Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cartoon: Brad Richards, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, and Bobby Holik Walk Into A Bar

Gary Finkler of 7th Inning Sketch emailed me this graphic depiction of what it would look like if all the Rangers recent high priced free agent centers got together for a few drinks and talked about what it is like to play in New York.

Be sue to give Gary's site a check for more sports related cartoons

Richards Using Pressure Of New York As Motivation To Play Harder For Rangers

New York Rangers center Brad Richards sat down with Steve Serby of the New York Post for in-depth interview that talked about issues both and off the ice.  The overall interview is excellent and gives a real feel for Richards as a person beyond just the dollar figures and hockey skill that has been the focus since he signed with the Rangers.  Aside from his age where the length of contract and money has been talked about, the most discussed issue with Richards has been whether he could perform in the pressure of New York.
Q: The pressure being in the New York market.
A: It’s gonna be a different animal, I’m not gonna lie to you. It’s not the same as playing in Tampa or Dallas. But I’ve been through playoff runs. If you’re getting into a Game 7, it’s as much pressure as you can handle no matter where you’re playing, ’cause we all have pride and we want to win. I think the experience of playing on home soil for Team Canada, playing for the Olympics, that’s a lot of pressure that people don’t realize if you’re a Canadian playing on those teams. There’s no option, you have to win. . . . I think that’s something that will make me better, it will drive me, it’ll push me more. Can’t have those nights where you don’t feel like playing hard, you have to play hard in front of these fans, they’ll let you know.
There is nothing more you can ask of a player than to play hard.  Player’s will have off nights and some will even have off years, but if they are giving legitimate effort the complaints about them will be much different than those who just appear to be going through the motions. The fans of this organization have always gravitated to those who break their backs to help the team win, even above those who were more skilled.  Obviously they will expect numbers and wins from Richards in his tenure as well, but giving the right effort will take him a long way to winning over the Garden faithful.

The fact that Richards sees the pressure of New York and the knowledge of Rangers’ fans as a motivational force sets the stage for him to be just fine here and will only make this team better.  When your best players are also your hardest workers it becomes contagious throughout the lineup and with the number of young players the Rangers have in the fold, those are the kinds of lessons you want filtering through your roster and organization.

For many he will be judged on whether he brings a title back to Broadway, and that is part of the pressure that comes with signing for big dollars in New York, but Richards accepts that challenge and is hungry for it.  These are the types of things, while just words at this point, make you believe that Richards can succeed where other big names have failed in spotlight of New York. 

The more you hear and read about Richards the more you like the man that will be manning the middle for the Rangers for many years to come.  This city is lucky to have #19 as a Blueshirt.

Rangers Ranked As 2nd Most Improved Team During Free Agency

In reviewing the early returns of free agency, Dan Rosen at ranked the New York Rangers #2 in term of teams that made themselves better with their moves over the past week.  The Rangers only trail the Washington Capitals who got the bargain of the summer in getting goalie Tomas Vokoun for $1.5 million next year.

Rosen obviously highlighted the acquisition of Brad Richards as the key move for the Rangers as it gives them the top line center they needed, but he also felt the move for Mike Rupp was critical for the Rangers.
Richards brings credibility to the position that the Rangers needed it most. Yes, they had to give out a hefty contract and they will be paying some huge bucks, especially in the first six years when Richards is reportedly in line to make $57 million of the $60 million contract, but he's a 31-year-old former Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe winner who already knows the coach and his system.

Don't overlook Mike Rupp jumping on board for three years at a total of $4.5 million. Rupp is a physical player who fights and can score the odd goal. He's won the Stanley Cup and he's one of the most likable guys in the dressing room.
Over the past few years the Rangers have incorporated more and more young talent from the system to fill holes and become core members of the future of the team.  Now that they feel they are close to contending the Rangers did what you are supposed to do which is surround those players with guys who have been through the battles before and know what it takes to get to the finish line.  Richards brings skill and Rupp brings toughness to the Rangers, but both bring experience in playoff conditions and Stanley Cup championships on their resume.  To go beyond those things both are viewed as good in the locker room which should only build on the chemistry the Rangers’ had as a unit last season.

Worry about the money and the length of the deals later and believe Rosen now when he says the Rangers were one of the most improved teams in the opening days of free agency.

Which Rangers RFA Would Team Most Likely Walk Away From Arbitration Award?

When Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Brian Boyle and Michael Sauer all elected to file for arbitration yesterday they set the stage for an interesting few weeks for GM Glen Sather, but they also made his job easier.  There is no worry about any of the four key Rangers being offer sheeted by an opposing club.  There is no uncertainty about the timetable of having a contract and/or dollar amount for next season decided.  There is also now the option for Sather to use the secondary buyout period if he wants to reconsider his options on players like Wojtek Wolski and/or Sean Avery who were amongst those potentially rumored to be bought out before the June window.
Yesterday there was an examination of how front-loading the longer-term contracts for Callahan and Dubinsky could benefit both sides.  In the case of Michael Sauer and Brian Boyle shorter term contracts would be more expected given that both have only had one season in the NHL at the level they performed last year.   Both going into camp last season on the outside of roster projections and turning into crucial contributors sets them up for large raises from their modest prior salaries.  Sauer made $500K and Boyle $525K respectively during the 2010-11 season.  While it is possible that the Rangers could walk on Callahan or Dubinsky if the award were to be obscene it is highly improbable.  So, of the Sauer and Boyle, which is more likely to receive the big reward and have the Rangers walk away?