NYR/CAR 12/3 Review: Rangers Win a Snoozer in Front of a Dead “Kid’s Day” Crowd at MSG, MSG’s Mistakes with Fans, Looking at The Upcoming NHL CBA & NHL Salary Cap vs Other Major Sports & Gary Bettman, The Sopranos & John Giannone, Stepan Has His Best Game of the Season & More

With a 3 point game & being named the number 1 star, Derek Stepan earned the Broadway Hat today. Pic credit: NY Rangers

What’s up everyone and welcome to a belated blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. I originally planned to write this like usual, right after the game, but the first forty minutes of this game had me near comatose. I may have drank a copious amount of alcohol on Friday night, making me a tad groggy for this 1PM matinee at MSG. However, I’m still going to blame the first forty minutes of this game, on why I was so damn tired! Once the final horn went off around 3:45PM on Saturday, I was ready for my pillow. While I woke up for this 1PM game, the Rangers decided to wake up around 3PM and won the contest, 4-2 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

For the Rangers, they played another last or near last place team for the third game in a row. The Hurricanes have one more point than the last place Islanders, but the Islanders have a game in hand. Carolina also rested starting goalie Cam Ward for back-up Michael Leighton. Since the Rangers were playing a last place team featuring a back-up goalie, Henrik Lundqvist started. I could push my narrative of how Hank always takes the easy games (and he does) but with 2.5 days off until the next game, against the last place Islanders, I have no problem with the highest paid player on the team playing this game.

The Rangers got a rough schedule the next four games. Tuesday they go to Brooklyn. Despite the Islanders being in last place, Halak is 10-1 against Lundqvist and the Islanders always play the Rangers tough. They even swept the Blueshirts last year. After that, the Rangers travel to Winnipeg on Thursday, in what I assume will be a Raanta start, since the Jets have a good offense and Hank will want no part of that. The Rangers then fly down to Chicago against the Blackhawks. I think Hank takes that start since the Blackhawks are without starting goalie Corey Crawford, who is out with appendicitis. Hank loves playing against back-up goalies, so I’m sure he’s salivating at a shot to play opposite of Scott Darling.

Since I’m going to that game in Chicago, I’m hoping Raanta starts, since he knows the arena & the team. However, the lure of a back-up goalie is too great to pass up for Lundqvist. I think you will see the goalie rotation play out that way, then Hank will play next Sunday, at home, against the Devils at MSG, with another 2.5 days of rest.

As I write these words, I can see I’ve already skipped over this Carolina game and have looked at the upcoming schedule. I think I did that because subconsciously, this 1PM game against the Hurricanes was a chore to watch. Since this is my blog and I’ll blog if I want to, this game made me sick before the puck was even dropped. Here’s why:

MSG practically looked like this today. Pic credit: Sportsvideo.org

Today was a Catholic priest’s favorite Ranger game of the year – Kids Day at MSG. I’m all for “Kids Day” at MSG, although that only entails people finger-painting the Rangers logo on the cheeks of children. It’s not like any parent got a break on ticket prices. Dolan was still right there to take the mortgage payment out of the hands of parents. Granted, this is a supply vs demand business. Ranger tickets are always a hot ticket. Still, give the Islanders & Devils credit for catering to families all season long. The Devils routinely have a 4 tickets, 4 sodas & 4 hot dogs package for $99. Again, supply vs demand, but the Devils advertise this before, during and after the season. It nearly costs $99 just to get two stale beers at MSG these days.

The Rangers calling this a “Kid’s Day” game is like painting a turd. At the end of the day, it’s just a shiny turd. If the Rangers really wanted to do a “Kid’s Day” theme, perhaps they would give out affordable tickets to parents so they could afford to take their kids. I know it’s not like baseball, where you can just jump on the field & run around like a monkey, but even letting the kids skate on the ice after the game would be a “Kid’s Day” type of activity. Basically, all “Kid’s Day” was were people painting kid’s faces and kids getting 6 worthless trading cards. I’m sure that set Dolan back $5. Just imagine if Dolan invested the money he’s invested in lawsuits created by his BFF Isiah Thomas into the Rangers fanbase? Nah, that would make sense!

