BCBS For 10/3: “Block That Shot: The Bob Chrystal Story” Book Review, Phil Watson, Valiquette Interview, Analytics, Duguay Update, Rangers Town Hall Thoughts, NYR FB Groups & More

“Block That Shot: The Bob Chrystal Story”, is one of the new hockey books that is now available on Amazon.com

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. I know in my last blog, I said I’d be back after the home opener, but since I have a little free time on my hands, I figured I’d squeeze this update in. Don’t worry, unlike the last few blogs, this won’t go 10,000 words!

In today’s blog, I will have a full book review of “Block That Shot: The Bob Chrystal Story”, another update on the Ron Duguay petition, thoughts on the Rangers “Town Hall”, and a couple of thoughts on a few other odds & ends.

Before getting into what sparked this blog, which is the Bob Chrystal autobiography, here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:

BCBS For 10/1: Looking at The Entire New York Rangers Roster For 2018-2019, Vinni Lettieri Wows All, A Huge Look at Lias “Jessiman” Andersson, Big Update on the Ron Duguay Situation & a Duguay Interview, Insane M$G Ticket Prices & Desperation, NYR Mascot Ideas, Reader Feedback & More

NYR/NYI 9/22 Game Review, Preseason Thoughts Thus Far, Update on Duguay/MSG Networks Story with Rumor Killer & More NYR News/Notes/Opinions

MSG Networks Parts Ways with Ron Duguay Under Sketchy Circumstances, How To Support Duguay, Sign The “Bring Back Doogie” Petition & More

The NHL 2018-2019 Season Preview Blog! Individual Profiles & Thoughts On All 31 Teams, Every NHL Story Covered, Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions, Gambling, Playoff Expansion, Who’s Hot & Who’s Not, Teams on the Rise, Teams in the Toilet & Much More in this Comprehensive Look at the Upcoming Season

A BCBS HOT TAKE Blog: The New York Rangers Land Boston Bruins Defenseman, Adam McQuaid, for Steven Kampfer & Draft Picks

“Eddie: A Goalie’s Story” Book Review – An In-Depth Look at Eddie Giacomin’s New York Rangers Career, Giacomin’s Place in Rangers History vs Other Ranger Goalies, The Return Game as a Red Wing, Latest on NYR & More

The New York Rangers 2018-2019 Season Preview Blog: Taking An In-Depth & Comprehensive Look at the Roster & Every Storyline Going Into The Season, The Lundqvist Era and How His Role Has Changed, The Draft vs The Playoffs, The Rebuild, Free Agents vs Youth, Ranger Fans vs Patience, No Move Clauses, Potential Trades, Sather Must Go ASAP, What It Takes To Win The Cup & More on the Current State of NYR

Bob Chrystal (pictured right, as if you couldn’t tell) with his co-author, Ty Dilello.

When Ty Dilello, who is a hockey writer/author from Winnipeg, first contacted me about his new book on Bob Chrystal, the first question I asked myself was probably the same question you’re asking yourself – “Who is Bob Chrystal?” After reading “Block That Shot: The Bob Chrystal Story”, I now know all about Bob Chrystal and I’m glad that I do.

As discussed in previous hockey book reviews on this site, writing a book about hockey isn’t a lucrative endeavor. Unless you’re a recent player of name value, such as a Sean Avery, a Curtis Joseph or a Jeremy Roenick, it is hard to drum up interest and book sales. Part of the problem is that people don’t read books the way they used to. In this social media age, while the literacy rate is higher than ever before, people aren’t reading anything of much value.

For New Yorkers like myself, who commute to Manhattan to work, many of us can remember the days where newspapers littered the train seats. Every day, you would see fellow commuters reading a newspaper or a book, to and from work. Now, in the present day, everyone is on their cell phone. Whether they are doing the Twitter, the Facebook, the Snapchat, the Instagram or whatever else is out there, newspapers & books seem like relics from a bygone era, just like a VHS tape or a cassette.

In America, hockey is a niche sport. While the franchises have some of the most hardcore fan bases around, their numbers do not rival the fan bases of the other three major sports in America. In some markets, even college sports or extreme sports, like racecar driving or MMA, is bigger than hockey. It’s just the way it is.

