderline hits. I don’t see how that can be avoided with a player that plays his style as many of his checks are against the boards and opponents due turn.

          He possesses enough talent to play on the first line
          skates well
          scores somewhat
          hits as discussed
          sticks up for his teammates
          keeps opponents heads up and forces mistakes
          adds passion

          I will respectfully disagree that continual hitting against your opponents does not wear them down.

          I am not advocating 18 players that do nothing but hit. I am advocating a team that is not one dimensional, a balanced team, that plays with passion, skill and a degree of physicality.

          A team when their goal tender is run, ala Hank, does not stand by and give the opposing player a stern talking to.

          Teams play extra hard in killing off penalties that are taken when a player sticks up for a teammate.

          So I will hitch my wagon to one Tom Wilson clone with the attributes mentioned above, not 18 of them, I’m good with just one.

          But again Justin, your thoughts and comments are respectfully noted. We’ll just agree to disagree. Thank you.

          • Thanks for your thoughts, Jerry. I don’t disagree with you about having a balanced approach to roster construction. I think if you have 23 guys that can all bring a variety of skills to the table, including physical play, you will be all the better for it.

            I think the cautionary tale is that fans and management tend to fall in love with those “heart and soul” guys who will land the big hit and go to the mat for teammates. We are all scarred by the Tanner Glass/Cody McLeod infatuations.

            I personally think Wilson’s hits go beyond borderline. I actually would liken him to Matt Cooke back in the early part of the decade. Just plays with a complete disregard for the well being of other players on the ice. If you look at the micro, of course you would want that guy on your team, he helps you win and creates an intimidating presence.

            However, if you look at the macro and what is best for the game, as a whole, you don’t want a guy who behaves like that near the best players on the planet.

      • “…Physicality isn’t just dropping the gloves. Physicality, hard checking, continually hard hits, wears down the opposition. Especially the opposition’s D…”

        I share Walt’s enthusiasm for this statement. They don’t need punching bags like Cody Whathisname on the Rangers. They need guys with skill who are not afraid to take the body. They don’t need a Tanner Glass whose only skill is to hit. They need players who will take the body when necessary and can also pass and put the dang puck in the net.

        Here’s hoping that is the way they are going. The fact that they picked Lias Anderson first last draft, a kid who is known to take the body while also having good hands and good speed, leads me to believe that is their plan. I am excited about the upcoming draft!

          • Wilson has more skill than Cody or Glass. However, I think many of his hits are borderline. I don’t believe that taking risks with the well-being of opposing players belongs in the game. Too many careers and lives have been shortened by head injuries. So, no, I don’t mean like Tom Wilson.

          • “Man I wish he was a Ranger”

            Man, I wish you would stop saying this (and the Lundqvist agenda you have, lol).

      • I rather counter a Tom Wilson with
        a Hartnell and Antoine Roussel. Those two could get under his skin and take him out of the game or at least for 4 minutes. I would hate to fight him with a Glass or Reaves.

  • Without Wilson, Orpik, Eller and Smith-Pelley the Caps would not have won the Cup. They were as instrumental as Ovie, Backstrom, Carlson and Kuznestov.

    I truly enjoyed watching them celebrate, Nothing fake about the emotions that was shown by Ovechkin. He truly deserved it.

    Ah yeah Holtby is better than Lundqvist. Caps winning might put a fire under Lundqvist to move on to get his name on the Cup. Let’s pray he does

    Physicality not being important just got thrown out the window.

    Tell me again, faceoffs are not important?

    I want Cody Eakin, what a great player the kind you need on your team.

    Congrats to both teams and especially the Caps, what a fun ride it was by Las Vegas.

    • The Rangers should have started to think and move on getting bigger as soon as the Kings left them laying on the ice and lifted the cup in front of them.

    • Let’s just cut to the chase….I mean Tom Wilson is a better hockey player than Henrik Lundqvist, right? Has Lundy even thrown a hit or won a fight in hockey??

