Final Thoughts on The New York Rangers 2016-2017 Season: Putting Flowers At The Grave as The Rangers Die Way Too Young, Final Report Card w/Grades For The Rangers & Even The MSG Networks Crew, 4 Cups in 90 Years, Looking Ahead, Keep AV & Fire Arniel, The IIHF Tournament & NYR Involvement, The Draft, Frank Boucher Update, The 1979 NY Rangers, Road-Trips & Much More In This Smorgasbord NYR Blog

There will be fans that no matter what, will pledge their allegiance to Lundqvist despite his decline, and then there is my train, which is starting to fill up like a LIRR rush hour train.

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com.

It’s been nearly a week since my last entry on this site. While my busy work schedule was a factor, the fact is I had time to pump out a “eulogy” blog, if you will, but I just couldn’t get myself revved up to do one. If you haven’t noticed by now in 3+ years, this blog/site is my venting tool. It’s also my soapbox. It’s also a way for me to scream from the rooftops when something good happens (very rarely!) This blog is just a roller coaster of emotions, with some wit, offensive material to snowflakes & once in a while, spot-on analysis!

I just couldn’t get motivated to write this final take on the 2016-2017 season. Even now, as I start this blog (In real time, I have Game 2 of the ECF on and will probably stop for periods of time while working on this entry. NOTE: Just finished and it’s now Tuesday afternoon!), the season ending Round 2 loss to the Ottawa Senators still stings. From here on out, whenever I see the Senators on my TV, this tombstone graphic that’s posted above, will always be burned into my mind. There are many adjectives you can use to describe the Rangers loss to the Senators, but the word “inexcusable” seems to fit best.

What got me motivated to sit my Labatt Blue beer belly ass at the computer tonight (True story – I only use the computer in my office to do these blogs. Typing on the phone takes forever.) was because of a book I read. The book was “THIN ICE” by Larry “Ratso” Sloman. Now if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I will do an 8000+ single page blog at the drop of a hat. (NOTE: This one clocks in at 7500 words!) I don’t care about website hits and this blog has no monetary value. I don’t need to break up my manifestos for advertising revenues by increasing page clicks. However, this book was so good, I wanted to give it a separate blog entry.

I have had several readers of this blog talk hockey books with me and were looking for the book reviews I have done. It’s tough for people to find a Conn Smythe autobiography book review when it’s buried in a random Rangers vs Carolina game blog. For those who have asked, the best way to find my book reviews is by checking through the archives or googling “DOINOW <insert book title here.>” I know I’ve read/reviewed most of the major books, so those reviews can be found if you so desire. That said, “Thin Ice” was so great, that I want to give its own entry, even if it’s just for posterity’s sake.

This book motivated me to do this sad blog!

So why did “Thin Ice” motivate me to do this blog? For starters, it took my mind off the 2016-2017 season. While the review of this book is coming, it was also a reminder that as a Rangers fan, you’re not expected to win. The only difference between your wife and the Rangers is that the Rangers will always fuck you. It’s also a reminder that while the names change on the back of the jersey’s, many things remain the same, such as this team never winning. If every rule has an exception, than 1994 is the exception to the rule.

If you don’t know, “Thin Ice” is about the 1979-1980 season, the season after the Cup loss to Montreal. The Rangers, who many thought would go right back to the Cup, wound up being embarrassed by their newest rivals, the Broadstreet Bullies, the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s a tale as old as time – the Rangers bring you right up, then kick you in the cock, as you make you fast descent. However, we’re gluttons for punishment – we keep coming back for more.

For many of you, especially this new social media generation, you weren’t even alive in 1994. You’ve never seen the Rangers win the Cup. For people born in the Summer of 1940 and died before the Spring of 1994, they didn’t get to see a Cup in their 54 years either. For people like me, kids of the 80’s, I was only 12 when the Rangers won in 1994. I remember it, but not as well as I would’ve if the Rangers won the Cup today. For the Rangers, it’s been 90 years of mediocrity and epic fails.