No matter how well researched or well written a hockey book is, due to hockey having a smaller audience, it’s harder for authors, especially of the self-publishing variety, to get their product out there. A sloppily written book on the Yankees will do more sales and get more attention than a hockey book in America. That’s just the way it is.

As of this writing, Bob Chrystal is the oldest living ex-NHLer in Manitoba. He’s also one of the oldest ex-Rangers alive today. The only person that I can think of that’s older is Emile “The Cat” Francis. Photo Credit: BTS

For hockey fans, there are plenty of books out there, but for the authors themselves, it’s a rat race to draw attention or turn a dime. In this fast paced world, there’s only so much time in a day, so independently published books like this one, sometimes get lost by the wayside.

Going into this book, the only knowledge that I had of Bob Chrystal was whatever was on Wikipedia. When you hear the name “Chrystal” today, the first person most New Yorkers will think of is Billy Crystal, even if he spells his last name differently.

As of right now, I have a full-time job, the New York Rangers are about to start their season, have family commitments and I’m just busy in general. I also have a stack of unread books I still have to get through. So why did I put this book on the top of the list? For me, it’s because I wanted to support an independent author and because I love the history of hockey.

When this book came in the mail, I thumbed through it and figured it would a slow read. After all, who was Bob Chrystal? How much substance could he provide, considering his NHL career lasted for only two seasons? How do you make a book out of 132 career NHL games played? Well, I’m here to tell you that Bob Chrystal, along with IIHF writer, Ty Dilello, did exactly that – they made a great book that gives you a ton of bang for your buck.

Ty Dilello had a lot to work from when putting this book together, as Chrystal had multiple scrap books of his career. Photo Credit: BTS

Off puck drop, for Ranger fans, especially those who crave history, this is a must-read book. Books and stories like these are important. As the old guard passes on, as fans and as humans, we lose these tales.

For some readers of this blog, you may know me for my rants on Henrik Lundqvist, and that’s fine. I understand that’s sometimes the reputation I get, but when it comes to the history of hockey, I can care less about Lundqvist. I care more about seeing guys like Frank Boucher, Bun Cook, Bill Cook, Lester Patrick, Emile Francis and Ron Greschner, getting their just due from the Rangers, than the latest soft goal Lundqvist gave up.

In “Block That Shot”, I was reminded of how history is either written by the winners or by the people who stay alive longer. What I mean by that exactly, is that this was about the 12th or 13th book that I’ve read, where an ex-player has nothing nice to say about ex-Ranger player & coach, “Fiery” Phil Watson. In this book, Chrystal explains his issues with Watson in detail. In reality, Chrystal is just another name, on a long list of names, to call out Phil Watson for being an asshole.

As I’ve said on prior blogs, it’s truly a travesty that Phil Watson never wrote a book. I’ve extensively researched Phil Watson, and there is not much about him out there. He didn’t give interviews out at the end of his life. He didn’t write a tell-all. The only person that ever had anything nice to say about him was Muzz Patrick.

It’s a shame, because while I believe Chrystal to be 100% honest, I would’ve loved to hear Watson’s side on the countless stories that have put him on blast. In the same vein, it’s why I wish Rod Gilbert would write a book, as his name is not remembered fondly in many of the books that I’ve read. (The most common negative theme from people of Gilbert’s day is that Gilbert valued partying & having a good time over winning.)

Long story short – I just wish to read both sides of every story. The dead can’t defend themselves. That said, this is Chrystal’s story and there is no reason to doubt anything he said. This is more of a personal desire of mine, as I hear all this negativity about Watson and Gilbert in particular, and would love to hear their view/defense.

Bob Chrystal didn’t have a long career in the NHL, but will always be immortalized through hockey cards. Photo Credit: Topps

As someone who really enjoys the history of the Rangers, this book was amazing for me. By now, you’ve probably read 76767967896 blogs by me where I talk about Frank Boucher. You can even check the Frank Boucher menu tab on this site for Boucher articles. In all of my research, talking to Boucher’s family members and in all of my reading, there was never much out there about Boucher, after his time in New York. Even in Boucher’s own autobiography, he ends the book with his last day as GM of the Rangers, rather than talking about what he did afterwards. (You can read that book review by visiting the book review section or the Frank Boucher section of this site.)

Low and behold, not only did Bob Chrystal know Frank Boucher pretty well, he played for Boucher when Boucher was GM of the Rangers. When Chrystal and Boucher left New York, Chrystal found himself playing for General Manager Boucher once again, this time in the WHL.

