Monday, December 26, 2011

Rangers Blank Isles 3-0, Move Into First Place of Eastern Conference

With the Boston Bruins off tonight, the Rangers officially moved into first place in the Eastern Conference tonight with their 3-0 victory over the Islanders. The Rangers got two big goals from Carl Hagelin and Marian Gaborik added an empty netter to extend his goal-scoring streak to five games.

Rangers Host Islanders Tonight at 7 p.m.; Wolski, Staal Close to Returning

The Rangers and Islanders will get it on at the Garden tonight, as the Atlantic Division-leading Rangers look to push their current winning streak to five games. Including tonight, the Rangers have three more games before their showdown with the Flyers in next Monday's Winter Classic on Jan. 2.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Eminger Out 8-10 Weeks, Woywitka Day-to-Day; Bickel, Erixon Recalled

Just when we thought the Rangers couldn't possibly be cursed with any additional injuries, along came Saturday night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes. Steve Eminger separated his shoulder after he was checked awkwardly into the boards, and Jeff Woywitka injured his left ankle while blocking a shot in the game. Eminger, who won't require surgery according to John Tortorella, will be out eight to 10 weeks, while Woywitka is "iffy" for tomorrow night's  game in New Jersey and is day-to-day.

Following the injuries to both defensemen the Rangers recalled defensemen Stu Bickel and Tim Erixon, although originally Bickel was the only one recalled. My guess is that John Tortorella originally wanted a right-handed shot to replace Eminger in the lineup, and once they determined yesterday that Jeff Woywitka might be a no-go for tomorrow, they recalled Erixon.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rangers vs. Coyotes Tonight at 8 p.m.

The Rangers are back in action tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes as their road trip continues, and Mike Rupp is expected to be back in the lineup tonight for the first time since he was sidelined with a torn meniscus in his left knee on Oct. 24. The Rangers haven't officially confirmed that Rupp will dress tonight, but it's fully expected that he will be in the lineup following yesterday's news that the Rangers reassigned defenseman Tim Erixon to the Connecticut Whale, presumably to clear cap space for Rupp's impending activation of injured reserve.

John Tortorella didn't say whether or not there would be any other lineup changes for tonight's game. You would think the logical choice is to put Sean Avery back in the lineup considering how flat the team has looked the last two games and to hopefully provide a spark of energy, but we all know that Torts doesn't always make the most logical choices when they're concerning No. 16. Chances are that Avery will be a healthy scratch once again, and either John Mitchell or Erik Christensen will be joining him in the press box to make room for Rupp's return.

If I had to guess on the lines tonight, I would assume they'll be:


Henrik Lundqvist is also expected to start in goal barring anything unforeseen, as the Rangers will look to snap a two-game losing streak.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rangers Fall To Blues 4-1

The Rangers lost to the St. Louis Blues tonight by a score of 4-1, and were really outplayed from start to finish.

If you missed the game today - well, then lucky you. Right from the beginning the Rangers just looked completely mismatched and were lacking energy. It really wasn't until the third period when the Rangers really had sustained offensive pressure in the Blues' zone, and the game actually could've looked much worse if the Rangers had any other goalie besides Henrik Lundqvist in goal for them. John Tortorella juggled his lines a lot as the game went on in hopes of finding something to spark the team (including reuniting Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards on the same line), but nothing worked.

Click below to read my notes on tonight's game.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thoughts On First Episode of HBO's 24/7

The first episode of 24/7: The Road to the Winter Classic, which documents both the Rangers and the Flyers leading up to their Jan. 2 showdown in this season's Winter Classic, debuted on HBO tonight. I've been eagerly anticipating this documentary ever since the Rangers were first announced as a participant in the Winter Classic, and the show certainly did not disappoint.

Click below to read my thoughts on the first episode of 24/7 and what I liked/didn't like about it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Artem Anisimov Joins Twitter, List of Rangers Players on Twitter

As we wait for tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Rangers confirmed this morning that Artem Anisimov has joined Twitter. In case anyone wants to give him a follow, his username is @Anisimov42.  He's only Tweeted once so far and it was in Russian: Три Мушкетера это сила. According to Google Translator, that translates into: "The Three Musketeers is a force." Maybe he's referencing the fact that all members of the G.A.S. line are now on Twitter?

Also, I know I'm late on this, but Henrik Lundqvist also joined Twitter last week and he's actually been Tweeting quite frequently.

Anyway, here's a list of all the Rangers that are now on Twitter for those interested in following them:

Artem Anisimov - @Anisimov42
Sean Avery - @imseanavery
Marty Biron - @MartyBiron43
Brandon Dubinsky - @BDubi17
Marian Gaborik - @MGaborik10
Henrik Lundqvist - @HLundqvist30
Ryan McDonagh - @RMcDonagh27
Brandon Prust - @BrandonPrust8
Brad Richards - @BRichards_1991
Derek Stepan - @DerekStepan21
Wojtek Wolski - @WojtekWolski86

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Michael Sauer Day-to-Day with Concussion

Well, it's what we feared, Rangers fans. John Tortorella confirmed at practice today that Michael Sauer has been diagnosed with a concussion and is officially listed as day-to-day. Sauer is at the very least out for tomorrow's game, although the Rangers aren't expected to recall another defenseman from the Connecticut Whale. That means Anton Stralman will be in the lineup for just the second time this season and will be paired on the 3rd defense pairing with Jeff Woywitka, while Steve Eminger will move up to the second pairing with Michael Del Zotto (who, by the way, practiced today and is fine after briefly leaving the game in the third period on Monday after going head first into the boards while trying to touch up for an icing).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Injury Updates on Sauer, Del Zotto

The Rangers lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 last night, but the bigger concern was the possibility of them losing both Michael Sauer and Michael Del Zotto long-term due to injuries. Sauer was rocked on a huge hit along the boards from Dion Phaneuf (it was a clean hit, by the way) and looked to hit his head on the boards as he was going down to the ice, losing his helmet in the process. Just a few minutes later, Del Zotto got tangled up with David Steckel going after the puck to touch up for an icing and he took an ugly spill head-first into the boards. Del Zotto looked banged up and seemed to have jarred his shoulder, but he returned a few minutes later. Sauer, however, did not.

The Rangers had no official update on either player today since the team was off, but Larry Brooks wrote in the New York Post this morning that "it's likely that [Michael Sauer] sustained a concussion" on the hit from Phaneuf. Needless to say, hopefully that's not the case. Sauer has been a gigantic part of the Rangers' defense ever since he made the team last year out of training camp, and his role has only grown even more with Marc Staal out. If it is indeed a concussion, there's no telling when we'll see Michael Sauer again since, as we've seen with Staal, the recovery process is completely unpredictable. John Tortorella didn't have an update on Sauer after the game last night, but I expect we'll hear more on him tomorrow at practice.

As for Del Zotto, he spoke to the media following the game last night and, courtesy of Andrew Gross, confirmed that he was just banged up from the collision, so it doesn't look like he'll miss any time. Del Zotto said that the play was a good example of why he believes the NHL should change to the no-touch icing call that they have in Europe. The play Del Zotto got hurt on was simply a bang-bang play with him and Steckel both racing for the puck, and most times when they happens the ending isn't pretty. But the good news here is that Del Zotto seems to be fine.