To be clear – I have nothing against Kid’s Day and I believe all teams in every sport should try to cater to young fans. Young fans are tomorrow’s future dollars. I’m the biggest example of it. I’m 34 years old and about half my yearly earnings go to sports shit, whether it be going to games, merchandise, league passes, jerseys, memorabilia & all that jazz. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be homeless one day – but at least I’ll have an official Rangers blanket & slippers to sleep in! Maybe I can get an official Rangers cardboard box too!

Sometimes you gotta go the extra mile. What drove me insane, as it always does, was all the empty bougias seats at MSG. To me any seats where you are offered free food or waiter service is bougias. The whole 100 section today was half empty. I was debating about going to this game, but once Hank was announced the starter, I decided to save my money. At this point, after attending 35+ home games a year for many years, I rather save my money and use it for road trips. I’m working on a bucket-list of attending every NHL arena, so I rather accomplish that goal. Yes, I know, I set lofty goals for myself!

Plus, with the money saved today, I rather spend a bit more and see NYR vs NYI on Tuesday, plus I got my Chicago trip next week too. I also have what industry insiders call a “beer belly”, so I basically saved myself (and liver) $300 by staying on the couch today!

Even when I don’t go to games, I still check Stubhub for my research. You all know about my Stubhub trick and if you’re new here, check the archives, located on the right hand of the site on how to sit good at MSG for cheap via my Stubhub tricks.

There were hundreds of seats available right up to game time. Most of them were bougias seats. They were going for a pretty penny too. I don’t get this line of thinking. Most of these bougias seats are held by corporations who have the season seats. Instead of giving them away to someone at the office, they are trying to sell them for a high price, rather than just getting something. They would rather not sell the seat and ask for $300 rather than taking $75 and calling it a day.

It was laughable when the Rangers announced a sell-out today, when half the building was made up of empty seats. I know, I know- the tickets were paid for. I can even remember the Knicks of the 1990’s buying seats out of the MSG bank account to keep sell-out streaks going. It still looks fugazi when you can hear a kid asking his parents to buy them popcorn on TV. That’s how quiet the building was.

It’s not like the kids know how to chant or how to get loud at a game, because for most of them, they don’t go to any other games because the tickets are so damn expensive. The whole situation about people eating their seats rather than selling for something, is like the terrible tap beer at MSG – it just gives me a headache and diarrhea.

The whole game was played in front of a half empty bougias seat section. Suits were replaced by empty chairs. The only difference between this game and an Islanders game was that there was no stupid SUV at rinkside.

I know I’m going too long about this, but it just pisses me off that the team does nothing to make it easier for the fan. I come from a wrestling background. When a show wasn’t attended as strong as I hoped (and the WWE even does this too), I would let everyone sit closer. Does it devalue the tickets for the people who paid full price? I guess that’s the thinking. Maybe giving the people who paid full price a $10-$20 voucher, which really is nothing in the grand scheme of things, could be a trade-off. If you can afford good seats on the regular, chances are you don’t really care if someone less financially fortunate has the pleasure of sitting nice. How does it affect you personally? It doesn’t.

To call this game a sell-out and count your cash, while the building looks empty on TV is a joke. You can tell when a game isn’t going to be well attended. By the end of the first period, if you have all these empty good seats, why not have the finger-painting people take a break and find families in the crowd & take them to the good seats? This is called being fan-friendly and creates a great fan experience.

I guess I’m cut from a different cloth than James Dolan. If I was the owner and saw a game like today, I would’ve personally created good will with my fanbase and found fans in the cheap seats and bring them to the empty seats. Stuff like that creates fans for life.

Is this just me though? I feel this is common fucking sense. I can’t believe how long-winded I got on this, and I don’t even have kids and thankfully I don’t have money issues either! I’m like George Costanza – I believe in comfort & everyone deserves to be comfortable!