(Oh, and if this review ever finds the eyes of Mr. Chrystal, the bar Frank Boucher took you to, that you couldn’t remember the name of, was “Hogan’s Irish Ale House”, which was located on West 52nd Street. It’s been knocked down since.)

I would have to really do some fact checking here, but it is very possible that Bob Chrystal is the only player in the history of hockey, to play for Fred “Bun” Cook, Bill Cook and Frank Boucher himself. Who else can say they had all three members, of the best line in New York Rangers history, the Bread Line, as their head coach? (Anyone who tells you the GAG line is better doesn’t know what the Bread Line did.)

In fact, Chrystal excelled under Head Coach Bun Cook, won a Calder Cup (The Calder Cup was much more prestigious in those days, as there were only 6 NHL teams) and would then wear Bun’s number 6 when playing for the Rangers. Furthermore, when you think about it, due to the Cleveland Barons/NY Rangers connection of that time, it was probably Bun’s recommendation that sold Frank Boucher on Chrystal in the first place!

Cleveland Baron’s Head Coach Bun Cook (center) and Bob Chrystal (right) who scored the series winning GWG, with the Calder Cup in 1953. Photo Credit: BTS

While Chrystal’s stint with the NHL was short, in his time, he played against all the legends of that era. In “Block The Shot”, Chrystal recounts his memories of playing against Gordie Howe.

Before talking about the Rangers, Chrystal talks about his upbringing in Manitoba. For Manitobians (is that a word?) some of these stories may hit home. For a Yankee bastard like me, I couldn’t relate when Chrystal was rattling off places, street names and venues in Winnipeg. For ‘Pegger’s like Chrystal, you may find these stories better than I did.

If there is one thing to get out of this story, and I have to think that Bob Chrystal must’ve been flushed with emotion when thinking about him when working on this book, it is what a great father Bob had. Chrystal’s father has long since passed away, but without Chrystal’s father, this book wouldn’t be nearly as good as it was. In fact, it’s arguable to say, that without Chrystal’s father, you don’t have a book here.

Bob Chrystal, who was born in 1930, came from a different era, obviously. In today’s world, you have 20-30 year olds who still live with their parents. Some of these freaks spend all of their free time making up analytic charts and heat maps, rather than getting a real job and a roof of their own. In Bob’s day, and close your eyes here liberals, men were men. What I mean by that is that you went to school, finished up by 16 years old or so, got a job immediately, got married and raised a family. There was no X-Box and making spray charts in your parent’s basement in your mid-twenties, like the generation of today.

Bob Chrystal going through the old scrapbooks that his father made of him. Some of these scrapbooks are 65+ years old. Photo Credit: BTS

Bob Chrystal’s father, a man who worked on the rails, always supported Bob’s hockey dreams. There was no talk of “getting a real job”. There was no reality check. Bob’s father urged Bob to chase his hockey dream. Bob’s father was Bob’s biggest fan, and chronicled Bob’s entire career through scrap booking. Even when Bob left Canada and went to play in New York, Bob’s father asked Bob to send him any press clippings with Bob’s name in it. Bob did just that. As a result, “Block The Shot” features over 100 pictures of Bob in his playing days, various news clippings, different programs and other forms of media.

While duh, pictures illustrate a story, Bob’s father’s scrap books really brought Bob Chrystal’s career to life. I can only imagine what Bob felt when going back in time to look at this stuff. And really, at 88 years old, this may be the last time Bob ever goes through the father’s hard work. However, these scrap books are a great family heirloom for the Chrystal family, that should live on for generations. Even better, the Chrystal family now has a new heirloom, in the form of this book.

On a side note, I found it really cool that Chrystal still has a ton of memorabilia from his career, such as the stick he used in the Calder Cup Final and the puck that he scored his first NHL goal with.

In “Block That Shot”, Bob uses his father’s scrap books to piece together Bob’s playing career. After discussing his early days as a “YOUT” (My Cousin Vinny reference) Bob then goes on to talk about his start, his USHL days in Denver, his run in Cleveland, his time with the Rangers and how he finished up at 30 years old in the WHL. However, Chrystal doesn’t end the book at 30 years old, as he talks about what he did after and what does in the present day.

