Make sure you check out Joe's free agent preview for the Rangers on his True Blue Testimony and use all the links to the right to find out NHL news tomorrow and all the time. And keep on commenting! I love hearing everyone's opinions.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Tomorrow is going to be a crazy day with the free agent frenzy starting at Noon EST/ 9 am Pacific. I am thinking about just posting as these become known so i will have alot of posts going and will be 1 line posts so hopefully i don't fill the whole page. I will try to maybe do some kind of reflection or something on the whole day for the Rangers and Coyotes (if either of them sign anyone). It is going to be a very interesting and exciting day so make sure you stay tuned wherever you may be!!
With the youth movement set to continue in Phoenix and the arrival of Olli Jokinen in the desert, the Coyotes free agent plans are mostly to reach the cap floor, which is more than $10 million above their present salary total.
With the departure of Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton from the Jokinen trade, Don Maloney will most certainly be looking at defense on July 1st. When I spoke to him at rookie night, he said value defenseman are the guys he will be looking at and not the big names like Redden and Campbell. Obviously with guys like Turris, Boedker, Porter, and possibly Kolarik taking up offensive duties this year, defense is the issue. Value guys seem to be Jason Smith, Jeff Finger, Bryce Salvador, Ron Hainsey, Jim Vandermeer, Paul Mara, and Mike Commodore. Obviously Maloney's age cap on the team will probably have to be broken to make sure the defense is shored up but I don't think he minds doing that, considering this team will be the youngest in the NHL. Veteran leadership is always important, no matter what position the player plays in. Right now Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski, Derek Morris, and Steven Reinprecht are the veterans with almost everyone else youngsters. Jason Smith would be a great defenseman to add considering his leadership and style of play. The Coyotes need physical defensemen to patrol the back end since Ballard and Boynton, 2 of their most physical guys, are now gone. Jeff Finger and Jim Vandermeer are very physical defensemen who are also not afraid to drop the mitts. Ron Hainsey would be a good young offensive defenseman to add and would certainly not be as expensive as some of the higher tier defensemen.
At the forward position, the only real question mark is what will happen with Radim Vrbata. Maloney is still talking with his agent but Maloney has admitted Vrbata will test the free agent market. It would be nice to see Maloney bring this kid back. He had a good year but I don't think he liked how the season ended when he went into a huge slump. Him coming back will really give more scoring options for Gretzky to test. The other issue the Coyotes need to address is the penalty kill. Two Dallas players, Niklas Hagman and Anti Miettinen, would both be very good for the penalty kill which has definitely seen better days in the desert. Pascal Dupuis would be another option.
What will Phoenix do? I see 2 defensemen coming to Phoenix. The 2 guys I see are Ron Hainsey and Jason Smith. But if Smith goes elsewhere, don't count out Bryce Salvador. There will be 1 forward signing but not until after the 2 defensemen are signed considering the Coyotes are looking to stay in the lower end of the cap. Who that would be is a checking forward to help the penalty kill. Jay Pandolfo anyone? PLEASE COMMENT!
I will put up at least one more post today talking about what I plan to do tomorrow since it will be insane.
When it comes to free agency, all eyes turn to the New York Rangers who always try to make a splash. Last year they did by signing Chris Drury and Scott Gomez. What will happen this year?
Well here is what the Rangers SHOULD do in my book. Let Jagr go (everyone knows that). Depending on if Avery's price goes down, keep trying to sign him. If Rozsival wants more than $4 million then let him go. Re-sign Mara, bye bye Malik and it seems Straka and Shanny will both be gone.
But of course everything that happens tomorrow and beyond for the Rangers depends on Jagr so I have to look at both possibilities.
Lets say Jagr re-signs. The Rangers are definitely going to go after Mats Sundin. It has been talked about for the last week and has gotten some wheels. I am hoping the Sundin doesn't go to Montreal (who own his rights). I just don't see it happening since if he is so loyal to Leafs fans, why would he go to their arch-enemy? It doesn't make sense. Obviously the Rangers are sort of a rival in terms of the Original 6 but Montreal is numero uno on Toronto hate lists. But the Rangers will go after Sundin because that is what the Rangers do. And if he comes to NY, I would be happy as it would be exciting to see another big face on the team. But hopefully Sather doesn't do anything stupid and sign him longer than one year along with Jagr. If there is any room left in the coffers after signing those 2, the defense needs to be shored up a little. I would definitely shop Backman TODAY and try to get someone's negotiating rights or whatever you can get (hey a baseball team traded a guy for 10 baseball bats). Obviously spending big money on those 2 guys will limit the options for the Rangers but guys like Jeff Finger, Bryce Salvador, and Jason Smith will be cheaper options for the Rangers defensive depth.
Lets look at if Jagr doesn't come back. This will really open up options for the Rangers. If Jagr goes, Sundin may come but I don't think he will since the reason to bring him in is for Jagr. The Rangers will have to look to building around Gomez, Drury, and Lundqvist. At the forward position, there are alot of guys the Rangers could go for. Brian Rolston (please don't sign with the Mullet Bolts), Michael Ryder, Radim Vrbata, and Matt Cooke would be names to look at. I think Rolston would be absolutely perfect for Gomez and the rest of the team for that matter. It would give the Rangers a point shot that isn't found very often. Rolston can still skate and that shot of his hasn't lost any of its potency. If the Rangers want star power on the wing then they could go for Markus Naslund but I would steer clear of him. Although a line with Sundin centering Naslund wouldn't be a bad idea.
But the most important thing for the Rangers to do is shore up the defense. They could sign one or two of the guys I mentioned but defense needs to be addressed. They don't have to get Brian Campbell or Wade Redden but they need guys who are good defensive defensemen who are physical and will make it hard to get good chances. Jason Smith, Brooks Orpik, Jim Vandermeer, and Brad Stuart would be good options to looks at. I hope they re-sign Mara since he was the only physical guy outside of Tyutin's hip checks, which don't happen very often.
