Return of BCBS: Looking at NY Rangers vs Montreal Canadiens In The First Round, Hank’s Record in Montreal, NYR Closes The Season With 3 “Meaningless” Games, The Olympic Debate, How American and Canadian Fans Differ, Remembering Kerri Strug & Why I Have To Agree with Bettman, Cam Talbot Proves To Every Nay-Sayer That He’s an NHL Starter & More NHL/NYR Thoughts & Opinions

Would the Rangers beat the Canadians in the 2014 ECF if Carey Price didn’t go down? You can see why a Habs fan may think not.

What’s up everyone and welcome to a different type of blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Since I last left you, Henrik Lundqvist & the Rangers lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a shootout. I blogged about that game here:

NYR/PITT 3/31 Review: Crosby Owns Lundqvist Again; Lundqvist Winless Since Return, Explaining Why Crosby Is Dirty, MSG Broadcasts Are Getting Just As Corporate As M$G Itself, NYR Still Seeking First Home Win Since 2/19, AV Mixes Up The Lines Again & Much More From a Lifeless & Dead M$G

 

The Rangers followed up that Friday night loss to Pittsburgh, by winning on Sunday night, beating the Flyers 4-3. I’m not here to recap the Flyer game, as that game is two days old already. As I told you in my Penguins blog, yes I’m in my 30’s and still watch pro wrestling. Based on my twitter feed, the crossover of Ranger & Wrestlemania fans was pretty remarkable. I will say, no wrestling show should ever be 7 hours long. People complain about the pace of baseball. They should try sitting through a 7 hour wrestling show!

We live in the era where you need two TV’s. If you want to keep up on live sports, it’s basically mandatory to have two screens going on any given night. I’m fortunate to have two TV’s & and an IPad all rolling in the man cave. On Sunday night, I had the Wrestlemania going on the big TV and the Rangers game on the small TV. I was able to watch both, but obviously wasn’t as invested into the Ranger game as I normally would be. Plus, it was an NBC game, and I truly enjoy the MSG broadcasts much more than the NBC nonsense.

I will say, there was some sort of concert & a match during Mania that I did not give a crap about. For the final 10 minutes of the the game, I was more focused on the Ranger game than the male rope opera. The 4-3 game, which broke the Rangers 8 game losing streak at home & Hank’s 3 game losing streak since his return, looks worse than it really was. From what I saw, the Rangers dominated most of the game. However, in crunch time, Lundqvist is gonna Lundqvist, as he gave up two late goals. If it wasn’t for a lucky glove save with less than 20 seconds left in regulation, it would’ve been 3 goals in under 5 minutes.

I know you’re sick of me saying it a million times, but you can’t be the highest paid goalie in the league, have the cute nicknames, throw all these hissy fits, etc, and then choke when the game is on the line. One of these days, in this upcoming post-season, Lundqvist is going to be called to make a bunch of key saves in a row. If he can’t figure it out in a week’s time, then it will be “one and done, let’s chew gum.”

What really drove me nuts was that the Rangers dominated that game. Up until that 10 minute mark of the third period, I believe Lundqvist only faced 16 shots, giving up his lone goal within 30 seconds of a period. Another early goal allowed by “The King”. The Rangers played well. Then, in the final 10 minutes, Philly woke up and the Rangers allowed the Flyers to control the puck.

It’s great the Rangers won and got some of this losing ju-ju off their back, but this was not an impressive win. It was an impressive 50 minutes, with the final 10 minutes that really gets your asshole puckering. What did the Rangers accomplish in their eventual 4-3 win over Philly? They beat a non-playoff team, starting a back-up goalie, by one goal and nearly collapsed at the end. You think this shit is gonna fly against Montreal?

As a result of Monday night’s results, the Rangers will be traveling to Montreal in the first round.

I love the city of Montreal. It’s one of the best cities for a visiting fan to visit. I’ve done the trip four times myself and have fun every time I’m there. I’ve also learned French songs, such as this one:

The only reason I know Montreal’s goal song so well, is because of the three of the four games that I’ve been to there, the Habs blew Lundswiss out of the water. The one game that I’ve seen the Rangers win out there, was when Raanta started. To be fair, Price was out last season. But hey, Raanta won in Montreal, which is something Lundqvist has struggled with mightily.

