“Rangers’ Revenge World Tour” Sells Out “The Rock;” The Players That Fans Really Pay To See, Blueshirts Look For A “Divine Nine” Against Devil Dogs, JONNY HOCKEY Re-Signed; Quick Should Be Next, Akira Schmid Assigned to AHL, Big Road-Trip Ahead, Laviolette’s Words of Wisdom & More

The 2023-24 New York Rangers, still looking to exorcise their 2023 Stanley Cup Playoff demons (and that can only happen during the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs), will put their current eight-game winning streak on the line this Thursday night in “Hockeytown, USA” – aka Newark, NJ. Unlike nine months ago – one of the newest “Ranger Killers” in franchise history, and perhaps a flash-in-the-pan player too, Akira Schmid, will NOT be in the Devils’ net.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Bring on the Devils – and screw David Puddy too!

In what’s been a tale of two seasons thus far, the New York Rangers, following their brutal and crushing seven-game first-round defeat to the Devils during last year’s playoffs, have used their feelings of both disappointment and rage to propel themselves to first-place in the division – and where should all things remain the same – then the Blueshirts are on track to win the Metropolitian Division in a wire-to-wire fashion.

But of course, Thursday night’s tilt in nasty Newark is only Game 57 of the season and where following the result, win-or-lose – there’s still plenty of regular season hockey left to be played – and 25-games to be exact.

The Devils, winners of the most recent “Battle of Hudson” that matters, and where many compared their 2022-23 team to the Rangers’ 2021-22 squad; have suffered one hell of a hangover this season.

Going into this 2023-24 campaign, everyone and their mother projected either the Devils or the Hurricanes to win the Metropolitan Division – and where in these same season preview predictions – most had the Rangers finishing in either third- or fourth-place.

Today, the Devils are not only sitting in fourth-place – but if the season were to end today – then they wouldn’t even qualify for the playoffs either, as currently, they are four-points out from the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

But much like the Rangers – win-or-lose on Thursday night – then either way – there is plenty of hockey left for Lindy Ruff’s ruffians too.

It’s pretty remarkable the two different paths that these two rivals have taken since May 1st, 2023.

Following Akira Schmid’s epic performance against the Rangers, one so painful to endure as a Blueshirt backer that I even had to feature the rookie goalie in my newest book, “The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” (you can buy it here: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/villains/); rather than going on to new heights – instead, Schmid has done nothing but slide since – and as you’ll see below – is presently in the AHL.

Once winning Game 7 against the Rangers, come the second-round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Schmid and his Devils were then brutalized themselves, as the Carolina Hurricanes absolutely stream-rolled the red-and-black in a five-games – and where really – the Devils were just dominated throughout the series.

During an earlier-than-expected summer/off-season for the Rangers, general manager Chris Drury decided to fire one of the most successful regular season coaches in franchise history, Gerard Gallant – and where even to this day – Drury, nor Gallant, have ever commented on the reason why.

For that matter, neither man has commented about the rumors of a post-game shouting match at the Rangers’ locker room either.

But of course, I’ve covered these stories many times before – so there’s no need to rehash all of this again. (However, you can visit the archives of this site for all of it.)

Coach #37 in Rangers’ history, Peter Laviolette, immediately said during his introductory press conference that winning the Stanley Cup was his sole goal for 2024 – and where following a red-hot start, the Rangers cooled off a bit, played .500 hockey for seven-weeks – and then once the annual NHL All Star Game/bye week concluded, haven’t been beaten since.

As a result, not only are the Rangers tops in the Metro – but they are also third-overall in the league too – and with their 77-points accumulated – are only three-points back of the Vancouver Canucks, the best team in the land – and a Rick Tocchet club that’s played two-more games (58) than “Lavy’s Lot” too (56).

To be unbiased and to temporarily put my hatred for all things Devils aside – it’s true that the team from the other side of the river have been hit by the injury bug this season – and where losing Dougie Hamilton for nearly the entire season has been the biggest blow to their playoff aspirations.

And while star center, the first-overall pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft (and you may have heard how Sieve Vagistat, the worst back-up goalie in Rangers’ history and an analyst with M$GN these days too, once proclaimed how the second-overall pick of that draft would be better than who the Devils selected), Jack Hughes, missed some time too – Hughes is now back – and he seems to be taking his team’s current predicament personally – and as we recently saw during a Devils’ 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings from February 15th:

While Hughes these days is telling anyone who will listen how “people pay to watch me play” – the home attendance (and gate) figures in New Jersey suggest that’s one of the biggest lies going around today – and one that even Maury Povich would be sickened about.