If Sauer is out for an extended period of time, I expect that means we'll be seeing a lot more of Anton Stralman, who has appeared in just one game with the Rangers this season (a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers back on Nov. 23) since signing a one-year deal with the team in early November. The Rangers simply don't have any other better alternatives right now. The only kid who the Rangers may have even considered would have been Tim Erixon, but he's been out with an undisclosed injury since last Wednesday for the Connecticut Whale. And let's face it - if the Rangers thought they had anyone else better than Stralman, they wouldn't have signed him in the first place.

We'll see what happens from practice tomorrow. At the very least I would expect Sauer to be out of the lineup Thursday, but maybe the Rangers can have some luck go their way and his head injury won't turn out to be serious.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rangers Unveil Winter Classic Jerseys

Not too shabby! The Rangers unveiled their new Winter Classic jerseys today at 4 p.m. on Facebook. Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Dan Girardi were on-hand to model the jerseys and answer a few questions from Dave Maloney and Al Troutwig.

I personally love the jerseys and can't wait to get my hands on one. The old 1926 crest looks awesome and I love the creme color they use for all the vintage jerseys in the NHL. The Rangers did a good job of making them different from the heritage jerseys while still giving them that throwback feel. Bias aside, I think they look way better than the Flyers' Winter Classic jerseys that were unveiled last week.

What do you guys think of them? Will you be buying one when they go on-sale Dec. 5? I'm debating between a Callahan or Lundqvist jersey myself.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Notes From Rangers Practice: Stralman and Richards Work Points On First Power Play Unit

The Rangers were back at it on the ice at practice today, as Brandon Dubinsky (flu) and Brad Richards (maintenance) both returned after missing practice yesterday.

It seems as if we may get our first look at Anton Stralman in a Rangers uniform as soon as tomorrow night against the Panthers. Stralman was working with Brad Richards on the points of the first power play unit with Brandon Dubinsky, Erik Christensen and Ryan Callahan playing up front. Yes, you read that right. Erik Christensen was working on the first power play unit, not Marian Gaborik. Why? I have absolutely no idea.

Anyway, I don't think John Tortorella would use Stralman on the first power play unit at practice unless he was going to be in the lineup. I mean, what exactly would the point be to work on an already struggling power play if the coaching staff didn't plan on using the same personnel in games that they used in practice?

Here are the forward lines from practice that you'll likely see tomorrow night in Florida (hat tip to Andrew Gross):


If Stralman suits up tomorrow the general assumption is that it'll come at the expense of Steve Eminger or Jeff Woywitka. But I also wouldn't rule out the possibility of Michael Del Zotto being a healthy scratch. He's coming off a terrible game in Montreal and was bumped from the top power play unit in favor of Stralman. John Tortorella, of course, won't confirm any lineup changes until game-time tomorrow, so we'll see what happens.

Also, in case you missed it earlier, there was some big news that Marc Staal has accompanied the team on the trip to Florida, along with Mike Rupp and Wojtek Wolski. Here's to hoping Staal is closer to returning than we all thought.

Breaking News: Marc Staal, Wojtek Wolski, Mike Rupp Travel With Team To Florida

Some very surprising news just broke right now, courtesy of Jim Cerny, that Marc Staal, Wojtek Wolski and Mike Rupp are all traveling with the Rangers to Florida today as they prepare to take on the Panthers tomorrow night. Wolski (groin) and Rupp (knee) are both still several weeks away from returning, but the status of Marc Staal (concussion) is completely up in the air. Larry Brooks reported late last week that Staal had just recently been cleared to resume light workouts, though the Rangers have not given any official update on Marc Staal since the end of training camp.

This has to be looked at as a huge step forward for Marc Staal's recovery from his concussion. We really have no concrete information on how his recovery has gone so far, but the very fact that the Rangers would allow him to fly is a huge deal. Teams typically do not allow a player suffering from a concussion to fly unless he is cleared of all symptoms and is no longer experiencing headaches.

Does this mean Marc Staal is even further along than we thought? It sure seems that way, but right now this is all speculation. Dan Rosen of speculated that Staal might be just getting antsy and wants to be around the team since he's been away from the boys for so long. Even if that's the case, the Rangers would still have to deem him fit to fly no matter what the case is. It's interesting to note that the Rangers have a game tomorrow in Florida and a game against the Capitals in Washington on Friday before returning for a two-game homestand at the Garden. It really wouldn't make sense to have Staal traveling with the team on a brief two-game road trip if he wasn't closer to playing than perhaps we all thought.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rangers Defeat Islanders 4-2, Avery Questions Refs

The Rangers defeated the Islanders by a final score of 4-2 tonight in a crazy, up and down game that pushed the Rangers' winning streak to seven games. The Rangers got goals from Sean Avery, Steve Eminger, Brad Richards (the game-winner) and Ryan Callahan (empty netter), and Henrik Lundqvist absolutely stood on his head while making 31 saves and leading the Rangers to victory on the Island.

The Broadway Hat was awarded to Brad Richards tonight, who finished with the aforementioned game-winning goal, four shots and a plus-3 rating on the night. After the Islanders tied the game at two on a power play goal earlier in the third period, Brad Richards fired a rocket of a slap shot past Evgeny Nabokov after a terrible giveaway by Josh Bailey in the Islanders' zone and a nifty little pass from Brandon Dubinsky. Richards nearly had another goal earlier in the game on the power play that hit the post, as well.

Click below to read more on tonight's game, and what Sean Avery and John Tortorella had to say about a controversial call in the first period.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rangers Unveil New Lines at Practice

John Tortorella broke out some new forward line combinations at practice today that will presumably be the lines we'll see tomorrow night when the Rangers take on the Islanders on the Island. The lines the Rangers used at practice today actually were actually the same ones they ended their last game with on Friday night.

Here are the lines Torts rolled with:


Click below to read more news and notes from practice today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rangers Defeat Senators 3-2, Win Fifth In a Row

The line of Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik dominated the entire night and Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves, as the Rangers beat the Ottawa Senators by a final score of 3-2 tonight to win their fifth game in a row.

The Rangers' G.A.S. line (Gaborik, Anisimov, Stepan - get it? I stole it from Mike Rupp on Twitter) was precisely that tonight. They were absolutely flying and storming the net whenever they were on the ice and each player had a hand in the Rangers' three goals tonight. Marian Gaborik had two goals, Derek Stepan had a goal and two assists, and Artem Anisimov had two assists. Altogether the trio combined for seven points tonight, and could've easily had more if not for a few nice saves by Craig Anderson.

Read more on the game below, including who got the Broadway Hat for player of the game.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rangers Trade Tomas Kundratek to Capitals for Francois Bouchard

As we wait for the Rangers' next game tomorrow night at 7:30 against the Ottawa Senators, some news to report today on the trade front. The Rangers traded defenseman Tomas Kundratek to the Washington Capitals in exchange for RW Francois Bouchard, who has spent the past three seasons playing primarily for the Caps' AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. Bouchard will head to the Connecticut Whale to provide some more depth at the forward position.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Rangers Defeat Ducks 2-1 in Shootout; Wolski Hurt

Original Image Credit: Pat Leonard of New York Daily News

The Rangers beat the Ducks tonight by a final score of 2-1 in a shootout tonight. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 2 of 3 shootout attempts and the Rangers' shootout goals came from Erik Christensen and Marian Gaborik on a dazzling move that was the game-winner (Brad Richards was the other shooter, unsuccessful on his attempt). If you haven't seen Gaby's goal that won the shootout for the Rangers, it's definitely worth checking out.