One other piece that needs to be addressed is the backup spot. Reports have been swirling that Valiquette may leave and go play behind Roberto Luongo in Vancouver. If he goes, Mikka Wiikman could definitely take over the back up spot. However, to help Henrik for a year and give Wiikman a full year with a starting role in Hartford, I would go after Curtis Joseph. A veteran presence behind Lundqvist could help him avoid the mid season slump that he seems to go through all the time. Also, Joseph is one of the better goalies of our time and he would be very inexpensive. The Rangers were going after him at the deadline until he went to Calgary. And they almost had him too.
However, what I want to happen and what will actually happen are 2 completely different things. My predictions for tomorrow (and beyond) are Jagr re-signs, Rangers nab Sundin, and they get Brooks Orpik. Will it be enough to get the team over the 2nd round hump or even into the playoffs? I don't know but you never know what will happen with the Rangers.
The Coyotes free agency preview will be up later. PLEASE COMMENT ON THESE! I WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN!!!
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I left the computer for half an hour and I missed a whole bunch.
The Wild have traded Brian Rolston's rights to Tampa Bay. John Michael Liles and Adam Foote both resigned with Colorado. The Kings have traded Lubomir Visnovsky to the Edmonton Oilers for Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. All of this is on TSN.
I am hoping that Brian Rolston does not sign with the Lightning. The Rangers really could use him to play with Gomez. Besides the Mullet Bolts need to figure out their sieve of a defense.
I am also disappointed that Foote resigned because he would have been perfect for the Coyotes to get, despite the age requirement that Maloney has put on the team.
The trade between the Oilers and the Kings is somewhat of a surprise and may be a sign that Pitkanen is on his way out of Oiler country. Lowe may be looking to get some draft picks back after signing Dustin Penner to a big offer sheet last summer.
Who knows what else is going to happen between now and July 1st. All of this is on TSN by the way. Hang on tight!
Ryan Malone has signed a 7 year $31 million contract with Tampa Bay according to Sportsnet (added the link to the side). This could end up jacking up the price of other players, even if they aren't at the same position. Tampa may be screwing themselves with Malone being the beneficiary of having Malkin or Crosby as his center while he was in Pittsburgh. But only time will answer that question.
There are new hockey boards that i have joined and you can join them too. They just started up but will be good if you all join. Make sure you check out the "Against the Boards" link on the side bar and register there. There will be good hockey conversation. I have also added RDS. Yes it is French but you can get the gist of what they are saying. Plus with July 1st just around the corner every source counts. I will do my Free Agency previews tomorrow, the last bit of speculation that I will throw out before the big day. Thanks for reading. Also thank you to everyone who reads or has read as this blog broke the century mark today for unique visitors! Keep on reading and I'll keep on writing. Also put up more comments. I want to hear what you think!
Well the Rangers are at odds with potential free agents Jaromir Jagr and Sean Avery. It has been reported that Sather has given Avery's agent permission to talk to other teams about Avery (Check NY Post link). If Sather truly wants to sign Avery, he has just done a move that will either make Avery leave or make him realize something. Hopefully, Avery will see that he is not worth the $4 million ANYWHERE in the NHL and that no one really wants to sign him. NYC is the perfect place for him to play and I think he knows that. I would like him back but not at the price he wants and I don't think he is going to blink either.
I don't want Jagr back (especially at the price he wants) and it seems that is coming closer and closer to happening. Jagr wants a 2-3 year deal while Sather only wants to offer 1 year (Check the Daily News link for more). Is it a possibility that the Omsk contract is looking better and better everyday, whatever it may be? It definitely is but Jagr's desire to play in the NHL will probably keep him out of there unless no NHL team wants anything to do with him which I am sure will not be true. Teams have talked to the Rangers at the past 2 deadlines about the availability of Jaromir so there will be interest from other teams. If Jagr comes back, he has to realize that he can't be the guy to be relied on anymore because he isn't what he used to be. If this was 10 years ago then he would be that kind of player but at 37 years old he isn't that guy anymore and he has to realize this. We will see what happens.
I will have a free agency preview for both the Coyotes and the Rangers up at some point before Tuesday. I haven't decided if I will do 1 team at a time or both in one posting but if I do them separately then one of them will be up today. Keep an eye out and thanks for visiting. Also there is a new poll on the side so place your choices!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Just got back from the Coyotes final practice and it was great. Standing behind the glass while these guys were taking shots was absolutely amazing. The concussion force from the puck hitting the glass and boards is very impressive and kind of reminded me how insane you have to be to play goalie.
When we got there Jared Staal, Brett MacLean, Josh Lunden, and Mathieu Brodeur were working with skating coach Mark Ciaccio. It seemed they were working on skating mechanics and turning on a dime. During the practice part, not much happened except Scott Darling absolutely robbed someone on the other side of the ice. See Evgeni Nabokov's glove save: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13FnJwlUCcg for a similar style.
The players then went off as the Zambonis came on to resurface the ice. We went over to sit down on the bleachers and were hanging out when we noticed Maloney down by the garage door to the rink on the phone. He would be on the phone for the next 45 minutes or so non-stop. I wonder who he could have been talking to?
The players came back out and began a Red vs White scrimmage. The goalies cycled through the 2 teams. The Red team had Turris, MacLean, Boedker, Ahnelov, Brodeur, Goncharov, Ferreiro, Uotila, Staal, Perry, and Long. They faced the White team who had Tikhonov, Porter, Kolarik, Summers, Hextall, Lunden, Sullivan, Ross, Reese, Billingsley, Brosnihan, and Frank. Only 2 goals were scored and they were both by the White team with the line of Tikhonov-Porter-and Kolarik on the ice. The first was Tikhonov's goal from Hextall and Reese. Reese threw it down to Hextall down low and he threw it across the crease to Tikhonov who banged it by Darling. The 2nd goal was Kolarik from Tikhonov and was an absolute thread of a pass from the Commie Bastard. The goals were scored within 20 seconds of each other.