I know it comes off that I’m always whining about the diva goalie, but the fact is I want to see the Rangers win a Cup. All I do is give you the stats and my opinions off those stats. It’s why I said Cam Talbot was the right answer in 2015-2016. (More on Talbot later.) I just feel because of Hank’s contributions to this team, people have their head in the sand about him on a lot of things.

With the Rangers drawing Montreal in the first round, let’s take a look at his stats in Montreal:

From HockeyReference.com:

Goalie Stats Goalie Stats Scoring
Rk GAA Age Pos Date
Tm Opp DEC GA SA SV SV% SO PIM TOI EV GA PP GA SH GA EN GA G A PTS
1 7.78 34-318 G 2017-01-14 NYR @ MTL L L 5 22 17 .773 0 0 38:34 5 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 2.03 33-227 G 2015-10-15 NYR @ MTL L L 2 31 29 .935 0 0 59:03 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 3.10 32-237 G 2014-10-25 NYR @ MTL L L 3 30 27 .900 0 0 58:04 2 0 1 0 0 0 0
4 8.29 32-086 G 2014-05-27 NYR @ MTL L \ 4 19 15 .789 0 0 28:58 3 1 0 1
5 1.00 32-078 G 2014-05-19 NYR @ MTL W W 1 41 40 .976 0 0 59:54 1 0 0 0
6 2.00 32-076 G 2014-05-17 NYR @ MTL W W 2 22 20 .909 0 0 59:52 1 0 1 0
7 4.01 29-319 G 2012-01-15 NYR @ MTL L L 4 29 25 .862 0 0 59:50 4 0 0 0
8 3.07 28-319 G 2011-01-15 NYR @ MTL L L 3 41 38 .927 0 2 58:33 1 2 0 0
9 9.13 27-327 G 2010-01-23 NYR @ MTL L L 4 15 11 .733 0 0 26:17 4 0 0 0
10 4.79 27-236 G 2009-10-24 NYR @ MTL L-OT O 5 31 26 .839 0 0 62:39 4 1 0 0
11 2.77 27-015 G 2009-03-17 NYR @ MTL W W 3 29 26 .897 0 0 64:54 2 1 0 0
12 6.00 26-277 G 2008-12-04 NYR @ MTL L L 6 39 33 .846 0 0 60:00 6 0 0 0
13 4.62 25-354 G 2008-02-19 NYR @ MTL L-SO O 5 32 27 .844 0 0 65:00 4 1 0 0
14 3.00 25-338 G 2008-02-03 NYR @ MTL W W 3 28 25 .893 0 0 60:00 0 3 0 0
15 8.06 25-025 G 2007-03-27 NYR @ MTL L 4 15 11 .733 0 0 29:47 3 1 0 0
16 3.00 24-310 G 2007-01-06 NYR @ MTL W W 3 24 21 .875 0 0 60:00 0 3 0 0
17 1.01 24-009 G 2006-03-11 NYR @ MTL L L 1 24 23 .958 0 0 59:11 0 1 0 0
18 2.00 23-241 G 2005-10-29 NYR @ MTL W W 2 40 38 .950 0 0 60:00 2 0 0 0

In his last 10 games in Montreal, Lundqvist is 2-8 in Montreal. The two wins? The two games in the 2014 ECF, when Carey Price was taken out by “The Hitman” Chris Kreider. Both Talbot & Raanta have picked up wins against Montreal this season, just saying.

Everyone has a Corsi stat, an Excel spreadsheet or whatever else that is constructed in the basement of their parents, but when it comes to using stats to show you how bad Lundqvist has been, it’s just ignored. Blame the defense! If you further explore Lundqvist’s stats, you will see that Montreal has always given Lundqvist fits & it’s one of the teams that he always struggles with. But hey, King!

Two Vezina winners. However, only one of these men still plays like one.

These next three games for the Rangers are pretty much meaningless, standings-wise. The Rangers can win all three or lose all three & it won’t change a thing. The Habs have clinched the Atlantic Division.  These next three games are about getting everyone healthy and ready. Do you rest guys? Some guys seem to thrive when they play all the time, like Zuccarello and Kreider. Some guys could certainly use the time off, like the core of this run – Girardi, McDonagh, Stepan and Nash.

In these last few contests, AV has been playing with his lines, like a kid with ADD trying to figure out a rubik’s cube. He’s going to have to come up with the right combination by next week. He has games against good teams to figure it out. NYR has Washington, Ottawa & Pittsburgh remaining. Speaking of the finale, how silly is it that the NHL closes the season with many teams doing back-to-back’s on Saturday & Sunday? So much for player health.