Before continuing on, here are some excerpts/pages from the book:

(NOTE: The following images comes from “BLOCK THAT SHOT” and all pages & pictures are property of Bob Chrystal and Ty Dilello.)

This figure skater helped Chrystal forget about Watson, at least temporarily. And yes, I’m joking here. Chrystal has been married to his wife Mimi for over 65 years. Photo Credit: BTS

For Ranger fans, Bob talks about all of his teammates from that time. Chrystal goes deep into his issues with then Rangers head coach, Phil Watson. If it wasn’t for Phil Watson, Chrystal’s NHL career would’ve been longer. However, as a family man with kids and no player union at the time, Chrystal had no ties to New York and basically told Watson to eff off.’

One story fans will also enjoy is Chrystal talking about his role in the famous Murphy/Geoffrion fight, from 1953. For those who don’t know about that fight, you can watch it here:

Chrystal is like many players from his era and while the phrase “victim of his time” isn’t exactly 100% true, in a different era, Chrystal would’ve made more money and would’ve had a longer career. Chrystal played ten years before the C-Form contracts were abolished. He also came before the days of the WHA, which bolstered player salaries tremendously.

At this top of this blog, I said I didn’t know who Bob Chrystal was. As I come to the end of this book review, I’m glad to have found out. Personally, I hope this book becomes a success. Hopefully, “Block That Shot” encourages other non-brand name players to tell their stories too.

Overall, this is a tremendous book, especially considering that it was self-published. Most self-published books have grammar and formatting errors all over the place, but this book was smoother than the ice surface that Chrystal played on!

This book is available on Amazon.com. To pick up a copy, visit https://www.amazon.com/Block-That-Shot-Chrystal-Story/dp/1720196575

Of note, it looks like this book can be had for free, if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member. I don’t know what that is, as personally, I can’t read books on the computer or off a screen. I enjoy the turning of pages game.

I’ve also been told that if you contact @TYDilello on twitter, you can also purchase an autographed copy of this book. To me, that’s a great deal.

The Rangers held their circle jerk on Monday. Photo Credit @PJScribe

If you weren’t aware, the Rangers, on Monday, 10/1, held a “Town Hall” event for season ticket holders. What once was a perk for season ticket holders, is now an event that was broadcasted live on the internet, for all to see.

All in all,  if the season ticket holders aren’t used to being treated like shit already, they got an extra inch in the hiney with this Town Hall. After all, why spend transportation/food/drink money on going to this thing, when you can sit at home in your underwear and watch it for free?

Whether it’s the advent of the “All For One” passes, deep discounts on the secondary market, fluctuating game prices (For example, the Thanksgiving/Xmas games for one season ticket holder is $295 a ticket, while the Thursday 10/11 game vs San Jose is only $120. In other words, it’s hard to sell the former games than the latter.) or giving away past season ticket holder perks for every fan, as mentioned in my last blog, unless you can get a write off on your Ranger season tickets, it’s just not worth it.

Ranger season ticket holders these days may as well wear a dunce cap and have an “X” marked on their back, just so the Rangers know what marks they’ve already roped in. And for the Ranger season ticket holders out there, while I respect your dedication, you guys are treated worse than any other season ticket holder in the league.

Anyhoo, before getting into my comments about the Rangers Town Hall, you can watch the thing in its entirety here:

Originally, I planned on recapping this thing, but to be honest it wasn’t worth my time, nor is it worth your time. In fact, the only entertaining thing about this Rangers Town Hall was Jim Schmeideberg and Eddie Gieck, of Blueshirt Underground Radio, and their fans, “heckling” the event on the Rangers Facebook page. (You can still see those comments by going to: https://www.facebook.com/nyrangers/)

Of note, my favorite lines were from Jim, when he said, Give Zuke the C, as in “C how many picks we can get for him” andWill there be a commercial break when they change Glen’s bag?

For 90+ minutes, this felt like an article from Larry Brooks in a video format. At least you could see who his leaks are.

The same stuff that Brooks talks about were the common themes in this Town Hall. These themes were also the same things pushed on the broadcasts of the preseason games. If you read about and follow the Rangers, you didn’t really learn anything new or get any true juice out of this Town Hall.

The same old shit that was pushed was the following:

— Brendan Smith knows he messed up and is looking to have a comeback year.