The players walked off and handed sticks to kids and we decided to try and go around the back and hang out by the bus where the players would get on. It was awesome as these guys came out fully dressed in their hockey stuff and wearing flip flops. Can you say fashion statement? We told Gistedt that he looked just like Lundqvist out there and played the same way. He thanked us for that very lofty praise and then explained that he had the same goalie coach in Frolunda. I told him that I hope he can turn into Phoenix's Lundqvist. He just laughed and said thank you.
The best moment of the day and quite possibly my newest favorite player is Kyle Turris. We were standing outside and he came out when a little kid ran up and shook his hand asking for a stick. Turris laughed and said he was sorry but the sticks he was holding weren't his and that he had already given his sticks away. He then had a 5 minute conversation with the kid, who was probably about 7 or 8 years old about how Batman was the best comic book character there was. Turris then promised the kid he would give him a stick at training camp and the kid should remind him. He is the nicest player I have met since I met Roenick. He loves signing and hanging out with the kids that come to see him. Guys like him should be the face of the NHL and not Sidney Crosby who doesn't like to sign for people. Turris is number 1 in my book.
Last, but definitely not the least, was Tikhonov who I guess had acquired the name "Russian Idol" since he is raised in the US but from Russia. He was holding up the whole bus and came over and talked to us for a minute. He patted me on the shoulder when I said he was holding up the bus and he pounded my Dad's fist as he wished him luck. The bus rolled out and I threw up a "Number 1" sign with my index finger and all the guys on the bus threw it up as the bus left.
It was truly an extraordinary day and alot of fun. It is amazing how accessible these kids are and how they love talking to people. They love being with the little kids and are definitely a great group of guys. It is too bad there aren't more players like them.
In NHL news, the Tampa Bay Lightning have traded a 4th round draft pick to the Penguins for the exclusive negotiating rights for Gary Roberts and Ryan Malone. Melrose almost certainly wants Roberts for his veteran presence on what will be a young team and Malone will be a good power forward for Stamkos. Not a bad move on their part to try and get these guys.
I have added the link to my Flickr account on the right side so it will be easier for everyone to get to my pictures. We took tons of pictures today so I will put them up when they are edited. Check out Blueshirt Bulletin for a translation of Jagr's press conference from yesterday. Some very interesting stuff in there and all the other links on the side. Stay tuned everyone. July 1st is fast approaching (not fast enough though) and who knows what twists and turns will happen.
I will be leaving for Coyotes practice soon but I thought I should put this up first.
Larry Brooks of the NY Post is saying that Jagr's return to Broadway is unlikely at this point (see the NY Post link on the side). The main reason being Jagr wants a multi year deal while Sather only wants to commit to a one year deal.
This is dragging out way too much and Sather needs to call Jagr and tell him that he's not coming back under his terms. The Rangers are moving on. The Czech era had some good points but now the Rangers are stretching it out. It is time to let Jagr go and play somewhere else whether it is in Omsk or for another NHL team. If he leaves, the Rangers will be allowed to play a much more open and quicker style which will be much more suited to the new NHL. Spend the money the Rangers would on Jagr and put it into speedy wingers like Rolston (he may be old but he can still play) and defenseman like Orpik, coupled with Dubinsky, Korpikoski, Prucha, Callahan, Gomez, Drury, and Sjostrom, this team has the potential to be very fast. It will be a bit weird not seeing #68 on the ice but it is time to move on.
I will have more when I come back from Coyotes practice.
I am going to the last day of Rookie camp and will definitely enjoy the last day. I won't make as large of a post as I did about Friday's practice but I will certainly be paying attention once again. Also, this weekend look for my Free Agency previews for both the Rangers and the Coyotes. I will make some predictions about who each will sign and hopefully be right on some of them since July 1st is only a few days away. I will also try and post pictures from the two practices at some point whenever they are done being edited and touched up. It is the last hurrah tomorrow for the Rookies. It will be nice to see them one last time before they all return home for the rest of the offseason. Who knows, some of those boys may be on the Coyotes next season...
I will also change the poll when I can think of a good question for everyone to answer. The majority of you picked Sean Avery and I think, especially after this past week, it is safe to say that he will not be on Broadway next year. It is unfortunate and I will miss seeing Avery go at it with Brodeur but it is apart of hockey. Keep checking all the links and especially the BLOGS on the side for opinions and other great things. Until tomorrow...Good Night.
Friday, June 27, 2008
There is now a counter at the bottom of this page which will count whenever a new person visits here. It won't count every time you visit, just the first time. I am trying to get an idea on how many people are visiting here and reading my stuff.
And don't forget, feel free to leave comments on my posts. They can be good, bad, criticizing, praising, harassing, or whatever you fancy. Any comment is a good comment.
This morning was Coyotes Prospect Camp so lets get right to it.
Josh Tordjman- Tordjman looked very good this morning and is showing that he is growing into a top AHL goaltender and possibly a future backup to Bryz on the big club. His only weakness was his stickhandling but that is not the most important thing for him to be learning right now. He is very quick to drop in the butterfly and is able to recover from that position very quickly. He can get back into position and hugs the post very well. He also has a very quick glove hand. Definitely the best out there but it is to be expected
Scott Darling- This kid is just as big as Steve Valiquette can cover the bottom of the crease very well. He is not very fast side to side but doesn't have to be considering his long legs cover alot of ground already. His height also allows him to cover a high portion of the top of the net even when he is down in the butterfly. The kid needs to work on his overall quickness and agility if he is going to make the next level. He is a big kid who when he comes out of the net and challenges is a very tough kid to beat.
Joel Gistedt- This young Swede looked exactly like a goalie that many of us know. He stays low to the ice and has great side to side speed. He can get back into position very quickly and can stay in that position when the play is going quick. He has good vision and covers the bottom of the ice very well, keeping low and using his speed to his advantage. He has a little trouble on the blocker side high but that will improve as time goes on. It may only be the color of his TPS pads or the helmet with the Frolunda Indian on it but this kid looks just like Henrik Lundqvist out there.
