NY Rangers Final Media Day News/Notes/Opinions, Everything Covered In One Spot!

King Nothing

Another “What if?” summer for Henrik Lundqvist

 

Welcome everyone to another blog here on DOINOW.com. This will be a different blog than most. This blog will basically just wrap up the season, with player quotes, news and interviews.

In case you haven’t seen them already, here are my Post-season blogs. Check them out for tons of info and opinions:

NY Rangers Off-Season Blog: Looking at Every Player Under Contract & Their Deals, Who Will Be Here, Who’s Gone, Call-Up’s, Potential Free Agents, Why I Would Keep Cam Talbot & More

New York Rangers Post-Season Report Card: Grading Every Player On Their Playoff Performance & Much More

NYR/TBL Game 7 Recap: Rangers Changed The Ending Two Weeks Earlier, Piss-Poor Performance, Assessing This Loss as a Whole, The Future, Failed Season, “In Cam We Trust, In Hank We Bust” & Much More After The Worst Loss of My Adult Life

As you may have heard by now, yesterday was the break-up day for the team and the final media day of the season. It was the last time that anyone had to officially speak on the record about this season.

This blog will take a look at all of the big news to come out of media day, with my thoughts below each tidbit. Each story will be followed by MY TAKE. I’m using reports from the Rangers website, BLUESHIRTSUNITED.com, reporter Seth Rothman and the New York Daily News.

The biggest thing to come out of media day were all the player injuries. The NHL is like no other sport. In baseball, if you fart, you’re on the DL for 15 days. In the NFL, every player injury must be reported, due to gambling reasons. In the NHL, you can stay mum on your player injuries and usually you disclose them once your season is over. It’s really at the end of the season, that you really take a step back and say “Wow, how the fuck did he play through that?”

Everyone wanted to know the full story on Zucc

Ever since taking a puck off the back of the head, there were tons of rumors about Zuccarello. They ranged from he’ll be out only a series to he will never play again. The rumors were all over the place, but were half-right. Zucc was certainly banged up badly.

Here’s BLUESHIRTSUNITED.com (Again, the official site of the NY Rangers) report on Zucc:

“Mats Zuccarello was struck in the head by a Ryan McDonagh slap shot with roughly four and a half minutes to play in the first period of Game Five of the Rangers first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. He left the game and did not return that night nor for the rest of the post-season due to a brain contusion, an injury so scary that Zuccarello was hospitalized for three days and was unable to speak for four.

“There was a small fracture, and I lost my talking and some feeling in my arm,” explained Zuccarello when he met with reporters at the team’s break-up day Monday afternoon at the MSG Training Center.
“Of course (I was scared). I couldn’t talk. It was scary, but the doctors were really good and made sure I knew that I’d be healthy. Now I go to speech therapy and I feel much better.”
Zuccarello’s good friend and teammate Derick Brassard visited him in the hospital shortly after the injury, one that left a major impression on the Rangers center.
“It was really scary to Zucc in the hospital, and he couldn’t even talk,” Brassard said on Monday. “It wasn’t easy (to see), but the doctors did a really good job of taking care of him We just need him to take this summer and make sure he’s 100 percent for next season.”
Chris Kreider said that what happened to Zuccarello, was “really upsetting”, but added that when the popular Norwegian was again around the team behind the scenes “it was pretty inspirational.”
Though he began skating with his teammates while wearing a non-contact jersey late in the Eastern Conference Final, Zuccarello said Monday he was unsure whether or not he would have been able to play in the Stanley Cup Final had New York moved past Tampa Bay. At the end of the day he said it wasn’t worth speculating because the team did not advance to the Final.

Many of Zuccarello’s teammates said on Monday that his presence on the ice was sorely missed and was a big reason the Rangers fell short of their goal in reaching the Final for a second consecutive season.

“Zucc was a huge loss,” stated linemate Rick Nash. “Those are huge shoes to fill. But we can’t be making excuses because we were missing one player.”
Added Brassard, “Zucc is a big part of this team and I think we really missed him, especially at this time of the year. He’s one of our top players.”

 

Zuccarello picked up a pair of assists in the opening round against the Penguins before missing the final 14 games of the post-season. During the regular season he scored 15 goals and totaled 49 points, a year after leading the team in scoring with a career-high 59 points.

The 27 year-old Zuccarello, whose injury has shown resolution, but is not yet completely healed, is expected to recover full in time for training camp next fall.