Just like a construction job (I know many of you guys are Blue Collar guys like me, hence the name of the site), it’s funny that safety is thrown out the window when it comes to making money! Some jobs will make you go through all this safety shit, but when they need something done, to hell with safety. The NHL is worried about players being hurt in the Olympics. However, scheduling more back-to-backs, than any other regular NHL season, because they wanted to do a tournament (WCH), that they could make money off of? That’s OK!  Fuck player safety!

The Rangers believe that Lundqvist can do no wrong. While these next three games are about getting the team healthy & ready, it’s also about getting Lundqvist ready too. I’m not sold. The guy’s prime was 5 years ago and it’s been a steady decline ever since. I’ve made my opinion clear on this topic about a million times.

I’m on the record – I have no faith with Lundqvist, especially against a Vezina goalie who still plays like one, in Carey Price. For the Rangers, they are going to have to work on their special teams. They can’t afford to blow PP opportunities. The only way I see the Rangers beating the Canadiens is by putting up 4+ goals a game. Lundqvist simply isn’t going to win the 1-0 or 2-1 games anymore. If you think otherwise, can you let me know the weather report in fantasy land?

Miller Lite, Crown Royal, Quick Draw and a boss who trolls my blogs. I see a lot of that in my future with these upcoming playoff games!

My biggest question going into these playoffs – how short is Hank’s leash? If Hank is pulled and Raanta gets a start, there’s your goalie controversy.  There’s no coming back from that, especially if Raanta wins. In my perfect world, Raanta wins 16 straight and we’re drinking Labatt Blue Tall Boys, at the Canyon of Heroes, in June.

We all know AV got his contract extended for two more years. That means he’s not coaching for his job. He’s not going to be as panicky, as he would be, if his fate was going to be decided on his playoff run.

I really do think the Rangers are deeper than the Canadiens both up front and on the blue line. I know a common trend for Ranger fans is to bury the defense, but seriously, there is no NHL defense that is perfect. That’s why good goalies get top dollar. It’s just a shame the Rangers overpay a once great goalie, who is now mediocre, top dollar.

While I have jokingly said the Rangers best chance at beating Montreal is by having Kreider skate into Hank, in all seriousness, Kreider & Nash will have to be a factor. They are going to need to get up front, screen and look to deflect. It’s the best way to beat Price. If Lundqvist can find his way, I think these games will come down to special teams. The Rangers must simply execute on  the PP and stop giving up so many short handed looks. The team will also have to be strong on the PK. Sometimes they make an extra pass, instead of just smacking the puck out of the zone. Kill the clock by any means possible.

Since I’m always the person with the unpopular opinion, only to have my opinions & predictions come true in time (See Cam Talbot’s career), another controversial opinion I have is that Tanner Glass should be worked into this series. The Canadians simply don’t have anyone who can match Glass’s grit. Yes, I’m aware of Steve Ott, but I’ll take “The Glassiah” & his physical presence over Ott.

Am I being too much of a fan of Glass with this opinion? Perhaps, but I do believe in Glass. I think, just like last year, he’s been perfect in his role in the limited work he’s received. The Canadiens & the Rangers are very similar, in that they are both finesse teams, that beat with you speed and finding the high quality shot. Neither team is going to beat you up. While I would rank Weber’s shot better than McDonagh’s (who wouldn’t?), I think McDonagh & Weber cancel each other out defensively. Maybe McDonagh gets the slight nod overall. Again, that could be a homer opinion, but I think McDonagh has been a monster out there this season.

While I have talked about AV playing with his lines, he’s also going to have to find his defensive pairs. I really don’t see Smith, Clendo or Kampfer getting any time if Klein & Girardi are healthy. For all the crap NYR fans give Girardi, he improves their PK & will put his body in harm’s way on any shot. Speaking of shot blocking, I really don’t want to see the Rangers do any shot blocking these next three games, especially Wednesday against Ovechkin. There is no reason to risk injuries in meaningless games.

How I will be watching the playoffs.

To Mike Francesa or Steve Austin “Bottom Line” this, this is what we wanted as Ranger fans. We are in the Atlantic bracket. Let Columbus, Washington and Pittsburgh kill each other and if we are fortunate, we’ll see the winner of those three teams in the Eastern Conference Finals. I still believe (and have money & other bets out saying the Rangers beat MTL) that NYR can beat the Habs. With the Atlantic in disarray, with Boston, Toronto & Ottawa all jumping around between the 2 seed, 3 seed and the 2nd Wild card, if the Rangers can find a way in Quebec, I really believe the Rangers return to the ECF for the third time in four years.