Players: For the skaters, I tried to take individual notes but there guys are all way too quick to follow. The first few that I did nail down were that Tikhonov is a very strong skater and is tough to knock off the puck. His wrist shot has a quick release. Mikkel Boedker has unbelievably quick feet and can turn on a dime. He was definitely one of the best skaters out there.
Lines that i noticed
As expected, that first line was unbelievably skilled and had alot of speed. Turris and Boedker seem to have become best of friends as they were smacking each other with their sticks and laughing. But the three guys had great chemistry and really made it tough for the defensive pairings they were going up against to defend. The 2nd line was also very good. Porter and Kolarik made some great plays together considering they have played at Michigan together for awhile and in San Antonio in the AHL. They always knew where each other were. Tikhonov fit right in as the big guy who skated to the net and wasn't afraid of the the contact. His speed gave Porter an option on the other side and his wrist shot was very good. The 3rd line seemed to have some trouble getting it together for alot of the day. Staal has alot of talent but he needs to get a bit more motivated and will need to develop but he will turn into a very good player. Adam Perry is also very good and has a good shot. The 4th line was out there and the 3 guys looked very comfortable together. Summers looked great at the forward position despite the fact he mostly plays defense. He is very skilled and a good playmaker for the other 2 guys on his line.
Other things that caught my eye. Pat Brosnihan has an absolute rocket of a shot with his wrist shot unbelievable quick and hard. He took a high shot that almost took Darling's head off. Brett MacLean made a very nice back hand as he put his body between the puck and the defenseman going after him and absolutely roofed it with the flick of a wrist. Mikkel Boedker showed off by bouncing the puck on his stick, then kicking it with the back of his skate and back to his stick.
All of these guys are very talented and the future for the Coyotes looks great. Guys like Staal, Reese, Turris, and others are all great with the kids and have great personalities. This team has a very bright future.
In Ranger news, there is a report that Jaromir Jagr has received a very big offer from Omsk in Russia. The numbers are supposedly 3 years $35 million. Whether Jagr will accept this is unknown but it is definitely Glen Sather's move now. Hopefully he doesn't try to match that number as the base salary of Jagr's contract if he tries to resign Jags.
In other news, Todd Bertuzzi is being bought out by the Ducks and will become a free agent on July 1st. Jeff Carter has resigned with the Flyers with a 3 year $15 million deal. Check out Bryan's blog for his take on the new cap numbers and how it will affect the Islanders. Joe is also posting for a new blog. See his page for the link at the top right hand and he will also be working on his. Check out Z4defence's blog later today for a recap of her interview with Don Maloney which she conducted today at the Coyotes practice. Before she left, she said that she got some very exciting stuff out of him so definitely look for that and keep checking all the links at the side for NHL news, opinions, and history. I will put up pictures of today and tomorrow's practice together when they are edited and fixed. Keep checking back for more!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Overall it was a quiet day in the NHL with little tidbits but nothing else. It seems teams are beginning to sort things out and are preparing for what will surely be an insane Tuesday July 1st. Tomorrow morning I will be waking up early again and heading up to Peoria to watch the Coyotes Rookie skate where I will be taking notes and paying close attention to all the guys. Maloney will be there again supposedly so maybe it will give me a chance to prod him a little more and see if I can get a tiny bit more out of him than he has given us and maybe throw some of my own ideas in....not that he is going to have a second thought about them. I will report back with the notes tomorrow and my observations of who played with who and who has a shot of making the team this year. Check the side links for news and opinions until I get back. I should be back by 11:30 my time (2:30 pm EST) and will post then. Until then, have a good night. Hope you all liked the photos! We will be taking more tomorrow.
I hope everyone enjoyed the Rookie night recap and all the pictures that I have put up.
But NHL news comes in as restricted free agents are receiving qualifying offers from their respective teams. Scott Niedermeyer has told the Ducks he will be returning for another year so they will be looking to shed some salary to fit him in. This could make it hard for them to re-sign Corey Perry. In other news, Newsday is reporting that Jay Bouwmeester wants to get out of Florida. The Rangers could use a defenseman like Jay but it will cost an extreme amount in young players and draft picks which is something that the Rangers will not part with easily. But he is definitely someone that they should look into. Maybe they could pull something similar to what the Coyotes did with Jokinen.
Another big bit is that the NHL has announced to cap number for next year. The cap will increase to $56.7 million (up from $50.3) with the cap floor bumping up to $40.7 million. While the Rangers will surely take advantage of every cent of cap space, the Coyotes are more than $10 million under the cap floor, making them prime candidates to be looking into the free agency market, preferably in the defensive department. See TSN for the information.
As I mentioned earlier about Straka, it seems his agent has denied the reports that he has signed but a contract was given to Martin. See TSN again for details.
The Rangers website has videos of their development camp with interviews, scrimmages, and drills among the videos. Other than that, keep checking those links at the side for all facets of hockey information. And check out the Rookie Night PHOTOS!
Well here is my recap of last night which everyone has eagerly been waiting for:
Earlier in the day, we had made a stop at Play It Again Sports and I got a goalie stick. We went back home and I took off all the tape and sanded the bad boy down and went out to lunch and then to Home Depot (I felt like I was taking a tour of all the places I had applied for a job) where we bought a can of spray paint that would come out Coyote Red. After hanging out in the pool, spraying the stick and listening to Howard Stern and the rest of Sirius radio, it was time to get ready to go. I grabbed the stick, 2 silver sharpies, my Ratelle jersey and we were off.
We got there at around 5pm to make sure that we had plenty of time in getting in line to get in. Of course as the line filled up I was getting weird looks from people because of my #19 Ratelle jersey and my dad's #26 Taylor jersey (Yes as in Tim Taylor). Wearing a hockey jersey in 110+ degree weather takes dedication and we certainly did it even though most people on line, from Phoenix, couldn't take the heat.