MY TAKE: Holy crap. Zucc’s injury truly shows you how dangerous hockey can be. Rick Nash would later say elsewhere that while losing Zucc hurt, you can’t blame not having Zucc for the loss to the TBL. I agree with Nash. Still, I think we have a different series outcome with Zuc

While Lundqvist jerseys will always pepper MSG and in the public, Zucc has a loyal and growing fanbase. I am seeing more Zucc jerseys than ever before at Ranger games. He is right up there as one of the biggest fan favorites. We all love the guy. He is the fire and spark-plug of this team. We all rallied for the Rangers to re-sign him at the trade deadline. And I’m sure I can speak for everyone here, when I say, “GET WELL ZUCC!”

Seriously, how dangerous could’ve this injury been? It’s bad, don’t get me wrong, but from what everyone is saying, he will make a full recovery. It will be determined if he will be the same player come next season, but for him personally, I am glad that he will be 100%, as a human being.

Just the fact that he was skating out there, trying to get back, after everything he went through, man, oh man. No question about it, there is no tougher athlete than the hockey player.

McDonagh & Staal played through immense pain

 

Here are more injury updates from BLUESHIRTSUNITED.com:

“Team captain Ryan McDonagh met with the media Monday wearing a walking boot on his right foot and using a crutch to balance himself. McDonagh said that he broke the foot when struck by a shot in the middle of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final down in Tampa.

“I didn’t see the puck coming,” explained McDonagh. “I just had to figure out a way to get through the rest of the period, and that third period was real tough. The rest of the way we did some things to help me. I tried my best and the team was really supportive.”McDonagh was in major distress during warm-ups before Game Seven at The Garden on Friday, and had to be re-taped in the dressing room once the game began. He somehow managed to find a way to play more than 17 minutes.“I had to simplify things,” said McDonagh. “I couldn’t be as aggressive offensively, and I had to manage my gaps really well defensively.”
Rangers’ defensemen Marc Staal and Keith Yandle also discussed their injuries on Monday. Staal suffered a hairline fracture of his ankle late in the regular season blocking a shot, but was able to play all 19 post-season games. Yandle suffered a sprained AC joint in the shoulder on a Blake Comeau hit during the first round against Pittsburgh, though he said that he felt better as the playoffs wore on and the shoulder actually healed more.
In addition defenseman Dan Girardi suffered a Grade One sprain of his MCL in Game Four against the Lightning, and will also need to have a minor procedure performed on his ankle to drain fluid that has built up.”
MY TAKE: We all know that McDonagh, our captain is a warrior. I don’t want to get repetitive here, but yea, this is the difference between a hockey player and another professional athlete. Since my report card blog, I’ve had several people tweet at me that AV should’ve benched McDonagh in game 7. I mean really? Do you think this guy wants to sit? Do you think this guy would ever forgive AV when they lost? The man gave it his all, no way was he sitting out a game 7.
I got a lot of feedback in my report card and contract blogs about Marc Staal, as Ranger fans thought he was overpaid. Perhaps he is a bit, for a guy who is just a pure defenseman. However, you know he has great character and wants a cup just as bad as anyone else. The fact he played so long with his injury really tells you how much he cares about this team.
I heard Yandle was hurt when it first happened. I even mentioned it in a few blogs, about how Yandle wasn’t shooting slapshots and was settling for wristers all over the ice. As I said in my previous blogs, with Arizona covering half his money next year and a full camp under AV, he should be a stronger player for this team.

 

How about I throw in 383843834 draft picks? Deal?

After finding about all the injuries yesterday, Sather made a trade. Again, from BLUESHIRTSUNITED.com:

“New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the team has acquired a seventh-round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft from Tampa Bay in exchange for defenseman Daniel Walcott.

The draft pick the Rangers acquired is their own seventh-round pick. New York previously sent the pick to Tampa Bay as part of its trade with the Lightning on March 5, 2014.
Walcott, 21, was selected by the Rangers in the fifth round, 140th overall, of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.”
MY TAKE: So Sather, who could’ve swapped Cally for MSL straight up, drafted a fifth rounder, then traded that player for a 7th rounder. What the fuck? Are you telling me that the 7th round prospects this year are that incredible? I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t know much about Walcott, outside of a Google search.
The timing of this trade seems so off. I mean, you just lose to TBL in the ECF, and the first thing you do is make a trade with them? I don’t think trade affects either team at the end of the day, but still, I just don’t get the timing or the thinking that the first move you need to make is get a 7th round pick.