I gotta say this – going into this season, I really didn’t think the Rangers would be a factor in the playoffs. Shit, I thought the Devils were going to be a playoff team with Taylor Hall. I saw the Rangers as a fringe team, that missed their chance. Fast forward from September, here, 7 months later, I really don’t think winning the Stanley Cup is that ludicrous. Just get by Montreal, beat whoever comes out of the Atlantic 2 vs 3 seed, get some puck luck vs the Metro team in the ECF & hey, you’re there. I know everyone considers me a pessimist, and four cups in 90 years will jade you, but deep down, I haven’t given up. I just get angry! (and drunk!)

The regular season ends Sunday. We can all relax until then.

There’s a few other topics I want to get into, so let’s keep rolling on the NHL.

The worst commissioner ever in sports and that includes Goodell and the racist Landis.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the NHL said today, that they would not be participating in the 2018 Olympics. Let me give you the press releases from both the NHL & the NHLPA, with my rant and observation below:

From the NHL, and taken from the impossible to use NHL.com website:

The NHL announced Monday that it will not participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, ending a run of five consecutive Winter Olympics with NHL players.

“We have previously made clear that while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA, etc.) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject,” the NHL said in a statement. “A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL’s participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has repeatedly said in the past several months that the owners were against Olympic participation for a variety of reasons. Chief among them was the 17-day break in the schedule required in February, a time when the National Football League’s season has ended and Major League Baseball’s season has yet to begin.

“I think the realities of Olympic participation are more apparent to our Board now and I think it just leads to less enthusiasm about the disruption,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said during NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles in January. “Quite frankly we don’t see what the benefit is from the game standpoint or the League standpoint with respect to Olympic participation.”

The NHL conducted polls in both Canada and the United States to determine if fans were in favor of the League taking a break in February to allow players to compete in the Olympics. In the United States, 73 percent said they were not in favor. In Canada, it was 53 percent against the break.

“I think the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it’s very disruptive on the season and there is somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject,” Commissioner Bettman said at the conclusion of the General Managers’ meetings on March 8 in Boca Raton, Fla.

The NHL has participated in every Winter Olympics since 1998 with a total of 706 players attending, an average of 141 per season.

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) had been paying for the League’s participation costs associated with travel, insurance and accommodations for the players and their guests, but told the NHL it will not continue to pay for those costs for the 2018 tournament.

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel indicated his federation had the money to cover those costs, but Commissioner Bettman said there was concern the funds would come from assets that would otherwise be used to grow the game at the grassroots level.

In addition, Commissioner Bettman has said that many teams have been concerned about the impact Olympic participation has on the NHL season in terms of player injuries and the compressed schedule created by the break in February.

New York Islanders center John Tavares, Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg, Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov and former Panthers forward Tomas Kopecky each sustained a season-ending injury at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. (Zetterberg returned for two games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Red Wings lost to the Boston Bruins in five games in the Eastern Conference First Round.) Other players also sustained injuries that led to them missing games upon the resumption of the NHL schedule.

The variance of player participation from team to team has impacted the results in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Olympic years.

For example, the Red Wings sent a League-high 10 players to the 2014 Sochi Olympics and lost in the first round of the playoffs. The Los Angeles Kings sent six and won the Stanley Cup.

The Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche each sent 10 players to 2006 Torino Olympics and lost in the first and second round of the playoffs, respectively. The Carolina Hurricanes sent five and won the Stanley Cup.

“Having a compressed schedule can make the players more tired, more wear and tear, and the potential for injury is greater,” Commissioner Bettman said at the Board of Governors meeting in December. “I think after doing five of these, I don’t know, fatigue might be a word?”

The NHLPA, in a statement released Monday night, said “the players are extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL’s shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics.

“Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season’s schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage.

“A unique opportunity lies ahead with the 2018 and 2022 Olympics in Asia. The NHL may believe it is penalizing the IOC or the players, or both, for not giving the owners some meaningful concessions in order to induce them to agree to go to PyeongChang. Instead this impedes the growth of our great game by walking away from an opportunity to reach sports fans worldwide.