Once we got inside, the VIP kicked in as a short lady came up to us and began talking to us about ticket plans. The one thing she said to me that really made me happy was that the Coyotes were leading the entire NHL in new season ticket holders. I am very happy to hear people are starting to take an interest in this team in Phoenix. Well one thing lead to another and eventually my Dad and I were standing at 2 seats off to the left of the visiting net. They were great seats and my Dad gets to pick whichever 20 games he wants to go to this season. $300 later (with 5 more monthly payments of $300) my Dad had bought a 20 pack of tickets. Good way to start the night right?
We saw that the players had come out but the line was going past the opposite blueline so we decided to chill. We grabbed 2 free hot dogs each and ate those while a 4 year old kid in Coyotes stuff came over and booed us for wearing Ranger jerseys. We laughed and talked with the parents. The kid definitely would have a future in Section 420 with some help.
Afterwards we went down into the locker room area which absolutely smelled like hockey. We checked out the weight room and the chart where it lists the weights of all the guys before and after workouts. I will post a picture of that whenever it is ready. Coyotes have a very nice locker room by the way.
When we got out of there we were about to get on line since it was slimming down until out of the corner of my eye I saw the guy I had been looking for the whole time: Donny M. We went over to him and spent about 5 minutes talking to him about the draft, trades, and what he is going to do about the defense, saying that he wasn't going to look at the big names on the free agent market but value guys that could play good defense. He wouldn't spill names but to talk to him nonetheless was an absolute blast. Took a picture with him and then we decided to get on line.
As we were standing there, my Dad decided he wanted to take pictures from his seat and told me to hold my stick up when he was taking them. Of course he is sitting up there taking pictures and I am doing my best Henrik Lundqvist impression after a Ranger win with everyone around me just looking at me like I am crazy. I was half expecting a security guard coming over and tackling me thinking I was giving some kind of signal to a terrorist but it didn't happen.
My Dad came back down and we spent about 45 minutes snaking through the line, talking with people around us and texting SlapShot quotes back and forth to his buddy who couldn't come with us ("Old Time Hockey? Eddie Shore?"). We were lucky we got on line when we did because they cut the line off about 10 or 15 people behind us.
When we got to the front, some arena services guy was handing out pre-made Coyotes paper to have signed. Of course I didn't need that. It started with Mueller with his new mohawk like hair due. We told him we were happy with his rookie season and couldn't wait to see him to break Gretzky's goal record next year. I just told him to slide the stick down the table and he passed it to Joel Gistedt, the new goalie from Sweden, and they kept on passing. I talked to Benn Ferreiro about his national championship and he said Porter, Kolarik, and Summers were all a bit jealous of him. He was a cool guy. Next to him was big Jared Staal who laughed when he saw my Ranger jersey. He said he wasn't expecting to see one here and I told him to just end up as good, if not better, than his brothers. He was a cool kid and very down to earth.
I don't have the order in front of me but I think Tikhonov was next and he signed my stick. I wanted to tell him it was great to finally have a commie bastard on the team but I don't think he would have gotten the joke. I said I was happy to have him and hope he made the team. Down the line we kept on going until we got to Matheiu Brodeur, the 3rd round pick for Phoenix and he stopped to take a picture. I jokingly asked if he was related to Marty Brodeur and he laughed saying no. He was a good guy and is a big boy. Adam Perry was next, yes the brother of Anaheim's Corey Perry. He looks just like his brother and I wanted to ask him if he was going to sign with Phoenix but I forgot to. He passed it along until we got down to Mikkel Boedker who was sitting next to Turris. Apparently I was holding up the whole line because my stick was slow making it down. Turris laughed and nudged Boedker saying some Ranger fans had made it. I laughed and said we were New York Ranger fans but it didn't make a difference. Turris mentioned that he remembered a kid last year wearing a Ranger jersey and I explained it was me. To thin the kid is the same age as me. Last but definitely not least was Brett Hextall. He is the son of Ron and the great grandson of Bryan Hextall Sr who scored the Cup clinching goal for the Rangers in 1940. I told him I would love to have him on the team as long as he was as crazy as his Dad. He laughed and said that he would do his best. I snapped a picture with him, said good luck to Boedker, Turris, and Hextall.
After that we went back over to Maloney one more time to say good bye and thank him for coming. We were about to leave when one of the Coyotes guys (I think it was Doug Moss) asked if Maloney had played with Ratelle and he laughed and answered with "Maybe his ghost". We walked away and then I ran back to him one more time laughing saying I was sorry I was bothering him. I asked him to sign my stick. He happily did. I shook his hand and said that every Ranger fan missed him and was afraid of July 1st. He said he missed us too and said we shouldn't worry because Sather was a good guy and had everything in control. I don't if it was just me but I thought I heard some sarcasm in his voice.
We walked over to one of the video boards that is along the rink, took a picture and went to walk out. Boedker was walking into the locker room and I yelled "Lets Go Rangers" at him when he replied "Lets Go Coyotes". I guess he wants to leave Kitchener behind and make this team. We stopped to take a few more pictures inside, took a few pictures of the stick outside and left Jobing.com Arena at 9:15. Hockey goalie stick: $21.99. Red Spray Paint: $5.99. 4 slices of Ray's Pizza and 2 drinks $11.39. A payment on a 20 pack of season tickets $300. 29 silver signatures on a beautiful red goalie stick, priceless. Oh and one less silver sharpie.
So that is the story of the day that was. It was alot of fun and definitely the highlight of this AZ trip so far.
On the Ranger front, Marty Straka has decided he will not return to the NHL and will play in his home town of Plsen and will also be a team manger. Straka was a great guy to watch and brought his full effort every night. He was a big time Ranger killer before he came to NY but I will miss him all the same. Here's to Marty.
The Coyotes issued qualifying offers yesterday with Daniel Carcillo among the names. Good thing to see him offered and wanted back, not that he was going anywhere.
Keep checking all the links at the side for NHL news and opinions. Like I mentioned in the previous post, I will post pictures as soon as they have been edited and cleaned up a bit which will hopefully be today and will put a post mentioning when they are up. I will also put them on Facebook for Facebook friends. As always, keep checking back as I will post throughout the day as big news breaks out. Thanks for reading as always.