I’ve recapped this all before, I’m aware of why the Rangers are the most futile team of the Original 6 teams:

  • Drafting rights: For a long time, teams had automatic claims on any player in a 100 mile radius. The Rangers were the most southern team in the league, from the hockey hotbed that is Canada.
  • World War II – NYR was crippled when many of their stars went off to fight in the War. While the other franchises had the same problems, the Rangers, being a “southern” team, weren’t as deep. It’s kind of like international play today. Look at the World Cup of Hockey for the most recent example. Team USA bombed with some of their players on Team NA. Canada was without the second best player in the world today, in McDavid, and didn’t miss a beat. The Rangers just didn’t have the depth.
  • Gordie Howe passing on NYR. Ok this one is a stretch, but bare with me!  Imagine if Howe played for the Rangers? NYR would most certainly have more than 4 Cups today. That said,  NYR wouldn’t retire his number either, just like how they ignore Frank Boucher!
  • Expansion drafts – The Rangers got crushed in the 1979 draft, even losing Nick Fotiu. The Rangers slept at the wheel and weren’t dealing. They left themselves more exposed than anyone during that period of time.
  • Mergers – each merger and new team allowed in the league just lessens the chances to win every year. If the WHA still existed, would the Oilers dominate the 80’s?
  • Glen Sather & James Dolan – a senile old fuck running around M$G like it’s his own personal nursing home and the man who doesn’t give a fuck, as long as the team makes money. I mean, I mentioned this a lot this year – the Rangers have raised season seats as high as 100% for next season. FOR WHAT? The Rangers can’t win a Cup & lost one of their most heart-breaking series ever, and the response is to raise ticket prices, for a franchise that already leads the league in most expensive ducats?

Some of you wonder why I’m so jaded and pessimistic – how are you supposed to be so rah-rah when you’re the most futile franchise of the last 90 years?

The Rangers would get a Howe, Gordie’s brother Vic, but it obviously wasn’t the better Howe.

While “Thin Ice” was a cold reminder that this franchise does a good job of coming up short, the sting of losing to the Senators does remain. Just as a refresher, here are my game-by-game blogs of the series:

NYR/OTT Round 2 Game 1 Review: Rangers Need a “My Shiney Hiney” To Pry Their Heads Out of Their Asses, Only Three Players Show Up, Dominating Lundqvist Effort Wasted, Glass > Pavel “Wide-Right” Buchnevich, No Intensity, Ottawa Fans Are A Bigger Joke Than This Game & More

 

NYR/OTT Round 2 Game 2 Review: NYR Lose in Horrid Fashion; Now in 0-2 Hole, Dave Maloney Rules, Lundqvist Finally Implodes & Reverts To Regular Season Self; Blows Multiple Two-Goal Leads As Pageau & Crew Put Up a Touchdown, Nightmares of NYR’s Past, AV Haters Go Wild, Round 1 Feels Like Ages Ago, Hockey Media & More From a Trainwreck at the Tire Fire Arena

 

NYR/OTT Round 2 Game 3 Review: The Rangers We All Know Show Up & Dominate a Helpless Ottawa Team, “Glass In, Buch Out, That’s the Way We Move the Puck!”, Alain Vigneault Criticisms, Zucc Comes Up Big, The New Bucci Challenge, Dancin’ Larry Verbally Attacked By a M$G Networks Employee, Sidney Crosby Injury Is the New Brassard/Z-Bad Trade Talk & More, As Ranger Fans Come Off the Ledge

 

NYR/OTT Round 2 Game 4 Review: The Rangers Win in “Frank Sinatra” Fashion; Impeach The Senators From M$G, Tanner “PAVEL WHO?” Glass Shines Once Again & Makes The Basement Boys Cry, John Amirante Returns, Another Dominating Ranger Performance, Easy Night For Lundqvist, AV Pushing The Right Buttons, NYR Chase Ottawa Stars Off The Ice, Sean Avery & Much More From A Huge Series Evening Win

 

NYR/OTT Round 2 Game 5 Report: Lundqvist Blows Another Two Goal Lead & Surrenders Another Late Goal Putting the Rangers on the Brink, Derek Stepan Snaps At the Diva King (But It’s Not Stepan’s First Time Calming Down a Goalie), PP Continues To Suck, Hockey Media Fails Again, Jesper “Vegas” Fast, A Gas Station 25 Cent Condom Proves to be More Reliable Than Lundqvist, Mia Khalifa, ESPN Jinx, Tanner Glass The Focus of the Senators & More From a “One Game Closer To Baseball Season”

 

NYR/OTT Round 2 Game 6 Review: “Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now”; Rangers & Lundqvist Choke to the Senators in 6 Games, The Finger Pointing & Blame Game Begins as The Book Closes on the Rangers Season, The Worst Series Loss of the AV & Lundqvist Era, PP Dooms Rangers, Anderson Doesn’t Blow a 2 Goal Lead Like Lundqvist & Much More From a Depressing Night in Rangerstown, USA

I share this tombstone with you one more time, because I can’t stress enough how much watching the Senators reminds me of this series.

By now, you’ve probably heard all the quotes from everyone. It’s the same old shit. “We got to be better.” “We’ll try to get it done next season.” “We came up short, but we’ll get another crack at it.” You know, the same old song you hear every Spring.