Click below to read more on the game.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rangers Sign Defenseman Anton Stralman

According to, Anton Stralman's agent has confirmed that the Rangers have agreed to terms with the defenseman on a one-year, $900,000 deal. The Rangers have not officially confirmed the signing yet, but they likely are waiting until after the game tonight before announcing it.

No word yet if the deal is a one-way contract yet.

Stralman, 25, attended training camp with the Devils as a tryout this year but wasn't offered a contract. The Rangers have reportedly had an offer on the table for him for the last few weeks and he was debating between accepting the Rangers' offer or playing in Sweden.

Stralman was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs as a fifth round pick in the 2007 Entry Level Draft. He's spent four seasons in the NHL with the Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets. In the 2009-2010 season he recorded 6 goals and 28 assists for 34 points and a minus-17 rating in 73 games with the Blue Jackets. Last year, he skated in 51 games with Columbus and recorded 1 goal and 17 assists for 18 points and a minus-11 rating.

I imagine that even if the Rangers plan on using Stalman in the NHL they'll likely have him go on a conditioning stint with the Connecticut Whale since he hasn't played hockey for a few weeks now.

I'm not sure how much of an upgrade Stralman will prove to be over Jeff Woywitka, but it can't hurt for the Rangers to continue shopping for low-cost defensemen while Marc Staal is out. I don't think the signing necessarily has anything to do with Staal's progression from his concussion because the Rangers made this offer to Stralman several weeks ago.

Rangers vs. Ducks Tonight at 7:00; No Avery, Lundqvist Back in Goal

 With the exception of Henrik Lundqvist being back in goal over Marty Biron, the Rangers will roll with the same lines tonight against the Anaheim Ducks they used in Monday's win against San Jose. Those would be:


Del Zotto-Sauer

This means that Rangers fans will have to wait a little while longer to see Sean Avery make his 2011 season debut in a Rangers uniform. I can't really blame John Tortorella for sticking with the same lines that worked in what was easily the Rangers' most impressive win of the season on Monday, but I'm sure that won't matter to fans at MSG who were hoping to see Avery tonight. If the Rangers have a bad showing tonight don't be surprised to hear "We want Avery!" chants ringing in the Garden yet again. Nevertheless, Avery said himself after practice yesterday that he fully understood the coaching staff's decision to stay with the same lines from Monday since Avery only just started practicing yesterday and also hadn't skated in the last few days while he was waiting to see how the re-entry waivers scenario played out.

More to come later, as the Rangers look to make it two in a row at the Garden.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guess who's back? Sean Avery Clears Waivers, Returns To Rangers

Well, that didn't take long.

After admitting himself three weeks ago that he didn't expect to return to the NHL again this season, Sean Avery cleared re-entry waivers today at noon and is back on Broadway for the third time in his career.

I'm sure we'll hear more from practice later. John Tortorella said after yesterday's game that he wouldn't necessarily make any changes to the lineup come Thursday night when the Rangers face the Ducks, but I would be pretty surprised if Avery didn't play.

More to come on The Grate One's return later.


The Rangers have officially confirmed via Twitter that Avery has cleared waivers and has been recalled from the Connecticut Whale. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Rangers Defeat Sharks 5-2

It took a while, but the Rangers finally got that complete game, 60 minute effort from start to finish tonight that they've been lacking so far this season. Powered by Ryan Callahan's 2 G, 1 A effort, the Rangers beat the Sharks by a final score of 5-2. They also outshot the Sharks 31-26 - the first time the Rangers have outshot an opponent this season.

As you can see from the picture above, Ryan Callahan was awarded the Broadway Hat, and was also the game's first star tonight.

The Rangers really got plenty of contributions from everybody tonight. Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov scored their first goals of the season and Erik Christensen added two assists, including a beautiful feed on a Callahan power play goal. Ryan McDonagh also scored his third goal of the season after scoring two goals combined with the Rangers and Connecticut Whale last season. Wojtek Wolski didn't record a point in the game, but today was easily his best game of the season. He registered a game-high seven shots on goal while playing primarily with Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik tonight and was very involved in the offensive zone from start to finish. Although Brandon Dubinsky registered no shots on goal, he picked up two assists and shot just wide on two or three occasions. He seemed just a hair off and if he continues with games like these, the goals will come soon enough.

Marty Biron was solid in the net tonight, making 24 saves. It wasn't an easy night in goal for Biron by any stretch of the imagination, as he was often times barraged with shots in the second period when the Sharks tied the game 2-2, but Biron held his ground and played as well as you could want your backup to play.

You can view the boxscore to the game here.

Tomorrow at noon we will learn if Sean Avery has cleared waivers and if No. 16 will rejoin the Rangers for his third tour of duty with the Blueshirts. More news to come then.

Sean Avery Placed On Re-Entry Waivers

It's official. Today at noon, the Rangers placed Sean Avery on re-entry waivers, presumably with the intention of him rejoining the team in time to suit up for Thursday's game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Garden if he clears waivers. Teams will have a chance until noon tomorrow to claim Avery for half his salary.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Return of Page Six Sean?

Larry Brooks of the New York Post is one of several people today who is reporting that The Grate One himself, Sean Avery, will be placed on re-entry waivers tomorrow with the intention of him rejoining the Rangers in time for Thursday's game against Anaheim at MSG. Avery was cut after the preseason in favor of the Rangers keeping Mats Zuccarello, Wojtek Wolski and Erik Christensen on the roster - all of whom have a grand total of 2 assists and no shootout goals combined this season - but it looks as if Rangers management has decided to reinsert the spark plug back into the heart of the team yet again.

And who gets credit for breaking this news in the first place? Well, longtime hockey journalist Boomer Esiason of course (huh?). Earlier in the day, the longtime Rangers fan/ex-NFL quarterback/WFAN talk show host/NFL on CBS analyst, Tweeted, "Little birdie telling me Sean Avery is back! Thank God! Finally some energy! For the NYR." I, like many others I talked with, pretty much dismissed this as wishful thinking on Boomer's part since he's always been a huge Rangers fan, but it appears he was onto something because several other reporters began confirming Boomer's Tweet within the next several hours today. Who would've thought?

Sean Avery will have to clear waivers if he is recalled, which means every other team in the league has a chance to claim him for half of his salary. Most don't seem to think another team will claim him, though, and expect him to clear waivers and be a Broadway Blueshirt once again.

Avery skated in two games for the Connecticut Whale, recording 1 goal and scoring in the shootout last night to propel the Whale to victory.

