Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blog will be discontinued

Alas my short run on this blog is over. I have been given a great oppurtunity to write for NHL2DAY's new website. They have a great online radio show so check out where I'll cover the Rangers and other news around the league. Thanks for reading my articles on here, and I hope you continue to check out my other articles with NHL2Day, as well as

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New York Hockey Tickets, Rangers and Islanders Have Different Ways of Selling Them

The Rangers recently released the new ticket prices for this year, and as expected, they've gone up. The cheapest ticket will cost you $34, but what they don't tell you, is that you must be a season ticket holder to pay that much.

Last year, tickets in the same section were $30. It's high, but somewhat reasonable. But wait, you have to pay a $4.50 box office facility charge. OK, I can live with it. I guess I would take a trip down to MSG's box office and buy the tickets right? Nope, you can't use the box office, it's only on Ticketmaster. So to buy tickets to a Rangers game, one must pay the extra $9 per ticket fee from Ticketmaster. But wait, it gets better. You also must still pay the facility charge of $4.50 from the box office, even though they told you that you can't use it. And just for the hell of it, they throw in a $3 charge when you buy them, and you better believe you will have to do it this year as well. So last year, to bring your kid, or a friend to a game, it would cost you 2 tickets at $30, plus $4.50 per ticket, plus $9 per ticket, plus $3. All together, it cost $90 for a pair of tickets in the cheap seats. If all the charges stay the same this year, and that would surprise me, it would cost just about $100 just to show up to the game, and that's without food, and depending on where you are coming from, transportation. The one way around all those charges was to buy from the ticket exchange, which just had a $2 per ticket charge, but that won't last long. Soon enough, you'll have to pay a hell of a lot more, but hey, anyway to screw over the average fan right? Can they can at least try to act like they care about fans that don't work for huge corporations that buy seats down by the ice? I guess that would be to much to ask. Speaking from the Dolan's perspective though, it might be financially irresponsible of them to not over charge us. Still, isn't there that thing called morals? I guess not. You know what kind of special deals, or ticket plans the Rangers have? Well, you can pay a $50 deposit (like James Dolan needs you to lend him money)to get on the waiting list for an 11 game plan, or a 22 game plan. Or you can pay a $100 deposit to get on the full season ticket waiting list. That's pretty much it, unless you want to entertain your clients and spend more then the average salary to get a luxury suite, or go for a legends night. Either way, you might have to take out a loan to buy Ranger tickets.

Now, if you want to know where to get a real good deal, check out Nassau Coliseum. Last year, I was on line in Nassau Coliseum, to get Ranger tickets. While the line was half Ranger fans, there was still a tickets salesman walking around, talking about a great deal. Buy a 4 game plan and get free tickets to a Rangers vs Islanders game. Another deal they had was when you buy a ticket plan, you get a free jersey, autograph from an Islander player, and tickets to see their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. But their latest deal is one of the best I've ever heard. There are four pairs of games. If you had tickets to the first part, you get free tickets to the second. This deal includes one pair, which includes a first part against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on November 26, and a second part (that you get if the Islanders were to win against Pittsburgh) against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on December 16. Does it get any better then that? You buy four games, at the lower ticket prices of the Islanders and each game comes with the potential of a free game. The deal also includes the December 31 game against Florida, paired with a January 15 game against Boston, the January 21 against the Ducks is paired with the February 10 game against LA, and the March 25 game against Minnesota is paired with the April 2 game against Montreal. Even though it looks to be a tough few years for the Islanders, at leasttheir fans don't get priced out for it. The team with the lowest average attendance in 07-08 is doing all it can to change that. The Islanders are trying to build a future fan base, so at least with the Islanders, it's possible to take your family out for a day game, or go for a night out with a few friends. Will these kind of deals increase the attendance? Maybe it will, maybe it won't, but at least the ownership of the Islanders acts like they care about the fans. Weather they do or don't, I do not know, but unlike the Rangers, they have to act nice to them.

If you weren't a big hockey fan, maybe someone who has watched a few games here and there, no favorite team, but trying to get in to the sport, where are you going to go? While that doesn't apply to any of use, just imagine if it did. Are you going to pay $100 for a pair of tickets, or pay $38 total for the cheapest pair on Long Island. Hell you might even move up a section for just $26 per ticket. It sort of makes me wish that the Rangers had trouble selling tickets. Instead of buying tickets at MSG, me and my father went to away games for much cheaper. In 06-07, we had tickets to 4 games in New Jersey, and 1 game on Long Island. The 4 games in New Jersey cost a total of $80, less then a pair at one game at MSG, and The pair on Long Island was $25 per ticket. Quite a deal to see big rivals play.

