Each year, the New York Rangers throws a benefit for the Garden of Dreams Foundation which allows the players and fans to interact in a mock casino setting. All of the proceeds go to the Garden of Dreams, so the steep price tag goes for a great cause. After buying the ticket as a generous birthday gift to myself, I only hoped it would live up to my expectations. Fun fact: it did.
A lot of the experience is exactly what you’d expect – upon arrival, you’re handed a cup with a voucher for chips, introduced to items for auction, introduced to the team, introduced to the bar, and sent off on your own way. You’re given the option to mingle with the team, alumni, NYR staff, and MSG staff, as well as fellow fans. The players set up at table games – some dealing, some playing – and are extremely approachable for photos and conversation.
Since it would be unfair to give you a detailed minute by minute breakdown of the night – things do get hazy when you’re drinking wine — instead I’ll just give out random awards to pieces of the night with some wonderful iphone photography sprinkled in.
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With no more NHL games scheduled for two and a half weeks, all of the focus will be in Sochi as our former teammates will become the opponent, playing for a handful of countries over two weeks for prestigious Olympic gold. Over the past week, there have been some injuries and replacements made which have had some implications for team relationships here in North America.
Dave and the boys did a great job here keeping the focus mainly on the Cally non-trade, as the New York metro area is most directly affected by Callahan’s agent and Glen Sather (and his cigars, I suppose). The two most important injuries to track were recent – Max Pacioretty – and a long time ago – Steven Stamkos. Seeing the correlation between the NHL and the Olympic selection is pretty eye opening in each case.
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Last Sunday, instead of posting about happenings around the NHL, I was out on the field doing first hand work for a post. I shuffled up on the 4 train to Yankee Stadium not to watch the boys in pinstripes bat around and eat some delicious garlic fries, but instead, in the dead of winter, to watch some good old-fashioned pond hockey. Pond hockey on a baseball field, in front of 50,000 people. Big pond, eh?
The experience, from beginning to end, was absolutely incredible. Having not been lucky enough to experience the Winter Classic in 2012 in Philadelphia, I had no idea what to expect going in. Days of stalking the weather report didn’t do much justice – 5 degrees here or there means nothing when you’re debating 3 or 4 layers of leggings – especially when you’ve got to factor in adrenaline based on the amount of Henrique jerseys in the vicinity. Needless to say, the morning was filled with nervous excitement.
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Imagine you’re sitting in a sports lounge on a chilly evening in November 2008, kicking back a few and watching your beloved Rangers play on several big screens. The crowd is good and the bar food is shamefully delicious. Early in the game, fan favorite Brandon Dubinsky fights with seasoned enforcer Dan Carcillo, and to you notice a 20-something girl in business casual screaming at the TV for Dubinsky to show his displeasure with Carcillo – except a bit more explicitly. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?
If you’re anything like the lovely middle aged gentleman sitting to the table next to me on that night, it’s a mixture of terror and intrigue. The typical response to a female hockey (or any sport, really) fan is an assumption that you know nothing of the sport, you’re only watching to be cute for your boyfriend, you’re only watching to attract a boyfriend, you think player X is cute, or you really are a fan and that’s weird cause you should be out shopping for cute outfits. You know, for your boyfriend. Or to attract a boyfriend. Or player X. So what the heck is this girl doing screaming at the TV, right? She must have a thing for Dubi, she couldn’t possibly be a passionate fan…
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DANIEL MALLARD/QMI AGENCY
Steve Yzerman named the 2014 Canadian team yesterday that will be competing to defend their gold from Vancouver four years ago. The country that touts hockey as its country’s sport – and, let’s be honest, a country that regards the sport so highly that it’s all over TV even in August – it’s no wonder that Yzerman and Co. had a very difficult task ahead of them in choosing this team.
The joke is that even selecting an all-snub team for Canada would be a difficult task, and that their second team would likely be a favorite over some other countries. Needless to say, expectations are extremely high for this squad. You can see the full roster here.
Again, with a roster so deep, it’s likely that you’re going to find a few serious snubs. The most glaring omission on this roster is Martin St. Louis, an absolute stud who, at 38 years old, likely won’t see another Olympic opportunity (unless he pulls a Selanne, and even still the depth of skilled Canadian won’t go anywhere). Apparently a snub is motivation for St. Louis, who put up two goals last night in the 3rd period to give the Lightning a win over the Jets, and probably had Yzerman shaking his head.
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Bobby Ryan. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
At the finish of the Winter Classic game played at the Big House in Michigan (and after Dion Phaneuf won a minivan…?), American viewers were treated with the revealing of the 25 men who will represent the red, white, and blue in Sochi next month. Before we all play armchair GM, there are a few things to remember: a) the depth of unbelievably talented players that the United States have bred over the past decades, and b) the management staff responsible for selecting this team and their view on how to coach it. “We did not pick the 25 best players,” general manager David Poile said. “We picked the 25 players we thought gave us a chance to win the gold medal.”
My dissection of this team bears a lot of variables. For one, I’ve never played hockey, nor have I ever managed a hockey club aside from my decent fantasy teams and a few very bad ones. I have, however, played lacrosse – a similar game from a systems standpoint – and I had the fun responsibility of managing a number of players regarding league guidelines and who would fit. Secondly, I’m human. It’s difficult to separate how you feel about a player from what they would provide for a team, which I believe had a stake in some of the selection process. Third, all of us fans are going to have differing opinions and they’re usually based on which team you bleed for. Please keep these in mind while you read ahead.