My feelings on Sean Avery have been well-documented already, so I won't really delve too much deeper into this. Just to recap: I have always been a fan of Sean Avery and feel like John Tortorella never gave him a fair chance. Even on the occasions when Avery did play well for the Rangers Torts would waste little time demoting him in the lineup the first time things went wrong. Furthermore, I think Avery is absolutely an improvement over the other forwards the Rangers have tried on the fourth line this year (Kris Newbury, Erik Christensen, Mats Zuccarello, etc.) and he gives the team an identity and personality that they need. The players clearly love him, as evidenced by Henrik Lundqvist's remarks in the New York Post earlier this week that seemed like a subtle shot at management's decision to cut Avery in the first place, and I'm assuming that the decision to bring Avery back is being led by Glen Sather. Slats has gone on record on more than one occasion about how much he likes Sean and what he brings to the table and he must feel like Avery's energy is what this team needs to get going. I just can't see John Tortorella going to Glen Sather and asking him to bring Avery back so quickly, but maybe I'm wrong.

Either way, this whole situation comes as a huge surprise. I never thought Avery would skate in the NHL this year after he was waived, and I definitely didn't think that if he did it would come with the Rangers. Nearly everybody reported that Sean's career with the Rangers was over and done with after he was waived, but maybe it isn't quite yet.

More on this situation as it develops. There should be more news come tomorrow.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Biron, Wolski, Woywitka in Lineup for Rangers Tonight

News today from the Rangers is that Wojtek Wolski will make his return to the lineup for the first time since Opening Day in Sweden and Marty Biron will make his season debut in Winnipeg tonight against the Jets. Jeff Woywitka will also suit up for tonight after being a healthy scratch Saturday in Edmonton in favor of Brendan Bell.

Wolski's return to the lineup means that Erik Christensen (thankfully) will take a seat in the press box. As much of a disappointment as Wolski has been since being traded to the Rangers last season, there's really no way he can provide any less than Erik Christensen has so far this season. I expect Wolski will open the game on the fourth line, but he'll probably move around and get some power play time as the game goes on. Wolski, you'll recall, was called out by John Tortorella last week when Torts took a subtle shot at Wolski by insinuating he was taking his sweet time recovering from a groin injury that has lingered ever since the preseason.

Evidently, the Rangers weren't all that impressed by Brendan Bell on Saturday because Jeff Woywitka is back in after a one game absence. Ideally, neither of these guys should be suiting up regularly for the Rangers (or any other NHL team for that matter), but the Rangers really don't have any choice with Marc Staal still suffering from concussion symptoms and Michael Sauer's right shoulder still an issue.

Tonight's game will break a string of 37 consecutive games that Henrik Lundqvist has started for the Rangers (including the postseason) dating back to last season. The decision to start Biron, apparently, has nothing to do with Henrik Lundqvist leaving Saturday's game against Edmonton with cramps in his foot from the new skates he's been wearing this year. Lundqvist has insisted he's fine and he practiced fully, so I have no reason to believe this is a lingering thing. Fact is, Biron was likely to start at some point on this road trip since John Tortorella likely wants to get him into a game early in the season so he can get some work in.

More later from Winnipeg as game time draws near...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rangers Defeat Flames 3-2 in Overtime

The Rangers won a thrilling game by the score of 3-2 in overtime tonight after Ryan McDonagh buried the game-winner top-shelf with just 0.5 seconds remaining in the game.

Much more reaction to come later, but I will say this - Ryan McDonagh continues to impress offensively, the first line continued to be strong, Brandon Dubinsky had his best game of the season and Henrik Lundqvist, as usual, was outstanding.

McDonagh had 26:25 TOI tonight for a total of 36 shifts and now has 2 goals and 1 assist in his last two games.

Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves on the night and now has a .973 save percentage in his last two games.

The Rangers other two goals came from Marian Gaborik (the team's first power play goal of the season) and Brandon Prust (the team's first short-handed goal of the season).

Henrik Lundqvist said the victory hat tonight goes to...Brandon Prust "for being the homeboy."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rangers vs. Canucks Pregame Notes, Marc Staal Update Coming Tomorrow?

Some pregame notes for the Rangers-Canucks game tonight from Vancouver (10 p.m. EST on MSG Network), courtesy of Steve Zipay of Newsday.

Rangers lines:


Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto-Tim Erixon
Jeff Woywitka-Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratches: Wolski (Groin), Sauer (Shoulder)

Canucks lines:


Roberto Luongo

- The Canucks will honor Rick Rypien prior to tonight's game, who committed suicide this past August at the age of 27. Rypien played in 119 games with the Canucks over six seasons.

- Wojtek Wolski and Michael Sauer are both out as they continue to try and comeback from their injuries. It sounds like Sauer may miss most of the games on this Canada trip, if not all of them. Brendan Bell was obviously recalled because the Rangers aren't very confident in Sauer suiting up within the next few days.

- Dale Weise is in the lineup and will suit up against his former team for the first time. Weise, of course, was lost on waivers a few weeks ago to the Canucks.

- Joe Micheletti said on the Rangers pregame show on MSG that the Rangers will likely give an official update tomorrow on Marc Staal's recovery from his concussion. Hold your breath, Rangers fans. I'm assuming we're either going to get very good news or not so good news, unless Staal pulls a Sidney Crosby and has a press conference to announce that nothing has changed in his recovery.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mats Zuccarello Sent To Connecticut Whale, Brendan Bell and Kris Newbury Recalled

The Rangers announced after their loss to the Islanders on Saturday that they have sent down Mats Zuccarello to the AHL and recalled center Kris Newbury to take his place on the roster. On Sunday, the team also announced that they have recalled defenseman Brendan Bell to join them on their road trip through Canada that begins with a game tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks.

Kris Newbury was leading the Connecticut Whale with 4 goals and 4 assists for 8 points in four games this season, while Bell had recorded an assist in two games with the Whale since he was assigned there after the Rangers got back from Sweden.

Read more below for comments from Mats Zuccarello on being sent down to the Connecticut Whale.

The Good and The Bad: Rangers Fall To Islanders 4-2

It almost seems unfair, doesn't it? After starting the season with back-to-back losses in Sweden we had to wait an entire week before seeing the Rangers play again on Saturday, and now that they finally are back on the ice they lost, yet again, for the third time this season while displaying pretty much the same patterns we saw from them in the first two games in Sweden.

There were some good signs that the Rangers showed on Saturday, but there were also a lot of bad signs, too. Read more to see what went right and what went wrong.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sean Avery Reports To Connecticut, Staal Likely Out Saturday

Sean Avery has officially reported to the Connecticut Whale in the AHL and it seems like as of right now he'll be spending the rest of the season there unless something unexpected happens. Avery's agent Pat Morris was looking at options for Avery to possibly play in Europe this season, but according to Andrew Gross, those negotiations never got very far and Avery and his agent ultimately decided he'd earn more money playing out the final year of his contract in the AHL.

The Whale play the Devils' AHL affiliate in Albany on Friday, but it remains to be seen if Avery will be in uniform for the game.

Also, Marc Staal is continuing to receive treatment for headaches he's been experiencing as a result of the concussion he suffered last February. John Tortorella said yesterday that he hadn't spoken to Rangers trainer Jim Ramsey about Staal's progress in two days. Staal is rumored to be receiving acupuncture treatments regularly, but the Rangers have been very hush-hush about Marc Staal's recovery so far.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rangers Claim Defenseman Jeff Woywitka Off Waivers From Canadiens

The Rangers announced today on Twitter that they have claimed veteran defenseman Jeff Woywitka off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens. It's being reported that Woywitka will fly to Sweden today to join the team in time for tomorrow's game, although I doubt he'll play. The move also means the Rangers will officially option both Brendan Bell and Stu Bickel to the Connecticut Whale, who both cleared waivers yesterday.