“Moreover, it is doing so after the financial issues relating to insurance and transportation have been resolved with the IOC and IIHF. The League’s efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself. NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly. A decent respect for the opinions of the players matters. This is the NHL’s decision, and its alone. It is very unfortunate for the game, the players and millions of loyal hockey fans.”

The NHL Players Association countered with (From NHLPA.com):

TORONTO (April 3, 2017) – The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) released the following statement regarding the NHL’s decision on the 2018 Winter Olympics:

“The players are extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL’s shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics.

Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season’s schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage. ​

A unique opportunity lies ahead with the 2018 and 2022 Olympics in Asia. The NHL may believe it is penalizing the IOC or the players, or both, for not giving the owners some meaningful concessions in order to induce them to agree to go to PyeongChang. Instead this impedes the growth of our great game by walking away from an opportunity to reach sports fans worldwide.

Moreover, it is doing so after the financial issues relating to insurance and transportation have been resolved with the IOC and IIHF. The League’s efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself. NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly. A decent respect for the opinions of the players matters. This is the NHL’s decision, and its alone. It is very unfortunate for the game, the players and millions of loyal hockey fans.”

Of note, Henrik Lundqvist,who should be worried about his play with the Rangers & not Team Sweden, said via his twitter account:

Disappointing news, @NHL won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted..

I know some of you readers are younger than me, but Kerri Strug was once one of the most famous people in America, during the summer of 1996.

Hey, people disagreed with Galileo when he told everyone the earth was round. That’s why I’m not scared to share my unpopular opinions.

When it comes to the Olympics, this is going to be such an American thing to say, but quite simply, “who cares?” Ok, let me expand on that, because I can see the death threats coming again!

Quite simply, when this news broke today, I read a ton of different articles, read a bunch of Facebook comments, read a bunch of twitter accounts and really just absorbed a ton of information and reaction about this. The NHL.com article even mentions what I’m about to say – this news is bigger everywhere else besides America.

It’s not hard to see why American fans & owners don’t care as much as their Canadian counterparts. Hockey is the fourth most popular sport in America, and that’s even debatable. Put it this way – UFC & WWE get more coverage on ESPN, get better ratings and draw better crowds than the NHL. Is hockey really the fourth biggest sport? When you factor in college sports, is the NHL the fourth biggest league in America? In reality, and many will hate to say this, the only pro league the NHL smokes in every area of business is the WNBA. That said, I still think some WNBA players could throw Crosby a beating.

Canadian fans are outraged about this news. American fans not so much. As an American fan who loves Canada, their whisky and their national sport, I am leaning towards my home country in this. Quite simply – I don’t care about the Olympics. Furthermore, I care more about how the Rangers do than how USA Hockey does. That said, I do know how Canadian fans care about Team Canada, just as much as they care about their pro team. In America, it just doesn’t work that way. For most American NHL fans, we care about our pro team. If USA Hockey does well, that’s great, but I rather see the Rangers win a Cup than USA Hockey win the gold.

If this was the NBA, this would be a bigger issue in America. The Dream Team revitalized a sport that more people watch than hockey. Furthermore, the Dream Team & the Olympics have been good for the NBA. Is USA Hockey great for the NHL? Maybe it creates a flash in the pan interest for 2-3 weeks, but after that, it’s like any other Olympic sport in America – who cares.

We all know great Olympians, like Kerri Strug, Michael Phelps and even that thing known as Bruce Jenner. That said, who watches gymnastics, swimming or track on a regular basis? How are any of those sports generating money? Unfortunately, the same thing applies to hockey in America.

The common talking point is that Olympic hockey generates good business and press for the NHL. Does it really? Maybe in Canada, but the people who watch hockey are going to watch hockey no matter what. In Canada, people are going to watch hockey. In America, if USA Hockey could ever win a Gold, that would be great, but it would be forgotten quickly in this never ending 24/7 news cycle.

I understand our Canadian friends. Losing the Gold in Hockey, in Canada, would be like America losing a hypothetical pro football event in the Olympics.

As someone who’s spent time in Canada and has Canadian friends, you can’t compare America & Canada when it comes to hockey. You also can’t compare the two countries when it comes to the emphasis of capitalism.