  • You can add Trotz to the list of people who were saddled with a false narrative of “loser” by fans who conveniently forget how effing, effing hard it is to win a Stanley Cup.

    I mean, it’s easy, right? All it takes is to not have any serious injuries, have stars who get hot at the right time, have depth, have role players who get hot at the right time, have a goalie who makes a couple of superhuman saves at just the right moments, have puck luck, have a great power play, have a great PK. What have I forgotten.

    I am really happy for Trotz. Who woulda thunk, an old school hockey guy took down the Pens, the Bolts with their whiz kid coach, and this year’s it guy, the revered Gerard Gallant.

  • On July 3rd, the Washington Capitals sign Devante Smith-Pelley, for $650,000.

    On July 4th, the New York Rangers sign David Desharnais, for $1,000,000.

    We can blame AV for that..but isn’t Gorton the GM.

    I like Gorton and he does some good stuff and some very dumb stuff.

    He can’t afford to do anything dumb things this year.

      • Great, thanks for clarifying that…

        The Rangers of the last five years always targeted the same soft players…actually, outside a few Torts years…everyone we targeted is soft…no wonder it is 80 years and 1 cup.

    • I’m not defending the Desharnais signing, because I mildly rolled my eyes when I heard it. He just clearly was not a good option for what the Rangers needed, IMO. I was hoping he could resurrect his career to his peak of being a 40-50ish point player with us as much as anyone, but I certainly didn’t expect that, same as many Rangers fans. Unfortunately, our expectations were correct.

      There’s a reason DSP was signed for that amount, and had become somewhat of a journeyman already in his career: he simply had not been very good to that point. Three teams, by the age of 25, had decided they had seen enough of him and moved on. There are dozens of these guys looking for NHL work every offseason; the AHL-NHL “tweener” types who are still young enough to roll the dice on. DSP got hot as he has ever been for the playoffs, sure, but it would be folly to forget that this was a guy who put up a whopping 16 points in 75 regular season games playing on a very good team.

      If the choice was between DSP and Desharnais last offseason, I honestly couldn’t fault any GM for preferring the latter.

      • I couldn’t agree more,Smith Pelly was pretty much a big disappointment everywhere he played until this year that is why he received a 650K salary,but he sure did step up big time in this years playoffs.

      • I couldn’t agree more Smith Pelly was a big disappointment everywhere he’s played in the NHL until this year,that’s why he was making 650K,but he showed up big time in this years playoffs.

  • Well stated Justin. Again, I’ll have to disagree with the Cooke/Wilson comparison. Cooke, went for knees and actually targeted heads. While Wilson doesn’t go headhunting, nor deliver slew-foots, nor targeting knees, he does hit some opponents high. I don’t feel Wilson’s high hits are intentional, more an artifact of the opponents moving at the last moment.

    I do agree not all of his hits belong is a “How to Deliver a Hard On-Ice Check” manual, as there have been some late hits, after an opponent had made a pass. In general, he hits hard and often. Actually every shift that he’s on the ice, he makes a hard hit.

    However I do get what you are saying. And respect your opinion.

  • The everyone gets a trophy generation needs to sit down. Champions win the titles, get the trophy and forever go into the books as the best in their sport for a moment of time.

    It’s sad that great, even HOF players, can finish a career and never reach the top, but IMO winning is why you play.

    I am psyched for OVI, not because of the media and the hype about him not winning, until last night his career had the mark of not being a champ…

    I am psyched because he was, is and will always be a hard nose competitor who is in a class all by himself. If his career ended never lifting the cup, it would be less of a career.

    Win Baby Win.

    It’s fact, deal with it, if you ain’t first, your not the winner….

    • That is ridiculous, too. This has nothing to do with “everyone gets a trophy”.

      This has to do with great players being overlooked because for whatever reason, they never got that ultimate prize. This is a team sport and we look at it as a slight on a career if that team, as a whole is unable to deliver.

