Various topics

Hello! Hope you all had a great Merry Christmas and happy Hollidays. It’s incredible that we’re already heading into 2004, and it doesn’t feel too long ago when the Rangers acquired Lindros in 2001. Anyway, down to business…

The latest trade rumors are here to discuss and some are pathetic, especially coming from my brainless friend Bruce Garrioch.

Speaking of trade rumors, Rangers have been in one almost every day, and we’ll see what another experienced Rangers fan has to say about the goaltending situation.

Lately watching other hockey games, and the refs are even worse than last season.

Still looking for people to write up mid-season reports on South Division teams.

Annnnnnnnnd………..no off-topic rant today. But, there is a good story I’d like to share, it involves hockey’s favorite beverage, beer (Guiness).

Ok, so as I said before….I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and Holidays. What did you get for Christmas anyway? Anything hockey related?




Heading to trade rumors…..from Spector’s Hockey:




HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA ON CBC: During the second intermission “Satellite Hot Stove” segment, reporter Eric Duhatschek of the Calgary Herald reported there was no truth to rumours the Flames were about to ship team captain Jarome Iginla to the Philadelphia Flyers. Duhatschek said the team’s strong play and Iginla’s role in it are the reasons why he won’t be dealt, as well as the fact he’s the “face of the team” and very popular in Calgary. He also pointed out it would cost the Flames just over $7 million to qualify Iginla next summer and retain his rights as an RFA, not the $8 million as has been reported. The $7 mil is “Iggy’s” base salary so the Flames would only have to ten percent above it to retain his rights.




Duhatschek is one of my favorite journalists as far as trade rumors go. He doesn’t make any outrageous statements about trade rumors and doesn’t make any stupid speculations. I enjoy hearing him on TV when I get to watch Satellite Hot Stove. Whoever had any idea that the Flyers got Comrie to then get Iginla must be on drugs. It’s as bad as saying that the Rangers will get Jagr to then trade him to the Red Wings for Curtis Joseph. I mean, where do they come up with these idiotic ideas? I know that there are fans who go to their team message boards and post ideas and I bet that these journalists get the ideas from there. Little do they know that probably a 13 year old came up with that idea. If anything, Iginla may get traded in March if the playoffs look like a long-shot for the Flames, and I don’t think they will. Still, Iginla has not been tops and it’s not like he will gain that big a raise for his next contract.




BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont reported Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke recently denied reports he was considering a move to upgrade his goaltending by dealing for Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Sean Burke. Dupont suggested a swap of Jeremy Roenick to Detroit for Curtis Joseph might make more sense, given that “JR” hasn’t been on the same page with Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock for some time and the dollar amounts of both contracts would be about the same.




Of course! And then Clarke will put Hackett in the minors all happy and skipping around the snow jumping for joy that he just made an idiotic trade!




…………YAY!




Someone please fire these journalists. They are getting paid to write the most idiotic speculations that some of us fans don’t even think about because we’re not that idiotic. Even IF a source gave him that information, he still should not post such an idiotic article. Maybe he is trying to pull a move a la Larry Brooks, as in…he is suggesting the Bruins to get Cujo before someone else does. Still, that’s better than saying that the Flyers may trade their number one center for Curtis Joseph.




Don’t worry Mr. Dupont, your Bruins will get Sean Burke, unless the Rangers are interested. Oh! I just gave you an idea, didn’t I?




EDMONTON SUN: Robin Brownlee reports Oilers GM Kevin Lowe may not be finished wheeling and dealing. With his club sinking fast in the standings, Brownlee reports Lowe doesn’t intend to “stand pat” if the situation doesn’t soon improve. While claiming he won’t “mortgage the future”, Lowe hinted he might be up for a deal that would be “outside the norm” for his club.




I think the Oilers do need to make some changes, but not right now. They kicked ass against the Canucks last night, so don’t make any major changes. I thikn they will get it together in the second half, however, they need that someone to replace Mike Comrie’s slot.




From Bruce Garrioch: If there’s interest in Ottawa Senators centre Radek Bonk, GM John Muckler should “act on it” because the club needs a shakeup.




Mr. Garrioch……has Radek Bonk done something mean to you? Why do you hate him? Why do you keep saying tarde Bonk? Alot of teams should be interested in Bonk, but he is not up for sale. GET IT? Maybe they can try and deal him for Lecavalier……yeah right.




