Thursday, August 28, 2008

NHL Guide: New York Rangers

Paradoxically, no team in the NHL benefited quite as much from the new CBA as the New York Rangers. With a salary cap in place, the Blueshirts could no longer pretend to be the Yankees, throwing obscene money at every free agent who had ever been on a winning team. Glen Sather held a fire sale before the lockout, sending the majority of his over-paid under-performing primadonas to any takers in exchange for prospects and draft picks. After the puck dropped again, the former Oiler-GM used his old touch to put together an actual TEAM, rather than a collection of individual players who wore the same jersey and wondered why the other guys kept trying to hog thier puck.

The first day of free agency last year felt like the old days, as the Rangers made a huge splash by securing not one, but two of the biggest names on the market immediately. This year will mark the first year in which the team really belongs to Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. Jagr is off to Mother Russia, so the burden of putting the biscuit in the other team's basket falls mostly on last year's two big free agent acquisitions. The difference between this situation and the one that faced so many Rangers' squads in the 90's and earlier this decade is that there's a solid lineup of young, skilled contributors on the roster after the Hockey God and the Mexkimo (nicknames courtesy of Bucci and an old roommate of mine).

Obviously, if you don't love Chris Drury, then you have a crap-stained hammer and sickle where you should have a soul. Nothing more needs to be said about him.

Scotty Gomez is also one that you pretty much have to love, despite the fact that he was a teammate of Martin Brodeur for most of his career. He's American, he's a good guy, and he works hard on the ice.

For some reason, I don't really like Lundqvist. I really don't know why. It's just a negative feeling I get when I look at him. But he's been a Vezna finalist almost every year he's been in the league, and it's hard to argue that he didn't deserve it.

I'll leave the analysis of Marcus Naslund to French Catalogues, but his Nike commercial with the Czar is reason enough to root for him.

Bandon Dubinski and Ryan Callahan are badasses, and should both make the USA squad in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Great blue-collar type guys who work amazingly hard and show a lot of heart. You have to respect the Rangers for the fact that they've always tried to keep a lot of Americans on their roster. The current roster has 7 American starters (Drury, Gomez, Dubinski, Callahan, Rissmiller, Mara, and Fritsche), and the numbers in the rafters include American greats Brian Leetch and Mike Richter.

Fredrik Sjostrom also deserves to be mentioned just because his name is so fun to say. It's pronounced shoe-strum. He's also called Freddie Shoes.

Finally, the Rangers also have the second Staal brother, Marc. Like all the Staal brothers, he's immensely talented and has enough grit and fire that he had a very physical rivalry with his own younger brother in the NYR/PIT series.

Gone are the dark days of Jagr, Kasparitis, Avery, Hollweg, and Shannahan. It's ok to like the Rangers again.

IN OTHER NEWS: Stu Barnes announced today that he is retiring and will join the coaching staff in Dallas. Despite his years with the Stars, we here remember Stubarnes fondly from his run to the finals with the Panthers in 96 and his time in Buffalo.

For the Chronicle, this is Razor Catch Prey.


Anonymous said...

Scotty Gomez can also be called Meskimo, which is slightly more covert and easier to spell.

Hank is a rock star, and looks like he should be in the Killers or the White Stripes or something, so that probably explains why you don't like him. On the flip side, he hates Brodeur and Brodeur hates him, (probably because the Rangers owned the Devils last season).


Mortimer Peacock said...

Interesting stuff. Chris Drury is obviously one of the immortals, Naslund is a fine feller, and I'm a fan of new guy Patrick Rissmiller (thuggish and effective, he). Gomez I really know nothing about. Seems like a nice kid though. I wonder if he AND Drury will be on Team USA in 2010?

Your central point is intriguing: it's okay to like the Rangers now. I can't really get my head around that one, even if it is true. The memories of 2007 are still too fresh...

Damn that Jagr.