      The “if you ain’t first, your last” position is the perspective of a child. A black and white world that has no ability to discern competing information. A player can simultaneously be great and appreciated for his contributions and also not have won a Cup. This validation through individual results crap is completely hypocritical to the “you play for the name on the front, not the back” credo that you pretend to espouse.

      It’s knuckle dragging nonsense.

      • says you. winning is the goal when you take up competitive sports.

        it counts, take a whiff

        Thats why its spoken about for all time…

      • Well-said. I won’t even continue to debate player merits with someone when they start in with the “Yeah, but, didn’t they win a championship…” nonsense. That only flies in tennis, golf, and other single-player formats, and I find it laughable in consideration of individual play within any team sport.

        For an analogy, could you imagine someone telling a soldier with more decorations than we can count on his lapels that his effort was of less importance because his battalion lost their battle? Pretty sure that they would be instructed to pound sand, post-haste.

        Additionally, why are these asinine arguments seemingly always punctuated with some sort of cheesy mic-drop phrase pulled directly from a vintage 1997 No Fear shirt at the end? Nothing like a mic-drop after failing to make any valid point.

  • Don’t hold your breath, Justin. The media gives us narratives because they are more appealing than reality. Every game is a crap shoot and there is a lot of luck in the outcome. What happens in this series if Karlsson stays healthy? We don’t know. The reality is this. In any given season, the chance that the best team will win the Stanley Cup (or the World Series for that matter) is well under 50%.

    In the last decade, Washington won the President’s Trophy three times. IMO, at no time in that decade were the LA Kings one of the top five teams in the league. Yet the Kings had two Cups and the Caps zero. How do you deal with this? Either except the unpleasant reality that there is a luck factor and winning a championship and being the best are simply different things. Or, devise some narratives that allow you to deny the luck factor. Narratives like, “Oh, the Kings were a great team” OR “Ovechkin (or Holtby) can’t win the big one.” It isn’t the media; it is the fans.

    NOTE: Someone here pointed out Ovi had only one bad playoff year and credited Lundqvist with stopping him. Unless the goalie is positively on fire (and Hank gave up 12 goals in the first five games), a goalie is never going to stop a great player cold. Ryan McDonagh’s coverage of Ovechkin was awesome that series and explains his lack of success. [Hank had a good series, finishing with two shutouts, but it wasn’t he who kept Ovi off the board.]

    But again, the narrative that every Ranger accomplishment is really Hank’s.

    • You make a really good point, Ray.

      I think we need to get better conditioned to accept that notion that the best team doesn’t always win and it’s not necessarily because they choked. We definitely need to improve on not requiring emotional rationalization for an outcome we don’t like.

      You also make a good point about the narrative of every Rangers’ accomplishment being Lundqvist’s accomplishment. That effect is certainly true, however, it sits much better with me to prop up a truly great player than to tear one down.

      • Aesthetically, propping up a truly great player sits better than tearing one down, I agree. BUT it is really much more complicated. The credit one can bestow for an accomplishment, especially one that falls short of a championship, is limited. To say that Fleury carried the Knights is to simultaneously say that the Vegas skaters didn’t deserve to be there and to a certain extent one is deprecating (rightly or wrongly) Karlsson, Marchesault, Schmidt.

        In the case of Lundqvist, giving him all of the credit means not giving their due to other players. I don’t like it for purely selfish reasons – less credit for my own favorite players. But I think it also has practical and aesthetic consequences. From a practical perspective, you might undervalue Anton Stralman and not offer him a good contract or think you can solve your defensive woes by buying out Girardi.

        Let me comment briefly on Hank’s true worth. Over the eight year span 2005-2013, Lundqvist was the Rangers’ best player and quite possibly the best player at every time during that span. [Considering Jagr was on the team the first three years, that is truly saying something.]. Over the five year span 2013-2018, Ryan McDonagh was clearly the Rangers’ best player. But Ranger fans took trading McDonagh in stride. It was not like the reaction to trading Jean Ratelle or Brad Park. And why does Ryan get so little credit – because of the absurd insistence that Hank is still the best Ranger.

