The Rangers opened up the first of a home/home series with the Philadelphia Flyers on Black Friday, with a 1PM start time. The Rangers were coming off another brutal loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning where King Contract, Henrik Lundqvist, gave up another four goals. I’m not going to get into my spiel about Hank – go read the archives. Love him as a Ranger, but his contract is ridiculous. However it is sad for the state of NY sports, that Henrik Lundqvist has given up more goals to the Tampa Bay Lightning, in two games this season, than the amount of wins that the Jets, Giants & Knicks have combined.
Since the Rangers needed two points again desperately, coach Alain Vigneault turned to the GOALBUSTER, the man getting paid $8 million less than Hank, to provide a W. In turn, Cam Talbot delivered another shutout victory, giving him a clean two flawless wins, against the division rivals in Philly. I’ve been the lead engineer on the Talbot train from day one, but it’s nice to see new Tal-believers jump on board. The kid is that good.
The Rangers were 100% healthy for the first time this season. Scratch casualties included Tanner Glass and John Moore. A lot of Ranger fans have been piling up on Tanner Glass. Glass was signed to bring light scoring and be a tough guy. He has not been able to replace the contributions of Derek Dorsett or Dan Carcillo, who were in that role last year. Moore fell victim to the stellar play of Rangers rookie Matt Hunwick. It should be interesting if these two trends continue, as Stempniak and Duclair provide more offense than Glass. Moore seems to be the odd-man out on a team with great defensemen in McDonagh, Girardi, Klein, Hunwick, Staal & Boyle.
The Rangers played a complete team game and were able to avoid dicey situations by continually clearing the puck. Rick Nash, second in the league in goal scoring, tallied a beautiful 3 on 1 shorthanded goal. Dan Boyle, signed just for the powerplay, kicked off the scoring with a powerplay goal. While Stepan & Marty St. Louis got the assist on Boyle’s goal, it was the screen by Rick Nash that made it that much easier to pass by Philly netminder Steve Mason.
The second goal of the night was a huge goal for the Rangers, as it came off the stick off alternate captain, number 26, Martin St. Louis. Due to his assist on Boyle’s goal, the goal was MSL’s 1000th career point. Let me congratulate Marty right now on this huge accomplishment!
If you’ve been following my Ranger blogs on this site, you know that I’m a Talbot guy and a huge Marty guy. I think the Marty trade was the best deal Sather ever made, although at the time, I questioned it, only because I didn’t like giving up two draft picks. I believe the Rangers could’ve made a straight swap, since Callahan was younger and MSL wanted away from Tampa GM Steve Yzerman anyway. I am still of the belief that if the Rangers didn’t have MSL, they would’ve never went to the Cup. Marty’s quote, pictured above, made me run out and buy his jersey the next day. The guy wants to be a Ranger, has raised his family in Rangerstown and it’s a pleasure to watch him play.
I said in my last column that I feel Marty has been bigger for the Rangers, in the tail end of his career, than Wayne Gretzky was, when he was here. Marty makes everyone better around him and makes passes that even great players don’t see coming. When Marty is tallying points, it usually leads to a Rangers W.
The big question moving forward is “who starts in net tomorrow?” AV may have to satisfy King Contract, based on his past laurels and not on his current play this season. There is no question in my mind that not only Talbot should start tomorrow, he should also start on Monday night against Tampa. Talbot has played 120 flawless minutes against the Flyers this season. With Fat Cat Hank having his doors blown off in two games against Tampa, it’s time for a change. Former Rangers captain, Ryan Callahan, has scored two goals a game against Hank. Perhaps he knows Hank too well. A change to Cam should be called. It’s very tough decision making for AV. You have to figure that Hank will eventually get his shit together, but how can you deny and suppress a true natural in Cam Talbot?
As a good friend of mine said last night during Thanksgiving, “Am I crazy or are the Islanders the best team in New York?” The Rangers have left too many points on the board due to the inconsistent play of Henrik Lundqvist this season. The Rangers need to play catch-up big time, if they want to comfortably skate into a good playoff seed this year.
If you’re at the game tomorrow, look for me in section 213 chanting “TAL-BOT”! Feel free to say hi and tell me how much you love or hate this blog! My friend, who I’m sitting with, will laugh at me either way!