The Calgary Flames will be in a bind when goaltender Roman Turek returns from injury. They already have Miikka Kiprusoff and Jamie McLennan, who’ve been key factors in the club’s improvement this season.




It’s what everyone said the hour when the Flames acquired Kiprusoff. I just think McLennan will be sent down, or Turek…for conditioning. But, it won’t be that bad a problem.




The Philadelphia Flyers are shopping impending UFA centre Keith Primeau, and it’s more likely he could go to Detroit for Curtis Joseph than to Tampa Bay for Nikolai Khabibulin.




The Red Wings dumped him for a reason and if the Flyers want Khabibulin, they’d have to give more than just Primeau. In fact, I doubt the Bolts would even want him.




The Phoenix Coyotes are having no success in moving forward Brian Savage.




Wow, you’re the second coming of Christopher Colombus, Bruce Garrioch. Thanks for making such a logical discovery.




The most likely Senator to be dealt before the March trade deadline is defenceman Shane Hnidy.




Not Bonk?




There’s speculation a few teams have contacted the Tampa Bay Lightning regarding centre Vincent Lecavalier. The Senators, Devils and Islanders are believed interested.




The Senators….maybe. They sure could build a great team with him there, but too expensive to get as far as trading their own players. The Devils? Fat chance. It would be hell for a highly skilled youngster in Lecavalier to go on a team where he is not allowed to show his skill and only hear the word “trap” and “defense” at every practice. Talk about diminishing his skills and potential. Islanders would definitely give it a shot, and they have the tools to give up. Doesn’t M Mike Milbury get that he needs wingers though?




As many as five teams have expressed interest in Detroit’s Curtis Joseph but the Wings don’t wish to move him right now because the team is playing so well. Columbus, Boston, Buffalo and the Rangers are believed among those interested in CuJo.




Good job! That actually made sense. Curtis Joseph has been a great goalie for the Red Wings, and a great bitch slap on Hasek and his pathetic selfish no class statements made on Cujo. Keep it up Cujo, steal the @$$holator’s position.




Absolutely that the Bruins should be interested. Raycroft has potential, but he can’t carry the team. He can’t steal the games. I think O’Connell has a good trade coming up for his team though, quite soon too. Columbus? Oh yeah, they are in a great position to take on all that salary, they should feel lucky to have Denis. Buffalo Sabres? Of course, this rich team can definitely land Cujo.




Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News says:




There is speculation NY Islanders GM Mike Milbury might be interested in Ottawa Senators centre Radek Bonk now that Alexei Yashin is out for fourteen weeks with injury. However, Kulfan suggests we shouldn’t be surprised if Milbury stands pat until the March deadline then engages in some salary dumping of his more expensive players.




I really feel sorry for Bonk. Everytime the Senators are brought up in trade rumors who gets picked on? Radek Bonk. Anyway…..it does sound like a good idea for the Islanders, but for the Senators? What’s in it for them? Nothing.




Kulfan continues by stating….:




The
New York Rangers may shop forwards Alexei Kovalev and Anson Carter and defenceman Tom Poti, as GM Glen Sather isn’t happy with their defensive play.





Well, Kovalev and Carter are not defensemen or defensive forecheckers. Still, Kovalev is leading the team in points and is playing on a rock solid line that barely allows any goals with Rucinsky and Holik. Kovalev is a +4, and he has not always played with Holik and Rucinsky. Anson Carter I agree with. He’s tried, shows effort, but he looks lost out there. Carter’s days as a Ranger are numbered. As for Tom Poti, he’s played better defensively, actually, and that’s why I think his offensive numbers pretty much…….stink. He is a -1, not bad, not good. Yet, if he can’t play his role correctly, then he is not that good of a defenseman, and maybe one of the worst.




By the way, Greg de Vries is a +14 and Kasparitis is a +10. Not bad considering the Rangers offense has not been good and defense nothing special.




Still, Kovalev is not going anywhere now, maybe at the trade deadline depending on the situation. Carter is a definite goner, while Poti could also be traded for a stay at home defenseman. The Boston Globe once said it could be Poti gor Hal Gill. Hmm….