 

Alain Vigneault had a lot to say yesterday

Coach AV addressed the media as well yesterday. Here is the full transcript of his press conference, from the New York Daily News at NYDailyNews.com:

Why isn’t this a step backwards? “Well, I’m not sure that’s the right way to define our season right now. We’re still in the midst of emotion. We’re still in the midst of trying to sort out exactly what happened and why it happened. Our long-term goal was to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals and have an opportunity to compete for it. We were one period away from achieving that goal, and unfortunately, we didn’t get it done. We had in the seventh game, we had I don’t want to say subpar performances but we didn’t have the type of performances that permit you to win that game from our group. We did along the way achieve other goals. We did along the way bring in some pretty good youth in our lineup, took some steps forward in some directions, and it’s too fresh at this time here, but we’re gonna analyze this in a better way here in the next couple of weeks and make the decisions that have to be made to improve this group.”

Why is the team so good on the road and not at home? “Well we’ve been a good road team and a good home team. Why Game 5 and 7? Definitely some of the questions that we’re gonna ask ourselves and try to come up with some answers. It’s been a very emotional and challenging last couple of days for our group, myself. After Game 7, I mean, my youngest daughter was crying for hours and I couldn’t get her to stop. Everybody that was close to me and myself, we all felt that we were gonna move on, and it’s been hard to handle, but it’s life, and that’s the cards that we’ve been dealt, and now we need to pick up the pieces, pick up those cards and find a way to become a better team and give ourselves a better chance next year.”

Couldn’t get top players to play better in Game 7? “Ya know, the goal was a Stanley Cup. There were a lot of things that had to happen to get there, but there were so many positive things from within this group that, if you’re looking at it strictly from the fact that we didn’t get to the Cup, it’s very disappointing. But there were so many other positive elements that I’m trying to sort that out in my mind.”

Is it so hard emotionally because this team felt this was its year? “You know, that’s a real good question and I would say to you when we came into the season this year, I don’t think anybody knew what to expect. We had so many pieces that had left, so many veteran important pieces to our nucleus, from leaders to grittier roles, and we were adding younger players and hoping that those younger players would be able to contribute and perform. Along the way, the progression of certain players made it that, ‘Oh, jeez, we can compete. Oh, oh, we’re winning on a regular basis. Oh, we’re winning here and we’ve got a chance to finish first overall.’ We started with a different group, we continued to win, and I don’t wanna say maybe impressed ourselves here but we continued to win in a regular fashion, got into the playoffs, won against Pittsburgh – real tough series, all 2-1 games. Won against Washington, all tough games, went to Game 7. Going against Tampa Bay, another tough opponent, we still think we had a chance to win and we were one period away. So it was a different team, a different team with a lot of the pieces that are probably gonna be coming back next year. A lot of those pieces are still very young and improving, so it makes it very interesting right now if you’re a Ranger fan.”

On Marty St. Louis? “I had a real long talk today with Marty, myself and Jeff Gorton. Marty has been a great player on this team, leadership-wise, example-wise. He wants to take a little bit of time at this moment to analyze his season and see what he wants to do. And that being said from our end we need to know where the cap’s gonna be, etc. so it sort of works out perfectly for both sides. He’s gonna think about it, we’re gonna find out where we are money-wise, and then go from there.”

Is there a difference between a skill player and a big-moment player, and does your team have that? “I think our players have proven time and time again that in big games that they can step up and do it. How many times has this group faced against do or die and come up and gotten it done? For whatever reason in the third period of the last game against Tampa, it wasn’t there. There will be a bunch of theories why. For me it’s too early at this time to give you a more precise reason.”

How much did Zuccarello’s injury set back the team on and off the ice? “Well it was a huge blow to our team there’s no doubt. You’re going to get injuries in the playoffs and you’re going to have to find a way to manage. And I thought for the most part we did a pretty good job of managing through that one. Mats is the type of player that plays five-on-five, can kill penalties, can play power play. Sometimes he’s almost a guy that gets that little ball of energy going on the ice and that starts some things that you need, so his minutes are very tough to replace. We never really thought that he would come back, but I think for our group it was important for them to know that he might come back, because he is such a likeable young man that we always kept it out there that he was close, that he was improving, and he was improving, and he was getting better. But I think it would have been a real long, long shot if he had ended up playing.”

