Henrik Lundqvist

The FUN In DysFUNctional

There’s this great saying, that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

There’s also another great saying.  That the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.

And there you can interchange “Glen Sather” with “insanity.”

Yes, this is in response to the firing of John Tortorella as head coach of the New York Rangers.  I guess like many, it came as a surprise but it was not exactly shocking.  One cannot fire a whole team, so you fire the coaches.  And unfortunately, with Torts, the buck stopped with him many time.

Most notably, now, with the recent ousting of the Rangers in the Eastern semis to the Boston Bruins.

Well here is a novel thought, Slats…GET BETTER PLAYERS YOU FUCKING MORON!

I haven’t yet finished my Rangers season wrap-up (and it’s coming, don’t you worry), yet, I’m already getting agita from this bullshit going on into 2013-14.

Yes, this was a shortened season.  Yes, I wasn’t crazy about the prospect of the whole “half a cup” thing. But goddammit, if I didn’t get excited about the playoffs this year.

Yet, I don’t think it’s Torts who failed his team.  Rather, the team failed Torts.

Give the guy some credit.  In a big media market, Torts took the pressure off his team and put it on himself.  Never a media darling, the fans loved him because he could separate the emotional from the professional.  Or at least the fans who liked him.

The fact is, whatever gave him his relationship with the players was his folly this year.

Dan Rosen of NHL.com wrote about the Seven Reasons Why the Rangers Fired Tortorella, and one of the reasons was that his top guys underperformed in the playoffs.

Yeah, no SHIT.  But here’s a swell idea: How about we actually BLAME the players?

What a novel fucking idea.  Instead of playing to win, they figure skated their way through round one, only to realize they can’t do that when the stakes are higher.  Right?

What’s more, is Torts had every right to scratch Brad Richards during the playoffs.  This is the same guy who underperformed ALL season…and he actually has a GOOD relationship with Tortorella! This is also the same guy who dormant during the lockout.

Sure, he may have kept in shape elsewhere.  But the reality is, he underperformed the entire season.

Not to fucking mention, there was a BIG spot missed without Marc Staal healthy.  Add that to the rising shit, and the Rangers were fucking lucky they made it TO the playoffs, let alone make it out of the first fucking round.

Yet, I have to ask, besides Sather basically solidifying future Stanley Cup runs in Columbus, what has he done that has made him so untouchable?  James Dolan has been in rehab: clearly, there must be some kind of damning evidence that Sather has on him that warrants him to be the GM forever and ever.

Could it have been a fluke that the guys he got in the Marian Gaborik trade were hurt? And where the hell was Rick Nash?  Did he NOT realize that yes, your goals count just as much in the playoffs as they do in regular season?

At the end of the day, Torts wasn’t out there NOT scoring on the power play.  Torts didn’t tell Brad Richards – hey, put your job AND mine in jeopardy by forgetting how to play.

To get canned after a half season when it seemed like the team ran on its moxie and mojo from the year prior is an insult.

 

I’ve only been a Ranger fan since 1989. I’m one of the lucky ones, that I only had to wait five years to see my team win a championship.  Like my dad and Kranepool Society, many other fans have been through some dysfunctional times.  To see the team get so far and to fall short.

I’m not sure if Sather, like many people, expected John Tortorella to turn water into wine, or turn the shit that Sather throws to the wall and see if it sticks.

I can only hope that next season the Rangers make it TO the playoffs.  Because Tortorella’s tenure brought back a legitimacy that hasn’t been seen since 1993-94 season.  And remember how Mike Keenan left, and subsequently, cursed the team.

As long as Glen Sather is in charge, we’ll have fun watching these teams, but we’ll be watching a shitload of dysfunction too.

The Lido Shuffle

“He said one more job ought to get it/One last shot ‘fore we quit it/One more for the road”
- Boz Scaggs

Chris Kreider As usual, I found myself ready to hang up my skates, hang up my Ranger jersey until the start of the 2013-14 season. I found it difficult to believe that a team that has seriously looked overmatched and borderline unprofessional would ever come back to tie a 3-game deficit, let alone come back at all.