From the sound of the article, one might think that I'm starting to become an Islander fan, but please, don't ever call me that! I"m a loyal Ranger fan that will always stick with my team, regardless of ticket prices, and this is merely an article comparing the two New York teams and their ticket prices.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blair Betts, The Forgotten Ranger

Walking through the halls of MSG, you will see many names on the backs of jerseys. There are the all to common Lundqvist jerseys, the Jagr jerseys, and the Shanahans. There will always be a bunch with Gomez or Drury, and a few with names like Dubinsky, Callahan, or maybe Dawes. But if you see me in the garden, you will find just one Blair Betts jersey (2 if you count Blair himself), on my back. Blue jersey, with the number 15. I ordered it on friday the 13th, when he was number 19. Two days later, it was announced that Scott Gomez got number 19, and Betts took 15. I quickly emailed the company who was customizing my jersey, and I was fortunate enough to get it changed, just in time. Every time I wear it to the garden, I get the usual questions from the fans I mingle with. "Why Betts?" Or "whats with the jersey?" Well I'll tell you why. It's the same reason that anyone gets a jersey with a name on it. They get their favorite player on a jersey, and I'm no different. In fact, for my user name on the Rangers message boards, I use the term I have created, Blair Betts Blocks Everything. Being the only Betts jersey in New York comes with the responsibility of explaining why I have the jersey. Well, in an attempt to avoid any further confusion, I will explain why in an article.

All fans cheered when players like Hollweg or Callahan would go in on the fore check and hit someone. They were praised (well, maybe not so much with Hollweg) for playing with guts. Betts is no different. He is an expert Shot Blocker, who will risk injury to make Lundqvist's job a little bit easier. In fact, he was going down blocking shots while playing with a painful bone spur in his foot at the end of the season. He uses his shot blocking skills, and his superior defensive play to contribute as one of the better PKers in the league. His contributions to our PK and defensive zone play has been very underrated. Some people even see him as taking up a roster spot. A 4th line player making under 700k per year is never taking up a roster spot. We saw in 06-07 what happens when you bring a young player up to play 4th line minutes. You get Nigel Dawes at the start of his career. While yes, he has developed, and has become a quality player for us, when he made the team out of camp, he was out of place, not playing enough minutes to really learn the game. Would you make the same mistake again? Bring up Anisimov to play at most, 9 minutes per game, or let him play top line minutes as he learns the game in the minors? Betts is the ultimate 4th liner. He's a solid, steady player, who rarely makes a mistake. He makes barely any money at all, and still contributes a lot to the team. He has one of the qualities that we saw in Chris Drury, and that we praised Chris for, so why not give credit to Blair?

While one might look at his 2 goals (one empty netter against Ottawa) and 5 assists and say he has no offensive talent, his offensive game is also underrated. While he will never score 20 goals, Betts has the tools, that if put with the right linemates, can put up decent numbers. In 07-08, Blair played with Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr all year. And while neither of those players are defensive specialists the way Betts is, they did settle in and play a more defensive game, instead of just going out and gooning it up. So Blair followed that road, and became a strictly defensive player this year. When it was him all by himself in 06-07, when it wasn't a defensive line, Betts scored 9 goals, including one very nice wrist shot on opening night of that year, and another beauty against Anaheim, skating by the team that won the cup on defense like they were standing still. 9 goals isn't superstar status, but it's a solid number. When the Rangers acquired Fredrik Sjostrom from the Phoenix Coyotes at the trade deadline of 07-08, he was put on the 4th line, and while they didn't put up big numbers, you could see some chances develop. You could see that the seed of a line had been planted there, and it was missing the one element that wouldn't drag them down the way Hollweg did, but would compliment their style they way that new Ranger Patrick Rissmiller might. With a new set of line mates that actually have skill, I wouldn't, nor should you be surprised if Betts puts up 10 or so goals this season. I don't expect to see any other Blair Betts jerseys this season, but I hope that more people will finally see, that you don't need to be a goal scorer, or a play maker to give positive contributions to the team.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Around The NHL August 11

There isn't much news to report on in the NHL, but there is enough for another Around the NHL post. Mix that with the lousy weather outside, and I'll be here typing this to atleast pass a little bit of time by.

