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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rangers Sign Forward Andre Deveaux

The Rangers announced in a press release today that they have agreed to terms with 27-year-old UFA forward Andre Deveaux on what is likely a one-year, two-way deal. Deveaux spent last season playing for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL (he didn't have an NHL contract last season, so he wasn't the official property of any team) where he recorded 23 goals and 23 assists for 46 points in 73 games, along with 194 penalty minutes. He also has a total of 22 games of NHL experience with the Toronto Maple Leafs over the course of his career, where he recorded 1 assist and collected 75 penalty minutes.

Much like the Brendan Bell signing, his is just another depth signing by Glen Sather to add some guys to store as insurance in the minors in case of anything. Chances are you'll never see Deveaux in a Rangers uniform this season. Like Bell, Deveaux is another big body - 6'3", 220 lbs. - so it seems like Glen Sather is loading up on big bruisers to add some grit to the Connecticut Whale lineup this season.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rangers Release 2011 Traverse City 24-Man Roster

The New York Rangers officially released their 24-man roster for the 2011 Traverse City Prospects Tournament that will be held from Saturday, Sept. 10 through Wednesday, Sept. 14.

Also, as was announced a few weeks ago, all the Traverse City games will be televised on MSG for the first time ever, so fans will have a chance to take a look at the Rangers' top prospects in action. You can view the full TV schedule here.

Click below to read the full list of Rangers prospects that will be attending this year's tournament.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rangers Sign Defenseman Brendan Bell

Some minor news to report: the Rangers have agreed to terms with defenseman Brendan Bell. The terms haven't been announced, but it's likely a one-year, two-way deal. Bell, 28, is listed at 6'2", 211 lbs. and was drafted in the third round of the 2001 NHL Entry Level Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Bell has played in a total of 101 NHL games with the Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, collecting 7 goals and 21 assists for 28 points. Bell spent last year playing one game with Omsk Avangard in the KHL and 29 games with EHC Biel of the Swiss A-League.

Basically, this is strictly a depth signing. Bell gives the Rangers a veteran defenseman to stash in Hartford who has some NHL experience and could potentially step in on a moment's notice if there was an injury and the Rangers didn't want to rush up one of the younger kids. Barring an injury, he has no chance of being on the Rangers' Opening Day roster.

You can read more about Brendan Bell in the Rangers' official press release here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sean Avery Arrested For Shoving LA Cop, Released On $20,000 Bail

TMZ is reporting that Rangers LW Sean Avery was arrested at his home in Hollywood Hills early this morning and has been charged with battery of a police officer after shoving a cop who responded to a complaint from one of Avery's neighbors that music coming from a party Avery was throwing was too loud. According to TMZ, Avery shoved a police officer when they arrived, called them "fat little pigs" and told the officers he would fight all of them if they would "come back without your badges." Avery then slammed the door on the police and only reopened it after police threatened to break his door down if he didn't. Apparently, Avery cooperated with law officials after that and was arrested at 2:30 a.m. before being released on $20,000 bail at 8:10 a.m.

Avery has a court date scheduled for Sept. 2, in which he faces charges for a misdemeanor.

Click below to read more.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rangers Re-Sign Goalie Chad Johnson

Some minor news to mention: the Rangers have agreed to terms with RFA goalie Chad Johnson on a one-year, two-way deal worth $525,000. Johnson has spent the majority of the past two seasons playing for the Rangers' AHL affiliate, but he's seen some time with the big club after the Rangers waived Steve Valiquette two seasons ago, and again last season after Marty Biron broke his collarbone and missed the last several weeks of the season. Overall, the 25-year-old has put up a 2.59 GAA and .911 save percentage in six games with the Rangers.

Johnson struggled mightily last season with the Connecticut Whale, posting a 2.72 GAA and .901 save percentage while compiling a 16-19-3 record in 40 games. Johnson, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick in 2009, will provide goaltending depth for the Rangers in the minors this season as insurance for Marty Biron and Henrik Lundqvist.

Nassau Residents Vote Against New Coliseum, Islanders' Future In Doubt

The vote is in, and it's not good news for Islanders fans. After tallying 99 percent of the votes, the Nassau County Board of Elections revealed that the residents of Nassau County have voted against Islanders owner Charles Wang's proposed $400 million plan to build a new Nassau Coliseum, by a tally of 56 percent to 43 percent. The future of the New York Islanders is now very much up in the air after their lease at the current Coliseum expires in 2015.

Click below to read more.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Alex Frolov Says Sean Avery Used Racial Slurs On Ice...Then Says He Didn't

Not a lot of news surrounding the Rangers since Ryan Callahan re-signed last week, but there was this little story that broke earlier this morning. Slava Malamud of posted a quote from former Rangers LW Alex Frolov on Twitter that caused a bit of a stir, when Frolov said that Sean Avery has used racial slurs to get a rise out of his opponents while on the ice, but that Avery has recently become a calmer and smarter player. Frolov was reached by the New York Daily News after the quote leaked and he has since denied the report, claiming he was misquoted.

You can read the full quote inside this post by clicking to read more.