I will say out of all the quotes, while Stepan played like dog shit in the playoffs, I give him credit for taking accountability. He’s the anti-Lundqvist in that department. That said, Stepan isn’t paid to take accountability for playing like crap. He’s paid to be an elite first line center. However, he was arguably the worst center of the playoffs.

Another quote that stuck with me, was AV saying that he wished the Kreider, of the third period of Game 6, showed up in every other period of this series. Ain’t that the truth.

Report Card time.

Every season, I do the annual Year-End Report card. If you missed this year’s, here it is:

New York Rangers 2016-2017 Season Report Card: Grading Every Single New York Ranger & NYR Team Staff At The End of the Regular Season. Plus: NYR/MTL First Round Preview!

 

For the sake of continuity, here was my NYR/MTL Round 1 Series Report Card:

NYR/MTL Round 1 Report Card

 

Let’s take a quick look at the Rangers in this series.

Not going to go too deep here, but here are my grades for the Rangers in this series. Players are judged on skill, how they played, their role and their contract. For example a fourth line cheap cap hit like Tanner Glass, who played well, is going to be rated a lot better than an expensive Marc Staal, who didn’t play well, in my opinion.

A+: None

A: Jesper Fast & Brady Skjei (Is it a good thing or bad thing that your cheapest guys were your best players? In this case, bad.)

A-: Mats Zuccarello and Ryan McDonagh (These two weren’t as good as the first round, but they stood out among others.)

B+: Tanner Glass, Dan Girardi, Brendan Smith & Michael Grabner (One of these guys 100% won’t be here next year. All four could possibly be gone.)

B: Jimmy Vesey (Hopefully this is the first of many playoff appearances to come.)

B-: Oscar Lindberg and Mika Zibanejad (They were serviceable. In Lindberg’s case, he was on the best line of the series. Zibanejad needs to be better, according to AV.)

C+: Henrik Lundqvist (I hear the people whining already. Face it guys, he was average in this series, below average at some points.)

C: Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Kevin Hayes and JT Miller (All four players will be back next season. With the exception of Buchnevich, because he’s a rookie, 20, 10 and 13 were disappointments.)

D+: Derek Stepan – the worst hockey of his life was played in these playoffs.

D: Nick Holden – he scored some goals, but he was on the ice for most of the goals the other way.

F: Marc Staal – he didn’t score any goals, as usual, and was on the ice for most of the goals the other way.

INC: Antti Raanta & Kevin Klein – Raanta may have played his last game as a Ranger. If I’m Vegas, with his extremely cheap cap hit, I would take him. I think we’ve 100% seen the last of Klein in NY. He was a big part of the two serious runs this core made.

AV & Stepan have had better days, as this pic, courtesy of NYR, was taken during the ’14 Cup run. Now, AV could be laughing about Stepan’s salary.

I made it 100% clear throughout this season and in the playoffs – I WILL NEVER be on the “Fire AV” train. If the Rangers start missing the playoffs, year in, year out, like the beginning of this decade, then I would reconsider.

We’ve had four years of AV and the Rangers have been knocked out in each of the four rounds. The Rangers had their Cinderella run in 2014 & lost in the SCF. Of note, Lundqvist could not hold a two goal lead or win in OT. Sound familiar?

In 2015, the President Trophy winning Rangers lost a Game 7 in the ECF. Of note, Lundqvist gave up back to back touchdowns in that series, even giving up 6 when the team scored 5. Sound familiar?

In 2016, the Rangers were spanked by the Penguins in the first round. Of note, Lundqvist gave up 4+ goals on the regular. Sound familiar?

In 2017, the Rangers exited the second round, losing to the worst team of the AV era.  Where the Rangers have come up short or were just overmatched in the past, the Rangers showed the world in this series, that they could beat the Senators in every game, but gave up every lead and bent over as they took it straight up the asshole. In turn, the Rangers are asking the fans to bend over and take it up the ass with the severe ticket increase for next season.

As I said in the Game 6 blog, if anyone’s head deserves to be on the chopping block, it’s Scott Arniel. Now, will GM Jeff Gorton create dissension with his inherited coach, Alain Vigneault, by firing people on his staff? It’s a tough line to walk, but it’s walk that needs to be made. Arniel, the coach behind the PP, did a horrible job and simply has to go. The fact is that the Rangers PP was as successful as a Carmelo Anthony/Phil Jackson Valentine’s Day date. While the PP sucked time in and time out, the Rangers wouldn’t even shake it up. They kept sending out the same failures, doing the same thing and expected different results. I will never understand why Grabner never got a second of PP time. INSANITY!