Who are people truly paying to see these days?

The New York Rangers, where every home game this season has been a sell-out – and unfortunate for hardcore fans but very fortunate for owner James Dolan – at the most exorbitant prices in franchise history.

Put it this way – and it doesn’t matter if it’s a Saturday night game against the Islanders or a weeknight clash with the Coyotes: The “get in” price for a ticket at M$G (cheapest seat in the house) currently runs for $250 – and on most nights – that’s for a standing-room only ticket.

And if you want to sit center ice anywhere in the lower bowl, and whether it be in row one or in row twenty-two?

Then be prepared to part with at least $850 – and where none of these costs factor-in travel, food & drink, merchandise, etc.


A brief perusal on both Ticketmaster and Stubhub – and as long as the Devils aren’t hosting the Rangers – then on most nights, you can attend a red-and-black home game for $20.

Knowing all of this, then perhaps Hughes should amend his quote to, “Tom Fitzgerald (Devils’ GM) pays to watch me play!)

There are hundreds of millions-upon-millions of dollars being spent this season to see the likes of Artemi Panarin, CZAR IGOR, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider play – and where once again – Forbes has the Rangers ranked as the most profitable team in the NHL today. Photo Credit: NYR

Before returning to Rangers vs. Devils; at this time, let’s cover all of the off-day news from Wednesday.

Following without a debate, the most memorable regular season win in some time (https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/21824/ ), and arguably the best win of the Rangers’ 2023-24 regular season yet too (https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/22024/ ); the Blueshirts, now 8-0 after their seven-weeks of .500 hockey (but where they maintained their first-place in the Metro status throughout all of these games and time), returned to their practice facility in Tarrytown, NY.

Prior to Wednesday’s practice, the team announced that both Artemi Panarin and Jimmy Vesey were day-to-day with the standard and vague “lower-body” designation.

When it comes to Panarin, and while who knows if his wife has had the couple’s second child yet – we do know that he was hurting a bit after blocking a shot in the third period during Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars.

In other words, at face surface, it just looks like “The Breadman” got a day of rest for his black-and-blue(shirt) leg.

Unless his wife is going through labor, then I’d expect him to play on Thursday night.

During the win against Stars, in the first period, and while on his first shift no less, Vesey, who’s already missing teeth, came up with a busted and bloody lip.

However, the Rangers (and this could’ve been an error), gave him the lower-body-injury designation too.

Vesey, like Panarin, also blocked a shot in the win – so perhaps he was withheld for maintenance reasons too.

While these injuries don’t seem serious as I write these words (and let’s hope that’s the case – and where as you’ll see below – Laviolette didn’t really suggest otherwise); what was serious was the biggest news of the day – JONNY HOCKEY, government name Jonny Brodzinski, agreeing to terms with the club on a new two-year contract.

Whether it was BIG BEN HARPUR or Jimmy Vesey before JONNY HOCKEY; Rangers’ g.m., Chris Drury, has given veteran players a chance – and once those players pan out – he’s been more than willing to re-sign them – but on the cheap of course. Photo Credit: NYR

The following comes from https://www.nhl.com/rangers/news/rangers-agree-to-terms-with-jonny-brodzinski:

New York Rangers President and General Manager Chris Drury announced today that the team has agreed to terms with forward Jonny Brodzinski on a two-year contract extension.

Brodzinski, 30, has skated in 37 games with the Rangers this season, registering four goals and 11 assists for 15 points, along with a plus-four rating and eight penalty minutes. He has points in four of his last six games (2G-2A) and has six points in his last eight games (3G-3A). Brodzinski has won 53.4% of faceoffs he has taken with the Rangers this season (118-for-221).

The 6-0, 204-pounder has skated in 138 career NHL games over parts of eight seasons with Los Angeles, San Jose, and the Rangers, registering 13 goals and 19 assists for 32 points, along with a plus-14 rating and 40 penalty minutes. Brodzinski has played parts of four seasons with the Rangers, tallying 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 81 games as a member of the Blueshirts. In addition to playing 37 games with the Rangers thus far this season, he has skated in 16 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2023-24, and he has recorded 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in those 16 contests. Brodzinski has served as Hartford’s captain since the start of the 2021-22 season. 

The Ham Lake, Minnesota native was originally selected by Los Angeles in the fifth round, 148th overall, of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Brodzinski was signed by the Rangers as a free agent on October 9, 2020.