Jeff Woywitka is a big body - 6'3", 227 lbs. - who plays with some toughness and is a lefty shot. Last season he skated in 63 games with the Dallas Stars, recording 2 goals and 9 assists for 11 points with a plus-5 rating and 24 penalty minutes. Overall, he's skated in a total of 251 NHL games.

The addition of Woywitka obviously means that the Rangers will no longer be pursuing Paul Mara. Woywitka can step in and play some games for the Rangers, but he'll ideally become the extra seventh defenseman once Marc Staal comes back. I think the Rangers will play Tim Erixon for the two games in Sweden and then depending on what they see from him will decide whether to keep him with the team or send him back to the Connecticut Whale once they get back to the US.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rangers Could Sign Defenseman Paul Mara Soon

Following the news this morning that Marc Staal has been played on IR, Larry Brooks is reporting that the Rangers have reopened contract talks with free agent defenseman Paul Mara, and a deal could happen relatively quickly. Brooks says Mara would join the team on Monday when they return from Europe so that he could get in a week of practice with the team before their next game.

You remember Paul Mara, don't you? He's the guy John Tortorella bragged about running out of town with the Tampa Bay Lightning the first day he met with the media as the head coach of the Rangers. He's also the guy with one of the most epic playoff beards of all time, as seen in the pic above.

All kidding aside, I would love to have Paul Mara back. I never had a problem with his play when he was here, and I think he'd be a fine addition as the 6th/7th defenseman on this team once Marc Staal gets healthy. Mara brought a lot of toughness and physicality and wasn't afraid to stand up for his teammates or himself at a moment's notice. He also emerged as one of the team's leaders when he was brought to the Rangers in a trade that sent Aaron Ward to the Boston Bruins in return.

Rangers Place Staal on IR, Recall Tim Erixon, Send Avery, Bickel and Bell to AHL

Lots of news from the Rangers today, and not all of it is good. First and most importantly, Marc Staal has been placed on Injured Reserve which means the absolute earliest he can play is October 15 against the Islanders, though right now that seems highly unlikely. Glen Sather told Larry Brooks in the New York Post today that "doctors have said it could be a week, but it could also be a month" before Marc Staal comes back. Earlier in the day Bob McKenzie of TSN Tweeted that the Rangers were shutting down Marc Staal's rehab completely because he wasn't getting any better, but Larry Brooks Tweeted in response that the Rangers "emphatically deny" that Staal has suffered a setback.

Meanwhile, Stu Bickel, Brendan Bell and Sean Avery have all cleared waivers and been optioned to the Connecticut Whale. Avery was on the first flight out of Sweden this morning, while Bell and Bickel are still with the team in Sweden. Again, I'm not quite sure what the point was in putting them through waivers yesterday if there's a chance either defenseman could suit up for the team in the event of an emergency. Larry Brooks Tweeted that Avery is not immediately expected to report to Connecticut, and his agent will continue exploring other options.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rangers Lose Dale Weise On Waivers To Canucks, Waive Brendan Bell and Stu Bickel

The Vancouver Canucks claimed now ex-Rangers forward Dale Weise on waivers today, and the Rangers also announced that they have placed Brendan Bell and Stu Bickel on waivers in addition to Sean Avery today at noon.

I really have no idea why the Rangers would waive Bell and Bickel when Marc Staal is already out for at least the first two games in Europe and possibly longer, and Michael Sauer's shoulder is banged up. Even though there's little to no chance either guy will be claimed off waivers, why would they possibly take the chance of losing them when the team is all the way in Sweden right now? It just doesn't make sense to me. I thought that maybe they would have made these roster moves if they were set to acquire another defenseman before the season opens on Friday, but John Tortorella said today that it's unlikely the team will add anyone by then.

The team has 30 days to assign Bickel and Bell to Connecticut, assuming they clear waivers, and they would both still be eligible to play for the NHL club until the 30 days are up. As of right now the Rangers technically have only five defensemen on their active roster - Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh,

Meanwhile, Dale Weise is no longer a Ranger after putting together what I thought was a pretty impressive training camp and two very good seasons in the AHL. This is another head scratcher to me. Weise is a big body who proved he could score at the AHL level and showed a lot of toughness during his few stints with the Rangers. At the very least he was a nice depth player for the organization. But it doesn't really make sense to me why the Rangers would waive both Dale Weise and Sean Avery and get rid of a lot of that toughness and grit that the Rangers quite frankly don't have enough of right now. The Rangers are short enough on forward prospects as it is, so losing Weise hurts. One could even say that he deserved the 13th forward spot over Erik Christensen and it'd be hard to argue against that.

A weird day for the Rangers and their fans. They cut a fan favorite, have their head coach bury him when being interviewed by the media, waive two depth defensemen and lose a tough forward who I thought showed a lot of potential.

Avery's Ranger Career Comes To An End Just How John Tortorella Wanted It

I try not to be overly critical of the New York Rangers management and roster on here because I've tried to keep this blog strictly about news as it pertains to the team. Furthermore, since I started this blog I really haven't been given much of a reason to be very critical of the Rangers and the way they've handled things. I thought the Rangers had a fantastic offseason and improved the team vastly with the moves they made and felt like it was silly to nitpick at little things until the team actually hit the ice.

All that being said, I just have to vent on the news that came today that the Rangers have waived The Artist Formerly Known As Page Six Sean. Sean Avery has not only been my favorite Ranger ever since he was first acquired from the Kings - he's been amongst my favorite athletes in all of sports. I just loved his attitude, his style, his swag - it was something of a rarity to see from professional athletes in this day and age, and especially in the NHL, where Gary Bettman has always preferred his poster boys to be the prototypical straight-laced, monotone Canadian with no personality (I'm looking at you, Sidney Crosby). Avery is the polar opposite and was what I always thought was a perfect fit for playing in New York. Avery isn't a New Yorker, but he just played like one. The way he carried himself from day one just made him a natural fit here and gave the team something Rangers fans hadn't seen in a long time. Ironically enough, Avery became a fan favorite for all the reasons that everyone else hated him - kind of like how New Yorkers are looked at by people outside of New York.

Look, I won't sit here and write about how Sean Avery has enough skill that he should be opening the season on the first line. I couldn't possibly justify that considering he's coming off the worst season of his career. But can anyone really say that out of everybody at camp this year, Sean Avery was only the 14th best forward on the team? I know I can't. If you think John Tortorella really gave Avery a chance to win a roster spot in camp this season you are sadly mistaken. The writing was on the wall when Avery opened camp on a line with John Mitchell and J.T. Miller - two guys who had no chance of making the Rangers. Torts may have claimed that Avery had a shot at making this team, but there was simply nothing Avery could've done to remain a Ranger. He wasn't put in a position where he could succeed and even though he clearly outplayed Wojtek Wolski and Erik Christensen (two guys who were also supposedly on the roster bubble when camp started, according to Torts) that apparently didn't matter. John Tortorella has preached repeatedly since he's gotten here about how players will have to earn their roster spots and if they perform well they would play. That applied to everybody except Sean Avery. Tortorella went on the record when he was an analyst with TSN when he called Avery an idiot and said he should be sent home following his "sloppy seconds" comment that got him suspended by the NHL and even though he's never said it since he's come here, it's clear that the guy just flat out didn't like Sean and didn't want him here.

