After a frustrating end to the Rangers’ season in Boston several days ago, the voracious New York media was bestowed with the “We’ll see” heard round the world. Henrik Lundqvist’s non-committal response to his future in New York almost imploded the entire hockey media. Articles were written, page hits were had, and ad revenue rained down on media outlets. Many observers and analysts alike feel that the King possibly moving kingdoms was the impetus for John Tortorella’s unceremonious dismissal on Wednesday. Obviously, I’m not behind the New York Ranger curtain, so I couldn’t tell you with any certainty whether this is true, but I can dig a little deeper into those comments and see if the “threat” is credible in this case.
For those who missed it (and I’m paraphrasing), when asked about his long term future with the team, Hank responded with the functional equivalent of “we’ll see, I need to talk to my agent”. Normally, this is a very typical response from a player when asked about his contract, but considering Hank’s importance and impact on the franchise, his remarks were bound to cause a stir. Read more »
Could MSG be on the move?
With just six months left until the finishing touches are placed on the $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden, the arena was recently denied an indefinite operating permit by the city of New York, specifically the New York City Planning Commission. Instead MSG was given a 15 year lease on the space it currently sits. Ben Kabak over at Second Ave Sagas weighed in on the matter, and it appears that this new 15 year lease comes with a caveat: MSG will need to find a resolution with the city to “the Penn Station problem.”
The “Penn Station problem” is, as Kabak puts it, capacity restraints. As a daily commuter to and from Long Island, I can see where this is coming from. I have often been unable to even enter Penn Station when there are delays, as the station itself is very small and the hallways very narrow. As people get priced out of living in the city, the number of commuters grows on a monthly basis.
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New York’s fourth line center would cost an extra $6 million to buy out this summer
It’s growing increasingly difficult to believe that this is just an off year for Brad Richards, that the 33-year-old will bounce back with the benefit of a summer to clear his head and a full John Tortorella training camp in the fall. There are just too many signs that the former star center is on a steep decline.
And yet, despite Tortorella’s own silent admission through a fourth-line demotion that Richards has been awful, it’s still extremely unlikely the Rangers will exercise a buyout on Richards this summer.
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According to TSN, specifically their “Insider Trading” program, the NHL is planning to host 6 outdoor games next season. As of this writing (Tuesday night), nothing has been confirmed by the league, but it’s certainly an interesting concept. Below are the rumored dates, matchups and locations.
- January 1st at Michigan Stadium between Toronto and Detroit
- January 25th at Dodger Stadium between Anaheim and LA
- January 26th at Yankee Stadium between the Islanders and the Rangers
- January 29th at Yankee Stadium between the Devils and the Rangers
- March 1st at Soldier Field between Pittsburgh and Chicago
- March 2nd at BC Place between Ottawa and Vancouver
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Just picture a puck, instead of a soccer ball.
Last week, Craig Custance at ESPN published an article about the NHL’s plans to expand its global brand. Most of the article discussed further expanding outdoor games, the resurrection of the World Cup of Hockey, and the finalization of an agreement that would send NHL players to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympics. There was one more idea condensed to one little blurb in the text:
He’s also intrigued by the idea of a Champions League, featuring games between the NHL’s and Europe’s best teams.”We love the idea of the power of the team competition,” he said. “Maybe we bring NHL teams over to play the best teams in Europe. How do we stage stage that? That’s definitely something we’re looking at.”
For those unfamiliar with European professional football, the concept is pretty simple: there are various high quality professional football leagues throughout Europe, let’s play a tournament to crown a champion of them all.
The format is quite complicated for qualification, but one you get past that, its quite elegant. There are 8 groups of 4 teams. No teams from the same league can be in a group together and no league can send more than 4 teams to participate. Seeding determines the composition of the group. During this group stage, each of the 4 teams play home and home round robins against one another. After the 6 game group stage, the top two teams in each group advance to the tournament proper. Read more »
This past week there were many reports indicating that the NHL will soon announce a four division realignment plan as opposed to just swapping Winnipeg for Detroit, Columbus, or Nashville.
As you can see above with this great map, the realignment plan will consist of 16 teams in the East and 14 teams in the West. The scheduling plan is for division opponents to play each other four times a season and the rest of the league at least twice a year.
Here are some pros and cons to go with this new plan.
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Could Derek Stepan be eyeing up big money in the summer?
Ryan O’Reilly was touted in various circles as a potential trade target for the Rangers during the team’s recent poor stretch of form. That was until he signed back with the Avalanche via an offer sheet from the Calgary Flames. In the process, O’Reilly may have just caused a headache for the Rangers.
O’Reilly signed a two year, $10 million offer sheet from the Flames which the Avalanche were quick to match. In a nutshell, the talented fourth year Avs center is now making five million per year (cap hit) the next two years. Here’s where the problems start. O’Reilly; statistics, position, style and age is very similar and thus a comparable to the Rangers’ Derek Stepan. Stepan is about to become a restricted free agent this summer.
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Image Credit: Bauer.com
Since the Rangers have been kind of bumming me out recently (last night’s domination notwithstanding), I thought I’d take a look at a relatively recent development in goalie equipment and how it has revolutionized the industry. In the skate department, that innovator generally tends to be Bauer. On both the player and goalie side there have significant landmark products that change the landscape of how skates are constructed, utilized and improved.
Starting back with the original Vapor line, Bauer sought to reduce weight, while increasing stiffness and quality of the materials used in skate construction. In 2003, Bauer had its biggest breakthrough in skate technology, the Vapor XX. This skate was the lightest skate ever built at the time, and absolutely took the hockey world by storm. I was working at a pro-shop at the time, and remembered thinking they had lightened them up to the point they felt like a running shoe. It was insane.
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It’s been less than 48 hours since the Memo of Understanding has been signed, and there have already been two loopholes identified in the new CBA. In his 30 Thoughts this week (one of my personal favorite columns), Elliotte Friedman of CBC identified these two loopholes, and asked Bill Daly about how they would be addressed.
The first loophole is one that’s been talked about for a while, and it’s the sign-and-trade loophole. Currently, teams can re-sign their own players for a year longer than they would get as a UFA, but this doesn’t stop the team from trading the player. This opens up the possibility for a player to re-sign with his own team, then the team can trade him to his eventual destination. This happens regularly in the NBA.
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Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
One point of the new CBA that negatively affects the Rangers is the new “Luongo Rule.” This rule was designed to punish teams that circumvented the last CBA and signed players to back-diving deals. The Rangers have one of these deals in Brad Richards, who made $12 million in his two years of his nine-year deal, and sees his salary drop to $1 million by 2017-2018.
The rule states that for players retiring before the expiry of a contract longer than six years, a portion the cap savings from the deal will count against the team. In the Rangers case, Richards has a $6.66 million cap hit, but majority of the money ($57 million) will be paid in the first six years of the deal, with $3 million coming in the final three years.
Richards is signed until he is 39 years old, but his $1 million annual salary begins during his age-37 season. Now, it is unlikely that Richards would retire at age 37, but it is entirely possible that Richards retires with one or two years remaining on his deal. At this point, the Luongo Rule would kick in, and the Rangers would still have to deal with having a retired player on their payroll.
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