Some of AV’s decisions will be questioned, with the major issue being the time allotted to the defensemen. That said, when you have a lead and that lead turns to two and the clock is winding down, the highest paid goalie in the world has to make save, especially when the cheaper goalie on the other end is doing it. No one is talking about Staal/Holden vs Skjei/Smith’s time on ice if Hank could make a pressure save.

Of course, everyone will be crucifying Staal & Holden, while ignoring that Hank always gives up goals within two minutes of the Rangers scoring one, blowing every two goal lead he’s given and having a poor OT record. Even worse, the goals allowed in the OT are usually the softest goals of the game.

Sometimes you can point a finger at the coach and it’s obvious. The bottom line is this – AV put this team in a position to win. How can you blame AV when Lundqvist is below average – average? How is it AV’s fault that Derek Stepan decides to play the worst hockey of his life? How is it AV’s fault that Rick Nash, while good, just doesn’t score goals like his peers making the same money? How is it AV’s fault that Sather doled out all these bad contracts? How is it AV’s fault that Kreider, Miller & Hayes disappeared for long periods of time in these playoffs?

Despite all the bad and misgivings in this series – AV should be behind the bench right now & watching his Rangers vs the Penguins. The team failed the fans more than AV ever did.

I will say this – at the beginning of the season, I know I wasn’t the only one, I was weary if the Rangers would even make the playoffs. AV guided the Rangers to the playoffs and to a key seed. If you went back to September of 2016 & told me NYR would make the second round, I would’ve said they over-achieved. However, now in May of 2017, I say the Rangers failed. Losing to Pittsburgh in the ECF would be a lot easier to accept than losing this series to the Senators.

This feels like 100 years ago.

By now, you’ve probably read 658544543444856754545695634556545 takes and articles that start with “WHAT THE RANGERS MUST DO THIS OFF-SEASON.” Listen, I’m just a fanatical diehard fan that likes to drink beer. I’m not going to suggest the Rangers MUST do anything. Plus, every time I make suggestions, they’re ignored anyway! What makes it hurt though, is it that usually my suggestions and predictions wind up becoming true. Just go back in the archives and check for yourself. I miss you Cam Talbot!

That said, here are my suggestions and what I would do as GM. I must stress, yet again, I”m not saying the Rangers “MUST” do these things. Those type of headlines from other writers always gives me gas and a rash.