I told you about a book I read, “Instigator” by Jonathan Gatehouse. A Canadian author, he had no problem calling Bettman “a jew from NY” throughout his book. Here in America, the snowflakes would call that “hate” speech. While Bettman is a jew from NY, Gatehouse wasn’t saying that to state facts. He was using that as an insult. Can we be honest here? Jews run the world! They run Hollywood, politics, our courtrooms and our healthcare! Not bad for a race that someone tried to make extinct over 70 years ago. They rebounded well and are well educated. And please – if you can’t just go with this and looking to be offended, get a life!

This is must-read book for any Bettman hater!

For a book review on “Instigator”, check out my review at:

NYR/PITT 12/20 Review: Penguins Show the Rangers What the Stanley Cup Looks Like, Crosby Beats up McDonagh & the Rangers (Again), Lundqvist Wants No Part of The Black & Gold, Raanta’s 40 Saves, A Gary “Jewish Lawyer from NY” Bettman Book Review & Much More From the Second Worse Loss of the Year

 

“The Jew from NY”, Gary Bettman, is just like any other businessman. I hate Bettman for many things, but I can’t argue with him here.

Take a look at a few snippets, spewing pro-Bettman/NHL propaganda on the NHL.com website:

The League has participated in the Olympics five times and has never seen any objective evidence of a positive impact on the business or sport. In many ways, it has seen a negative impact.

Negative sentiment built among the Board of Governors over time. The NHL considered not going to Sochi in 2014 but went anyway. Negative sentiment reached a tipping point afterward.

When it comes to Olympic participation, the cost-benefit equation changes every four years.

Nagano was not a boon for the League or for hockey in general.

“The ultimate impact it had on the game worldwide was negligible,” Commissioner Bettman said in December.

The 2006 Torino and 2014 Sochi Olympics weren’t boons. The 2002 Salt Lake City and 2010 Vancouver Olympics were better — each culminating in a gold-medal game between Canada and the United States on North American ice — but weren’t boons either.

“When you look at the Olympics in Salt Lake City and Vancouver, both in terms of location and the teams that went very far, it generated more interest, particularly in North America,” Commissioner Bettman said in December. “In some of the other places, not as much.”

So would the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics be a boon, considering the South Korean market and the time difference for North American TV viewers? If they would be, don’t you think the NHL would go?

The Olympics are incredible because of the best-on-best format and the overall pageantry. The allure is so strong that the players want to provide their services for free, something they wouldn’t do ordinarily. But that is a luxury they can afford because they are paid well to play in the NHL.

In December, the NHL polled fans in Canada and the United States to ask if they favored a 17-day break in the schedule for the Olympics. In Canada, 53 percent of avid fans were against it even though Canada would be defending the gold medal. In the United States, 73 percent were against it.

Four NHL players sustained season-ending injuries in Sochi: New York Islanders captain John Tavares, Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, and Florida Panthers forwards Aleksander Barkov and Tomas Kopecky. (Zetterberg returned for two games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Red Wings lost to the Boston Bruins in five games in the Eastern Conference First Round.)

At least three others missed NHL games because of injuries sustained in Sochi: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Paul Martin (18), Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin (eight) and New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello (four).

The Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings will play preseason games in Shanghai on Sept. 21 and in Beijing on Sept. 23 in the 2017 NHL China Games. The Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators will play regular-season games in Stockholm, Sweden, on Nov. 10-11 in the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series. These events are part of a larger international plan, and we’ll see if something changes regarding NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

The NHL isn’t going to the 2018 Games, but it will continue to bring the game to people around the world.

Right or wrong, the bottom line is MONEY is always involved in these decisions.

The players want to play in the Olympics, obviously. It’s “old-time” hockey at its finest. It’s being a Patriot. That said, it’s hard to argue with the propaganda the NHL is spitting out right now. The decision is financially motivated. No owner wants to see their money in a doctor’s office or trainer’s room. Would you want to risk losing your favorite or best player of your team, because of a tournament  that doesn’t affect your pro team? Most American’s don’t.

If there is a compromise in this, which is the job of a commissioner, I think this is how you make it work:

  • Players waive money owed to them in the event of injury. Let’s see how many players want to play then.
  • NHLPA helps cover costs for the travel, training, lodging, etc. Let’s see how many players want to play then.
  • Any missed games during the regular season, due to fatigue in the Olympics, players must forfeit their game salary. Let’s see how many players play then.
  • In the event of injury, NHL teams are allowed to go above the cap to replace injured talent. This would lead to NHL teams saying guys are hurt, to try to beef up teams for playoff pushes. You think the league & small market teams will go for that?