I only had one wish: that the Garden Faithful would give the boys in blue a send off in a loss.

I had a discussion with a friend about it.  He had mixed feelings about the idea (and he’s not a Ranger fan at all).  He wasn’t sure if he could take another team celebrating on his team’s home ice. I guess I could understand that one.  But it’s not a Cup game.  It’s not like the Bruins would have paraded the cup up and down the ice.

I felt cheated last year because we couldn’t give the Rangers a send off in their season last year.

So last night, I had a few posts in my head, mostly about what went wrong, about Brad Richards’ healthy scratch, about how Rick Nash was “supposed” to be the difference maker (clearly there is an operative term in there), etc etc.  But I also wanted to talk about how the shortened season was doomed from the get go.  Nobody on the team seemed to get in a groove.  And how Henrik Lundqvist managed to nab a Vezina nomination, because I didn’t think he had as close to a dominating season as usual.

Just found themselves behind the 8-ball quite a bit.

I’ve been saying all along that I was comfortable with how this series ended. Win or lose, I had an eerie calm that the chips may fall where they will, and I’d be okay with it.  I don’t have an emotional dislike of Boston, after what they’ve been through this year as a city, it might be nice to see the Bruins give them a feel-good story.  But as far as a rivalry, Original Six or no, I continue to be fine with however the series goes.

Yet, like another Boston/New York series, oh about nine years ago in the fall, when a certain team came from three games down, and managed to win a game in extra innings when the odds were against them.  Then went on a roll to win the ultimate championship.

Of course that was baseball, and Boston Red Sox coming from behind, but it was against the Yankees, so it was all good in my book (apologies to any Yankee fans reading this right now).

The Rangers could very well be ousted in the next game.  Yet, the fact they went out with a fight, and not a whimper, is what the fans needed.  Not some kind of moral victory, that “Well, they made it this far with a shitty ass power play, and with Brad Richards sucking and Rick Nash underperforming and Henrik not having some of his best moments, let’s cheer! YAY!”

No.  I was sorely mistaken.  That crowd needed a home game win.  Something to give them hope that this team was everything they thought last year, and more.

I’ll say that an overtime win was something that I needed to see.  For once, I got to see an overtime work in MY team’s favor.

The New York Rangers gave us something last night, they gave us one more for the road.

 

WHAT ARE YOU, A BUNCH OF FUCKING CRYBABIES?

Once upon a time, a few months ago, someone asked me why I made fun of Sidney Crosby.  A Penguins fan, he claimed it was “sour grapes,” and that “any one of us would love to have him on our team(s).”

walter_sobchekThere may be an element of truth there.  I mean, for years and years, as a Mets fan, we taunted and made fun of Larry Jones…but I don’t think there is any one of us that wouldn’t have loved him on our team or didn’t respect the shit out of him.

But Crosby is different.  He gets the benefit of the doubt with EVERY call.  Anytime something happens to him, legal or not, the league goes RUSHING to his defense.  Mario Lemieux, a player I always loved and respected and would have never ever called “soft,” has become a total pussy when it comes to defending the crown jewel of his organization.

Yeah Sidney Crosby is a good player, a perennial Hart Trophy candidate as long as he is healthy.  But he’s a crybaby.  And in a paraphrase of Walter Sobchek, what kind of hockey player are you if you’re gonna be a fuckin crybaby?

But this isn’t about Sid, entirely.  No, the Rangers, in case you didn’t remember, eliminated the Washington Capitals on their own home ice in a 5-0 blow out Game Seven.  The game, which should have been all about Henrik Lundqvist not giving up a goal for 120 minutes straight, should have been about role players coming through in the clutch, and Captain Cally remembering that he honors a legacy of Mark Messier and tough guys.

But no.  Alex Ovechkin, yet another Hart Trophy candidate, has cemented his legacy as a crybaby official questioner.

“Not saying there was a phone call, but they wanted Game 7,” Ovechkin reportedly said in Russian, translated and tweeted by Slava Malamud, a senior writer for Russian sports daily Sports-Express. “For ratings. You know, lockout, escrow, league must make profit.”