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This morning when the writers here at BSB checked under our trees, though grateful for our gifts and the two recent wins by the Rangers, there were a few more things we were hoping for. Some of these wishes are realistic, some unrealistic, but if Santa Sather is reading this, please take note.
1) Marc Methot. There’s a reason that if you follow me on Twitter you know how much I love this guy. Methot is a veteran defensive defensiveman who throws his size (6’3, 230) around frequently to make beautiful checks. He’s the yin to Karlsson’s offensive yang on the Senators, and makes sure that when Karlsson’s defense slacks, the opposing team is covered. He’s got hip checks down to an art — even on the league’s most prized player — is surprisingly quick on his skates, and has started to produce offensively. A former Blue Jacket, he would fit in really well with his old friends in New York. At a $3M cap hit this year and next, this is doable – your move, Slats.
2) Alex Ovechkin. Could you imagine the mass spontaneous combustions that would occur if this ever happened? I know, I know – Ovie is the enemy, we all hate him, he’s the worst thing that’s ever happened, yada yada yada. At the end of the day, he is the elite player in the NHL. He is so offensively skilled and uses his body to protect the puck and hurt the opposing player. I would welcome him with open arms immediately, if not sooner.
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I was casually watching (a DVR of) some Saturday afternoon hockey between the Senators and the Coyotes when something struck me as strange; no, it wasn’t that all of the Sens goals came from not-your-average offensive player, it was that Lauri Korpikoski (or as I fondly call him, the Korpedo) got an assist. “Wow,” I thought aloud to myself, as I often do in my apartment, “the Korpedo is still alive? I wonder what other Rangers are still dabbling around the West.” And so, here is my post for today…
John Tortorella, Head Coach with the Rangers 2008-2013 | Now: Canucks Head Coach
Well, duh. Whether you loved or hated Torts’ exit last summer, you definitely had strong feelings about it. Awful with the media? Yep. Kind of mean to the players in public? Sure. Known for a hardcore training camp that would kill you or me? Absolutely. But still, for his time in New York, stats prove that you cannot deny his efficiency; in five seasons, he missed the playoffs once. However, his relationship with players, the media, and his lack of a championship ring on Broadway eventually shuttled him out and on his way to the Pacific Northwest. So, how is he now? Efficient. His Canucks have 48 points, winning 8 of their last 10 with one of those losses in OT. They were a bit shaky at first but it seems that they have adjusted to the system, and shockingly for many Rangers fans, the stars are responding and thriving under Torts’ hard-nosed approach. As a fan who was sad to see him go, I didn’t miss his outbursts like he showed at MSG against Alex Edler; however, it appears these guys can handle it. Hey, maybe Torts will find Musky in Vancouver, who knows.
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Picture it: it’s New Year’s Day, snowing outside, and you’re lazing around on your couch either bored cause of the holiday or nursing your head from excess champagne the night before. Lucky for you, not only is hockey gracing your television, it’s the way hockey should be played: outdoors. The NHL must’ve made some serious bank, cause this year we get SIX games played the way it was intended: outdoors (Canadian influence) and on a rink atop a baseball or football field (American influence). Let’s break them down.
Game 1: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings, January 1, 2014 @ 1pm
This game gets the official Winter Classic billing, as it will be played on New Year’s Day in Ann Arbor. The game features division rivals who are pretty close in the standings playing at the University of Michigan. Since this is the Winter Classic, it gets the fan-favorite 24/7 series on HBO, which started last night, and really who doesn’t love watching almost strictly for the goalies? It’s always fun to watch two Original Six teams play each other, as they’re no stranger to each other; they’ve met seven times in the Cup Finals, with the Leafs dominating with six series wins. Maybe Clarkson will stop taking silly suspensions by then, but we can never be too sure. Either way, these two teams are a solid matchup and should make for an entertaining start to 2014.
I’m most looking forward to…: Steve Yzerman, my all time sports crush, participating in the alumni game on New Year’s Eve. My heart skipped a beat when I read this.
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Suit’s post yesterday was spot on about the need for grit, not goons, on this Rangers team. Though the Rangers need grit, the goons have been out in full force this past weekend in the NHL. For as long as I can remember being a fan, the debate of banning fighting has been around, but that’s not what we’ve seen this past weekend; we’ve seen extremely dangerous and unsportsmanlike hits. Let’s take a look at three of them, and what potential suspensions may arise.
James Neal knees Brad Marchand – Saturday, 12/7, Pens vs Bruins
This case is pretty ugly. Marchand is tripped and laying on the ice with his head up when Neal skates towards the puck and, en route, ensures that his knee makes direct contact with Marchand’s head. I’m not sure what’s most offensive about this play – that he kneed Marchand while he was down in the head, or that he skated off like it was no big deal. The fact that Marchand is a pesky player who routinely gets under the opposing teams skin is never an excuse to make such an abusive play. Neal had his hearing yesterday and was given a 5 game suspension, in part due to the lack of injury from the play, and also in part due to his history (Neal has been fined once and suspended once in the past 3 seasons). This was only a small part of a rough game, which saw 40 minutes of penalty time, including a game misconduct on the next play in this series…
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