With those suggestions, the NHL doesn’t have to look like the bad guy and puts the ball, or puck in this case, in the NHLPA’s defensive zone.

Bottom line – it’s always about the money. I understand the other side of the argument, but we live in an era, especially in NY, where money is considered in every decision. I am not one to ever take Bettman’s side, but I understand his position here. That said, this decision will give more ammunition for his detractors.

TOLD YOU SO.

Talbot Watch: Cam Talbot recorded his 40th win on Saturday night, tying the record for most wins as an Edmonton Oilers goalie in a season. With four games left on the schedule, three against bad teams (LA and the Canucks twice), Talbot has a chance to break the record. Just a reminder for everyone who said I was wrong when I said “Cam Talbot is a starting goalie in the NHL.”

I’ll tell you what. Sometimes, when I’m taking a dump and have a few minutes available, I go back and read this blog’s archives, which you can do to, by looking on the right hand of the site. It’s amazing how much I was on the money on Talbot. I’m happy he’s doing well, but really, what if?

I often wonder what would’ve happened if Talbot was kept and if the Rangers asked Hank to waive his NMC. How can anyone say it doesn’t make the Rangers a better team? In 2015-2016, the Rangers would’ve had Talbot for $7M less than Lundqvist. They would have Talbot, in the prime of his career, for $4M less starting in 2016-2017.

Ever since Lundqvist signed his contract that made him the highest paid goalie, this is what’s happened:

  • Gave up back-to-back touchdowns in the 2015 ECF
  • Lost a rare Game 7 in the 2015 ECF
  • Got embarrassed by the Penguins in the 2016 playoffs
  • No All-Star nominations
  • No Vezina consideration
  • Has worse stats than his back up, Antti Raanta
  • Having the worst statistical season of his career, in 2016-2017
  • Has never had a 40 win season in his career

Since Talbot has moved on to Edmonton, this is what’s happened:

  • Vezina candidate this season. (Bobrovsky most likely wins it, but Talbot is a finalist)
  • One of the few goalies with an outdoor shutout in NHL history. Lundqvist doesn’t have a shutout in two outdoor games. Talbot got his first ever outdoor game.
  • 40+ wins in his first full year as starter. (He split starting with Scrivens in his first year in Edmonton.)
  • Brings Edmonton their first playoff berth in a decade
  • Multiple NHL star of the week awards
  • Has twins. Speaking of, Raanta also became a father for the first time this season. Maybe there is something with knocking up your wife that increases your play for goalies?
  • In second place in the league with wins and shutouts.
  • Has Oiler fans calling him the best Oilers goalie since Grant Fuhr. Grant Fuhr has also come out publicly to praise Talbot.

In other words, not too shabby for a guy that 99% of Ranger fans & Ranger media members (I’m talking about Vally & Carpiniello here) said would never be a starter!

I gotta say, with the West wide open, who knows how the Oilers fare this year? They have arguably the MVP of the league in McDavid (Crosby may still win the Hart though) and they have one of the best goalies in the game. Chicago isn’t automatic to me. While Oiler fans are happy to just be in the playoffs, I can see them making a run, led by Talbot’s strong play and McDavid being the best in the world at what he does.

I’ll tell you what, I’m rooting for a Rangers vs Oilers Stanley Cup Finals. Like the NY Lotto tag line – “hey, you never know!”

While I’m happy for Talbot’s success, it still drives me mad that he isn’t wearing the diagonal R-A-N-G-E-R-S letters on the front of his chest. The Rangers loss has been Edmonton’s gain. I guess this is returning the favor for the 1994 Cup.

Whew, I’m at the 6000 word mark now. Granted, I have a few copy and paste jobs in here, but my fingers are exhausted and I’m losing the grip on my beer bottles!

Depending on work, I may do a Capitals/Rangers blog on Wednesday night. The 8:00PM start is a motherfucker. I know tomorrow night, I will be watching the Oilers, to see if Talbot gets 41.

These next 3 Ranger games are meaningless, so I don’t feel too hard-pressed to trade sleep (and feeling fresh at work) to do a blog. I will definitely be recapping every Ranger playoff game though!

As always, you can follow and talk shit with me on the twitter.

Until then, as always….

LET’S GO RANGERS

LET’S GO TALBOT

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweeter

Comments

  1. I thought your man cave was in your mothers basement. I did help you partake in beers and crown royal till my wife rudely interrupted man time.but on a better note I did get my bottle with the seal still intact much appreciated thank you boss troll

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