  • Protect Fast & Raanta in the upcoming Vegas expansion draft. The first part is easy. Just expose Derek Stepan & protect Fast. If you really think Stepan has to be back next season, you don’t have to worry, Vegas isn’t looking to take a cap hit like that. The second part is harder. You gotta ask the Diva Queen to waive his NMC. Trust me, Vegas doesn’t want the highest paid goalie in the league & I think the NHL would advise Vegas not to touch him anyway. It’s not like the NHL is above rigging drafts, cough Crosby cough. For everyone that whines that “it’s a team game” after every game Lundqvist gives up 4+ goals, let’s see how much of a team game it is for Lundqvist now.  Face it – it’s debatable if the Rangers even make the playoffs without Raanta this season. Do you really want to rely on a shaky back-up next season when Lundqvist has his usual funk where he is the highest paid goalie in the league but would give up 10 goals to the “Little Rangers?”
  • Break up the core – I said this last season, it applies again here. The run for these Rangers are just like the teams that were close but couldn’t get it done of the 60’s and 70’s. Close but no cigar, no smoking in M$G. That said, I wouldn’t start eating contracts or buying out guys. With a tight as a prom night pussy salary cap, you can’t have dead money on the books. It still surprises me that the Rangers don’t talk to Arizona or Dallas. Arizona usually has to eat bad contracts to make the salary cap floor. I said this last year. What happened? Arizona ate Datsyuk’s Redwing contract. I said last year that the Rangers should explore trading Lundqvist to Dallas, providing the crybaby goalie would waive his NMC. Dallas has two mediocre high priced goalies. What happens? Dallas gives Bishop a ridiculous deal. It hurts to be right.
  • Talk & find destinations for Staal/Girardi/Stepan – To me, Staal should just retire. He’s never been the same after his injury. Girardi, akin to Lundqvist, has done so much for this team, but because he isn’t a good looking guy with a thousand dollar hair cut, he gets no respect from this fanbase. Stepan is an example of “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” How many bad Sather contracts are the Rangers going to allow on this team? Stepan’s NMC kicks in before the fireworks go off on July 4th, so the Rangers should be aggressive in trying to get that deal off the books. Bottom line – the run for this core is over. As I’ve always said, you will never win a Stanley Cup with the highest paid goalie in the league in the salary cap era.
  • Talk to Shattenkirk but don’t give him a Sather deal – if you can get Shattenkirk for $5M/4 years, I would do it. Any more money or years would be too Sathery. Again, learn from all the mistakes. How many long term defensemen deals, especially for guys closer to 30 years old than 20 years old, work out in this league?
  • Re-sign Brendan Smith – he’s a cheap hit and is probably the next Kevin Klein of this team.
  • Do whatever you can with Vegas to make sure they don’t take Grabner – give Vegas some draft picks, a handjob, whatever, just don’t let them take Grabner away from this team for free.
  • Fire Arniel. Explained already. Potential replacement – reaching out to Marty St. Louis, who lives in the area, wouldn’t be a bad idea…
  • Give Zuccarello the “A” on his sweater – this isn’t something that big, but Zucc has earned it and it’s time for this team to become his & allow the team to feed off his play.
  • Do whatever you can to bring Igor Shestyorkin to the Wolfpack – whatever it takes, a buyout to Saint Petersburg, whatever, it’s time to start getting this kid acclimated to America and develop him. The Lundqvist era will probably continue, but it will also continue to provide no Stanley Cups.
  • Test the waters on Ovechkin – I’m not saying this would happen, but if the Capitals were ever going to break ties with #8, this would be the off-season.  It’s tough to imagine these two rivals making a trade, especially of this proportion, but it couldn’t hurt to make a phone call. While Lundqvist, who has a similar salary to Ovi, would never be a want for the Caps, especially with Holtby there, both players could use a different environment. It’s pretty funny – Ovi and Crosby will always be linked together, but when it’s all said and done, Lundqvist and Ovi may have more in common. They are the two greatest players of their generation to not win the Cup.
  • Pay special attention to Buchnevich – I don’t know if #89 will go back to Russia for the Summer, but I think it’s important for him to stay in America, get more acclimated with the language & way of life and keep in contact with the Rangers medical staff. The medical care in Russia isn’t as good as the medical care here. A healthy Buchnevich could make a big difference for the Rangers in Year 2 of his career.
  • Try to arrange some sort of meeting or relationship with Messier and Ryan McDonagh – I know Messier still has his Oiler ties, but Messier has a soft spot for NY. McDonagh is a great defenseman, but does he have the personality to be a captain? Mark Messier is arguably the greatest captain ever in all of sports. Trying to name someone else is just trying to debate for the sake of a debate. I’m a diehard Yankees fan. What you see with the Yankees is the legends of the past try to groom potential legends of the future. I think McDonagh could really benefit from cultivating a relationship with Moose.
  • Suck it up on Rick Nash and pay him his money – he’s not producing goals, but who else is going to trade for him? Plus, he plays both ways. I know he’s paid to produce points, but he does do a lot of little things well. Maybe he will give a “hometown” discount the following season where he would be a bargain.

While I am of the thinking that Sather still pulls all the strings, in his first full year as Rangers GM, I thought Gorton did a great job last off-season. His moves paid off. Let’s see what magic he makes happen this time around.

RIP 2016-2017 season

As far as the 2016-2017 season goes, I think I’ve said my fair share over the course of these blogs. I’m sick of reliving and talking about it. It’s just another “WHAT IF” in a long list of “WHAT IF’S?” for the Rangers.

Let’s try to close this blog with some positive talk and move past the doom and gloom.

Call me biased, but the Rangers broadcasting crew is the best in the biz.

One thing that ticks me off, especially with the Rangers and Yankees (Giants don’t have homer announcers, since their games are national and I can’t remember what a Knicks playoff game looks like) is that once the playoffs start, the guys that you relied on all year are taken away. Sure, the MSG Networks carried the first round (It was also on the NBC networks too) and there was a postgame show for the second round games, but I did miss the MSG pregame show in the second round and the in-between period takes from the guys in studio.

I watch a lot of hockey. With gambling, fantasy, watching Oiler/western conference games and following non-Ranger players that I like (Jagr, Duclair, Ovechkin and that Talbot guy), the NHL package is worth the money. With that package, I get to experience different pregame shows and different ways to present a hockey game on TV.

Of course, I watch every Rangers game and the broadcast is more geared to me and my tastes. That said, I think the MSG Networks crew is the best in the league. I mean, just compare them to the national crew. You got Milbury on the panel. That’s an automatic disqualification. You got John Forslund as the lead man in some games and he’s just an audible ambien. You got the terrible Micheletti on both teams, so he cancels himself out.

I can’t exaggerate and say this is the best team in the history of the MSG Networks, because to me, that’s Rosen/JD. Yes, perhaps I’m a bit nostalgic in that department, but this was another good year for the MSG Networks crew.