        And my evidence is quite simple, old style stats whose primary flaw is sample size being applied to a huge sample. McDonagh was +87 over five years while the Rangers were outscoring their opponents by 103 goals. The Rangers were a much better team when Ryan was on the ice. OTOH, the Rangers were slightly more successful when Hank was not on the ice. In fact, the team never lost its stride when Hank was hurt.

        Finally, I really think the 2013-2014 Ranger defense was one of the most underrated defenses in NHL history. You no doubt saw more games than I and had a better chance than I to evaluate Cam Talbot. I will give my own “inferior” impression. He did not look as good as Hank in his play. He gave up his share of bad goals. He never looked like a guy in a zone, playing over his head like Hammond did during his run. Yet Talbot posted the second highest save percentage in NHL history among tenders who appeared in 20+ games. How on earth does a solid but unimpressive goaltender do that? My only conclusion is that the guys in front of him were damn good. Yet because of Hank, they get no credit. And is that really less shameful than finding improper fault with Ovi?

        • Ray for all the long winded arguments you make (like i never do that at all lol)…you always have to add in that little special section about how weak lundy stats are in comparision to talbots and rantaa. I feel when you run out of things to say it is your go to topic.

          I have always personally felt that Hank gets to much attention and that the rest of the team suffers for it. I will til the end of my life believe that hank got Stepan kicked from the team for his public outburst against hank in that ottawa series.

          I personally believe hank is a selfish player and exactly like Ovi was. He drives people away from him and doesn’t rally others around him.

          Everything I have ever heard is hank doesn’t like being talked to pregame. What if a rookie is looking for some advice and needs a bit of a boast in his ego pregame? You think Hank is going to give it to him? Now also do you think hanks words would really help that kid? So my point is how much of a team player is hank with not wanting to leave when offered the opportunity? Wasn’t like it was to Arizona. So I personally think he is a selfish jackass who will never win a cup cause he hasn’t realized it isn’t about him. And his 10 million cap hit just is another reason to hate him.

          But here on this mother of all blogs…. any word of criticism against the all mighty is blasphemous and you will become a social leper. So bring it on!

    • “But again, the narrative that every Ranger accomplishment is really Hank’s.”

      Because that is the case. What elite players have been on the Rangers? Other than Lundqvist? Nash cannot be considered elite, who is the closest thing to elite.

      I wish I could find that playoff chart for goalies the past few years, which shows that Henrik is by far and away the best.

      It is truly amazing how under appreciated this HOF lock is and how HE is the reason the Rangers do not have a Cup, no matter what crap of a team has been put in front of him. Like that doesn’t matter one bit. Amazing.

      • I’ve seen a table showing how many goals Hank saved above an average goalie over the first eight years of his career. It is truly awesome. And the whole career looks good as he has not fallen off a cliff. However, if you ignore 2005-2013 and just look at the last five years, you see a different picture. lists GSAA, goals saved above average, based on save percentage and number of shots. I compared the five year totals for Lundqvist, Fleury, Price, Rinne, Rask, Luongo, Talbot, Raanta. Hank’s total is roughly +31 and he ranks seventh out of eight, just nosing out Rinne. To be fair, I chose generally well-regarded tenders for my outside comparisons, but I doubt you would regard this as a group that it is unfair to compare Hank to. [And I did not look up others and omit them from my data because Hank was better than them. I only looked up one other goalie, Niemi, just to see what an obviously bad goalie looked like. He was in the low -30s.]

        The reality of Lundqvist is sad but true. All goalies are just a little erratic. When he is on his game, Hank is great, but he has off days. In 2006, those off days were incredibly rare. Gradually they have become more and more common. The great days are as great as ever (which is why you refuse to accept reality) – we just don’t see as many anymore. And on balance, over the last two years, he is a dead average tender.

        Regualr season, the evidence is indisputable. He has not been more useful than Talbot, Raanta, Georgiev at stopping shots or winning games (better than Pavelec though).