For everyone looking for my recap of last night's rookie night I will do it in the morning when I wake up as I am absolutely wiped out from it. All I can say it was an absolute blast. Pictures will be put up once the master photographer is finished editing and cleaning them up. See you tomorrow.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The Coyotes acquired tough guy Brian McGrattan from Ottawa today for a 2009 5th round pick. Coach Wayne Gretzky had expressed that the team was tough but needed a little more if it was to survive in the tough Pacific Division and the Western Conference as a whole. Certainly, McGrattan will be used to help protect Kyle Turris and the other young guys that will be on the team. This also allows for Dan Carcillo to focus more on his offensive abilities rather than be the enforcer of the team. Craig Weller also ups the tough guy quotient considering he took out a whole NHL line in less than 10 seconds (Go on Youtube and search his name if you are interested).
Also today is rookie night and I will be leaving in about an hour to go meet my boys as a VIP. I went out and bought a cheap goaltender stick, sanded it down and spray painted it Coyote red. I have a silver marker that the boys will hopefully use to sign this big stick. I am so excited for this it is unbelievable and for you night birds I will make a detailed post about it when I get back. Pictures will also be taken and I will find a way to post them on here so you guys can check out some of the action. Of course I will be wearing a Rangers jersey (Jean Ratelle #19). Mikkel Boedker played for the Rangers as did Donny Maloney and Wayne so I won't be as out of place as some would think (although Darren Pang got killed the first time he played at MSG). So until I get back tonight, keep checking links at the side for hockey news as qualifying offers are being made to restricted free agents all around the NHL.
Hockey's Future has released the Coyotes Draft Review written by Jeff Dahlia and can be found through this link.
I will be out of the house in the early morning tomorrow and tomorrow night because of the Coyotes Open House but I will write something up before I leave for Glendale and I will write something when I come back which will be up in the morning. Pictures will be taken and I will let you know what the VIP status that I have gives me. Thanks for reading all my posts today. Check out True Blue Testimony, Coyotes Hip Check, and The Lighthouse for Rangers, Coyotes, and Islanders news while I am gone at any point tomorrow along with all the other links that are listed there for NHL news and opinions. Now I am heading into the pool for a night swim. Until tomorrow everyone...good night.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I told you that I would be keeping up and I hope you are too! Here is a recap from Don Maloney's appearance on NHL Live today. Thanks to Buddhaful of HFBoards for the report.
Maloney seems to be loving things here in Phoenix and Coyote fans are loving him right back.
More NHL news has popped up in the last few minutes as it has been reported that the Leafs have bought out the contract of Darcy Tucker, making him a free agent when July 1st rolls around. Hopefully Sather doesn't sign him to replace Avery, if Avery does in fact sign with another team.
I have added links to the sidebar from Hockey's Future, the boards there, and for Coyotes Hip Check which is a site dedicated to the Coyotes maintained by Z4Defense from HFBoards. I will be putting her report on this morning's practice up as soon as she sends it to me. Also, I have a new little banner at the top of the page thanks to Bryan Larson who took the time to make it for me. Make sure you check out his blog on the Islanders where he is talking about an edgy Newsday article and True Blue Testimony has a draft review. Check those out for more information about the Coyotes, Islanders, and Rangers and keep checking back here for new posts!
As I keep reading more hockey news, it seems that Mats Sundin wants to come to NY and play for the Rangers. If this is true, it would be nice if he took a bit of a discount so the Rangers aren't completely handcuffed financially for a year.
When I started writing this blog I said I would put what ever I wanted on it so here is something that is off the path a bit. George Carlin died a few days ago at the age of 71 of heart failure. He is arguably my favorite comedian of all time and is a true pioneer of the profession. I remember seeing him live when I was in middle school in Peekskill, NY. I have a poster at home that has over 2,000 dirty and ridiculous words compiled by the man. I have read all three of his books and every time I hear him, I laugh until my stomach hurts. Unfortunately I will get to hear no more new material of one of, if not the, funniest man to have ever made people laugh. And in the ultimate wisdom of the man himself "Tonight's forecast...dark". Here's to you George. Thanks for making me laugh and teaching me never to be afraid to voice my opinion. You will be missed.
More will be on later as reports from the Coyotes first practice come in and any other news that comes in.
Well i guess I was wrong about there being no Coyotes news. Rick Tocchet is leaving the Coyotes to be an assistant coach with Wes Walz along with new head coach Barry Melrose in Tampa Bay. Tocchet is a good coach but a change of scenery for him out of Phoenix will help. His whole operation Slapshot really put a dent in him and staying with Gretzky will only perpetuate that. I wish him luck. There are links on ESPN and Arizona Central which I will add to the links list. Told you something is always happening! Keep checking back!
Unfortunately I will not be going to the Coyotes Prospect Practice this morning but I will be there on Friday and Saturday mornings so I will report about the players then. But there is still plenty to talk about in the world of hockey. Reports came out yesterday that the Maple Leafs had given the New York Rangers permission to speak with center Mats Sundin before it was given to Les Habitants. That has changed now as Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher has given exclusive negotiating rights to the Canadiens until July 1st. Larry Brooks is reporting that Glen Sather "is interested in signing both Jaromir Jagr and Mats Sundin, claiming New York is Sundin's desired destination and the Rangers have been in talks with his agent..." (Thanks to Spector's and Larry Brooks).
Haven't the Rangers already tried this? Wasn't there this whole period where the Rangers downright sucked because they were trying to make all star teams? I will admit it is a bit different than that time. The Rangers have plenty of young kids that have come out of their farm system and more are coming. Also, the Blueshirts have a competent goaltender that is better than Mike Dunham and Jason Muzzati.