The Colorado Avalanche may decide to move defenceman Martin Skoula, who hasn’t played up to expectations and has seen his ice-time cut recently.




He has been a disappointment, yes. But, it’s not easy for the Avs to upgrade their defense by giving up youth and gaining more salary to pay.










Now, further speaking of trade rumors, the Rangers are uaually invovled almost every week. Trade rumors about their offense, defense, and goaltending. It’s been very strange not to hear “SAVE BY RICHTER!”, and it does give the feeling that the Rangers don’t have their goalie anymore. Mike Dunham has been good ever since he became a Ranger, though this season he has been quite inconsistent. Playing great in one game, and playing very poorly in the next two. So, what is the current situation of Rangers goaltending?




It’s always good to know what other rangers fans have to say, especially the ones that write a lot about the team. Allow me to introduce you Hockey Rodent. You may have seen his name once on Spector’s Rumors, and I’ve also mentioned him in one of my previous articles.




Though you may not know HockeyRodent     you may recognize his ancestor who has lived a long time on the ice…..


Anyway, seriously. Some backround on HockeyRodent:


Free-lance hockey and baseball columnist and statistician for thirty years. HockeyRodent’s coverage and real-time statistics are available at Hockeyrodent.com and HockeyBird.com.


Also, if you really want to know why he is named HockeyRodent with the squirrel…..in 1998 he was bitten by a squirrel in a golf course, and that’s a weird fact. Oh, and speaking of golf, he is also the curator of the internet’s largest online golf dictionary/glossary/lexicon at golfglossary.com, which features more than 1200 definitions and essays, many illustrated. So, if you like golf, check that out.


Anyway, back to hockey. I asked him what he thought about the Rangers goaltending situation, and here is what he had to say:


I take a strategic view because I don’t believe that any amount
of tweaking can turn this year’s Rangers into a Stanley Cup winner.

In a nutshell, I firmly believe that the combination of Jussi
Markkanen and Mike Dunham is solid enough to get the Blueshirts
into the playoffs and perhaps a round or two deep.

MIKE DUNHAM
Mike is going through a “spell” right now, coming off that thigh
problem. But he has demonstrated on several occasions that he is
capable of going stretches of as many as ten games with a .935 save
percentage. While not as good laterally as Mike Richter, Dunham is
better at directing rebounds into harmless locations. Give Dunham
time to fully heal and he’ll be fine come February.

JUSSI MARKKANEN
I really like this kid. He is great with rebounds. This is one of
the very best backup goaltenders in the league. And he’ll be an
adequate substitute for Dunham through January.

DAN BLACKBURN
I don’t like what I see in him. His initial flash was the result
of his newness. But as soon as word got out that he’s vulnerable
top shelf, his GAA soared. Noway would I have brought him up so
quickly. Nor do I see him as the “future” of the Rangers. He’s
just not that good.

UPGRADES
The chatter I have heard involves Curtis Joseph and Nikolai Khabibulin.
In Joseph, you’re talking about an expensive netminder who isn’t even
as good now as is Mike Dunham. Okay, perhaps at his peak, CuJo was
better than Mike Dunham will ever be. But how does that help NYR now?
True, Joseph played for Slats about three seasons during the mid 1990s.
But I don’t see that as sufficient to trigger a deal.

Glen Sather thought he had a deal for Khabibulin (along with Keith
Tkachuk) just before Wayne Gretzky took over in Phoenix. So we
know that The Wall has been on Sather’s radar screen. Is he an
upgrade over Dunham? I don’t know. Certainly, his GAA is better by
far. But when you look at Nik’s save percentage historically, you
wonder if his game would survive the 30+ shots on goal per night
he’d see in a Ranger uniform. And what would it take to obtain him?
And if the stories of his tempermental nature are true, is that
really what they need in MSG?

Personally, I’d prefer to ride this season out with what we’ve got
and wait for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement to be negotiated
before making any moves as significant as changing netminders.”


Well, thanks HockeyRodent. I agree that the Rangers should stick with Dunham and I’d only change the goaltending if Dunham flat out stinks in the next 10-15 games. I think Dunham was a great acquisition. Everyone criticized the Rangers about Zidlicky and Kloucek. Kloucek is, unfortunately, becoming almost a career minor leaguer (only because of th einjuries), and Zidlicky is like a -13…something that the Rangers did not need, still don’t. Dunham gives it his best, it’sjust that it takes him a bit too long to recuperate form an injury and he becomes very inconsistent.


