Monday, July 23, 2012

Farewell Dubi and Arty

Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky were a big part of the Ranger revival.

Sometimes, sports aren't fair. One day, you root for your favorite players and then the next minute they're gone. At least Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov were Rangers long enough to help turn our franchise around. Both were versatile forwards who played in all facets. If you think they won't be missed, think again. They were two-way players who could be used by John Tortorella anywhere.

In particular, Dubinsky who went from our leading scorer in '10-11 to a disappointing '11-12 which saw him score only 10 goals. His 34 points were his lowest total as an NHLer. Part of the reason for the struggle was the addition of center Brad Richards, forcing the popular Blueshirt to play exclusively on the left side. While he did have success there a season before pacing us with 54 points, it still was a tough adjustment for a natural center who Tortorella still plugged there when needed. It says a lot about Dubinsky's character that he put the success of our team ahead of personal stats.

There were times he drove us nuts. However, the former '04 second round pick was a good player in five seasons totaling 81 goals and 132 assists for 213 points over 393 games. He gave us moments like that comeback against Boston when a loss would've probably meant no playoffs over a year ago. There he was using his size to find the rebound and tie a game the Rangers trailed 3-0 before Mike Sauer stunned the Bruins. Dubi's strength and speed made him tough to knock off the puck such as a great individual effort to beat Washington here. He was a guy we truly loved. Even if he teased us from time to time, you saw how much he loved being a Ranger. Pride and passion from a guy who never wanted to be traded. At least Glen Sather waited until after his wedding.

Anisimov is a couple of years younger. The 24-year old Russian was likeable with his cool demeanor one of the highlights of HBO's 24/7 leading up to the Winter Classic. Who didn't love his shotgun goal celebration, which actually paid tribute to a former buddy who tragically died in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash? Maybe the timing wasn't right with Vinny Lecavalier and the entire Lightning bench thinking his sniper celebration was a cheap shot. But it was fun spirited and not meant that way. Arty still apologized and genuinely felt bad about it.

Somewhat ironically, the three-year Blueshirt who was part of the Draft Line that was forgotten this past season, was also a former second round pick the club selected in '06. After a slow start, Anisimov picked it up finishing with 36 points (16-20-36) while often being misused by Tortorella. Even in the postseason, Arty was sometimes in the doghouse despite solid production (3-7-10 in 20 GP). Perhaps he and Dubinsky will get consistent minutes in NHL Siberia where they'll find familiar face Fedor Tyutin. They'll now be asked to help arguably the worst team turn it around. Both were a big part of our team who gave us moments to remember them by.

It's never easy when players you love are gone. However, it often happens in sports. Teams are always looking to improve. The Rangers addressed a hole by acquiring Rick Nash for more scoring. They feel he will help put them over the hump and win a Stanley Cup. Trades such as today's don't account for team chemistry and overall depth which might've been hurt. There are always risks. If the reward means a championship, then I'm all for it. But when you look at the carmaraderie this team had, it might not go smoothly.

Whether you wanted to trade them or not, there's no denying what Dubinsky and Anisimov brought to the table. Two solid overall players who could play in different situations. In particular on our penalty kill where kids like Carl Hagelin and perhaps Chris Kreider will be asked to pick up the slack. Hopefully, they won't experience any growing pains. But if Dubi and Arty taught us anything, it's that not every year for young players is consistent.

Farewell to two good Rangers. Best of luck in Columbus.

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