— Shattenkirk wants to have a good year. (What’s Shatty going to say, “I hope I suck this year”?)

— Lundqvist can do no wrong and nothing is ever his fault.

— Lias Andersson will get more minutes in Hartford, blah blah blah.

— Kevin Hayes and the Rangers thought a one year deal was best. I guess it’s the best move if you want to dump him at the trade deadline.

— David Quinn, if you haven’t heard, likes to develop talent.

“Shit, I don’t know why James Dolan pays me either!” – Photo Credit: MSG Networks

All in all, there were more softballs in this Town Hall than at a beer league softball game. Not that it was controversial, but the “edgiest” stuff talked about was that the Rangers were high on Igor Shestyorkin. Of course, there was no follow up about Lundqvist being overpaid, overrated and where does he fit in when you have two young goalies ready to go next season. (It is of my opinion, that if Georgiev pans out and if Shestyorkin can go, why not do a Giacomin/Villemure 1970-1971 thing with them? The Rangers MUST have both of these guys with Allaire full-time.)

The other stuff was Glen Sather dumping on the nerds and analytics, saying Gretzky & Fuhr were two of the worst analytic players ever, and they worked out okay. Jeff Gorton said that there are analytics that the basement bloggers don’t even know about. That will get some mom jeans ruffled up. (And I should mention, Gorton didn’t say the word “basement”, but let’s not the truth get in the way of a good story!)

This INTOXICATING Town Hall was capped off with some woman asking about the nutrition of the Rangers and her disdain for Gatorade. Some real thought provoking stuff here.

This Town Hall would’ve been exciting if AV ran out and had an nWo invasion with his boys Tanner Glass and Nick Holden. Photo Credit: NHL.com

While this event is somewhat of a good-will event for season ticket holders, there was nothing controversial asked. No one was put on the spot. My questions were ignored. I wonder why, ha! Aside from asking about Hank’s bad contract & mediocre play, I would’ve asked Glen Sather if he wears a ski mask when he cashes his paycheck. I would’ve also asked about his infamous quote of, “If I had the Rangers payroll, I would win the Stanley Cup every season.”

Of course, when talking about Brendan Smith, no one brought up the fight with Lettieri or what started it. Doesn’t anyone else want to know what this was all about? I guess running 76376438936483 articles on “LUNDQVIST WILL BE READY FOR THIS SEASON”, is more of a pressing matter.

When it comes to Gorton, I would’ve liked to ask him if he feels handcuffed with Sather over his shoulder. I would’ve also liked to ask if he regrets the bad contracts Sather left him and if he regrets the Raanta/Stepan for Tony DeAngelo/Lias Andersson trade.

All in all, if you read Larry Brooks, there was nothing new in this Town Hall.

You can still sign the Ron Duguay petition at: https://www.change.org/p/jeff-fillippi-bring-back-ron-duguay-to-msg-networks

After my last blog, I had a few people email/Twitter me asking about Ron Duguay’s whereabouts on Opening Night. For those who wish to get a picture/something signed by Duguay, Duguay will be by the Pennsy at 3:30-4:30 and will be at one of the entrances at 6:30-7:30.

Oh, and the petition is up to 730 signatures. Help increase my count before I print it out and send it to Jeff Filippi.

Steve Valiquette does a great job in his role on the MSG Networks, although I do believe he is too biased towards Lundqvist and will never criticize him the way he does with other players. Photo Credit: Getty Images

This may shock you, but as mentioned on these blogs, I try to read everything from the Rangers fan base, even from people who I don’t share the same opinion with. One of those sites, who can’t stand this blog you’re reading for having a different opinion, is Blueshirt Banter. While I don’t agree with BSB with 99% of what they say and I feel don’t know their Rangers history (To me, it seems that most of their staff only knows this Lundqvist era and that’s it) you can’t deny their passion. While I can do without the slideshows, the non-stop ads and articles that aren’t exactly fleshed out, they are a dedicated group of millennials.