But in a salary cap era, it is very tough to sign to old stars like Jagr and Sundin who are both looking for big contracts in the cash department. If I was Sather, I would be giving these two incentive contracts. Give them each a base salary of $4.5 million or so and then put in incentives. I drool about these two on the same team maybe about 10 years ago but having them now wouldn't be so bad. Sundin is still an elite player and he has been on the Maple Laughs for most of his career. He had 78 points last year (32 goals, 46 assists) in 74 games so he is still above a point per game. He is a very good faceoff man and his wrist shot is still something to be feared. He is a leader and always plays hard every game.
However, it all comes down to price. If Sather could get him to knock his price down or make it an incentives contract for the 37 year old (he will turn 38 in February) then maybe I would be able to swallow the cap hit him and Jagr will take up. Not to mention the fact the Rangers are also going after Brooks Orpik, Brian Campbell, and Wade Redden. If Sather is going to somehow bring back Jagr, sign Sundin, and one of those defensemen to fit under the salary cap, then the man truly can work miracles.
In other Ranger news, Development camp started for them yesterday. Check out the Rangers website for videos of Bobby Sanguinetti and Michael Del Zotto. Blueshirt Bulletin was at the camp yesterday and has pictures, some quick reports, and will be putting up more about the Camp today. Not much to report on the Coyotes as they gear up for their Rookie Camp which starts today. Like I said before, I will be there on Friday and Saturday instead of today. I will also be there tomorrow night for the Open House where I have VIP status, whatever that is. News around the league includes Barry Melrose will be the new head coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Check out NHL.com and from there you can get to the Lightning's website. Keep checking back for new posts throughout the day as I keep an eye out on the hockey wires throughout the day. Thanks for reading!
Monday, June 23, 2008
This past weekend was the NHL Draft as teams crowded into Scotiabank Place for 2 days of selecting the newest members of their organization and hopefully stars in the making.
The Rangers entered the draft looking for defense. Rumors were abound that the Rangers were possibly looking to trade up to try and snag one of the big 4 on defense (Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Alex Pietrangelo, and Luke Schenn). Of course, to even get a sniff at these guys, the Rangers would have had to give up assets that they weren't willing to part with. So they stayed put at #20 and waited. They have had some luck in the draft as kids have fallen to them or close enough that they could trade up to get them, namely Cherepanov, Sanguinetti, and Marc Staal. So they sat at #20 and waited to see what would happen. I was hoping that, seeing the players available, they would trade up to get consecutive picks and get two players that intrigued me (Mattias Tedenby and John Carlson). However they picked Michael Del Zotto, an offensive defenseman who had been rated among the big defensemen at the beginning of this past season. The fact that his point total only increased by 6 points (from 57 points to 63) is what dropped him as other players improved more than he did. But 63 points in the Ontario Hockey League for a defenseman is nothing to shake a stick at. In fact, this kid outscored all of the big 4 defensemen this year. His defense has been knocked a bit but that is something that can be fixed especially has his hockey sense and body develop further. Overall, a very good pick. The Rangers could have really used a player anywhere except for goaltending and they got a very good one in Del Zotto.
The other pick of note that should be mentioned was in the 3rd round. The Rangers wanted to get a Russian that would go along with Alexei Cherepanov and Artem Anisimov. Ideally, this would have been Nikita Filatov who played on the same line as these two in many international tournaments. He was another target that the Rangers might have been trying to trade up for. But since this didn't happen, Kirill Petrov was another Russian that they were targeting, despite the fact he had a contract in Russia which is now much harder to get out of due to the lack of a Transfer Agreement. But the foes on Long Island took him a few picks before the Rangers. But another good Russian kid, Evgeny Grachev, fell to the Rangers. He is a very big kid, listed at 6'3 and 211 pounds, about the size of the Coyotes Martin Hanzal. He is a center that has alot of skill and once he is skating, he is an absolute bull. Putting him down the middle would greatly increase the size for the Rangers in the position and would create one heck of a line. A good draft for the Rangers although I would have liked to have seen them acquire more picks whether from the deadline or trading rights at the draft.
As for free agency, the Rangers are full of question marks. Larry Brooks of the NY Post reported a few days ago that GM Glen Sather was not going to negotiate with any of the Rangers' free agents until July 1st. Reports are all over the place that Sean Avery has played his last game as a New York Ranger. He has asked for alot more money than the Rangers are willing to offer. I am hoping that he will see that he really isn't worth as much as he thinks and will re-sign with the Rangers because he is a perfect fit in New York City. Rumors are abound that the Rangers have been granted permission to speak to Brian Campbell, one of the more highly sought defensemen on the free agent market this summer.
Sather needs to be realistic here. Shanny, Straka, and Jagr all need to go. It doesn't matter what kind of offense they provide and how much of a majority it makes up, they all need to go. Jagr's age is finally catching up to him and despite his performance in the playoffs, it was a last ditch effort for another shot at the Stanley Cup that he will not be able to replicate again. This team signed Chris Drury and Scott Gomez last summer to show they are going in a new direction and are looking for a more north south game with more speed. Letting these three veterans go will be the first step in achieving this. It was great having all three but the organization needs to move on.
So how will they replace the offense? Let us take a look at who is available. There are some gems in this free agent market that can pick up the scoring and will be more suited to guys like Gomez and Dubinsky. For some veteran leadership, Brian Rolston would be a good pickup. He still has a great shot coming off the wing which would give the Rangers a point man on the powerplay. Plus, he can still skate and would be perfect for a guy like Gomez. Of course I would have loved to have gotten Jeremy Roenick, despite the fact no one thinks he can play anymore (see Calgary series winner). Michael Ryder is another guy who could play on Gomez' wing. He seems to be on his way out in Montreal, almost signed, sealed, and delivered since they acquired Alex Tanguay at the draft. Another winger to look at is Radim Vrbata. Petr Prucha must be given a chance to show his offensive skills again but it will be his last chance and he will be looking to impress this coming year. All I ask is no Hossa (either of them) and no Mats Sundin.
