How else can you sum up this organization demoting forward Ryan Callahan back to Hartford in favor of veteran Brad Isbister? It's just another typical move by a team who has not properly developed most of its prospects for years. It's like the winter classic Ground Hog Day which features the witty Bill Murray who plays a weatherman whose day keeps repeating itself and turns into a comedy. Well, at least he was after his beautiful producer played by Andie MacDowell. It had a happy ending. When it comes to mishandling prospects, the Rangers continually see their shadow.
What exactly did the 21 year-old Callahan do to be sent down? He certainly was effective in his 10 shifts in another disappointing loss to the Islanders. More than you can say for a few other guys who got more ice-time. If anything, off his effort, he should've been rewarded with another game at Florida.
But this is how this organization is. They're all talk. They've been known to give young players the shaft before. In the past they talked up the overhyped Jamie Lundmark every training camp. And he even had a great preseason playing with Bobby Holik a few years ago. But once the season began, there he was dead and buried behind the Ranger vet logjam at center which included Holik, Eric Lindros and Mark Messier. It's no wonder Lundmark went from a promising finish his rookie year to a disinterested spectator whose days were numbered when Dominic Moore outplayed him last Fall. That same Lundmark who was ruined here is on his third team with Calgary playing mostly 3rd/4th line and currently has no goals.
Let's also look at the case of Nigel Dawes for a second. The former 2003 fifth round pick and former Team Canada standout (remember when he tied Zach Parise for most points in the WJC- yes that same Parise the Rangers passed up for Hugh Jessiman) The 21 year-old Manitoba native impressed in September and was good enough to make the club over Jarkko Immonen. But he rarely ever saw more than 7:00 of ice. The one instance this wasn't the case was when Coach Renney actually shifted Michael Nylander to the third line with Dawes and Jason Ward in a shootout win at Toronto. And how did that work out? Dawes scored his first ever NHL goal and played very well taking regular shifts. Instead of being given a chance to stay there, he soon lost that ice-time and was relegated to a healthy scratch. Now Dawes is back with Hartford where he's scored just one goal. Sure, he's notched several assists. But is there any reason he's down after ripping up the 'A' for 41 goals (35 reg. season) last year? Of course not. And who on our third and fourth lines which couldn't score into a whorehouse has as much potential as him? Exactly.
The Rangers have many problems starting with the lack of grit and an active D. But of all the issues they have, the one that hurts them the most is the lack of offensive support from the third and fourth lines. The same lines which chipped in during last year's feel good turnaround season and helped take pressure of Jaromir Jagr. Do they really think career underachiever and former Islander Isbister is the answer? Just read the TSN scouting report on the 29 year-old once thought to be the next Bertuzzi:
Assets: Possesses a tremendous physical package and plenty of untapped offensive potential. Is somewhat effective in the corners.
Flaws: Takes far too many nights off, and has yet to shake the tag of chronic underachiever. Doesn't use his size nearly enough to maximize his potential.
Does this sound like the kind of player who will make a difference? When I think of Isbister, I am reminded of two words. Classic Tease!
It's not just that the Blueshirts are making the same mistake they have been guilty of before. Remember when they had Mike Knuble? Yes! The same Knuble who developed into a second line power forward who can score 25-30 goals with most btw coming in front of the net. Do the Rangers currently have any forwards like that? Of course not. They're as soft as one of those Krispy Kreme donuts. And you wonder why there are many games where they outshoot opponents but wind up on the losing end. Because the goalies are able to see most and not given a particularly tough time.
To finish the Knuble note, he was only used sparingly here and wound up dealt for Rob "Cinco" Dimaio. Would anyone care to know what Knuble turned into? Dimaio was then traded for now retired Eric Lacroix, who in turn became the immortal Colin Forbes. You can't make it up.
It is very sad to see that the Penguins' Isle of Capris Casinos bid for a new arena to keep them in Pittsburgh was rejected today by the Pennsylvania Gaming Board, who instead rewarded it to Detroit-situated developer Don H. Barden's PITG Gaming. What ashame for the city of Pittsburgh. Sure. Hockey will always play second fiddle to football in the Steel city. But in a town where they build a beautiful state of the art ballpark for the pathetic Pirates, why couldn't they approve the Isle of Capris bid? The Penguins have some of the most marketable stars in all of the NHL in second-year whiz kid Sidney Crosby and talented rookies Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Wouldn't it make sense to do everything in their power to keep the Pens? This team has a chance unlike the freaking AAA Pirates!
In response to Steve about that Sabres-Devils game, I know you won't want to hear it. But how much of that audience could be attributed to the city of Buffalo? A city that's gone so ga ga for their team that they've soldout every game at HSBC Arena. Remember how close the Sabres were to being relocated? Now look at them. All that young talent they drafted along with the lockout saved their franchise. Btw...if you look at the uncertainty surrounding the Pens' situation, it is a little similar. Will someone swoop in at the final frantic minute to save the day? We'll see.
The Islanders completed their second deal with the Flyers in a five-day span. A few days after trading defenseman Alexei Zhitnik for Freddy Meyer and a conditional pick, GM Garth Snow(this still seems strange) cut some more salary by swapping Mike York for Randy Robitaille. Makes plenty of sense for the Fishsticks but hardly any for the new Siberia of the NHL Philadelphia. By cutting payroll, Snow is preparing to make room for re-signing Jason Blake. Already with a team best 19 goals and on pace for a career season, the 33 year-old Minnesota native should be top priority. Many of us always laugh at most of ex-GM "Mad" Mike Milbury's trades. But maybe his best was acquiring the gritty pain in the ass Blake from the Kings for just a 2002 fifth round pick (Joel Andersen). Who??? No wonder ex-Kings GM Dave Taylor didn't last. Blake knows how to play the game and gets the most out of his size (5-10, 180). More like 5-8 probably. He is always around the puck and frequently wins the battles in the corners. Plus he drives goalies nuts. This guy just continues to get better all the time. Just ask Devil fans about him or Alexei Yashin. Right Steve?
And with that, I'll see ya'll later!