NJD

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.

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Upping the Ante

Unwittingly, I made my life just a tad more difficult that it should.

Never mind that my sports teams forever torture me in way or another.  I guess it’s all about character building.  And let’s just say that if character were a quality that paid me a lot of money, I’d be a millionaire several times over.

Yet, I said in one of my videocasts that to me, if the Rangers didn’t make the Eastern Conference Finals, I’d consider the season a failure.

This was in Round One.

It didn’t look like, or at least maybe there was a slightest possibility, that the Devils would not make the finals.  I mean, weren’t the Flyers supposed to be this juggernaut of a team?

Marty must have lost a few pounds I guess.  Or the Flyers forgot he’s easily distracted by a good barbecue.  Or maybe he just didn’t take the cheesesteaks.

Son of beech.  Sheet.

So now?  I’ve upped the ante.  Simply because I don’t want to hear it.

The Rangers ARE the best team in the Eastern Conference.

Yeah, there I said it.

However, it doesn’t matter.  NOW is the time to prove it.  Two series of game sevens isn’t good, but then again, extra added rest usually doesn’t help in setting momentum or keeping it up after a few days off.  Just ask the Detroit Tigers in 2006 or the Los Angeles Kings in a few days.

The next few days are going to be interesting.  And if I was keeping people entertained on Twitter or on YouTube these past few days, just you wait to see how I react to this series.

If I remember my name, I’ll consider it a success.

My friend Rob told me last night that I have balls.  I won’t tell you why, but it’s for good reason.  But let’s just note that I’ve upped the ante.

I’m officially nonplussed about baseball right now.  My dad and I have said for years that baseball season starts when our team is out of the hockey playoffs and that hockey season starts when the baseball team is officially eliminated.  I have a Sunday afternoon game on the TV right now, and I couldn’t care less about it.  Sure, I like that the Mets are winning.

But hockey has upped the ante for me.  Officially, I’m all in.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, @Coopz22.  If nothing else, it will make you laugh.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Swamp…

Since I can barely string a coherent thought, here are some hits from the Coop.

My reaction to last 15 seconds of Rangers and Capitals game.


(In response to my begging him to come on the Gal For All Seasons podcast)

Holy Sheepshit and Balls commentary!

The Shores of Tripoli

I guess in John’s world you can come into our building and start your tough guys, but we can’t do the same here…He’s either got short-term memory loss or he’s a hypocrite.” – Pete DeBoer, New Jersey Devils Coach (March 18, 2012)

“I figured he was just blowing up. I’m sure he’ll apologize today about it and everything will be forgotten.” – Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, in response to John Tortorella’s blowup post-game last night. (April 5, 2012)

What did I hear?

WAH WAH WAH WAH WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!

Gimme a break, you crybabies.  This is NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE, not Big Boy Pants Day Camp.

Again, gimme a fucking break.

The first quote was in response to Tortorella starting a line of tough guys at the get go in the game last month against the Devils.  Now, this is pot meeting kettle over here.  DeBoer knew exactly what he was getting into, and when Torts played fire with fire, he got mad about it.  Especially when it worked in Torts’ favor.

Last night was the biggie.  Look, if this was a game that truly meant anything at all, playoff ranking implications, whatever, well, teams need to do what teams need to do to survive.  Reality was, the Rangers are locked in #1 seed in East, whereas Penguins are also in playoffs.  OOOOH do I suspect a little bit of **SHOCK HORROR** JEALOUSY from those igloo dwelling babies?

Look, I didn’t see the game last night as I was (shameless plug) on a baseball podcast and needed to prepare some notes for it.  Plus, I had posted (another shameless plug) on the Rangers getting top seed on YouTube two nights before.  I was riding high on a Mets win in Flushing, then I had to hear about this bullshit.  And it pissed me off.

But you know what made me happy?  Things aren’t that bad.  I mean, of course I hope that D-Step isn’t hurt from that dirty play by Brooks Orpik (look, no matter what side of the fence you are on, you see that move, and it was DICK MOVE no question).  But when I heard what Tortorella said after the game…made me love him even more.

He called them out on the Penguins double standard bullshit basically, calling them the most “arrogant team in the league,” and “whiners.”  You know what?  Every team, no matter what sport, has their crybabies.  I might root for a few of them in my lifetime.  But only look at what Sidney Crosby has to say in response (calling out Ryan Callahan, saying Tortorella spoke in the heat of the moment, dismissing what the real issue is here), let alone the “WAAAAAAAHHHH” mentality of their owner Mario Lemieux.

See, Lemieux makes some very good points, as illustrated last season, the Islanders got fined a shitload of money for disciplinary action against the Penguins.

But you know, he comes across as that kid who grew up across the street with you.  You remember him, right?  He was kind of a douche but he has a pool (inground!), a mom who bakes cookies and lot of cool toys.

Then comes the day when you realize that he uses this against you.  Like, if things aren’t going his way, he threatens to take all his toys with him back to his house or makes you go home because you aren’t letting him win.

Except substitute “one of the legends of hockey” for that bratty fucking kid down the street, and there’s Mario.  (And you’re talking to a chick who was ALL ABOUT Mario Lemieux back in the day).  You know the league isn’t going to do anything to DARE cross Prince Mario’s path.  Noooooooo.  Especially with this two fucking arrogant bastard players, Malkin and Crosby…the poster boys for double-standard practices in NHL.  I get it — they’re good.  And I always had a philosophy that if you dislike a player, it’s really because you secretly want them on your team because they are good.

Well enough is enough.  Even though those two weren’t involved in the hit (and I do think that Orpik should get disciplined, but that’s just me talkin’), they perpetuate the idea that they are above the law in the NHL and that somehow, the rules don’t apply to them.  Well, fuck that noise.

As for Torts, should he apologize?  Is RYAN CALLAHAN somehow as bad with the dirty plays (as Crosby alluded to) that the Penguins do, and then complain about in the next breath when it’s one of their players?  NO TO BOTH.

I’ll tell you why.  John Tortorella is the MAN.  I can’t say I was his biggest fan, I liked him enough, just was like – whatever – when it came to him.  Now, call me in the corner of Tortorella’s camp.

We’re about to go into battle with this guy calling the shots.  He’d take a bullet for his players, and they would do the same in return.  You gotta love that in a coach.  You really do.

Oh and for the record, fuck Sidney Crosby with a rusty nail.