I take it he doesn’t remember this call from Game Three, that worked to HIS benefit.

Or basically any other call that has worked to his benefit.  In you know his entire CAREER.

I don’t get it.  Hockey guys get enough shit for skating around.  I’ve even been known to make fun of them for “figure skating” at times.  But these are big tough guys.  They are hulking beasts.  They hit.  They carry around a shit load of equipment as they skate.  Someone like Henrik Lundqvist needs to wear a shitload of equipment AND make moves to save his team.

And two of the best players in the league whine that nothing has gone their way.

WAH!

Sorry to drag Sidney Crosby into this…because this diatribe really has nothing to do with him, but more so the culture that encourages players like he and Ovechkin to openly bitch about shit that happens EVERY DAY in hockey.

Instead of looking at a dominating performance by one of the best (at least Ovechkin gave Lundqvist his due), and his team not showing up for an elimination game on THEIR HOME ICE, I think the Eagles might have a thing or two to say about that.

Let’s Play Two

Opening Week  Rangers Win!

The last time I had a day like this was in April 2011.  I had been invited to an afternoon Rangers/Devils game, and had a Mets game that night at 7:10 pm. The night game was critical, as it was the night Scott Hairston ended up on my ass’ Wikipedia page.

The day game was also a good one where the Rangers beat the Devils, in what I believed was the last home game of the regular season, if my memory serves me correctly.  All I know is a few weeks later, I went to a brutal playoff loss.  And the night game stood out as well, not because of the ass situation, but my husband couldn’t go with me since he got really sick.  Then he ended up giving it to ME, and I was really pissed off the Rangers lost that game…otherwise I should have just sold my playoff tickets since I was miserable sick AND the Rangers lost in a brutal fashion.

I digress.  Everything that could have gone right DID go right on Monday, April 1st, and that is no April Fool’s joke.  The Mets won, the Rangers won, and everyone was happy.  Well, I was happy.  My husband was happy.  Our various bears were happy, since they were well-fed and their teams won.

Joey & Iggy  Joey and Gabby

I could end it there, but I won’t.  I’ll start from the beginning.

I’ve often said that Opening Day is mostly fun, but stressful.  Friends make the trip especially, and we have pressure to see everyone. It’s the one game a year there is a sell out, and a cell phone signal is usually a rarity.  There’s excitement, but we are grumpy cats with long lines and poseurs who come to their only game a year.  It’s also the one day a year that every single person I know is tailgating.  The good news was that two of my friends who have notable tailgates combined their efforts and had a megamerger of tailgating.  So it saved me a lot of running around, and I could sit and drink and eat at my leisure, without worrying about offending anyone by not showing up to their party.

Plus I could sit and enjoy the two plus hours before the opening ceremonies without running all over the parking lot.

More Cowgill  Real Housewives of CitiField Coop, Alvin, Kelly Section 22 Mezzanine

I’ve found that at CitiField, it’s easy to keep track of the game without sitting in your seat.  I guess in a way that’s good because I can get a little antsy sitting around the entire time. So prior to the game, I was able to see friends and visit people, and during the game it’s the same.  On Opening Day, it’s become sort of a ritual to have a Shea Bridge meetup in the 5th inning.  Yet, in the midst of celebrating the present of the Mets, and talking about the future, a big part of my past hit close to home.

As I was waiting for various folks to join us on the bridge, I saw a familiar looking black Mets jersey, with the name and number “WOODSIDE 7″ embroidered on the back.  Oh, holy sheepshit and balls.  This was the old Woodside crew from Shea Mezzanine Section 22, Saturday plans!!!  The Woodside 7 was worn by Kim, who hadn’t aged a day in a decade (which HOLY SHIT IT HAD BEEN TEN YEARS SINCE I SAW THEM LAST), and there was Tommy, her husband, and the ringleader, Frank, who was still the same.  I nearly cried.  These people gave me some of the best memories outside of the Mets themselves at Shea, including terms that I use to this day, like, “Fuck these guys, I’m going to Donovan’s.”  In fact, I was introduced to Donovan’s by this same crew.  Also, a podcast that has been recruiting me to be a guest, Mets Bhoys, turns out that Frank is a regular on the show too.

