Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dubinsky Talks Rangers Offseason and Importance of Captain's Letter

In a wide ranging interview with Jim Cerny for Blueshirts United, Brandon Dubinsky gave his thoughts on each of the moves the Rangers have made this summer along with his own role as a leader on the team.  There has been a lot of discussion about the Rangers captains for the upcoming season and I will dive into that more tomorrow, but Dubinsky says what we should all know concerning the importance of letters on the sweater.
On how important wearing a letter is to him: "It would exciting and it would be an honor if that was bestowed on me. But that being said, I think everyone who is around me and knows me knows that I will be the same guy with or without (a letter). I will voice my opinions, I will be loud, I will be emotional, and I'm going to keep bringing that same effort I do every day."
Leadership is not made by the insertion of a letter on a jersey and it is not removed from one not being there.  The Rangers are lucky for the coming season to have a series of players who show leadership both on and off the ice and that is an understated reason for why the team has turned the corner in the rebuilding stage and is looking to be a competitor for a title in the near future.

For more thoughts from Dubinsky on Brad Richards meaning the club both offensively and in leadership along with what he thought of the acquisition of Mike Rupp check out the full interview on Blueshirts United.

Is Derek Stepan A Prime Candidate For Sophomore Slump?

The New York Rangers experienced what a sophomore slump can look like last season when Michael Del Zotto not only could not repeat his rookie performance, but declined considerably to the point he was sent to the minors on multiple occasions.  Over at Bangin Panger, Vance took a look at which 2010-11 rookies are most likely to have the disappointing follow-up to their rookie campaigns.  In his assessment Derek Stepan came out as one of the three players most likely to see his play drop next season.
2. Derek Stepan  - The Rangers Center situation suddenly got very crowded after July 1.  With Brad Richards and Brandon Dubinsky ahead of Stepan on the depth chart, and comparable statistics to Boyle and Anisimov, there won't be nearly as much ice time to go around, and it won't be with Gaborik or Callahan.
Where Derek Stepan plays this season could have a huge impact on the type of production he puts up offensively.  If the Rangers do decide to give him a chance to play with Richards and Gaborik, then he could have a tremendous year and take a huge step forward.  However, if he ends up seeing limited ice time due to the Rangers depth at center, then he could see a stagnation or decline in his numbers. We do have to remember that Stepan put up much of his numbers this season as a third line player, so remaining in the role does not automatically set him up for a decline compared to last year.

The difference between Stepan and Del Zotto is that you don’t expect that kind of decline in quality or confidence, though in fairness to Del Zotto you would not have predicted it for him last year either.  The summer after making it to the NHL and having success is huge and it will be so not just for Stepan, but McDonagh and Sauer as they move into their second seasons in the NHL.

h/t to SNYRangersBlog for finding this one

New York Rangers Honor Derek Boogaard's Legacy With Annual Hockey Scholarships

Al Bello/Getty Images

When it comes to sports people pick their favorite teams for many different reasons and the passion they have for those teams grows based on the players, possibly team success and the level of investment you have in the organization.  All you can hope for as a fan is that in times of adversity the organization you invest in makes you proud to call yourself a fan of them.  For New York Rangers fans this summer has been one to take pride in.  New York Rangers fans have always had a great deal of pride in the Blueshirts, but that pride should have grown more over the past few months in how the organization has handled the passing of Derek Boogaard.  Last month at the draft the Rangers had Derek’s brother Aaron announce their 2011 1st round selection in Minnesota.  

Today the Rangers have taken another step to honor the legacy of Derek Boogaard in announcing that they will present two hockey scholarships annually for the Rangers Summer Youth Hockey Camp to children of Defending the Blue Line.  Defending the Blue Line was a charity that was very special to Boogaard and to give scholarships to children from that charity in his honor is a tremendous gesture by the Rangers organization.  It is moves like this that make so many proud to bleed blue.

Official release:
NEW YORK, July 13, 2011  To honor the legacy of former Rangers left wing Derek Boogaard, the New York Rangers have announced that they will present two scholarships annually for Rangers Summer Youth Hockey Camp to children from the Defending the Blue Line program. Defending the Blue Line is a nonprofit organization created by soldiers with the goal of making hockey accessible to children of our nation’s military heroes, a program Derek supported wholeheartedly throughout his hockey career. Throughout the 2010-11 Season, Boogaard donated four seats at every Rangers home game for military families to attend as part of a group which he dubbed “Boogaard’s Boogaardians.”
This year’s scholarship recipients are two 8-year old boys from New York City who each have family members currently serving in the military. The boys will be attending the week-long camp from July 18-22 at the Madison Square Garden Training Center in Tarrytown, NY. Current Blueshirt center Derek Stepan, also an advocate of Defending the Blue Line, and defenseman Michael Sauer will be visiting the camp on Friday, July 22nd.
Rangers Youth Hockey Camp provides children with top-level hockey instruction with a focus on team participation and personal development. The Derek Boogaard Youth Hockey Scholarship will be awarded annually to honor Boogaard’s memory and continue the Rangers mission to help grow the game of hockey by making it accessible to all.

Boyle Not Resting On Last Year, Working Even Harder For Next Season

Coming off a career season and about to get a large increase in salary it would be easy for Brian Boyle of the New York Rangers to lost a little of the motivation that drove him last summer just to save his spot on the roster.  That is certainly not the case this summer based on what he told Blueshirts yesterday during the Rangers Summer Youth Hockey Camp.
"It's great that we got Brad (Richards), and I'm super excited about that. But we all need to work even harder this off-season and be even better next season. We have to do this as a team, not rely on only one guy."
Having already begun his off-ice conditioning and restarted his power skating training with Barbara Underhill there is absolutely no relaxing for Boyle this summer.  While last season’s motivation was about proving he was an NHL player who could have an impact and deserved to stay, this summer is all about proving that last season was for real and not just a fluke. 

Boyle is absolutely right in terms of how every player on the team should be looking at the Brad Richards signing.  There should be a level of excitement to add a top quality player to the roster and the statement it makes from management about how close they believe the team is to competing for a championship.  Beyond that though it cannot be just about Richards as the Rangers do not stand a chance to compete if all the players who had breakout years last season, like Boyle, do not continue to have that same or even more impact next season.