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With the voice of today’s Rangers game, a one John Giannone

Not sure where Sam Rosen was, perhaps preparing for an NFL game somewhere tomorrow, but John Giannone got the call today with Joe Micheletti.

Here’s my funny John Giannone story that has nothing to do with John Giannone the person.

My friend & neighbor, a one Mr. Tommy and I are huge fans of the Sopranos & mafia movies in general. If you’re familiar with the Sopranos, in Season 3, Jackie Jr. goes into hiding after shooting up a card game. There’s much discussion about his hiding and what to do with him. Ralphie plays coy with where Jackie Jr. is and Sil unleashes with a (not sure if this is the exact quote, but it’s something like this) “HE’S HIDING IN THE PROJECTS IN BOONTON!” Tommy & I find the delivery of this quote hilarious and have mangled it with our bad fake guinea mafia accents time and time again.

Anyway, one game, a few seasons ago, John Giannone must’ve taken off for something or the other. I think it was Dave Maloney or maybe Anson Carter between the glass instead. Tommy asked where John Giannone was and I belted out “HE’S HIDING IN THE PROJECTS IN BOONTON!” Like many inside jokes between friends, we were laughing like two fucking morons about this.

From that day on, whenever John Giannone calls a game or is on TV, we always say, “THERE’S JOHN GIANNONE FROM THE PROJECTS IN BOONTON!”

I know, this was a stupid and unnecessary story, but it cracks me up as I’m typing it out. Plus, it’s my silly blog and I’ll do what I want!

Since I’m on a tangent-fest today anyway – another funny story about that Sopranos episode. Joe Ganniscoli, who played Vito Spatafore, was the one who killed Jackie Jr. in those very same PROJECTS IN BOONTON. Years later, it turns out he lives 2 minutes from me and I now see him from time-to-time around town. If anyone knows Joe, and many of you do from twitter, he’s a great guy and a huge diehard fan like the rest of us. He’s one of the biggest Giants fans I know and also follows the same WFAN bullshit like I do.

As Americans, we have a fascination with people we see on TV. It’s always cool when the people you see on the screen are cool and normal people in real life. I’ve known Joe for several years now and always enjoy shooting shit about sports with him. He is just a good guy and can talk the Rangers, Yankees & Giants with any of us. He’s just as fanatic too. He’s also a huge fan of the Bold O’Donoghues in East Rockaway, NY as well! Hahaha!

From a game at a bar a few seasons ago. This pic was definitely not taken at the Bold!

So anyways, about that Ranger game from this afternoon, which now feels like ages ago!

Here’s the ESPN.com box score. My thoughts will follow the box score:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail CAR NYR
Derek Stepan (5)
Assists: Kevin Klein, Mats Zuccarello
0 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
Josh Jooris: 2 Minutes for Tripping

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail CAR NYR
Viktor Stalberg (7)
Assists: Brock McGinn, Derek Ryan
1 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
Ryan McDonagh: 2 Minutes for Tripping
Kevin Hayes: 2 Minutes for Slashing
Lee Stempniak: 2 Minutes for Slashing
Phil Di Giuseppe: 2 Minutes for Hooking

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail CAR NYR
Michael Grabner (13)
Assists: Brady Skjei, Jesper Fast
1 2
Victor Rask (9)
Assists: Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin
2 2
Chris Kreider (5)
Assists: Derek Stepan, Dan Girardi
2 3
Chris Kreider (6)
Assists: Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan
2 4

Goaltending Summary

Carolina Hurricanes Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
M. Leighton 23 4 19 .826 58:23 0

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
H. Lundqvist 28 2 26 .929 60:00 0


This was a tough game to watch. At one point in the second period, I believe the shots were 25-5, in favor of Carolina. The Rangers came out flat as a two liter bottle of Pepsi sitting in the sun for hours. Amazingly, Lundqvist was able to fend off the last place Hurricanes. However, he would still blow two leads in this game, before Chris Kreider put the game away in the third period.