        Playoffs. I do not believe I have ever said that Lundqvist was the reason the Rangers never won a Cup. The playoffs are complicated and much is possible. Could the Devils have won the Cup in 2012 with Hank in net? Quite possibly. Hard to imagine he wouldn’t have won the Cup with the 2010 Blackhawks. But it is also possible that the Rangers could have won in 2014 or 2017 with Talbot or Raanta. We just don’t know.

        Playoff-wise, I only fault him on three counts. First, people talk of him as a god and he has never been that in a playoff season. Performances like JS Giguere and Tim Thomas are exceedingly rare and it is no shame that he has not done that, but let’s not speak of him as he has. Second, he did not show up against Pittsburgh in 2016 (admittedly, neither did anyone else). He got outplayed by Craig Anderson last year because he had a bad attitude. I can’t believe no one noticed. He played perfect hockey in game 1 until the winning goal went in off his back (not his fault). I can imagine him thinking “If I can’t win playing at this level, what is the use?” The goalie I saw in the last five games looked like a guy who felt that way.

      • Seriously Richter, here is what is important to me. This is supposed to be a rebuild. Over the last two months of the season, the Rangers had a stellar goaltender Georgiev. Now two months is not a career and what we saw was perhaps a groove that he cannot find again. The landscape is littered with guys like Andrew Hammond, who were truly good for a short stretch. But I want to find out and Hank is the obstacle.

        I would be happy if the Rangers resigned someone like Pavelec to back up Hank if Georgiev is a hack, but if Georgiev is solid, I’d like to see he and Hank compete fairly for playing time.

        • “This is supposed to be a rebuild”

          Raymond, go back to the original letter, “rebuild” is no where in it. The word they used is “reshape.” EVERYONE else keeps saying “rebuild.” The Rangers will have a lot of young players in the line up but will also have vet players in to help them make the playoffs. Book it.

          I like Georgiev a lot, and I think that he should be the back up goalie for next year (Shesty coming the year after).

          I have zero doubt that Hank’s #s are down lately, but you believe that it’s him, while I believe that it was the team.

          New coach, different players, structured system, should be a different year. At least I expect it to be so.

          • I am not advocating tossing out all vets. My concern in goal is that we don’t know whether Georgiev or Shestyorkin should be the goalie of the future and the scenario everyone wants gives the job to Shestyorkin by default.

            If Hank’s teammates were the problem, why is it that other Ranger goalies were not affected?

          • Five year regular season records

            Lundqvist 155-104-26
            Other Ranger goalies 71-43-11

            What’s the problem?

            Of course, we have no playoff comparisons.

          • Seriously, my first choice is a regular season rotation giving Georgiev and Hank 40 games each, drifting toward 50-30 if the success is unbalanced. And using the best goalie in the postseason, whoever that may be. Or even alternating. [Of course, if Georgiev turns into a pumpkin, back to the drawing board.]

            I might note that the highest save percentage among goalies who played 20+ games in a season was posted by Jacques Plante, playing 40 games that year, which was less than his age.

  • I would still take Ovi with the first pick if he was available. Even with about 3-4 good years left

    • I rather have Subban who can one time them from anywhere in the OZ and can actuall be relied to bring the puck up. Plus his celly’s and character seem to be better.

  • I’m happy for all you Ovie fans out there! I guess the playoff seeding wasn’t unfair this year 🙂

    Kidding (sort of). Unlike many of you, I had no wish to see one of the Rangers’ most competitive rivals of the last decade hoist the Cup. I would have been perfectly content, perhaps even satisfied, if Ovie eventually retired without the Cup, like Hank probably will. Call it a consolation prize.

    Beyond that, yes, it was a stupid narrative. The Great 8 has been probably the most complete hockey player in the league since his early days, with his intimidating combination of skills, physical play, and durability (does he ever miss a game?), but no single player wins the big prize. Hockey is still a team game, and yes timing and a little luck do enter the equation.

  • As usual I don’t agree with 90% on here. To use war as a reference is just a wee bit of a stretch. There is nothing competitive about mass murder so lets knock that right off the block. That there is the land of serial killers. And it well it is well documented just how team orientated those people are.