When Torts was hired as the head coach of the Rangers the wheels were already in motion to bring Sean Avery back to Broadway following his exile from the Dallas Stars. Even if Torts didn't want Sean here, that sure as hell wasn't going to be a deal breaker for Tortorella when he was negotiating a new contract to return to coaching. Even in the past few years when Sean enjoyed some success and put together some good games, Torts never entrusted him with much responsibility for very long. He was given no Power Play time and really only had an increase in playing time if there was an injury and John Totorella needed bodies to pick up more ice time. The few games Avery spent last season on the first line with Erik Christensen and Marian Gaborik, he actually played quite well. Yet, whenever he began to do some positive things it seemed like Torts would always pull back his leash and stick him right back down on the fourth line where he'd get his eight minutes of ice time a game. Let's face it, Sean Avery has always been a Glen Sather and Jim Dolan type of player. Avery has been known to be somewhat close to Dolan, or at least closer to him than any other hockey player on the Rangers since Dolan first bought the Rangers. Larry Brooks reported that Dolan actually visited Avery in the hospital when he ruptured his spleen in the playoffs against the Penguins, and Avery has also gone to see Jim Dolan's band play at various charity events over the past few years, too. Glen Sather has also talked publicly about how much he likes Avery's game and the type of player he is. It seems like ultimately Glen Sather sided with John Tortorella, and it really shouldn't come as much of a surprise considering Torts is Sather's head coach and will be with the organization for the foreseeable future versus Avery, who would've likely been playing elsewhere next year even if he did spend this season with the Rangers. I think Sather just felt like it wouldn't be worth fighting for, especially when you consider the fact that from everything we've all heard/read points to the fact that Torts and Avery just flat out don't like each other. But still, John Tortorella's job as head coach first and foremost is to assemble the team that he thinks has the best chance of winning. If Avery was a better choice for the 13th forward role - and he clearly was - and Torts let his ego get in the way of things, then perhaps that's the most troubling part of this whole ordeal.

The Rangers now become a team with a very vanilla personality much like every other team in the NHL, which I guess is the way they wanted it. This isn't a knock on the leaders of the team such as Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Henrik Lundqvist; they just don't have the same type of character and personality that Sean Avery has. The situation is kind of ironic, too, considering we will be getting a behind the scenes look on the team on HBO's 24/7 series this year, and now their once most personable player will no longer be in the dressing room with them. The Rangers tried this situation in the past going with a business-first dressing room without a lot of character in it in 2008 and it didn't work out well - Scott Gomez and Chris Drury both had their leadership qualities questioned by Tom Renney after he was fired by the Rangers during the middle of the season, and Glen Sather eventually made the move to bring Sean Avery back to add a spark to the dressing room. It's hard to say for sure why the Rangers think it'll work this time around. My personal opinion on the matter is that there was only room for one of John Tortorella and Sean Avery to remain with the team, and there was no doubt Torts would be the last man standing. Tortorella and Avery have similar personalities and two big egos that didn't clash well. I have no doubt there were conflicts between both men and I sure would love to hear about it if Sean comes out and speaks about his relationship with Tortorella once he is no longer a part of the Rangers organization.

The biggest slap in the face to me wasn't even that John Tortorella made it sound like Avery had a real chance of making the team when he really didn't, but the fact that the team actually flew Sean to Europe with them when it was clear the decision was already made that Avery wasn't going to make the team. The Rangers and Torts, of course, will claim that Avery was still being evaluated and given a chance to win a roster spot even though Rangers fans are smart enough to realize that wasn't the case. It was clearly a situation in which Avery was doomed from the start. It's not right to do that to a veteran athlete. Stringing him along is bad enough, but dragging him to Europe considering how much Avery has given to this franchise just wasn't fair to Sean or other players that may have really had a better shot at making the team than Avery. The Rangers should've cut Avery loose during the offseason if he didn't have a chance at continuing his NHL career with the Rangers. Now, with every team's roster pretty much set, Avery will have a hard time getting a shot with another NHL team and may be forced to spend this season playing in the AHL or in Europe if his agent can work out a deal for him to play there.

I'll miss the things that Sean Avery brought to the New York Rangers both on and off the ice. Yes, he was a distraction. Yes, he would give you moments that would make you shake your head in disbelief. But you can't say it wasn't an adventure with him. Sean left a lasting impression on the Rangers and their fans and I think he'll always remain a cult hero in the hearts of Rangers fans everywhere. Avery's agent Pat Morris said today that Avery is still fully committed to continuing his hockey career beyond this year, and I certainly hope he's able to get an opportunity elsewhere. I've met Sean a few times in the past and he was always down to earth and a standup guy off the ice who was always willing to chat and make time for fans.

So, thanks for the memories, Sean. New York will miss you and your crazy antics, even if every other hockey fan never had the chance to truly appreciate them like we did.

Breaking News: Sean Avery Waived By Rangers, Europe Next?

Farewell, Sean.

Larry Brooks has just broke news that the Rangers have waived Sean Avery, meaning that Erik Christensen will make the team and be the 13th and final forward that the Rangers carry this season. Brooks said it's unknown if Avery would be assigned to the Connecticut Whale if he clears waivers as expected, but that Avery has been told there's no chance he'll play again for the Rangers.

Avery's agent has confirmed the news to target="_blank" that the Rangers have informed him Avery will be waived today, and says that playing in Europe is the most likely destination for Sean to continue his hockey career.

More to come later on what I think is a big mistake by the Rangers and specifically John Tortorella...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rangers vs. Flyers Officially Announced For 2012 Winter Classic

At a press conference from Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia today, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman finally announced what he called "the worst kept secret in sports" - that the Rangers and Flyers will square off in the 2012 Winter Classic on January 2nd at 1 p.m. from Citizen's Bank Park in Philly. The NHL also confirmed that HBO will indeed be doing their second installment of the 24/7 mini-series leading up to the Winter Classic, with the first episode airing on December 14. The jerseys the teams will be wearing for the event weren't unveiled yet, however.

Click below to read more, including some trash talking that was initiated by Glen Sather later on in the press conference.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Marc Staal Visits Head Specialist, Richards Back On Ice

Some notes from practice today, courtesy of Andrew Gross: Brad Richards returned to practice today after sitting out the last two days with a pulled groin, and he is scheduled to play in tomorrow's preseason game against the Devils. Marc Staal, however, missed practice after skating yesterday because he had an appointment with a concussion specialist in New York City. The Rangers thought it was more important for Staal to go to his doctor's appointment, so he was excused from practice.

Click below to read more news and notes from practice today.

Recap: Rangers Fall To Devils 2-1 In OT

Apologies for not posting in over a week, but I'm back now. That's the downfall when you have on person running a blog.