This world has just gotten smaller.  But to me, a little bit of home was brought to me on Opening Day.  Besides seeing the Mets, I saw a big part of my past. It was great.  My past and present collided for sure on that bridge.

And just like old times, the Mets won on Opening Day.  My boy Jonathon Joseph Niese won the game, and then I was able to see both of our favorite hockey team, and my boy there Henrik Lundqvist, get the win that night.

Jon Niese  Henke

Everyone contributed to the Mets victory, from the ball boy on up.  The same could be said for the Rangers win. We got to see a grand slam from Collin Cowgill, and we got to see the Rangers score 4 goals themselves. We saw a shorthanded goal by Captain Cally, and we saw efforts from Brad Richards and Rick Nash, and a solid effort from Henrik Lundqvist.

The Mets are going through changes, and we look to their future a lot rather than the present.  The Rangers are living for the present, as Wednesday rolled around, and they parted ways with Marian Gaborik.  I had a happy Gabby bear on Monday, but a disappointed one come Wednesday…until they played that night.

On Monday night, I saw a team that gelled together, and even had a contribution from Brad Richards who hadn’t been consistent at all this season.  One nonperforming entity was Marian Gaborik, and as I like to say, the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  A deal had to be made, and Gabby was collateral damage.

Yet, the Rangers idea of playing two is a world of difference in two nights. They played a very tough — albeit Crosby-less — Penguins team, and won definitively with contributions from everyone new and old.  This was the type of win that we need to see going forward, and the type of play to see going forward.

I’ve seen two Ranger games since Monday, and three Mets games. Contributions are made from the littlest person on up, but that’s how a team is built.

For the next few weeks, at the very least, I’ll be in the mood to play two, to follow my teams till they no longer overlap.

Parallels

I hate when I do this.  I start to compare my sports teams.  I start to compare seasons, that shouldn’t really have anything to do with one another.

Besides being a team sport, what exactly does hockey have to do with baseball?

They wear uniforms, they wear jerseys with names and numbers on the back, they have a common goal (to win) as a team.  Each have a rabid fan base (unless you are in Miami).

When I start to find eerie similarities with a team not only across sports, but historically too, I get a little scared.

What’s more though?  You know, than just comparing one shitty ass season (one, by the way, the Mets STILL have not recovered from quite yet) to another in a totally different sport?  It’s the expectation level associated with it.

NotGlen thinks that last year was the fluke.  I disagree.  They were built for the future, but when you have to part with guys like Dubi and Prust, the chemistry might be a little off.  The scoring was supposed to be strengthened with the addition of Rick Nash (you know, the very thing that killed them in the playoffs last year).  Oh but Nash is hurt…an undisclosed injury.  Sounds like 2009 for the Mets, right, when Jose Reyes got hurt and was out 15 days to the rest of the season.  And don’t get me started on Carlos Beltran that season.

Here’s the other thing that bothers me about this team.  Hockey guys are preternaturally tough.  Yeah, yeah, haha, they ice skate, how tough can they be?  I call them Smurfs on Ice sometimes.  But then I have to question their toughness…it wasn’t just me.

Marty Biron, a backup flippin goalie, questioned the team’s toughness when they didn’t avenge what seemed to be a dirty hit by Max Pacioretty on Ryan McDonagh in Saturday night’s game.

Funny.  Reminds me of when former Met Alex Cora called out his team in 2009 and 2010…a backup flipping shortstop.

Toughness. Seems like John Tortorella has a problem with it too.  He pulled the plug on their practice the other day, but it could go one of two ways.  One is he made them do push ups till their arms fell off.  Two is that he might have seen a malaise and pulled a Davey Johnson right before Game Three of the 1986 World Series…saw his guys were fatigued, and gave them the confidence to rest.