A game like this would’ve been better to see live than on TV when I say this: The Rangers looked like they were being overly conservative on defense and trying to protect Lundqvist more. It didn’t really work, as Carolina got off a bunch of shots. Still, the Rangers blocked a ton of shots and were able to limit some really good chances for Carolina. Again, I’m not 100% confident in this assessment, because TV only shows you so much. The bridge seats at MSG really gives you a great birds-eye view of the schematics and systems the teams are employing. That’s why the announcers & media sit there.

The Rangers got away from their speed game a bit, partly because it looked like they were staying back and because Carolina kept trapping and meeting them in the neutral zone. When the Rangers were able to finally break free in the third period, they produced three goals and were able to win the game after playing atrociously for 40 minutes.

The first two periods were tough. With the empty crowd, you could hear Dave Maloney crop-dusting in between the benches. Or maybe that was me farting into my cushion pillows. In either event, it was quiet at MSG.

Lundqvist and JT Miller held Carolina at bay. Derek Stepan started the game off promisingly enough, as he took his own rebound and scored on back-up goalie, Michael Leighton with just four minutes expired in the first period. From there, the Rangers looked anemic offensively. I thought AV was going to call the Garden of Dreams and ask for offensive injection.

Before the game I said this on my twitter @NYCTHEMIC – “who would score first for Carolina, Stalberg or Stempniak?” (I’d also later say how fast would Lundqvist surrender the Rangers 2-1 lead? The answer: 32 seconds.) Stalberg, because he’s an ex-Ranger and that’s just how it works, scored the Canes first goal, tying the game 1-1 right before the mid-way point of the game.

Stalberg’s goal was the result of a 3 vs 1. However, it wasn’t really a well-executed 3 on 1. Stalberg just skated up and shot. The puck hit Hank’s glove and Hank kinda smacked it into his own net. Hard to blame Hank when it’s 3 on 1, but it wasn’t a pretty play. Stalberg just skated and shot & Hank look befuddled. Even when he was making saves, Hank still looked shaky. He was still fighting off pucks, making bad passes and flopping on his belly like a bad anal amateur porn tape.

When I say the Rangers looked lifeless for the first 40 minutes, I’m not exaggerating. It was like they were doing the mannequin challenge for the first two periods. Yes, I went out drinking the night before, but the way they were playing, I was fighting off sleep and pinching myself to stay awake for the third.

The Rangers were rejuvenated in the third period and scored three goals, giving them the 4-2 win.

Grabner, scoring his 13th of the season, put the Rangers ahead 2-1, with 6 minutes gone into the third period. He was on a breakaway and finished. It’s nice to see the Rangers finishing on their breakaways. Of note, Rick Nash who has come up short in this department and who everyone was crowning MVP after two good periods against last place teams, couldn’t get anything going offensively today. I guess the Hart coronation is now off.

As I was tweeting out, “How fast will Hank blow this lead?” Victor Rask beat Hank from the point. Joe Micheletti commented that Hank was screened. Micheletti, when he’s not commenting about how a team should take a time-out (they never do) always blames bad Hank goals on screens. Fact: most goalies are at least partially screened on most shots. Another fact, Hank had a good look at the puck but couldn’t stop it. Another fact, you can’t blow leads in every game and call yourself clutch.

However, Chris Kreider, perhaps with BC in the house, took over. Kreider took a Stepan rebound and lifted it over the pads of Leighton to make it 3-2. 5 minutes later, with only 3 minutes remaining in the game, Kreider scored the insurance goal, and easily beat Leighton again. I don’t know if these shots go in if Ward is playing, but that’s a topic for a Canes fan to worry about.

With Leighton pulled for the final 90 seconds (He did re-enter with a faceoff in the Canes zone), I was hoping CK could get the EN for the HT. It wasn’t meant to be. However, the Rangers finished with another four goal day and showed that in any given period, they can take over and swing a game in their favor.

There was much to be alarmed about with this game. After going 2-2 on the PP on Thursday, the Rangers went 0-2 today. One PP was 17 seconds but produced one shot. The other 2 minute PP produced no shots. Off day for the PP squads.