(Oh, and for the people wondering why I’m plugging a site I’m not a fan of, the bottom line is who cares? It’s the internet. This isn’t a competition for dollars. Anyone can click where they want to click. Although, when you click here, you usually get 10,000 words for your one click and with no ads, begging for patreon money and you get original thought! That said, if you don’t understand how other people think, how can you argue your side? That’s why some run from debate and some encourage it. I also feel that the younger/current generation of fans, due to the insane prices for tickets, have most of their NYR memories from their phone and TV, as opposed to older fans, whose fondest memories come from being in the crowd & seeing the players in bars. In other words, the guys at BSB would never be able to appreciate a guy like Don Murdoch, because after all, MURDOCH’S CORSI, THE HORROR!)

While Steve Valiquette isn’t a millennial himself, for fans like Blueshirt Banter, he is the King of the Analytics & King of the Nerd World. And I say that tongue-in-cheek, because I too, am a fan of Valiquette and I think he does great work. I do think he’s ahead of the curve, but I don’t put the same stock into analytics, heat maps, spray charts or any other crap that you make with a T-Square, compass and scientific calculator.

I understand why analytics can be important, but as I always say, these bullshit charts are usually reactionary. There’s nothing you can do with these charts, during the heat of a game, that can help you win. Furthermore, none of these charts, maps and hieroglyphics factor in human emotion, passion, or heart. To expand even more, these blueprints for the blue in the face debaters also don’t factor in fatigue, the schedule of both the Rangers & their opposition, line changes and personal lives.

For anyone who is a disciple of these Urkel charts, I gotta ask you this – which chart predicted Vegas vs Washington in the Stanley Cup Final last season? What chart tells you that Lundqvist led the league in most goals allowed in the opening minute of a period? (For the record, that was a stat I gave Vally for free and I didn’t even have a number 2 pencil and graph paper when I gave it to him! That said, he did make that chart for me, which I owe him a beer for. And if Vally is reading this, DM me Thursday and I’ll get you a belt and a pop which I think you’ll enjoy more than a protractor and a straight edge!)

While I am being humorous here with my 1980’s nerd jokes for comedic effect, I also understand that it doesn’t hurt to have this data. Then again, the Godfather of Sports Analytics, Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s, currently walks around with no jewelry on his fingers either.

Clear Sight Analytics
Vally runs and owns “Clear Sight Analytics”. (CSA) For more, visit: https://www.csahockey.com/

As mentioned repeatedly on these blogs, I’m a fan of the stuff on the ice, not the stuff on a spreadsheet. As I said above, when it comes to talking about other sites that I’m not a fan of, I still check them out from time-to-time, because even if I don’t agree with their stuff, it doesn’t hurt you to have as much knowledge as possible and to hear other opinions.

I truly believe that Vally is ahead of the curve with his CSA company. It’s mind-boggling that the Rangers, who just last night talked about analytics and fancy boy stats, don’t use Vally’s work. For comparison, the Toronto Maple Leafs do hire/pay Vally for his information. For a team like the Rangers, flushed with cash from having the highest priced tickets in the league, what’s throwing Vally a few thousand dollars? At the end of the day, Vally’s work will just help to give the team another advantage.

While I don’t consider these analytics to be life or death, it also doesn’t hurt to have this information at your fingertips. For a drop in the hat for the Rangers, why not use Vally’s CSA company? Even if you don’t use the information day-to-day, it doesn’t hurt to have it and can only help.

Photo Credit: Sporting News

As you may be aware of by now, I was a huge Cam Talbot fan when he first started in the Rangers organization. I saw him play in the AHL and thought he had something special. Again, I’m sure you know about my Talbot diatribes.

I said then and I’ve always said, that the Rangers should’ve rode Talbot in the 2015 playoffs, trade Lundqvist while he had great trade value (Because really, who the fuck would trade for Lundqvist today?) and give the starting job to Talbot. Of course, my opinion here set off the kids in the basement, because all they’ve ever known was Lundqvist. I kind of get it, because when I was younger, I was enraged and furious when the Rangers traded Leetch and Graves. That said, Lundqvist plays in a different era (Salary cap) and was not a winner like Leetch or Graves.

When it came to Raanta, I didn’t have the same fan attachment to him as I did with Talbot. However, his strong play grew on me and I became a fan. What many of these Lundqvist fans do not realize is that anyone is tradeable. If you can trade Gretzky, if you can trade Leetch, if you can trade Messier,  if you can trade Jagr, if you can trade Orr, you can trade a Cupless overpaid goalie too.