TSN has reported that defenseman Brian McCabe has considered waiving the no trade clause in his contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. McCabe had 5 goals and 18 assists for 23 points last year, a year that Leafs fans want to forget. McCabe was one of many Leafs players that refused to waive their no trade clauses, which got managment pretty angry, as they were trying to stockpile picks and prospects to start their rebuilding stage. It's also been reported in the past that the Islanders were interested in McCabe, who lives in Long Island during the offseason. McCabe would add another defenseman to theit depleted defensive corps, that also had the addition of Swiss defenseman Mark Streit. McCabe is more defensively responsible then Streit, and the Islanders would need to pick up someone like him. It would come at the cost of a couple of young players or picks, something they might not be willing to do.

Speaking of the Islanders (Isn't this a Rangers blog?), it is being reported that the coaching search is down to 3 choices, ex Leafs Coach Paul Maurice, ex Thrasher's coach Bob Hartley, and Scott Gordon, who was AHL coach of the year with the Providence Bruins. The Islanders are looking for a guy to help them rebuild with young players, which is why they eliminated John Tortorella from contention for the job. His yell and scream, tough coach style is not good for a team that is going to play a bunch of rookies. Paul Maurice, who helped to build the Carolina Hurricanes, whom he would take to the cup finals in 2002 where they lost to Detroit, would be a good fit for the organization. Newsday reports that we could expect an announcement as early as next week.

Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford has invited Jeff O'Neill to camp on a tryout. O'Neill did not play this past season. He was originally a first round pick of the Hartford Whalers (Carolina's old location) in 1994. He was also Rutherford's first draft pick with the organization. In an 11 yer career, Jeff played for the Whalers for 2 seasons before they moved to Carolina in 1997. He plyed in Carolina untill the lockout when he was traded to his hometown of Toronto, where he played his last two seasons. In 821 Career regular season games he has registered 237 goals and 259 assists for 496 points. In 34 career playoff games he has 9 goals and 8 assists for 17 points. Best of Luck Jeff, good luck making the team.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

08-09 The Big Year For Tom Renney

When training camp opens up this fall, Tom Renney and his staff will have a big task on their hands. After failing to advance past the 2nd round for the 2nd year in a row, Tom Renney now has must improve off of this season or face the firing squad that is the New York sports fans. This just might be the make or break year for Tom. You only need to look at recent events to figure this. Ron Wilson, who like Tom Renney is a quality coach, was fired from the San Jose Sharks after 3 straight second round exits. Tom Renney and the Rangers are on number two.

While I'm no NHL coach, just a mites division coach, there are some things that I think we must see from Renney and the Rangers this year.

Things Renney Must Do

-The Powerplay last year was just awful at times. In the playoffs, it was a key advantage that Pittsburgh had, and they took advantage of it. Our inablity to capitalize our PP chances at an acceptable rate would not only hurt us during the season, but it would spell our demise in the playoffs aswell. While it was assistant coach Perry Pearn who ran the PP last season, Renney is still the head coach, and thus should be atleast trying to taking care of it. Last year's PP saw a huge reliance on Jaromir Jagr, even when his numbers were falling. This year, Renney and his staff must come up with a solution, one that will use all of our offensive weapons to their fullest potential. One can guarantee that Redden will be QB for the first unit. While he won't score 20 goals from the point, he is sure to be there, passing the puck off to everyone, and hopefully keeping our PP a lot less predictable then it has been in previous years. They will also need a bigger body in front of the net, as well as wingers who will play flexible, and won't always be in the same spot. We need to make sure that this year, we keep the enemy PK guessing. Keep our guys moving, don't bunch up, and don't stand still. If everyone is in a fixed position, it makes for an easier job on the PK, one that doesn't make them tired. If we keep moving, so will they, and a tired unit that's one man short is never a good thing, that is of course, unless you are playing against them.

-Quick Start
Last season, we saw the Rangers get off to a very slow start. Their 2-5-1 start came at a time when there were huge expectations for them coming out of the gate. It seemed like the breaking point when in those last two games, in which they went 0-1-1, they did not score a goal. Henrik Lundqvist only let in one in the two games, but the team literally did could not give him any support. Even the injured Sean Avery wasn't scoring any hot celebs. This year, things cannot repeat themselves for the Rangers to be taken seriously. A Quick start, maybe something like going 7-2-1 in their first 10 would be good, but perhaps would be to much to ask with the European trip to start the year. If they come out of the game at around 6-4, then the trip might not have taken so much away from them. They need to show that the games in Prague are not going to affect their season long term, and by coming out of the gate hard, or atleast above average, they can easily make a big first impression on the rest of the league.