Either way, there are several red flags for this team.  One is their inability to score on a power play.  Even with a ramped up offense, they still can’t friggin score.  It’s sick.  They should just waive it off.  It’s more of an advantage for the other team, clearly.

But there’s also the underlying element of toughness.  They have skaters standing around holding their dicks while their own go down.  (Where’s Doug Glatt when you need him?)  They show no aggressiveness during a Power Play, and make it too fuckin pretty.  They almost seem afraid to score.

Oh yeah and the whole idea of them clicking on all cylinders, or rather, lack thereof.

So Torts tells us it’s not time to panic. In a shortened season, when every win or every loss is amplified. When losing a three goal lead in the fucking third period along with a shootout win is considered a moral victory, they may need to reevaluate where they stand as a team.

There are no moral victories in a season like this.

So Torts, I won’t panic just yet.  But it does give me pause about what, exactly, you are training these guys to think and do.

So Glatt (remember: it’s Hebrew for “Fuck You” according to Goon) to the 2013 Rangers, and the 2009 Mets.  I’d like to not watch a game with dread sometime this season, ok?  Thanks, bye.

HNIC: Hockey (Date) Night In (New York) City

What a difference a week and change makes.

A little over a week ago, I remember people were calling for Glen Sather’s head, to void the “big trade” with Columbus Blue Jackets.  That Torts has lost control over the team.  That Henrik has lost an edge.  I had fans from other teams trolling me (and other Ranger fans).  And even tried to discount the win against the Leafs last week.  Which, I mean, a win is a win is a win, right?

Then there was the game against the Flyers in Philadelphia last week, which was a close, hard-fought and super-intense game in the last two minutes especially.  Like many teams down in the count in a very close game, the Rangers had an empty net to get an extra man on the ice.  The intensity was in ten cities, but they fell short of tying the game.

Not to worry, they made up for that last night in the Garden, winning 2-1 against Philly with another super-intense ending with crowding this time at the Rangers’ net and suspense to the last second.

And boy, was it fun.

About a year ago, I became twitter buddies with Miss J To The K.  She was a Jets and Rangers fans like me, but we differ on baseball teams.  That’s cool.  We got involved, inadvertently, in an Islanders argument, about the origins of “Potvin sucks.”  Then we realized we were on the same team.  It was all good.

Not Glen Sather sold me three tickets during this shortened season.  I asked J to come with.  She accepted.

So it was Date Night in the City.  A Hockey Date Night.  I was psyched.

It’s different going to an event like this with my husband.  He’s not as into hockey as I am (though he did admit to not being able to pay attention to much else while the game was transpiring).

It was my first game of the 2013 shortened season, also my first time at the Garden since the playoffs.  When I attended the playoffs in 2011, construction started, and it was unbearable walking around.  Like death heat due to the construction.  Then in 2012, I sat in the 400s and loved the Skybar.  I knew more renovations were upcoming.   Now the 200 level stretches up to basically where the 400s used to be.  The old “Blue Seats” are no more.  Though they haven’t been the “Blue Seats” truly in some time.  The Dancin’ Larry does his dances now in the aisle at Section 224ish, right by where Not Glen’s seats are.

The sections are steeper.  But I had a great experience with the seats.  Center ice, great view.  No complaints from this hockey chick.

Sec225

The food at MSG has changed, too, and not for the better I’m afraid.  Everything is now overpriced shee-shee food, and how can a Carnegie Deli stand NOT have their blintzes? (Maybe not the hockey friendliest food…but still…make Coopie happy).  And how do you upgrade food and not bring back easily the best thing sold at MSG…the delicious waffle fries???? Dang.  They were really really good.

I will miss them.  But I do love the new set up.

We sat in the middle of the 20th row.  J struck up a conversation with the women next to us…actually, a mother and daughter team.  Turns out, they knew their shit about hockey, the teenager even had a fantasy hockey team.  I’ve done fantasy baseball before, but I generally lose interest by the end of the season.  Fantasy hockey, though, is a whole ‘nother level.

Not much to tell.  We were still waiting to get to our seats when the first goal was scored by Michael Del Zotto.  We were in our seats for the second goal, and it was fabulous.  The Garden still can rock.