Here’s my take and grades on the always exceptional, yet don’t get enough attention/praise, MSG Networks crew:

  • Kenny Albert: A+. Just like his father, Kenny does it all and calls every sport in every type of medium. I don’t know if Kenny would ever be the heir to Rosen because of his schedule, but Kenny is one of the best broadcasters in the game today. I don’t listen to much radio, but he is very descriptive in calling a game.
  • Anson Carter: B+. Really tough to give him a real grade here, because he left the live game studio panel to do the MSG Hockey Show. However, he’s always been solid with his takes. You can get more of him on the NBC Networks. I’ll take the AC Experience over that cockbag Milbury any day.
  • Ron Duguay: A+ – As I think about it, he might be my favorite color analyst today. He’s the Rangers version of Keith Hernandez. He’s never shy to express his opinion and that’s tough working under the same guy who fired the legendary Marv Albert for being too critical about the crappy Knicks. Duguay’s takes are usually on the money and he doesn’t oversell the praise, which means when he praises something, it really stands out. Duguay just hit ten years in this position, and I hope for twenty more, providing Duguay wants to do it. Shit, Duguay will turn 80 one day and when he does, he will still be able to pick up women after games, if he so desires!
  • Stan Fischler: A+. He doesn’t do Ranger games anymore and is used to make Shannon Hogan look good. That’s a tough job. I only bring his name up because it drives me nuts, that Fischler, the last link to the Rangers of old, is phased out by MSG Networks. He should be covering the big team, not the two little crappy teams in the area. I would love to see a daily segment with Fischler presenting something from Rangers history. The guy has interviewed all the legends of this team and it’s gonna be a sad day when Stan passes. The Rangers are blowing a huge opportunity by not letting the teams best historian teach this fanbase about this franchise.
  • John Giannone: A+. I’m a fan of JG’s work. He’s also the topic of two of my inside jokes with by neighbor/good friend Tommy C. (I talked about one of the inside jokes before, “John Giannone from the projects in Boonton!” The other inside joke, is that during a game this season, the announcers went to JG and he was messing with his tie. This led to Tommy and I making X-rated jokes, such as “John, how’s the ass in the Delta Club?” “Johnny, you dirty dog, get your clothes on and get us an update!” “John, what color is Margo Robbie’s panties?”  For the record, Tommy and I are 35 years old and this is what we talk about during games.) Inside jokes aside, I do think JG asks the good questions during the breaks. In the limited work he got calling the games, I thought he did a good job. One day Rosen will retire. While JG is no spring chicken (Sorry John if you’re reading this), I wouldn’t mind him getting the reigns for a bit. It’s like replacing Jeter, but hey, Didi ain’t bad either.

After reading “THIN ICE”, I wonder how Duguay & Maloney buried the hatchet.

  • Dave Maloney: A+. Maybe I’m very generous with my A+’s, but I meant what I said. The MSG Networks has a great crew. Maloney is on the radio usually and he’s great. Like Duguay, he’s not afraid to say it like it is. I love his passion too – he is genuinely rooting for the team in every game. In a perfect world, Maloney and Micheletti switch jobs. Sam and Maloney would be 100000x better than Sam and Joe.
  • Joe Micheletti: F-. What other grade did you expect? I don’t know if Joe has a stockpile of naked pictures of people’s wives or what, but I have no clue how he has a national TV job with NBC and this job with the Rangers. He’s terrible. There’s one thing to be a homer and root for the team, there’s another just to make up things as they go along. Joe has no credibility because every save is the best save he’s ever seen. He’s like Tony Schiavone from the WCW Nitro days, “it’s the greatest save in the history of this sport.” Joe’s credibility, like some of these guys, took a huge hit when he praised Papa John’s pizza. How can any NYer say Papa Johns’s is great pizza?! Then again, this is the same guy who turned down a shot to play with the Canadiens to dick around in the WHA.
  • Arda Ocal – A. One of the hosts of the MSG Hockey Show, if Arda wants to remain with the Rangers, I could see a future for him there. I’m a little biased for him, since he’s a wrestling guy too. I think he does a good job hosting and when he’s able to showcase his personality on TV, he comes off well. It’s tough now to give him a bigger role (or really a role) on the Ranger broadcasts, but the MSG Hockey Show should bide him time until a bigger break comes along the way. I’ll tell you what, I rather listen to him talk about the Islanders than watch Shannon Hogan say “WHO ARE YOU AGAIN?” to Anders Lee.