I am thrilled to have Markkanen as back-up, hopefully he gets re-signed. He’s been very solid and should deserve more playing time.


I completely disagree with you on Blackburn. You can’t say he is not THAT good. The guy needs to mature and be groomed into a solid goaltender. He needs to be tought and needs practice on top shelf shots. He is only 20 years old, shown great signs and once he comes back from the injury and gets healthy, he will become a great asset for the Rangers future. Who was Giguere 10 years ago? A total nobody. It takes time. Unfortunately this injury is really damaging his potential. Either way, if he does not become that good a goaltender, Rangers have one of the top Swedish goalies in Henrik Lundqvist. Still, I trust Blackburn and I see him as a very good starter.


Out of the goalies available, I like Curtis Joseph a lot since I always been a fan of his. He is playing great hockey for the Wings and is only making GM Ken Holland look like a complete tool. Holland should be thankful that no one picked up Cujo back in September with the Waiver Draft, and in previous weeks where he was put on waivers. Red Wings fans should be showing tons of support to Cujo, he has done nothing but help the team when he could have EASILY asked to be traded or sit out. Joseph is playing for the team, and I only gain more respect as I keep losing respect for the selfish Dominic Hasek.


Khabibulin was about to be a Rangers a few years back, I definitely recall those times where Kim Johnsson was part of the deal for Khabibulin (not sure about Tkachuk) yet the Coyotes wanted more from the Rangers so they ended up getting Paul Mara as part of the deal. Good trade? Eeek. I like the Bulin wall and many times I watched him make a lot of great saves that won games for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He can definitely face 30 shots a night, has many times, and who knows, now that the Bolts are forced to play too much defensively, killing their offense (reason why they are not winning….way to go Torturella) Khabibulin is not facing enough shots and loses focus, much like Richter did.


Sean Burke is great and all, and he may be a much better upgrade over Dunham, but he is old and more injury prone than Dunham. I say no thanks.


Anyway, thanks HockeyRodent….good Rangers hockey talk.


 


 


Moving on….


Refs just stink. They look clueless out there. I watched the Flyers game against…I forgot who, but any kind of response that a Flyer gave to the ref calling a penalty, he only ended up getting an Unsportsmanlike Conduct. Ridiculous and pathetic, that official should have been fired that night. Also, a ref’s job is to look for the puck when it’s loose around the crease. Usually, as I’ve seen good refs do this, the ref should get behind the net and sometimes even jump on it to get a better view. Yet, so many refs noadays just whistle as soon as they lose sight of the puck because they are standing in the corners. What the hell are they thinking? Are they scared to come close? Pathetic. I’ve seen too many goals disallowed because the refs blew the whistle too quickly because he was too lazy to look for it. Pathetic and humiliating.


 


So, that’s my big rant. Anyway, I am still looking for volunteers regarding Mid-season reports. CWTHRASH can take the Thrashers, anyone else want to take Sotuheast teams? Leave me a Private Message.


 


Now here is a nice story to finish things off. If you recall, I named my favorite CD albums of 2003 a couple of weeks ago, or so. One of them was Blackout from the Dropkick Murphys. There is a song by the Dropkick Murphys that’s titled Good Rats. The song goes about telling a story of this kid working in a brewery and drinks Guiness with rats, and Guiness turns to gold. Anyway, that is somewhat of a true story. Back in the old beer days, Guiness breweries discovered that there were too many rats around the factory, therefore they had to clean up. It so happened that once the emptied the…..big boilers, they actually found dead rats in there. Good or bad? Sounds bad, but obviously the alcohol and the boiling does kill bacteria and germs. Anyway, once they cleaned everything up, Guiness never had that same taste. They figured the reason why it never had the same taste was because of the rats. The rat meat gave it a special kind of taste. Disgusting, but true. Nowadays, Guiness uses a bit of meat as an ingredient to brew their great beer, and it gives that special taste. This is a true story, and though it is disgusting to know, it remains interesting.


Cheers Everyone! And a HAPPY NEW YEAR!