I also saw that the team seemed to play more together, if that makes sense.  Any rust they may have had prior to Tuesday’s game seems to be all but gone.  Henrik was back to being Henrik, but Ryan Callahan looks to be out 10-14 days due to a stupid and unfortunate shoulder injury.

What was fun though, was the bonding.  I have many friends who happen to be guys, and I can go to a game with them.  But I dunno, I think girls have more fun, and the fun is brought to an entirely new level when we go to games together, like when I go with KB or any of the others I have met via Facebook.

“I’m glad we did this,” said J.  “I know we’ve been buddies for awhile, but I really feel like we’re friends now.”

I often say that I hold my “real and in person” friends behavior to a higher standard on social media.  What I mean by that is I expect more from the people I had established relationships with prior to the whole social networking component.

Yet when J said she felt like we were “really” friends after we parted at the trains, I felt truly fortunate to have my life enriched by so many people via social networks.  I hold them in a different standard, perhaps for better or worse, but those who I have had the opportunity to meet in person I connect with on a different level.   And I understood what she meant.

It’s tough enough to be a hockey fan in this town, let alone a female hockey fan.  To find a kinship with not just one, but many is a real gift.  One that you cannot quantify.

It’s easy to get carried away with a win this early in the season, but the game had a playoff vibe to it for sure.  It’s easy to get verklempt too when you make a friend for life.

How great sports can be!

Perspective

  I was at a baseball game a few weeks ago with my husband, and we met up with two of our friends, BlondeBombKels and ItsThat1Guy (aka Alvin).  Not only do we share the same baseball allegiances, we have the same hockey allegiance (my husband only by osmosis, since he wasn’t into hockey before he met me).  My ticket rep with the Mets is also a Rangers fan.  We talked about the season, and preseason, and I guess I was in denial with the fact that there was still a slight possibility of a lockout.

See, last year, Alvin got a bunch of us tickets for a Rangers/Devils preseason game at the Pebble.  It was fun, it was raucous.  We had a good time.

Alvin shook his head when we chatted about the preseason game, which the same crew was still interested in doing this year, and said, “It’s not looking good.”  At first, I thought it was the possibility of us all getting together to see the game.  Then I realized, he was referring to the lack of an agreement.

It then became a distinct possibility that in a year where I’m expecting my team to rebound from a great run yet disappointing end to last season that I might not see hockey for awhile.  I mean, keep in mind that during the last time this shit happened, I had all but given up on hockey for good.  Thank goodness, I suppose, for Mets late season collapses in September, when I needed an outlet besides a once a week fill for football.

So I was back, and I had a lot to look forward to as a Ranger fan.  The emergence of Captain Callahan and King Henrik becoming one of the best goalies in hockey, let alone Ranger history.  Looking forward to the passionate fan bases and going deep into the playoff season.  I was right last year, that anything less than a visit to the Eastern Conference finals would be a failure, it was just too goddamn bad they lost to the Devils.

Barring all that, most Ranger fans were optimistic and eager to get their team returned to the ice.

What’s more though, outside of being a Ranger fan is that another large market team, the Los Angeles Kings, finally went all the way and won the Cup.  This was a feat for themselves, their fans, and even the passionate hockey fans who followed certain players on the team.  Yes, 2011-12 was a fun season for most fans.  Even for Phoenix Coyotes fans, who saw their team actually go deep into the playoffs.  Even for Devils fans, who may have seen a last hoo-rah for Fat Uncle Daddy Marty.

So I say to the NHLPA, the NHL, the owners, Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr, the hockey gods…while you’re nickel and diming each other (and hey, I’m a supporter of Unions, but these asses are just arguing about pennies while they’re letting diamonds go away in the form of fans), remember to take some perspective.

One year ago today, the hockey world was rocked with news of the Lokomotiv Yaraslavl plane crash that took the lives of the entire Kontinental Hockey League team.  Scott Burnside writes on ESPN today: “Friday, Sept. 7, marks the first anniversary of the crash and marks an opportunity to reflect on the men whose collective impact on the hockey world cannot easily be summed up.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a bunch of horses’ asses are arguing about MONEY.