When it comes to Lundqvist vs the other greats, everything in Lundqvist’s era goes against him. His age. His contract. The fact that the disparity among starting goalies vs back-up goalies isn’t as wide as it once was. In fact, we are seeing more back-ups become starters than ever before. As mentioned ad nauseam on this blog, just look at the Vezina candidates from last season. Vasilevskiy was a back-up and pushed a starter out of town. Hellebuyck was a back-up and pushed a starter out of town. Both moves were for the best for their respective teams.

With Lundqvist, the Rangers had two chances to emulate other success stories and to go with what’s working. I mean, did they not see Matt Murray win two Stanley Cups? The Rangers should’ve kept Talbot. They made a mistake there. They got a reprieve and had a chance to make good with Raanta. Instead, they traded him for a defenseman who may never crack the starting six and a draft pick who could be the next Hugh Jessiman.

For years, despite me rather being known as the guy who is the champion behind getting Frank Boucher’s #7 in the rafters of MSG, you’ve heard me bitch and moan about how the Rangers would never win a Cup with Lundqvist. As we approach year 5 of this blog, I haven’t been proven wrong yet. In fact, my arguments have been proven true, based on the other back-ups becoming starters across the league.

As mentioned in my last blog, the Rangers don’t need Henrik Lunqvist. For $8.5M, they are better off investing in Benoit Allaire for the rest of Allaire’s life. That’s your knight in shining armor.

Lundqvist was in his prime years ago, which ironically, was the same time Valiquette was going for the Zack Morris look. I rather Screech in net than Hank! Photo Credit: NHL.com

Any way, as I’m taking forever to get to my original point, Valiquette recently did an interview with the chart blog. You can read it here: https://www.blueshirtbanter.com/2018/10/2/17924314/previewing-2018-19-new-york-rangers-with-msg-networks-steve-valiquette-allaire-lundqvist-georgiev

Now this is where I had to crack up, as this was in the article:

Valiquette uses his data and expertise to analyze everything happening on the ice. Nonetheless, he is well aware that goaltending remains his specialty. He knows from personal experience that the mid-30s are right when a goaltender’s body starts to let him (or her) down. Henrik Lundqvist, at 36, is susceptible.

“We’ve already seen Luongo – a couple years older – have a lot of difficulty staying healthy. Our bodies betray us at 35. He’s of course going to go through that as his body ages. That’s no different for him than anyone else,” Valiquette said.”

“This is one of the things I’m looking forward to seeing unfold under a new coaching staff,” Valiquette said. “He’s great on runs of games – you know it, I know it – so give him a run of games. Give him seven, then shut him down for three or four. (Alexandar) Georgiev is good enough. Give Hank seven more, maybe six. See where he is at, then give him another week with Allaire. Guess what; you’ll never see him so sharp.”

Planning for an entire season can be complicated due to the many quirks that occur over the course of a season, but in an ideal world, Valiquette imagines somewhere in the range of 50 starts for Lundqvist during the regular season.

“The advantage (Georgiev) has is Allaire. You are going to have the most positive, reinforcing coach with the highest level of knowledge on player development that there is in the league. Can you imagine how Allaire has seen it all? He’s developed Cam I love Antti Raanta still.

“So he’s had things in place now that Georgiev can look at and say, ‘alright, look what happened with Talbot, look what happened with Antti Raanta. I’m going to listen to everything this guy says.’ It’s instant street cred for a young guy.”

Georgiev also has the personality and work ethic requisite for the situation.

“I’ve heard from everybody that (Georgiev) is the hardest working goalie they’ve ever seen. His work ethic is through the roof,” Valiquette said.

“You need a goalie who understands what hard work is, and from all accounts Georgiev does. You need a goalie who can make adjustments and be very coachable, or else you can’t make that step to the NHL. From all accounts that’s exactly what Georgiev is. And thirdly, he doesn’t get frustrated when he’s challenged. There’s no task that’s too big or too small for him. I really believe in his ability to keep his cool through what could be a trying season at times. So that won’t take him off the rails… I think we’re going to see a really good version of him.”

Doesn’t Valiquette go on the air and say how great Lundqvist is and how he’s a great value? What a head scratcher. Photo Credit: MSG Networks

Yes, I’m going to bust Vally’s balls here, but c’mon Steve, I said all this shit years ago and all I heard about was how Lundqvist was still elite and of value. A good GM has FORESIGHT and the wherewithal to predict when to move on. I said all this years ago and everyone wanted to whine about how great Lundqvist was. Maybe if you kept Talbot, you win the Cup in 2015. Maybe if you kept Raanta, you’re not rebuilding this season.