On defense, there are questions as well. Rozsival, Mara, and Malik are all free agents. Despite the fact that every Ranger fan hates Malik, there is no doubt that the Rangers' defensive depth is taking a serious blow. Rozsival is being rumored to be asking for alot of money, more than he is surely worth. He is coming off of hip surgery and a season where he dropped off a bit offensively and defensively. Paul Mara is a guy I would definitely try to keep since the Blueshirts' defense is anything but physical outside of the occasional Tyutin hip check. With Marc Staal, Tyutin, and Dan Girardi all definite to return to the team, the Rangers will have to look at free agency for help. Brooks Orpik should be a target for the Rangers considering his physicality. As I said before, the Rangers are talking to Campbell but Wade Redden will also be in their sights. This wouldn't be the New York Rangers if they didn't go after the big name free agents. Other defensemen available are John Michael Liles, Brad Stuart, Mike Commodore, and Ron Hainsey.
On the other side, the Phoenix Coyotes made 3 huge splashes in the first round. Let's start right at the top. What could be classified as one of the biggest trade acquisitions since the Coyotes got Jeremy Roenick and as one of the biggest trade steals in recent history, the Coyotes sent Keith Ballard, Nick Boynton, and a 2nd round pick (49th overall) to Florida for center Olli Jokinen. I almost fell over in astonishment right before I started running around in my old Coyotes jersey yelling, screaming, dancing outside until I noticed it was about 118 degrees out and went back inside. The Coyotes somehow stole a center who has been rumored to be traded for more than 2 years, a guy who has been thought would cost an enormous amount to get him out of Miami. Despite the fact I loved Keith Ballard and would have liked to have kept him, from an objective point of view, this is a huge steal for Phoenix. They finally get that number one center which has been missing for years. He is a big guy (6'3 214 lbs) who will be a counter to other big centers in the Pacific division who have absolutely wrecked the Coyotes namely Joe Thornton of San Jose, Anze Kopitar from LA, and Ryan Getzlaf of Anaheim. Besides, Kyle Turris going up against those guys is almost laughable and the Coyotes needed to do something to allow him to develop without going up against these big guys. I will miss Keith Ballard a ton but this trade makes Phoenix so much better.
As I was just settling down, the Coyotes got the man they had wanted all along in Mikkel Boedker, a Danish forward from the Kitchener Rangers who had an absolutely amazing year for the OHL champions. He tallied 29 goals and 44 assists for 73 points in 62 games during the regular season and added 9 goals and 26 assists for 35 points in 20 playoff games. He also added another 6 points in the Memorial Cup where he played absolutely sensational. This kid loves Marian Gaborik and models his play after him. He was the kid the Coyotes wanted and they got him. A great pick for them. Can anyone say "Blake WHO?!"
As in the past 2 years, the Coyotes traded back up into the bottom of the first round to snag another player. The last two times it was for defensemen (Nick Ross and Chris Summers) but it was a different look here. The Coyotes traded 2 of their 3 remaining 2nd round picks to Anaheim for the 28th pick. It was here they drafted Viktor Tikhonov, a kid who was born and has grown up in the United States but is the grandson of the coach of the 1980 USSR team that the US upset who goes by the same name. He speaks absolutely perfect english and is someone that Darren Pang has reported as someone that the Coyotes were not leaving Ottawa without. If Gretzky and Maloney really believe in this kid, then there is something there. Teams like San Jose, Detroit, and LA were all looking to snag this kid. He could be a pick that really turns out to be a diamond in the rough. Other draftees include Jared Staal (yes the 4th brother) and Brett Hextall (son of former Flyers goalie Ron and great grandson of Ranger who scored 1940 Cup winning goal). An awesome draft for the Coyotes that made all of its fans proud to be Coyote fans, something that hasn't happened in a long time.
As for the team this year, the Coyotes will continue to bring in the youth that they have accumulated over the past few years. Hobey Baker winner Kevin Porter, Chad Kolarik, OHL leading goal scorer Brett MacLean, Jonas Ahnelov, and Joel Gistedt have all signed contracts with the Coyotes. Not to mention Kyle Turris will begin his first full year and Enver Lisin is looking to get a full time spot. The forward position will not be a place to put much focus on. However, signing Radim Vrbata would be a very good move at the right price. The Coyotes would also like to improve their penalty kill that was ranked 24th in the league. Guys like Niklas Hagman and Anti Miettinen would be good depth players who specialize in penalty killing and defense. If the team wants more offense Kristian Huselius would be a good pick up.
The Coyotes main focus when July 1st rolls around will be on defense. With a lack of NHL ready prospects on the blue line outside of Keith Yandle and the loss of Ballard and Boynton in the Jokinen trade, the Coyotes will have to fill the holes with free agents. They should look for 1 offensive and 1 defensive defenseman. On the offensive side, Michal Rozsival and John Michael Liles would be good targets. This team has alot of cap room and can afford to get some defense. On the defensive side Jason Smith, Brooks Orpik, Paul Mara, Brad Stuart, Bryce Salvador, and Ron Hainsey should all be closely looked at as possibilities.
It will be a very exciting couple of days. With the July 1st free agent deadline a week from tomorrow teams will be scrambling to re-sign the players they want to keep and look at who they want to target. Rumors will be everywhere but it all comes down to next week. Tomorrow I will be going to the Coyotes Prospect Practice where I am going to be taking notes (mental and real ones) on some of the big names there. I am going to add some links on the side of the blog to some good hockey sites where you can get information. I hope you enjoyed reading my first post, even if it was long. Thanks for stopping by and always check back for new posts. You never know when I am going to post again!
I have finally decided that Facebook notes were not enough. This blog, as it says above, will talk about my insane affiliation with the Phoenix Coyotes, the New York Rangers, and all other facets of hockey. I will do my best to write something interesting every time I do write. I welcome all criticism and comments to my blog and hope that readers will decide to participate and have a good time reading what ever gibberish I decide to put on here. My insanity for hockey has brought me here and I hope to make all of you a little insane about this lovely sport. Please enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it and thank you for reading, whoever you may be. I will post fresh starting tomorrow so look out!