Did the defense’s injuries make the task more difficult? “Every team at this time of the year has got bumps and bruises. The bumps and bruises that maybe went over the top a little bit was Mac, him playing through that, captain of the team and wants to help his teammates. But what you saw there (with all the injuries) is what you see with any team that’s gonna try and win. There’s gonna be extra ice bags in the dressing room after every game.”

Did you ever come close to deciding McDonagh couldn’t be effective and shouldn’t play? “The time where. The first we heard that he might not be able to go was after warmup, and I and Mac were talking back and forth, and I said do you think I should dress a seventh defenseman. And prior to that it was always no from the training staff, from him, and then he said yes. So he sort of caught me off-guard there a little bit, and for moment there I thought maybe we’d be better off dressing Hunwick and keeping Mac off, but I don’t think I could have kept him out of the lineup. He really wanted to try. He was waitin for the foot to freeze. Took a little longer.”

Anything you second-guess yourself about? “There’s always gonna be, once I reflect on this in a couple weeks, personnel decisions and … What we try and do here is try and get better with the decisions we make, we try and learn, and the players are doing the same thing on their part. And that’s how this group is going to improve and that’s how we’re going to work on getting over the hump. Our goal next year is going to be … Next year it’s a restart button. Restart. We’ve gotta get into the playoffs. That’s gonna be a great challenge. Then we’re gonna fight for home ice. That’s gonna be another challenge. Then you’re gonna try and win your first playoff round. You restart every year. The Stanley Cup champions from last year didn’t get in and the Presidents’ Trophy didn’t get in. She’s a tough league to get in.”

What are you most proud of? “I know we didn’t get to that Stanley Cup, but this group laid it out there. It might not have looked pretty sometimes, but this group came to work, competed hard and did the best they could for their teammates, their fans, every night and every day.”

How can you win in the playoffs when Nash doesn’t produce the way he did in the regular season? “Rick does so many other things, too, but at the end of the day we had that talk with him today. In every playoff that he’s played, he’s improved. He was an older player when he got to New York and having only had four games experience, he’s getting better, he understands that his contribution is real important and I think he’s only gonna improve.”

You think this core can win the Cup? “I think that if we continue to tweak certain aspects, personnel-wise, improving personnel-wise – because every year one way or the other because of the cap there’s always some changes. But if we continue to do that, I’ve got a good belief that we’ve got a group of young players at the right age with the right experience around them. We’ve been knocking at the door, we’ve been getting close to the hump there and almost getting ready to get fully over. So if you ask me, do I believe in this group? I would say my answer is yes.”

 

MY TAKE: This was more or less what I expected from AV. I mean, if you had the answer of how to fix the problems on home ice, you would’ve done it already. Sometimes you gotta give the other team credit too.

As far as the players, AV said everything you would expect as well. We know what’s up with MSL. We know how much the Rangers missed Zucc. I just wonder if AV’s daughter is a Talbot fan and was crying because Hank couldn’t get the job done for the tenth straight year! I kid, I kid!

The Rangers will bring back the same core, maybe get younger with Lindberg and possibly Skjei in the line-up and take it from there. It just sucks that we have to wait a whole freaking year again. I guess that’s why the casual fans just skip the regular season most of the time. I know I will be pumped up in October again, but right now, this still stings and flat out blows.

The Buffalo Killer


More injury news from BLUESHIRTSUNITED.com:

“New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that Mackenzie Skapski underwent hip arthroscopy to repair a labral tear in his right hip. The procedure was performed at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Skapski is expected to be sidelined for four-to-five months.

Skapski, 20, appeared in two games with the Rangers in 2014-15, posting a 2-0-0 record, along with a 0.50 GAA, a .978 SV%, and 1 SO. He earned his first career NHL win while making his NHL debut on Feb. 20 at Buffalo, becoming the third-youngest goaltender in franchise history to record a win in his NHL debut. Skapski also posted his first career NHL shutout while making his second career NHL start on Mar. 14 at Buffalo. He became the first Rangers goaltender to record his first career NHL shutout in one of his first two NHL starts since Marcel Paille did so during the 1957-58 season.