On aside, I’d like to send out condolences to Chris Kreider, who lost his grandfather today. I thought he played a sloppy game, taking two dumb penalties and a bad offside, but with the news he got, he gets a pass. He will be out of the line-up tomorrow and hopefully, he’ll be back to normal on Monday.
|CM Punk with then DOI writer & future WWE Superstar Brian Myers/Curt Hawkins
CM Punk is dominating all pro wrestling headlines today, due to a two hour interview he did on the Colt Cabana podcast. For the first time in 10 months, he opened up and talked about everything, from his frustration in the WWE to the reasons why he left. It’s a great listen, and you really need to hear it for yourself, if you’re a pro wrestling fan. Check out the Colt Cabana podcast, at ColtCabana.com to hear it.
Personally, I’ve had limited interactions with CM Punk, prior his WWE career. We have a mutual friend in Homicide. Where Homicide was Punk’s ring brother and has that special bond from doing blood feuds and having great matches, for me Homicide was always my drinking buddy and someone I talk NY Sports with. Early on in my “indy wrestling career”, I booked or commentated a few shows Punk was on. I never said anything to him besides hi and bye as we were in different circles. One of my friends, Sean Hanson, had a different relationship, and you can read his writings on Punk by checking out his facebook or twitter page. To say he’s not a fan, would be an understatement.
|AJ, then as Miss April, with then Brooke Carter, now Brittney Savage, WSU Tag Team Champions
The only other connection I ever really had with CM Punk was working with his wife, AJ Lee, who wrestled for me as Miss April. Fans of my WSU work have asked for some WSU stories, so this is a way to work some old WSU stuff in here. The AJ you see on TV, is not the AJ that performed for me in WSU. She was a rookie, training under Jay Lethal. I didn’t find her to be a good promo, but in all honesty, I never gave her much promo work anyway. I started booking her, under the suggestion of Brittney Savage. When I was in a bind, I put them together as a tag team, and I thought I had a good young fresh babyface tag team. It worked, but it didn’t last long, as AJ was signed by the WWE, after attending a tryout in mid-2009.
I respect AJ. She was always professional with me. Even on her way out, WWE wanted her to report to Florida immediately. She was fresh off winning a mixed tag team tournament with her then boyfriend of the time, Jay Lethal. She was also a tag team champion. She offered to lose the belt before losing, but I knew someone to me, who meant so much to WSU, Alicia, would be returning. Instead of dropping the belts, I turned it into Alicia replacing AJ in the team, which would then lead to a Savage/Alicia feud. I thought at the time it worked for the best, and looking back, I think it produced great results for everyone. AJ returned the championship belt with no issues, as I allowed the champions to always keep the belts. I feel on the indy wrestling level, performers never get paid well enough because indy promotions aren’t successful profitable corporations like WWE. I thought a wrestler keeping a belt, which they can show to their friends and family, was a way of showing respect and trust to them.
AJ, to me, was a decent wrestler with tons of potential. Looking back, it would’ve been cool to see her develop in WSU and see if that personality, she would later show on WWE TV, would’ve took place. Of course, that’s selfishly looking at it, as developing in WWE worked out for her and made her a millionaire. When I saw her main eventing RAW, being the RAW GM, having tons of TV time, I was happy for her. I never could’ve predicted that during her time in WSU. I thought when they signed her, she would be a Lita type of chick, (no joke to be made there), where she would hit some high spots and be the arm candy of a wrestler. I’m glad to see she’s successful and it’s a testament to the indy scene, that if you pay your dues, get a break, you can achieve the ultimate success. She really cares to, as is evident by the tattoo she got on the back of her neck when she won the WWE Womens Divas title.
Before AJ was dating her eventual husband, the personality she showed through her promo work was some of the best stuff I’ve seen from a female wrestler since the Trish days. Where her relationship with Jay Lethal gave her the ground work as an in-ring performer, I’m sure her relationship with Punk helps her as a promo. She was always a good person and professional with me, and despite the stories I hear about Punk, he must be ok if that’s the person she chose in life.
|Best in the World? I doubt that
While I have some things in common with Punk, the common thing I got from him after listening to his interview, was that he was just burnt out by pro wrestling. I can’t compare my silly indy career to his mega-successful WWE run. But I understand the burn-out. The biggest thing I just nodded my head on is when he talked about having time off to himself, and enjoying other things in life. Punk is a big hockey fan, just like I am. You can’t go to countless hockey games when you’re doing pro wrestling at any level. As an indy promoter, it’s a full-time job. I was able to run a profitable company for 5 years, and before that, run a profitable website while booking several companies during that span. You’re always working and doing something. For him, it’s 1000000000 times worse. He’s always traveling, getting his body beat up and never having a day completely to himself.