Anyway, the Rangers fell to the Devils last night 2-1 in Albany last night (yes, Albany). The Rangers' lone goal was scored by Dale Weise on a nice feed from Artem Anisimov. Weise also had a fight at center-ice with Devils forward Brad Mills.The lines last night were:

Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Dale Weise
Carl Hagelin-Erik Christensen-Christian Thomas
Sean Avery-John Mitchell-J.T. Miller
Ryan Bourque-Shane McColgan-Andre Deveaux

Dan Girardi-Brendan Bell
Michael Del Zotto-Steve Eminger
Tim Erixon-Dylan McIlrath

Henrik Lundqvist
Cam Talbot

The Rangers were outshot by the Devils 42-21 and the Rangers took an 0-for on the Power Play. Not a big deal considering the fact that only two forwards playing in the game are locks to be on the Opening Day roster come October.

John Tortorella called the game "sloppy," but praised the line of Avery-Mitchell-Miller. He said their forechecking was very good and said it was the Rangers' best line all night - yet, Sean Avery barely got any shifts in the third period. Seems like Torts is continuing his pattern of saying only positive things about Avery to the media, only to bench him without any real explanation. It was only one preseason game, though, so we'll see what happens and if Avery gets to play with NHL linemates next time if Torts really was impressed by his game.

Henrik Lundqvist, meanwhile, stopped 17 of 18 shots in 31:18 of ice time before he was replaced by Cam Talbot. Talbot was very solid, stopping 22 of 23 shots before being beaten by Patrick Elias for the game-winner 45 seconds into overtime.

My personal thoughts on the game: The Rangers really didn't get much going offensively, but again, look at the lineup. I was very pleased with Dylan McIlrath's performance. Tim Erixon looked a little bit hesitant and shaky at times, but this was his first pro game in the U.S. Lundqvist was stellar and Talbot was very good. Andre Deveaux got into a fight with David Clarkson that he seemed to win pretty easily. He could be a useful weapon if a forward goes down and we need to add some grit against a team like Philly or Boston.

Beyond that, there wasn't a whole lot to write about. I thought Avery had a noticeable game and Del Zotto was alright for the most part. Christensen will need to have a better showing his next time out if he wants to be on this team in the long haul. The Rangers' best forward was Dale Weise, though, who will need to continue to have games like this if he wants to have any chance of making the NHL club out of training camp.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Traverse City: Rangers Face Hurricanes Tomorrow at 3 p.m. on MSG

Just a reminder that the Traverse City tournament continues tomorrow when the Rangers face the Carolina Hurricanes at 3 p.m. All the games are being aired live on MSG Network, so if you're around during the day you've got something to watch in the afternoon, or you can do what I did and DVR the games if you're not around for them. The Rangers are 2-0 so far and have scored a total of 11 goals in those two games.

I'll be posting tomorrow night who has looked good to me thus far after the team's first three games, who has looked bad and who has looked invisible. I've been impressed with the team's overall play thus far, though - it's kind of hard not to be when they're 2-0 with 11 goals so far.

Callahan Talks About Being Named Captain, Plus Reaction From Torts and Richards

Ryan Callahan spoke to the media earlier today after officially being named the 26th captain in New York Rangers team history by coach John Tortorella. Here are some of his comments, courtesy of Andrew Gross over at Rangers Rants.

“Obviously it’s a privilege and an honor to be able to wear a C on a team but I’m going to approach the same as wearing an A, the things I do on the ice and off the ice, there’s a reason why I feel I got the A,” Callahan said. “I’ll continue on with the C. Obviously there comes a little bit more leadership role with it and some more responsibility at the same time I have to do what I do and not the letter on my sweater affect my game or how I approach the game.”
“I’m the kind of guy who tries to go about my business and not try to think about things like that or things out of my control,” Callahan said. “Through my career guys like Dru, even when I first got here, Jagr, I look up to them, watch them, see how they act on and off the ice, especially Drury, I think he’s a big part of the player I’ve become and the reason why am I leader today."
Callahan kept going back to what he’s learned from Drury.
“The way he approached the game and the way he was so professional on and off the ice, the way he carried himself, he never got too high, never got too low, he was always in the room at kind of even keel,” Callahan said. “At times if he needed to be emotional with the team he would be but he approached the game the same way every night.”
As for his leadership style, Callahan said it’s a combination of leading by example, and speaking (loudly) when needed.
“On ice I try to lead by example, I try to play the identity we created last year, have guys follow that way,” Callahan said. “But at the same time, in the room, I think if I need to be vocal I can be. The biggest thing is to continue to do what I do and hopefully guys follow.
“I don’t mind it at all,” Callahan said of being vocal. “It’s not something I’m uncomfortable with. If something needs to be said, it will be.”

Read more comments from Callahan, John Tortorella and Brad Richards below.

Breaking News: Ryan Callahan Named Rangers Captain

The New York Rangers officially announced just a few moments ago that Ryan Callahan will be the 26th captain in team history. Brad Richards and Marc Staal will both be the alternate captains.

Can't say I'm at all surprised by the decision. Even though John Tortorella originally said he would wait until after training camp before naming his team captain, something must have happened that made him change his mind because the Rangers announced late last night that they would be revealing their next captain within the next 24 hours. Maybe Brad Richards talked with John Tortorella and told him he didn't want to wear the 'C' since this is Ryan Callahan's team? If that's the case, classy move by Brad Richards.

Callahan was the obvious choice all along and deserved it more than anyone else. Congrats to Captain Cally!

You can read the full press release from the Rangers below. I'm sure we'll get more comments from John Tortorella and Ryan Callahan later today or tomorrow at the latest.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Report: Ex-Ranger Steve Valiquette Turned Down Offer To Play For Yaroslavl Lokomotiv

Re-Tweeted by the Connecticut Whale's official Twitter earlier today was a story from that had an interesting blurb in it. Apparently, former Rangers goalie Steve Valiquette had an offer to play for the Lokomotiv this season, but turned them down because he only wanted to continue playing in the KHL if he was going to be guaranteed regular playing time.

Local agent Kent Hughes noted yesterday that one of his clients, ex-Rangers backup goalie Steve Valiquette, just recently turned down a contract offer to play for Yaroslavl this season. According to Hughes, Valiquette, a Canadian who now lives in Connecticut, was bought out over the summer after playing one season for CSKA (Red Army) and wasn’t eager to resume playing in the KHL without an assurance that he would be given regular playing time.

Valiquette, of course, was Henrik Lundqvist's last "regular" backup before the team signed Marty Biron last offseason. It certainly turned out to be a blessing in disguise that Valley turned down a deal with Yaroslavl.

I highly recommend reading the entire article, as it's really a great piece worth checking out. There's a story in the article that during the lockout when a bunch of NHL players were playing in Russia, a plane that was carrying Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Darius Kasparaitis, and Alexei Kovalev was supposed to originally be delayed for 2 to 3 hours and wound up being proclaimed ready for takeoff after only a 20 minute delay. Kasparaitis was skeptical and the players on-board demanded that Alex Kovalev fly in the cockpit since he has a pilot's license.

The more stories you hear about tragedies occurring in Russia with KHL teams, the more it makes me question why any athlete would want to play there.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Marian Gaborik Reacts To Pavol Demitra's Death, Rangers Confirm Karpovtsev's Death

Marian Gaborik took to Twitter and commented on the death of his best friend Pavel Demitra about 20 minutes ago. Before today the last time Gaborik Tweeted anything was back on April 16, 2010.