I don’t know what the deal is with the KHL, if there were collective bargaining agreements or unions or ability to get paid the way they do in here where the NHL exists.  What I do know is that several players, including a former 1994 Ranger Alexander Karpovtsev, died while traveling to play a game they loved.

A game I’m sure most players would have said back when they were kids, they love it so much they’d play for free.

But they’re not playing for free.  They’re playing for real money, and real dollars, and owners and players and the league are arguing about who gets more.

It’s a shame really.

Like I said, I’m all for unions, I’m all for collective bargaining tools.  I’m all for what makes workers’ unions strong and beneficial.

But being a fan of a sport that is about to embark on its third lockout in 18 years, the first one took half a season, the next one took out an entire season…what’s next?  Take out TWO seasons?

I’m not saying I’m most fans.  I remember when hockey came back after the last lockout, a few of my friends were pumped it was returning.  By then, I had checked out.  Some of it was devoting more time to my baseball fandom (even became a season ticket holder during that time).  A lot of it had to do with my team at the time.  I was not happy with the directions of the Rangers at the time, and thought devoting time and energy to having Glen Sather as the General Manager was nuts.  But sticking with him turned out to be a good thing, I’m rooting for a hard working, blue collar type of playing team that makes Rangers fans proud.

The same blue collar types that made Unions strong.

But my question to everyone involved in…what the FUCK is taking so long?

My answer is to put things into perspective.  Count your blessings that you live in a society that you can bargain for this and take your sweet damn time with it.

Then look at the past year, of losing fellow hockey players in a tragic crash, and saying, what the fuck are we arguing about now?

I’m not saying one side is more at fault that the others.  But what are CBAs for anyway.  TO COLLECTIVELY BARGAIN.

Get your shit together, both sides, and figure this out already.

Bargaining over lost dollars won’t matter when you alienate another generation of hockey fans once again.

That Was Yesterday

A lot can transpire in 18 years.  A newborn then can now not only possess a license but can vote and is graduating high school.  That same child’s parent may be wondering where the time has gone, as they give their child the keys to the family car or signs the first tuition check.  Someone may be planning their 20 year reunion from high school. A loved one may have passed away, you may be pulling six figures in a job where you were a lowly analyst 18 years ago.  You may be living in a different part of the country.  Or you may have just stayed put from where you grew up, but you don’t recall having a 36-inch waist 18 years ago.

Eighteen years ago, the New York Rangers ended their 54-year Stanley Cup drought by defeating the Vancouver Canucks in a heated seven-game series.  Prior to that, the Rangers defeated the rival New Jersey Devils, also in a heated seven-game series, in the Eastern Conference Finals, where the word “Matteau” is a dirty word to most Devils fans to this day, though they themselves have had success in winning three cups in response while the Rangers have won none.  In that time period, the rivalries shifted from Rangers/Flyers and Rangers/Isles to Rangers/Devils.

Tonight kicks off the Rangers and Devils duking it out in the Eastern Conference Finals again, where winner continues to the Stanley Cup finals, and the other team goes home to shave.

To this Ranger fan, the only thing that remains similar to that series 18 years ago is that Martin Brodeur is still the goalie for the Devils. And even he’s 18 years older.  And that’s about it.  The ownership has changed for the Rangers, the coaches have changed, the team has certainly changed.

Sure, there are similarities.  But it’s NOT the same.

The Devils have won three cups since the last time these two teams faced off in the finals.  The storied guys that helped them on those runs with names like Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko are long since retired.  The last cup was in 2003.  That was 10 years ago.  Eighteen years ago, the Devils were playing in the Swamp.  Now they play in a nice new arena called Prudential Center.

The Rangers have visited the Eastern Conference Finals one other time since then, and it was lackluster.  They’ve since had their storied guys not only retire, but their numbers are now enshrined.  Names like Richter, Messier, Leetch and Graves are now hanging from the rafters at the Garden, where the Rangers have stayed but the refurnishing of it makes it seem like a brand new arena.