 

The 6-3, 191-pounder also appeared in 28 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2014-15, posting a 15-8-3 record, along with a 2.40 GAA, a .914 SV%, and 3 SO. Skapski ranked seventh among AHL rookie goaltenders in GAA and ranked 10th among AHL rookie goaltenders in SV%. In his last 16 AHL appearances during the regular season, Skapski posted a 10-4-2 record, along with a 2.30 GAA and a .918 SV%.”

MY TAKE: This news affects the Rangers back-up goalie position. Read my last blog, (http://doinow.com/ny-rangers-off-season-blog-looking-at-every-player-under-contract-their-deals-who-will-be-here-whos-gone-call-ups-potential-free-agents-why-i-would-keep-cam-talbot-more/) for my view on the Talbot situation.

If Talbot decides he wants to start somewhere, since the Rangers are hellbent on giving a cupless aging goalie 10% of payroll, despite no championship, this affects who is on the bench at the beginning of next season. The Rangers are high on Halverson, but Skapski played well in the AHL and was flawless for 119 consecutive minutes in the NHL.

You have to root for Skapsk and love his story, but realistically, the team isn’t winning or losing a Cup next season because of his contributions in the playoffs.

The two biggest free agents the Rangers need to re-sign

Carl Hagelin & Derek Stepan, two Rangers, that in my opinion, Sather must re-sign, made some comments.

Here’s Hagelin on twitter:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>We battled hard but didn&#39;t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish this season. The difference between winning and losing is slim….</p>&mdash; Carl Hagelin (@CarlHagelin) <a href=”https://twitter.com/CarlHagelin/status/605757904659066880″>June 2, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>I want to thank our fans for all the love and support throughout the season and I know we will come back better and stronger next season!!</p>&mdash; Carl Hagelin (@CarlHagelin) <a href=”https://twitter.com/CarlHagelin/status/605758063853883392″>June 2, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Derek Stepan also commented, making it clear that he wants to be back here for next season.

MY TAKE: Hagelin and Stepan started their careers here and are entering their primes. They want to win a Cup here. Sather needs to keep them here. It’s just hard to see either taking a hometown discount, as this will be the biggest contracts they ever sign. Plus, when your star goalie is talking about wanting to win a Cup here at all costs, then teases FA until he’s the highest paid goalie in hockey, how can you expect anyone else to take a discount? Sather will have to find money for both of these studs.

Nash & MSL under-performed in the playoffs

Here are player videos from BLUESHIRTSUNITED.com:

Zuccarello:

<iframe src=”http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=827293&site=rangers” frameborder=”0″ width=”640″ height=”395″></iframe>

 

Nash:

<iframe src=”http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=827360&site=rangers” frameborder=”0″ width=”640″ height=”395″></iframe>
McDonagh:

<iframe src=”http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=827288&site=rangers” frameborder=”0″ width=”640″ height=”395″></iframe>
Lundqvist:

<iframe src=”http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=827289&site=rangers” frameborder=”0″ width=”640″ height=”395″></iframe>


 

Martin St. Louis was also quoted by Rangers Reporter Seth Rothman:

“As you get older, you always think about the following year, the next year,” he said. “For me right now, of course I want to play. I’m not sure which direction this team is going to go in either, so it’s tough to comment. I’ve been blessed to play parts of two years here for a great organization and we’ll see where that takes me. The opportunity to play for a Cup last year and one win away again this year … it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

I’m going to be 40 in two weeks. I just want a chance to reflect here, think about it and we’ll see,” he said. “It’s a couple of days from being knocked out. I’ll get a chance to reflect and see where that takes me.”

MY TAKE: Obviously all the players are upset and know that anything but the Cup was going to be a disappointment this year. I talked about Marty in my other blogs. The short of it, I only see him staying if he agrees to the veteran minimum.

That wraps up and covers all of yesterday’s media day. Even with the season, there’s a lot left for me to do here, so keep it here on DOINOW.com for more.

As talked about earlier, we will be changing the name of this site to something more Rangers appropriate. When I started this venture for fun, which it is, as I’m not making money on this or anything, I used DOINOW.com because it was the name of my old wrestling company. Now that this blog has a life and voice of its own, it should be treated as its own entity as well. I’m leaning towards Blue Collar Blue Shirts, or something along those lines.

Upcoming blogs:

The Frank Boucher Petition

My Photo Journal of The 2014-2015 season

The Death of MSG

The Saga of Henrik Lundqvist

Thanks for reading and spread the word…

LET’S GO RANGERS

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on twitter

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