Gaborik's Tweet read:

Demo,u will always b in my heart.U were one of my best friends on and off the ice.U will be greatly missed by all of us.My condolences...
Marian Gaborik's Twitter 

Gaborik has lost two of his closest friends on and off the ice within the last several months - first Derek Boogaard and now Pavel Demitra.

Jim Cerny of originally said a few hours ago that Marian Gaborik left practice without meeting with the media and offering any words on the death of one of his best friends, Pavol Demitra, who died in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash that took place this morning. Mats Zuccarello did say that Gaborik was "devastated" when news hit of Demitra's death.

Also, the New York Rangers have commented on the death of Alexander Karpovtsev, an assistant coach of the Lokomotiv who also died this morning. The Rangers, apparently, were waiting to officially confirm his death before posting anything on their website. Karpovtsev was a member of the 1994 Stanley Cup team and will always be remembered for being a part of New York Rangers history.

Several Current and Ex-Rangers Affected By KHL Plane Crash

The tragic plane crash that reportedly killed somewhere between 36 to 43 members of the KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl this morning has hit everybody hard who is around the game of hockey, including several members of the New York Rangers. As Andrew Gross pointed out on Twitter, Marian Gaborik has lost two of his closest friends and former teammates within the last several months - first Derek Boogaard and now Pavol Demitra. One of Henrik Lundqvist's friends, Swedish goaltender Stefan Liv, also perished on the flight. Mike Rupp also played with ex-Ranger Karel Rachunek when they were with the Devils during Rachunek's last NHL stint before playing in Europe.

Gross has talked to several Rangers and have gotten their reactions on the crash.

Henrik Lundqvist devastated when told former Swedish national team teammate G Stefan Liv may have been on flight.
Lundqvist, told of Stefan Liv (now confirmed to be on flight), buries head in hands and says, like him, Liv was married this summer.
Mike Rupp befriended Karel Rachunek during their time with the Devils. "He was a quiet guy with a really good sense of humor."
Artem Anisimov came up with Locomotiv, says he knows about half the roster. "I feel like it can't happen. I feel sick about that."
 Andrew Gross on Twitter

More to come later today as news and reactions around hockey continue to break.

Breaking News: 43 People Dead in Plane Crash Carrying KHL Team

Unbelievably tragic news today this morning. A plane crashed in Russia this morning that was carrying the entire KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and killed 43 people who were on board, including ex-NHL players Pavol Demitra, Josef Vasicek, Jan Marek and Karel Rachunek (who also spent a few seasons playing with the Rangers). The team's head coach, Brad McCrimmon, and assistant coaches Igor Korolev and ex-Ranger Alexander Karpovtsev were also killed on the flight.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Breaking News: Ex-NHL Forward Wade Belak Found Dead At Age 35

Terrible news to pass along. Wade Belak, who retired in March after being waived by the Nashville Predators, was found dead today at his Toronto home. reported that the cause of death for Belak has not been determined, but foul play is not believed to have been involved.

Belak, 35, skated in 15 games with the Predators last season, recording 0 points, 18 PIM and a minus-1 rating before being waived by the team in February. Belak retired in March after clearing waivers, and remained with the Predators after accepting an organizational role with the team. Belak was a 14-year NHL veteran who played for the Predators, Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche.

Belak is the third person in the NHL to die since May, with Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard being the other two - all three men gone way too soon.

I send my condolences out to Wade Belak's friends and family. It's truly been an awful last few months for the hockey world.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chris Drury Retires From NHL

My apologies for not having this up sooner, but I had a personal matter to attend to this weekend. I'm sure you all have heard by now that Chris Drury officially retired from the NHL after a 12-year career on Friday. Drury, who was bought out of the final year of his contract with the Rangers earlier this offseason, clearly had hoped to continue his playing career elsewhere, but it seems as if it just wasn't meant to be. Drury retires with 615 points (255 goals, 360 assists) in 892 career regular season games.

Drury was limited to just 24 games this past season due to a combination of a twice-broken finger and knee surgery. The writing was clearly on the wall for the end of Drury's NHL career when John Tortorella said he had a chronic knee condition on breakup day after the Rangers' season ended in the playoffs against Washington.

It's a sad ending for a guy who never managed to live up to the expectations that were set for him when he agreed to a 5-year deal with the Rangers on July 1, 2007. Drury wanted to make it work in New York, but he just wasn't able to for various reasons. Part of it was the fact that his personality just didn't fit the prototypical New York Rangers captain persona, and of course the largest part was the fact that he just never put up the stats that the Rangers expected when they agreed to pay Chris Drury $7 million a season. Drury was mainly a second liner during his best years with the Rangers, and was relegated to the third and fourth lines the past several seasons when it was clear he just didn't have a place on the team anymore.

Rangers fans will likely be upset with Chris Drury for not just retiring before the Rangers bought him out. If he did that, he would've left $7 million on the table in the final year of his contract and the Rangers would've been off the hook for having to count any of his salary against the cap the way they are now. Let's be honest, though - as prideful and respected a player as Chris Drury is, very few people in the world would turn down $7 million. Drury knew this was his last big payday and he wanted to cash in. Does it hurt his image as a team-first guy? I'd say so, but I never really believed he would turn down guaranteed money just to financially help out a team that no longer wanted him. More than that, I truly believe that Drury wanted to continue his playing career and try to latch on with a team somewhere, and I guess he found out that there wasn't any real interest in him from other teams in the league.

Drury's Rangers career didn't have many (if any) bright spots that will be remembered years from now, but I still respect the guy for trying. He wanted to make it work in New York, but it wasn't meant to be. Drury will ultimately go down as another one of Glen Sather's free agency blunders despite what was overall a solid NHL career.

You can read more about my thoughts on Drury's Rangers career in a column I did back in June on here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Report: Sean Avery Won't Face Charges From Aug. 5 Arrest

Via TMZ comes word that Sean Avery will not face any charges stemming from his Aug. 5 arrest when he shoved a Los Angeles police officer. It was previously reported that Avery had a court date scheduled for Sept. 2 and could face a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail time, but it now appears that Avery will get off scot-free.

TMZ quoted "law enforcement sources" presumably involved with the case who said, "No criminal charges of any kind will be filed against Sean Avery stemming from his August 5 arrest for battery on a police officer." So there you have it.

Avery, of course, was arrested at his home in California after police responded to a complaint from one of his neighbors that the noise coming from a party Avery was throwing was too loud. You can read all about the original incident here.

The Rangers and Avery have both been completely silent about the incident and the last we heard from the Rangers was that they essentially had no comment right after the news of Avery's arrest broke. I didn't think at the time that it would lead to the team releasing Avery, and I think it only helps his case that all charges against him have been dropped. It was still an ugly incident, but the Rangers and Avery both will wind up avoiding a PR disaster by him not being charged on battery.

My guess is neither Avery, Glen Sather or John Tortorella will even acknowledge this incident when camp opens in a few weeks and all parties involved will do their best to just sweep this mess under the carpet in hopes that everybody will forget about it.