Klein was back in the line up as Clendening was scratched. Are we still sure that Girardi is going to rest this season?

My favorite current Ranger, Mats Zuccarello, was a non-factor and barely noticeable today. You can say that for half the team though.

If you’re looking for positives – Lundqvist played decent, but blowing the leads all the time is tired and predictable. Stepan had his best game of the season and the Rangers need him to start producing like the way he’s being paid. No reason to think he won’t. CK, after being in and out of the line-up with injuries, had his best game since returning. Another team-wide positive was that this looked like a game lost against a last place team. The Rangers didn’t give up and were able to come out strong and win when it mattered. These are the games you gotta win. You don’t want to lose home ice in the playoffs because you are two points short come April.

As a result of the win & because they played 2 more games than the teams chasing them, the Rangers lead the league in points. Despite all the gloom and doom at times, this team is still in first place. However, they have beasted on a lot of bad teams and have had a ton of home games in the first quarter of the season. There are still a ton of games left against the Pens, the Caps, the Habs, the Bolts, etc.

As I always say too, the Rangers of this season, as they have been since 2012, after returning from the lockout, will not be judged or remembered by how they play in the regular season. I don’t see anyone wearing 2015 President Trophy Champion gear. The Rangers will be judged on how they finish in the playoffs. For a team like the Rangers, the regular season is just an exhibition until the games really mean something.

Now on to a topic I really want to discuss a bit – the upcoming NHL CBA & TV rights.

This is one of the top image results in Google when you type in “Gary Bettman”

I have routinely said on this blog that Gary Bettman is the worst commissioner in the history of sports and that includes the racist commissioners in baseball from eras ago. Why do I dislike Bettman? Easy – the three lockouts. He’s the only idiot to have a full season locked out under his reign. Yet, to his credit, he has the league making the most money than they ever have before. In fact, I’m starting to read a book on him, “The Instigator: How Bettman Changed The League & Changed the Game Forever” by Jonathon Gatehouse. Since I always look to get a view that opposes mine on a subject, I look forward to finishing this book as the reviews say it paints Bettman in a positive light. That said, I don’t know how you forgive a guy who had 3 lockouts in 20 years under his watch.

In recent years under Bettman, hockey fans have seen this:

  • The three lockouts and loss of a season. Losing a season just doesn’t hurt players, but hurts people who rely on the teams to bring in money, like parking attendants, bars, ushers, concessions, etc.
  • Not giving a shit about the Canadian teams when the Canadian dollar was/is weak.
  • That horrible fiasco that was the Las Vegas Golden Knights press conference.
  • The Islanders having the worst arena in sports. And I’m talking about Barclays, not the Nassau Coliseum!
  • Expanding in the wrong markets like Phoenix and Atlanta, rather than trying to create in better locales like Seattle or Quebec.
  • Bragging about the league being the most profitable it’s ever been, yet having the lowest salary in sports.

The last item is something to really take in. Just digest these facts for a second:

  • The NBA Salary Cap is $94.14M and also includes a luxury tax up to $113.29M. 14 players make up an NBA team.
  • The MLB Salary Cap is $189M but teams can spend whatever they want but are subject to the luxury tax after going over the $189M. Unlike the other major sports, there is no salary floor, meaning a team can have a $1 payroll (IN THEORY obviously) and play a team with a $250M payroll. 25 players make up a MLB team for any game, but teams also have a 40 man roster after August 31st.
  • The NFL Salary Cap is $155.27M. It is a hard salary cap, meaning you can not go over that amount. You can restructure contracts for players. 53 players make up an NFL team.
  • The NHL Salary Cap is $73M. It is a hard salary cap, which means you can not go over. You can not restructure contracts. There is a 23 man roster, but only 20 players can suit up on game day.