The 1994 team was full of mercenaries and then there was Brian Leetch and Mike Richter, who came up with the team.  Neil Smith, then-GM, thought it prudent to trade away the future and try to recapture some of the Edmonton Oilers success.  This ultimately led to changes at the top, such as Glen Sather coming in and trying to do the same recipe.  Until he realized it no longer worked.

Apparently, there is some pact with Sather and James Dolan that we’re not privy to that will only happen if the Rangers make the “big” finals.  Because of that, Sather started to focus less on the free agent mercenaries and allowed the growth movement to start from within.  Guys like Lundqvist, Callahan, Girardi, sprinkled with guys like Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.  It’s no longer Mike Keenan but John Tortorella.  Dave Checketts isn’t pissing off his talent, but it’s now

True, those guys in 1994 were very hard working.  But they were mostly established.  Messier had won several championships.  He was the Captain of all Captains.  Callahan wears his “C” with pride, but he believes in the team work ethic that clearly trickles to the rest of the team.

To think that this is some sort of “revenge” match-up, to think this is something of a “torch passing” of a fat overrated goalie to the future of goaltending, diminishes what this series is all about.  To call this is a revenge series is laughable because, I don’t know call me crazy, isn’t three cups in an eight year span one that says, “Hey, we’re not so bad either guys.”

These are two teams that have worked very hard to get to the finals, and will work harder to get to the next level.

To me, the differences are clear.  Yet most of all, 18 years ago was a long long time ago.  Nine years ago was long long time ago.  Then was then.  This is now.

Holtby Sheepshit and Balls

Because the Caps lost in triple overtime, does that mean they suck?  Does it mean Braden Holtby sucks?  Does it mean Henrik’s better?  If the Rangers lost, would they have sucked and Caps would have been world beaters?

It’s one of those existential thoughts, I think, akin to that tree falling in the forest and whether it makes a noise or not.  Although, I do have a few regular readers of this site who would agree with the last question, after all they’re nothing but no-good stinkin Devils fans who take glee in rooting against the Rangers. (Meanwhile, I’m rooting for a meteor).

But I digress.

Last night was one for the ages.  It was really a play of mettle and fortitude, mostly from the goaltending aspect.  Which I guess in baseball, there’s the pitcher’s duel.  What is a tight game that goes into multiple playoff OTs called?  A goaltender spat?  I mean, after two overtimes, I was seeing double and I wasn’t even playing, yet someone like Ryan McDonagh played almost a full hour in nearly 120 minutes of playing time.  Then there’s Stu Bickel, who watched about 114 minutes from the end of the bench.

But this was one not of outlast versus outplayed.  Neither team particularly outplayed one another.  In fact, it was a lot of hitting posts, crossbeams, deflections, but the biggest show of them all was from the goal posts themselves, and who was manning them.

King Henrik was making me shout “Oh My Henrik!” and Holtby made me utter a “HOLTBY sheepshit and balls” during the game.  In fact, one of the sweetest things during the broadcast was seeing Holtby’s parents in the stands, with his mom covering her face and looking through her hands, like I would while I’m watching Dexter or a Mets game.

But my question is simple.  If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?  And if the Rangers lost a game in triple overtime does that mean they suck?

And the answer is, no.  In fact, I think for Saturday’s game, they really will need to up the ante.  Because this Holtby kid is special.  He’s got something good going for him, least of it being having two of the coolest parents on planet earth.  If anyone knows them and if they’ll be in New York for Game five, tell them I’d like to buy them a drink! They were class acts all the way, and even as Marian Gaborik decided to grace us with his presence with the game winner, Holtby’s mom cheered the effort.

SHE CHEERED THE EFFORT.

How cool is that?

In a night of bizarro sports, where Jered Weaver held the Minnesota Twins to as many hits as Albert Pujols has home runs, and where I saw every hockey fanatic on Twitter talking about the triple overtime game — the first of its kind this year — with gusto…no matter who their team affiliation is…I just have to say…

Holy sheepshit and balls.