(And I should make it clear because people will just see the TRADE LUNDQVIST stuff, yes, Marc Staal and Rick Nash get some blame as well, for the Rangers inability to win a Cup during these last few seasons.)

Bottom line – in this cap era, the Rangers should’ve kept Talbot, should’ve kept Raanta and they will probably go for strike three, when they keep Lundqvist on this roster next year, while Georgiev or Shestyorkin winds up in Hartford. To quote the great Donald Trump, “SAD!”

Oh, and how many rebuilding teams around the league, during these last ten years, built around a 37 year old $8.5M cap hit goalie? None? Okay, just checking. DOUBLE SAD!

All this said, Vally is the best guy MSG Networks has and I’m surprised that he doesn’t have a national job with NBC or TSN. (Maybe he’s been offered, I don’t know. Vally has young children & may not want to uproot his family.) However, I will miss Ron Duguay tremendously, as he challenged Vally for being a “goalie homer”. (I mean that in a good way.)  Having another yes-man in the studio will make the pregame and postgame shows not as entertaining or as exciting. I’m really going to miss the chemistry Vally and Duguay had.

End of the day, Ranger fans are lucky to have Valiquette in the studio. His ball-busting stuff on Trautwig is even better!

Look at these two monsters. Photo Credit: RL Stine/Goosebumps

Finally, as we head home here, the majority of my readership are older fans. Most of you guys can’t stand Twitter and don’t even know how to open Instagram. (Don’t feel bad, I’m 36 and don’t want to learn how Instagram works either.) Many of you guys have the Facebook. I just wanted to reprint something I wrote last season, for Ranger fans looking for stronger debate than the “YOO ARE GAY, I HOAP YOU DIE SZN” stuff that you get on twitter.

In no alphabetical order, here are some of my favorite NY Ranger Facebook Groups:

— Blueshirt Underground Radio – a group used to promote, drum roll please….. Blueshirt Underground Radio, Jim Schmeideberg does a great job of keeping things lighthearted and entertaining.

— Blunt NY Ranger Fans – hosted by the diehard flair wearin’ traveler Bob Groder, every opinion is out there, for better or for worse and without judgement.

— Garden of Ill Repute – one of my favorite groups, where the age of the users tend to be older, thus more knowledgable. Sorry young fans, I’m not putting you down, there’s just something to be said for being older and wiser. Nick Adams does a fantastic job with his writing too. I’m surprised he doesn’t have a silly blog like me.

— I Am A Ranger – Jeannine Marie deals with alot, as she handles nearly 11,000 animals. This is a very pro Lundqvist group, where people whine if you bury him. That said, there are plenty of good debates on the page.

— New York Rangers Bleed Blue Crew – this is where I usually get articles and opinions from Al “I Love Zuccarello” DeMauro and Artie Sintef. Both of these fans are very knowledgable and I enjoy my debates with both of them. This is a great group for news, as Al posts all the links that are making the rounds.

— New York Rangers Hockey Maniacs – hosted by one of the most knowledgable female fans I know, in Jen Imperato. This group is wide open with a wide range of opinions. Now that I think about it, this is probably the most female heavy Rangers group out there, right up there with the final group I’m going to mention.

— REAL TIME NY RANGERS – hosted by the outspoken Michelle Fauchere, this group is not for the Lundqvist fans. There’s a lot of great fans in this group, who are kind of exclusive to this group alone. Of note, this was Tim Malone’s (RIP) favorite group. I’m going to miss him and our non-stop battles. The Rangers lost a good fan when he passed away last month.

Yes, I will be wearing this on 10/11 when NYR plays Edmonton. I hope to see my Talbot loving buddy, Travis Jackson there too!

Well this blog went a lot longer than I thought I would! As mentioned in Monday’s blog, I’ll be back late Thursday/early Friday with my thoughts on Game 1. From there, it’s off to Carolina!

And yes, I will try to keep a positive mindset this season. After all, this is a stress-free season and I’m planning on just having fun & hope you guys keep enjoying the manifestos of a madman!

See ya Thursday, and as always…


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on the tweeter machine

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