Out of the four major sports, the NHL has the worst deal for their players. While contracts are guaranteed, the style of game is a physical one and games are frequent. NFL players play once a week, where NHL players are sometimes playing 4 games a week. Players in the MLB & NBA not only making more money than their peers, no matter the level of success (rookie, veteran or superstar), the games aren’t physical like the NHL or NBA. When it comes to CTE, NBA and MLB players are at a lot less risk than NFL and NHL players.

To the NHL’s credit, they were the first to monetize the internet, despite their horrible website today. With the “On the Go” package and similar things, the NHL was able to get a jump up in the media age. All sports have since followed. The NHL brags about this all the time, yet with all this extra money coming in, can’t find a way to raise their salary cap.

When it comes to TV, that’s where a big bulk of money comes from for leagues. We will see how serious the UFC is treated by television when their contract expires with Fox in 2018. They are expecting a near $500 million TV deal. I don’t see them getting it personally, because they’ve watered down their product so much by running so many shows that it’s impossible to keep up anymore. Even right now for UFC fans, from McGregor’s last fight until April, there are no huge shows until Rousey on 12/30. In that time, the UFC will run something like 50 shows.

Of the four major professional sports, the NHL’s TV deal comes up next in 2020. This is where a potential lockout can happen, because the NHL will be a huge free agent on the market. There is talk about ESPN trying to get into it, but with their subscribers/customer base down, can they really make a blow away offer? With everything else they have, when will they air games? Fox Sports could also compete for the deal, especially if they lose the UFC deal. Without UFC, Fox Sports has nothing besides college football games you don’t care about.

An interesting contender could be Turner Broadcasting via TRUTV. Turner sports has made a name with the NBA and has some of baseball. While “Impactical Jokers” has carried the Tru TV brand, Turner wants a higher profile for the channel. Tru does get some NCAA games too. Would they be interested in the NHL deal?

Whatever the case, I think NBC Sports will need to kick up their game to keep the NHL deal. With only Sunday Night Football to their name, NBC has done a horrible job promoting and marketing the sport. They dropped the John Scott ball by airing the ASG on a sister network, rather than putting it on their main NBC channel. While the NFL owns Sundays and Monday nights, NBC has their “Wednesday Rivalry Night” games on NBCSN rather than on NBC itself. Imagine if NBC was able to make Wednesday night the hockey night in America? They’ve failed there.

I often wonder what the NHLPA is thinking with this management friendly CBA. The NHL will make record money once again come the next TV deal. If Bettman could find a way to put Tim Horton logos on the Stanley Cup, he would. The NHL will most likely see their jerseys become the first victim of corporate advertising out of the four major sports. (Yes I know soccer does this but nobody cares about soccer, Boomer!)

The NHL players (I’m talking about your average player, not the overpaid ones like Lundswiss) deserve more money. The NHL makes more than $73M a year, so in turn, the players are entitled to more. The career of the average professional athlete is short. There is more life to be lived than the length of the career itself.

With Bettman being greedy and inept, I wouldn’t be shocked if there is another lockout in 2022. I’m sure there will be fighting in 2019 when the players and the league can opt-out. These retards can’t even figure out what to do with the Olympics, but Bettman can figure out how to make a profit on a stupid tournament called the “World Cup”.

Sports is a business. We all know that. I just have no faith in Bettman to get things right. His track record doesn’t suggest it. I’m afraid that when the TV deal comes in, the players will want a lot more and Bettman will butt-fumble this whole thing up.

Out of the four major sports, the salary cap affects the NHL the most. More team decisions are cap based in the NHL than the 3 other sports. It’s a shame. You can’t talk hockey anymore without talking the cap. The cap also ensures that you won’t see life-long players for one team like you used to either. The times have been changing. And not for the better.

My 30% off Shop.NHL.com Raanta Jersey!

I should be back Tuesday night, most likely very late, as I will be in the building for Rangers/Islanders. After that, I fly out to Chicago on Thursday, so unless I’m really bored in Chicago, I doubt I will get a Winnipeg/NYR review up. I return home from Chicago Saturday, so I’ll probably do a Blackhawks/Rangers thing on my flight.

As always, thanks for reading and Let’s Go Rangers!

Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on twitter

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