Oh and just for shits and kicks, here’s the clip again:

  • Bill Pidto: A+. Another guy who does his role well on the broadcast, I look forward to his “fastest 150 seconds in the NHL” clips. He’s also better leading the conversation with Vally & Duguay, to me, than Trautwig. Like Giannone, he ages well. I can’t believe the dude is 52. Then again, I guess everyone looks younger to me because at 35, I’m older than I thought I’d ever be too!
  • Will Reeve: C+. I would rate him lower, but I can’t tell if he’s a schtick/trying to be a heel or just that ignorant on the MSG Hockey Show. Trust me, sometimes I say things on Twitter just to rile people up and laugh when people sell & go nuts, but I can’t tell if Reeve does that or believes everything he says. The only problem is, if it’s an act, he doesn’t do a good job of presenting some of his cases.  I guess it’s tough to watch a kid, who to be fair, was dealt a tough hand in life, as no one should ever lose their parents that young, insult current and ex-players like he does on the MSG Hockey Show. I’m sure him and Carter are buddy-buddy in real life, but to the average Joe watching the MSG Hockey Show at home, Reeve comes off as another entitled millennial.
  • Sam Rosen: A. He doesn’t get the A+ because of his shilling for Papa John’s this year. A Hall of Famer should shut that shit down real quick. I know I’m the bad guy for saying this, but Sam’s work also took a small step down this year, but that’s also because the game moves a lot quicker than it ever did. I never heard Sam say “oh excuse me” or “correction” as much as he did this year.
  • Al Trautwig: B: I always take points away from Trautwig because he harassed the mother of some fan years ago. I did like the Vally/Trautwig straightman/fall guy act this year, but I can imagine that Trautwig’s sense of humor isn’t very high on the charts. If watching terrible basketball & disappointing playoff hockey is your thing, Trautwig has the best job in all of sports. I’m surprised he doesn’t have a Murphy Bed and a hotplate somewhere in the bowels of M$G. He seems to live at M$G and that’s not a bad thing.
  • Steve Valiquette: A+. I could be a dick and lower Vally’s grade for his tunnel vision on Lundqvist, but that’s part of his charm. Can’t blame a guy for defending his teammate. While I think there is too much crap & stock put into advanced statistics, Vally has always been ahead of the curve in that department. The guy is even teaching seminars on the subject. You know who else was like that? Billy Beane, who revolutionized baseball, but never won a WS. Also like that was Joe Girardi, one of the best baseball managers in the sport today. It’s a smart move to have the view of a goaltender on a broadcast because at the very least, it brings balance. It also helps with complementing Duguay. Vally also makes great points & predictions about the offense and the defense. To me, Vally is a member of an NHL coaching staff one day, if he wants it. If he wants to remain in TV, I really think NBC should give him a call. (Can we all agree NBC sucks? They don’t market the game right, as I’ve talked about before, bump playoff games for golf and just think – how do you not have a goalie on the panel?) Vally played the game, is up-to-date with all the current trends and provides great insights, even if he didn’t believe in Talbot like I did! For my money, there is no better 1-2 punch in an NHL broadcast than Vally/Duguay. Call me a homer, I don’t give a fuck!

While closing on the MSG Networks Crew, I just want to say thanks and congrats on another great season. Just the interviews (Duguay interviewing Domi sticks out this year), the Garden of Dreams stuff & their opinions really made this season enjoyable, despite the trainwreck finish the team provided. I also want to mention, I hope people tune in to the MSG Hockey Show, because we need more hockey programs to thrive in NY. I’m sick of the fucking Knicks dominating back pages.

I will not stop talking about Frank Boucher until his number is retired at M$G.

I have plugged my Frank Boucher blog endlessly. Why stop now? If you haven’t seen it, check out:

Don’t Let History Be Forgotten! Time for The Rangers to Finally Honor The Greatest Ranger Ever, Frank Boucher

 

I’m going to make it my mission to keep promoting Frank Boucher the way I get on Lundqvist & his contract. Jean Ratelle will have his moment at the Garden next season and that’s great & well deserved, but Ratelle couldn’t hold a candle to Frank Boucher. I am in contact with a member of Boucher’s family and I’m really pushing for them to hound the Rangers too. It just drives me insane how this team, deep with history, ignores the best moments of the franchise. No offense to “Dancin’ Larry”, because I like him, but I can see the Rangers honoring him before giving Boucher the respect he deserves! More on my quest to get Boucher’s number retired by the Rangers in future blogs this summer.

The Rangers are out so it’s this time of year again.

If you’re like me, once the Rangers are eliminated from the playoffs, my attention turns to the IIHF Worlds Championship Tournament. America doesn’t fare well in this tournament for several reasons. For starters, the Stanley Cup tournament is going on, so great American players aren’t doing the IIHF. Secondly, USA just isn’t as deep as Canada, Russia or even Sweden to an extent. I also think, and this is my opinion only, that American players don’t take this tournament as seriously as players from other countries. It’s not a patriotism thing, it’s just that these international tournaments mean more for Canadians and Russians than Americans. Maybe I’m wrong, just my opinion.