-Eastern Conference Finals
Another second round exit would be tough to deal with. Anything less would be disaster. Even with the loss of some key players, there are still great expectations that only get multiplied each time someone writes an article like this one. While this might not be a cup or bust year for them, an improvement is necessary for Renney to stay off of the chopping block.

-Home Ice Advantage
Just making the playoffs will not be acceptable. While finishing 5th again wouldn't be catastrophic, it might be key for them to finish in the top 4. An atlantic division title would be great, but there would be no shame in losing the division to Bettman's Baby Birds, the Penguins. Everyone else though, we must beat. We haven't seen a playoff series open in the garden since 1996, but now, it's about time to show that we won't be underdogs in a series.

Thanks for reading today's article. Leave Comments, all feedback is appreciated. Be sure to check out the sites in my sidebar aswell.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Around The NHL

The offseason is torture for any hockey fan. I am a fan of some other sports, but I'm a die hard in hockey. It's great to see the jets land Favre, but it didnt give me the week long excitement (I should say week long high) that I got when the rangers traded for Jagr. So with the minimal amount of news out there, I think it's time for an Around The NHL segment.

The Sabres re-sign Teppo Numminen to a 1 year 1.1 million dollar deal. It's a great signing, now that he's been cleared to play. They definetly owed him one after the way they treated him last year. He reported to camp and found that he needed heart surgery, so they suspended him without pay. Although he filed a grievance with the team, they reached an agreement. Numminen wanted to be back, and the 40 year old defenseman got what he wanted. Numminen has put together a pretty impressive career. He came in to the NHL in 1988 with Winnipeg, and stayed with the organization through the 02-03 season, after they had relocated to Phoenix. He would then play 03-04 with the Dallas Stars and since then has been with the Sabres.

Sean Hill, aka Buzz Lightyear has signed a one year deal with Biel of the Swiss league. A 38 year old veteran of 876 regular season games, Hill was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and was part of the 1993 cup team. He would also play for Ottawa, Ahaheim, St. Louis, Florida, NY Islanders, finishing with the Minnesota Wild. Hill served a 20 game suspension for a positive test for performance enhancing drugs, the first, and only positive in the NHL.

That's about it for today, nothing really important happening in hockey, let alone the Rangers. The Bejing Olympics (USA! USA! USA!) might get everyone to stop talking about Brett Favre, while they try to breakdown sports they have never seen before. That's all for today, check back for what we all hope will be more updates.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Shanahan Wants To Stay a Ranger, Rangers Want Shanahan Out

We've seen some great moments from Brendan Shanahan over his two seasons. His 600th goal, or his wrist shots in the shootout that beat a goalie who knew it was coming, or any of his 108 points in his 2 year stint with New York. Reports have said that Shanahan want to play with in New York. I would want to stay in a city aswell if i had just bought an expensive apartment and moved my family in. Still though, as we inch closer and closer to the start of training camp, the 39 year old winger remains a free agent. It's getting late in the day for him, and he needs to make up his mind now because the Rangers are no longer an option. We have our roster set as far as I'm concerned, and there are also other fowards like Orr, Jamtin, Voros, Moore, Korpikoski and Anisimov who are all competing for spots. Shanahan simply doesn't fit in with the team anymore. With some of the moves the Rangers made, it is clear, they are trying to become a faster team. While yes, Shanahan has put up pretty good numbers in his time here, it still does not equal what you would expect from one of the best players to ever play the game. His 46 points last year represented an end of Shanahan with the Rangers. His body is getting broken, and he's showing the wear and tear that most 39 year olds show after playing 20 years in the NHL. When a player of his age just needs a few games off, as we saw earlier in the year, it's time to move on, or atleast from here. If Shanahan still feels he can play, and really contribute to his team, that's fine. His leadership alone might be worth a contract. We all love Shanahan, and are proud that he was able to do what he's done here, but Shanahan will no longer be a Ranger, and I think he's got to realize it. So what are his options. Well, he wants to stay in New York, so I guess he has two options. The Islanders or the Devils. He wants to win a cup, so that just might eliminate both options, but it would definetly eliminate the Islanders. So, does he return to the Devils, where he started his career? I'm sure New Jersey would love to have him. Their Offense has struggled, and they need all the goals they can get, even from an aging slow skater like Shanahan. Either way, unless the Rangers make some moves to free up roster spots(which apparently would be making room for Sundin first), Shanahan will not be wearing a Rangers jersey next year. Best of luck Shanny, no matter where you sign, weather it's with the Devils, Islanders or anyone else, you will still be one of my favorite players.