Even now, since I’ve left indy wrestling two years ago, I can enjoy the ice from MSG cooling off my face at Ranger games. I can’t sit front row at MSG, the way Punk can sit front row at Blackhawks games, but I see him smiling at those games and going nuts having fun from the clips that are shown on the dirtsheet sites. I completely understand that. There’s more to life than wrestling, so when he says Vince McMahon doesn’t know anything else, I get that but at the same time, it’s Vince’s legacy & a company that made him a billionaire. I get it. Punk talked about attending a ton of games during the Blackhawks Cup run, and I got that completely too, as I was able to do the same for the Rangers Cup run last year. Unfortunately, Punk had a better experience in the Cup Finals than I did!
Colt Cabana, who Ref Sean Hanson has called “Punk’s Beefcake”, which I thought was pretty funny, was a good sounding board for Punk. I’ve heard tons of bad stories about Punk over the years, but listening to him, I get his frustration. Punk & Cabana asked people to ask them questions to submit for Punk’s follow-up interview. Here’s the ones I would ask:
– Do you think doing an interview burying your wife’s bosses and co-workers is a good idea?
– Do you think Harley Race would bitch about the NWA Commission on the Dennis Stamp hotline?
– What are your thoughts on Brad Richards on the Blackhawks?
– Do you think we will ever get another Original 6 Stanley Cup match-up again?
– What are your thoughts on the contracts of Toews and Kane?
To be honest, I never was a fan of Punk’s WWE work. I enjoyed his ROH work with Raven. He is definitely a superstar, but he was never a guy I ever rooted for or cared about his matches. I can admit he’s great and a star, but I just wasn’t a fan of him. Some guys don’t like Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels, but can admit they were good. I guess that’s where I fall with Punk. I never saw him as a draw, although he kept saying he outsold John Cena. I would like to see what evidence he’s using when he’s claiming that.
Throughout his interview, Punk took shots at several guys. I thought all came off honest through his point of view, although portraying himself as Cena’s equal and trying to downplay Cena’s charity work was silly. There will never be another Cena. Austin or Rock aren’t even on Cena’s level. Cena carried a company for 10 years with handcuffs on due to the PG era. Cena doesn’t want his charity work blown up, WWE does.
The dumbest thing Punk said was trying to use Owen Hart’s death as a cheap shot at Vince McMahon over their argument about UFC. Owen Hart didn’t die in a physical in-ring accident, he died because of a stunt. I think using Droz would’ve been a better example for Punk to use in his argument with Vince.
In either event, I never was a Punk fan. But I respect the guy and understand his frustrations. He comes off a little egotistical and pompous, but to be a top guy, you have to be like that. He’s a performer thinking about his health, his money, his future. I get that. As an outsider looking in, Punk was never on the level of Cena. He would never draw with the Rock the same way Cena did. He never carried house show business. He never popped PPV ratings. He was a solid performer, but he never lit the wrestling world on fire, financially, like other stars. “Best in the World” can mean alot of things to different people, but I don’t even think he was good as the other “Best at What I Do” in Chris Jericho. It was funny for Punk to take a shot at Jericho about Jericho trying to beef him up for information though.
What I also took out of Punk’s interview was that he is a really smart guy, although I’ve heard and known that for years. As crisp as he is burning Ryback (Totally warranted), he’s also smart about business. You’re not going to get one over on him, especially now. While he is about the money, no matter what he says, as he bitched about payoffs time and time again, and justifiably so, the fact is he did this for free, and not taking a big payday to do a shoot interview, speaks volumes.
It would be nice if this was all the start of a big elaborate work to lead to Punk’s return. As much as I never was a Punk fan, I’d rather see him lay out HHH at the end of Survivor Series, than a 55 year old man, who paints his face and has the same hairdo of an 80 year old jewish granny. Another part-timer, huh!
One thing is for sure – if Steve Austin doesn’t ask Vince about Punk during his podcast on the WWE Network on Monday night, then you have to question Austin’s integrity as an interviewer. Punk scored a hat trick here in game one, will Vince be able to neutralize him on Monday?
The saddest thing about all this – the stuff outside of the ring is more entertaining & authentic than the crap WWE presents weekly.
Let’s go Rangers!
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