Tag:New York Rangers
Posted on: September 14, 2009 12:40 am
Edited on: September 18, 2009 5:49 pm

Theo Why Oh Why?

Theo Fleury a miniscule man was an offensive dynamo for the Calgary Flames. Despite being a shrimp, he was well over a point-a-game, who scored 100 point seasons and 40+ goal seasons. I marveled at how a small player was so elusive. So explosive. So on track for future enshirement. So much a Calgary Flame through and through. But then came The Trade. And despite a failed playoff outing with the Av's, the future and the Hockey Hall Of Fame seemed oh so certain. But then came that contract with the dreaded New York Rangers. The Nike commercial where he smiles and shows little teeth. And next thing you know. He's an alcholic. Should've stayed with the Calgary Flames my friend. You're famous game-winner goal where where slinding on the ice is legendary. Should've worked out an extention with the team in which you enjoyed a Stanley Cup as a rookie. Should've taken a page out of Jarome Iginla's book. What an awesome talent and a Hall Of Fame Inductee that was wasted. What a shame indeed.
Posted on: April 18, 2009 10:41 am

From Russia, With Love

After signing a lucrative contract with Avangard Omsk, it appears that Jaromir Jagr's days in the NHL are indeed over. It's a melancholy emptiness. Almost surreal. Little fanfare, as Jaromir quietly leaves out the back door. Somehow I expected a more appropriate end for one of the NHL's most explosive and decorated talents. I never envisioned the final chapter in his hockey history would be titled From Russia, With Love. The New York Rangers essentially made the decision for him. Disgrading all sane reasoning and logic, they went in favor of underachieving Markus Naslund. A vastly inferior talent who's production pales in comparison (Jagr owns a sparkling 1.25 career point average. But I'm afraid you'll need an electron microscope to detect Naslund's 0.79). True, Jagr is slightly older. But he makes up for it, with desire and will. Naslund and great work ethic have never been used together in the same sentence. After a dreadful start, Jagr sizzled in the second half, finishing with 71 points. Naslund had yet another uneventful and uninspiring season, recording a paltry 55 points. But it was in the playoffs where Jagr reaffirmed his legend status. While Chris Drury and Scott Gomez performed skillful disappearing acts, Jagr carried the Blue Shirts with 15 points in 10 games. He was dangerious scoring threat on every shift. Though bowing in five games, Jagr gave the Pittsburgh Penguins all they could handle. Despite playing primarily in an era dominated by Michelin Man goalie equipment and rampant obstruction, Jaromir Jagr dominated like few could. You could be assured of at least one highlight reel play a game. On many nights, it looked like a man against boys. The Stars from the Cup-winning team were long gone, replaced by bargain basement players that the cash-strapped franchise could actually afford. Yet, not a word of discontent. Instead he simply got the optimum output from a makeshift cast. Amassing a treasure trove of hardware while establishing himself as the era's definitive superstar. Arguably the greatest European born and trained player ever to lace a pair of skates, he was not without his fair share of critics. His stint with the Washington Capitals was lackluster and forgettable. Time forever lost. A unsightly blemish in an otherwise illustrious career. Sure he was moody. And slightly aloof. But win or lose, he always treated the media with respect. I don't recall any Ryan Leaf episodes. Do you? After all he's accomplished in North America, it's ironic that the only franchise willing to offer two years is European. Well, whenever Jaromir Jagr does decide to hang up his skates, he will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the game's true superstars. In the same honorable breath as Dionne, Hawerchuk, Mikita, Savard & Stastny. Do svidaniya Jaromir! You will be missed.
Posted on: April 18, 2009 10:25 am
Edited on: April 20, 2009 5:02 pm

Bryan Berard, What Might Have Been

     During his brief stay with the Penguins, Marian Hossa meshed well his superstar Sidney Crosby. Burying crisp passes as Pittsburgh came within two games of Hockey's Holy Grail. The outcome was heartbreaking. But when Hossa chose not to resign with the Penguins, it was only a partial disappointment. Good riddance to anyone who doesn't truly want to play here. And, on a slightly more distant note, the subconscious relief of not seeing the player whose accidental stick, all but ruined one of my personal favorites, Bryan Berard.
    Born in the New England town of Woonsocket,Rhode Island, Berard dazzled scouts with his skills. From an early age, you could tell he was something special. Whose limits would only be determined by his will. Desire. And fate. He was the lone sparking gem in an underachieving '96 U.S. World Junior Team. Whose futility was summarized by a fifth place finish. A medal of any type was not to be.

     The Ottawa Senators wisely took him first overall. But Bryan Berard refused to play. The lone action of his which I disagreed with. When the news broke, I rolled my eyes in disgust. I knew it was a mistake. He would regret it down the road. Needless to say, Mike Milbury featured him as the centerpiece in an Islander Renaissance. A Calder Trophy followed. Stabilty did not. Berard's stay on Long Island was slightly longer than that horrendous Fisherman Logo. Milbury shipped him off to Toronto for fading Felix Potvin. He seemed somewhat lost as a Maple Leaf. While his defensive play improved, the explosive offensive threat vanished. Where's the Bryan Berard who engineered 48 & 46 points respectively? The star I emulated while skating on frozen Abington ponds? Where did he go? Shortly after the horrible eye injury insued. An accidental stick follow-through by Ottawa's Marian Hossa. My heart sank. The loud shattering of my dropped glass summed up the occasion perfectly. 

    Berard went through many frustrating moments. Numerous painstaking eye surguries. Yet. He still found the time to answer my fan letter, by sending me an autographed photo. Perhaps that's what they mean about hockey players being a different breed. In an age characterized by Scrooge-like greed and selfishness, Berard showed character by returning his insurance settlement in favor of an unlikely, comeback attempt. He's had limited success. His best season was with the Chicago Blackhawks, when he was awarded the Bill Masterson Trophy. But aside from Columbus' two-year contract, clubs have been relucant to offer any kind of contract security. A pattern which will likely continue.

     Strange how destiny works. Had Berard committed himself to the Ottawa Senators, his future would've probably been brighter. Though the pressure to succeed would be higher, the opportunity was perhaps richer. The pieces were there: Alexander Daigle, Daniel Alfredsson, Alexei Yashin, Shawn McEachern, Steve Duchesne & the late Sergei Zholtok. One can only imagine the endless possibilties. With so many tools at his disposal, Bryan Berard would have undoubtedly surpassed the 48 points he recorded as a Islander. Savvy veteran Duchesne would've served as an excellent mentor.

     As Wade Redden's tenure with Ottawa finally came to a close, one can't help but wonder. What different path Bryan Berard's career would have taken?What would he have accomplished in eleven years? His mouthwatering skills and dedication would have meshed beautifully, with the host of Stars that have came to wear a Senator's jersey. Certainly a perennial All-Star selection. And perhaps even on track to the Hall Of Fame. One can only, sadly wonder.


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