    Competitive sports that are not individually based are always going to be about winners and losers and if you don’t make it to the end then you lost. You don’t get a participation award. You name doesn’t get immortalized on a cup for the rest of history if you played really well by yourself but could never make it to the last goal. Sorry but you just can’t sell me that bag of horse dung. Everyones ultimate goal in hockey is to win the cup. Not to be a tough competitor to play against.

    But the essence of almost all the arguments on here today are about leadership and it’s role. And how each individual on here views that important factor. Ovi was a better leader by far and away this year and that is my belief on why they raised the cup. He realized as all do with time…. it is not just about you! You can’t score every goal and you can’t be on the ice the whole game and take on 5 other players. You also can’t be in the net and make every save. So you have to have faith in the other players around you. And for whatever reason Ovi realized it. And he made his teammates better with that. Believing in others in a team sport is essential. Builds their confidence, makes them a better player, makes them rise to the occasion. However you personally phrase that. I am not the best with words but I am pretty sure you get my point.

    Cause on paper the Capitals are a worse team then last year’s version. No doubt about it. Yet this year it worked. I watched last night’s game and it just seemed like the Capitals were imposing their will in the 3rd and there just wasn’t any kick back from the knights.

    So as far as Ovi and his BS storyline of not being a playoff performer….I think it was true. I think he became a much better leader this year. And he raised his game to a whole new level. And no longer can he be called a choker. Unlike someone else we all know.

    In hockey there are always circumstances but you still have to do it……… even if the public feels you had a easy road. They beat the pens who were not even supposed to make the playoffs and they beat the jackets who were up there to win it all and they destroyed the lightning with back to back shut outs against some might say the most offensively talented team since the pens. Meanwhile the rangers had the canadiens, senators, and the pens …it was the easiest road to the cup in the whole time this franchise has had in the last 10 years and yet we lost to the senators who couldn’t even win 30 games the next year. And they didn’t dump their 1c for a bag of pucks in the offseason like we did. Oh wait they did also. …well they did get Duchene ….lol …another winning franchise.

    And to the whole argument that Wilson is a goon…can you please be a fan of golf. And stop writing this narcissistic rhetoric. Not everyone likes this pansy style of hockey we see today. And to that point I will remind anyone with a counter argument ….it is legal to bare knuckle fight anyone willing to fight back in this game and really even that last part isnt necessary.

    So tell me the name of the sport you are watching that allows bare knuckle fighting? Please enlighten me I am begging you. Even in boxing and MMA, you have to pad your knuckles…do you know the damage a bare knuckle fist has been documented to do?

    So ahhhhhhh yeah…………. you can take that goon argument and shove it up that warm dark hole air comes out of. Save that pacifist speech for some other poor soul you will call your child one day or if you have one …please give him my condolences for having a soft dad. Tell him to turn the other cheek and keep walking away then pat him on his rear end. I hope he has a good life.

    I mean honestly …take fighting out of the game what do you have? What is hockey without fighting? Wouldn’t it be just like girls’ field hockey then? I understand the perspective that you pacifist have…you open up the rinks …make them wider and longer and just have the players do speed skating for 60 minutes ….truly it seems like a great idea. Just like the guy you play against go full speed and if he scores so be it …if not it is your teams turn .

    • Who cares what you agree with, you’re a sentient bag of horse manure on your best days; most of the time you’re just a tiresome idiot with nothing to say, who somehow requires 800 words to say absolutely nothing.

  • David Quinn quote on Rotter’s SNY blog:

    “If you make 22 mistakes on a Monday and 21 on a Tuesday, you’ve had a good Tuesday. That is the mindset we have to have, getting better everyday. It may be cliche but it’s true.”

    We have the right coach at the right time. Young players now no longer have to fear ramifications for making mistakes on the ice, as long as the effort is there. The more I hear from Coach Quinn, the more I like the hire. Hooray!!

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