Back to the latest game I walked out of early with minutes to spare. I wish I could say I felt good about the surprising 3-1 lead they built after one inspired period against the Original Six classic Red Wings. But I knew better. There's really not much to say. I'm tired and as predicted, Detroit cameback to get three in excruciating fashion in the third. Oh. And for all the Dominator cynics, the guy might not see a lot of shots and might not have been razor sharp in the first but once his team needed the big stops, he stepped up. That's what makes him one of the all-time greats. He once used to see a lot of rubber for the Sabres and did it better than anyone to the tune of 2 Harts and 6 Vezinas. It once was said seeing all those shots was his own doing. Now, 42 going on 43 the future Hall of Famer doesn't see enough shots. Hmmm...that sounds an awful lot like...nevermind. Just goes to show you. What's that hit song I liked from the late 90's? "Hey Jealousy." Ah. I wish I could hear that now. A kickass tune for sure!
So, who stood out in this one for the Rangers? Who do you think? The usual suspects who show up every night such as Marcel Hossa, Jed Ortmeyer, Blair Betts, Matt Cullen, Petr Prucha, even Ryan Hollweg and of course ex-Red Wing Brendan Shanahan, who btw snapped his long even-strength goal drought on his very first shift against the club he helped win 3 Cups with. He always had a flair for the dramatic. It's too bad this team is captained by the passionless Jaromir Jagr. Right now, he couldn't captain a sinking ship. I'm sure I'm going to get into it with NY Hockey Report host Joe McDonald Wednesday. It might be worth the listen. There are bound to be fireworks. At least there will be passion. We'll plug it some time tomorrow or before we go to air at our usual time of 8:05 that night.
The only encouraging thing that happened for this soft club was the nowhere to be found GM took a break from smoking cigars god know's where and actually addressed a need by acquiring the gritty and physical Sean Avery from the Kings along with prospect John Seymour in exchange for Jason Ward and unsigned prospects Marc-Andre Cliche plus Czech Jan Marek.
So, what's the consensus here? It's a good deal which will actually give hated rivals a reason to actually watch their step on the ice. Avery (10-18-28, 116 PIM) isn't the biggest guy but boy does the undrafted agitator get the most out of his 5-9 185 frame. The fact the 26 year-old Pickering Ontario native was undrafted and has worked his butt off to turn into a mini-version of Darcy Tucker is a credit to what kind of player he is. He's as tough as they come and will at least address that area finally. Something Ranger fans have been crowing for years. The left wing is also versatile enough to play on a scoring or checking line. I'd love to see him play with Shanahan and ride shotgun. But he'll probably start on the third line.
Regarding what they gave up, I kind of feel bad for Ward. He never really was given a fair shake by Tom Renney. For whatever reason, the grinding energizer sometimes was healthy scratched over Adam Hall. When Ward played the other night, he showed more in one shift than Hall has for basically the entire year. I hope he does well in LA and plays regularly. He deserves it.
Cliche is the one good prospect in this deal. The 19 year-old was drafted by the Rangers a couple of summers ago and was a member of Team Canada's latest gold medal team at the WJC overseas. He was the reason the Kings parted with Avery according to club GM Dean Lombardi:
"Some teams were actively pursuing Sean, the New York Rangers were very aggressive. From our standpoint, the key is the young player, Cliche, who has impressed us."
Lombardi even went as far as to say:
"A player like Cliche, who played for the Canadian National team, this kid works his tail off, he's the type character we're looking for."
Pretty nice compliments of a player who currently has 15 goals and 21 assists for Lewiston (QMJHL) in 35 games.
Marek meanwhile was drafted by the Rangers a few years ago as an overager. He's played exclusively in Europe and never came close to signing with the club which might be part of the reason he was finally unloaded. This year, he's starred for Magnitogorsk of the Russian Hockey League posting 17 goals and 26 assists in 42 games. He has talent but it's just a question of whether he'll ever sign an NHL contract.
Meanwhile, the one prospect the Rangers got in return doesn't sound like much. The 19 year-old Seymour has just six points in 34 contests for Brampton in the OHL. This deal basically hinges on Avery and Cliche. Those were the main two guys.
It should be noted that while Avery can be ornery, Lombardi heaped some high praise about the character guy he gave up:
"He's been good. All year he's learned to be a better teammate. He comes to play every night. Sometimes emotion gets the best of him. I think he's made marked improvement this year...Sometimes players just take a little time to mature. Sean's still young, hopefully he'll continue to do so. He's going to a big stage now. If he continues (to mature), he'll do just fine. From the summer, when I first got there, there wasn't much of a market for Sean Avery. He's made progress."Nice stuff. This is the type of player you love if he's on your team and despise if he's not. As many know, he's never been afraid to mix it up on or off the ice. So, he'll add some personality to the locker room. The Rangers will most likely miss the postseason for the eighth season in nine but they might actually be more interesting to watch now. We'll see.
Until then, don't freeze too much out there. You could actually become as frozen as the ice. Ah. How I long for a 45-50 degree day. It can't come soon enough!