I hate the Conference Finals in the NHL this year. Fuck the Pens and Sens. The Ducks only beat the Oilers twice, with the refs beating the Oilers the other two games. So by default, I’m pulling for Nashville to win the SCF. However, I’m not strong about it and it makes me upset just watching it.

When I look across the globe, the IIHF interests me more. For starters, Team USA now has Kevin Hayes & Brady Skjei on it. I will be pulling for USA, although I can’t lie – I was pulling for Team Canada & Cam Talbot/Derrick Brassard last year. We all know Canada is gonna win this thing anyway.

What also interests me, from a rooting perspective, is that Lundqvist and Lindberg are playing for Sweden. For reasons that should shock no one, I will be hoping for Sweden to have their doors blown off! That said, keep in mind, outside of Canada and Russia, no team is deeper than Sweden and that includes the USA.

While I don’t expect Team USA to win the whole thing, I enjoy rooting for Team USA and will enjoy rooting against Team Sweden. Both bring me more joy than watching the Conference finals, especially after how the Oilers got screwed & how the Rangers shit the bed.

The only problem with these games is that they start at unfriendly times, due to the time difference. Still, the TSN app gives you free coverage of the games, so I usually watch or listen to them at work. I think the NHL Network carries them too, if you’re home and want to watch hockey at 6AM.

To close this section off, LGUSA!

The road trips were my favorite memories of this season.

As I approach the end of this 7000+ word blog (I may take time off in between blogs, but when I get going, you get your monies worth!) while I’m not happy with the finish of this season, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself. As I get older and jaded, I like using hockey to create life experiences. I just can’t take M$G anymore. I don’t like what it’s become. Between the LIRR jacking prices, M$G jacking prices, never ending bathroom lines and the cost of my quenching my thirst through alcoholic belting, going to M$G is turning into a mortgage payment. Nothing beats the experience of a live hockey game and while I save money to go to games, it’s at the point where I feel like my parents – it’s easier to stay home and watch it on the couch. That’s something the NHL should really take notice of. They took a great live experience and instead of catering to the masses, they are catering to the select elite few. Business may be great now, but I’m interested to see what happens long-term, when there is a young generation, RIGHT NOW, not growing up on the live game experience. It’s a shame, but this is the world we live in today.

For me, I rather save my money and skip some M$G games out of my hockey budget fund and use it to experience other arenas. Maybe it’s the wrestling in me (I traveled to different towns almost every weekend for 10 years), but I just enjoy seeing how other people live and experiencing their way of life. The last three years alone, I visited Edmonton, Calgary, Windsor, Toronto, Montreal, Detroit, Chicago, Boston and other cities for hockey. I gotta say – I love Canada in general. Just the drinking culture alone has me sold!

I’m looking forward to experiencing Vegas next season. A Montreal game is always on tap, just because we love the bar scene and friends we have met there. Shout out to the bartenders at CHARLIES! My crew is also eyeing Nashville and the California west coast trip. We still haven’t done the “easy” trips to Washington and Carolina yet, so that’s on the menu. One day I will catch up to @scottyhockey and hit every NHL town! To me, your money is better spent watching the Rangers on the road and making a mini-vacation out of it. Plus – the Rangers usually do better on the road anyway.

I can’t say I hate to sound like an asshole, but really when you start visiting other NHL arenas, M$G is really a letdown. Keep in mind, I’m also of the opinion that the Rock in Newark blows away M$G. If you can do it, save your money from M$G and experience the Rangers on the road. We are one of the best traveling fan bases in the NHL.

I’ll have to revisit Detroit & Edmonton again because the Joe & Rexall are no more.

I said it during my last blog, but thanks again to everyone who continues to read my venting, ranting and raving. Whether you agree, disagree, like me, hate me, whatever, the fact that you click the link to this blog, and see what I have to say is pretty cool. I have met some cool people off of here and have enjoyed beers with many of you. I always enjoy talking hockey and shooting the shit in general, whether we agree or disagree. I’m always down for a good debate!

This blog is part of a double blog (even though this is a double blog in itself) with my “Thin Ice” book review. Check that blog out too!

As far as moving ahead, I’ll drop in as the Rangers make moves, talk about the Vegas draft, talk about the IIHF tournament and talk about other shit before I hit my summer sabbatical. I plan on adding more book reviews, so if you got any suggestions, send them this way.

It was another tough season Ranger fans. One of these seasons, it will be our year again. I just hope my liver holds up to see it!

As always, thank you for reading another one of these long manifestos.

Also as always….

LET’S GO RANGERS

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter machine

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