Congratulations to JONNY HOCKEY, as following his new contract, the 30-year-old has guaranteed himself a salary in his dream job for the next two-years. Photo Credit: M$GN

When it comes to the current unrestricted free agents on the team today, most of the talk has been centered around the Rangers’ back-up goalie, Jonathan Quick – and who like Harpur, Vesey and now Brodzinski before him – should also receive a contract that guarantees him employment for next season – and assuming that’s still his desire.

For what it’s worth, it’s just my gut-feeling that Quick wants to stay in New York – and I say this after listening to everything that he’s said all season – as his family is happy here, he’s playing for his favorite team, he’s already made his life-changing money and he enjoys his role with the Rangers.

In other words, and while perhaps some other team out there would give him a shot to compete for a starters’ job and some extra bucks to do so too (heck, the Devils would trade for him right now if it was possible), (and let’s not forget the insane tax rate in NYC either) – as long as Drury presents a half-way decent and realistic offer to Quick – then I think that JQ32 re-signs with the Rangers – and as Brodzinski just did on Wednesday.

Brodzinski, like Quick, who currently has a home in Connecticut (and let’s not forget – he’s still the captain of the Wolfpack today too), said on Wednesday that he pretty much railroaded (my words – not his) his own contract negotiations.

What I mean by that is that Brodzinski said verbatim, “I told them [Drury] that I don’t want to play anywhere else. I love it here. My family loves it here. There’s no other place I’d rather be.”

Brodzinski, currently a cap-hit of $762,5000 this season, received a slight raise, where perhaps inflation costs were considered too, as he signed a two-year deal worth $787,500 per-season – or $1,575,000 in total.

And yes – my usual talking point – it just looks poor to me that the NHL celebrates these six-figure signings – and all because of their disgusting salary-cap.

$787,500 annually is a large figure for any of us, a regular blue collar schmuck, but for a hockey player – it just seems beneath them.

Then when you weigh in their cost of living and taxes – how much are they really clearing? $200K, $300K?

Hell, they can’t even afford Ranger season tickets with these numbers!

At the end of the day, it’s good money, but since the NHLPA is the weakest union in the world – then the fringe union members will always eat shit – which pretty much sums up most unions in America these days too – and I say that as a union man myself.

But what’s done is done and the salary-cap is what it is – so congratulations to JONNY HOCKEY and his family.

For the Rangers – this was a no-brainer of a deal to agree to – even if it’s a one-way contract.

If Brodzinski doesn’t work out at any point during the next two seasons, then either he goes back to the Wolfpack or someone claims him.

Either way, his minimal cap hit comes off of the books and with no significance to the team’s salary-cap.

And if he works out?

Then like Vesey, who found himself in the same situation last year and at the same age as Brodzinski too – it will be another hell of a homerun bargain for Drury – and Ranger fans too.

Welcome (back?) Jonny!

Of course, winning always influences such feelings – but Laviolette has been absolutely killing it during his chats with the media in recent weeks.

After looking like any one of us following the 6-5 overtime win against the Islanders – and where’s Lavy’s love of the game was clearly on display for the entire world to see too – and where for good measure, the head coach sounded equally as jacked following Tuesday’s win as well; here’s another elated edition of “LAVY’S LOUNGE” for you below, as this is what the head coach said following Wednesday’s practice:

While really, no “real” news came out of this press conference; it’s how Lavy approaches these things that stands out.

The bench boss is always cognizant to promote all of his players whenever he can – and even when he’s not specifically asked about a player and/or the line of questioning isn’t what’s intended.

Case in point: During this rousing rendition, Lavy, who’s keenly aware of K’Andre Miller’s struggles this season, talked about how he praised Miller during the game for setting up the eventual game-winning goal (Kaapo Kakko) and how he did the same thing again at practice.

While this may not mean much to many – I think it’s worth mentioning.

Today it was Miller. Other days it were other players, such as Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, Will Cuylle, Adam Edstrom, CZAR IGOR, Matt Rempe, Vincent Trocheck, Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, Jonathan Quick, Jimmy Vesey, JONNY HOCKEY (during this same interview, Laviolette was happy about his new contract signed) – and both really and literally – every player on the roster.

I’m sure this is all appreciated by his players.

After all, who doesn’t like a compliment from their boss – and especially when you are putting the work in?

And no – all of the above isn’t an indictment about any other previous Ranger coach either – I’m just talking about the positivity that Lavy is (and has been) spreading – and when you look at the team’s record – it’s been working.

But of course, none of this will matter come the playoffs – but I’ll spare you from my season-long daily disclaimer for one night!

In an another example of Lavy tending to his players, the head coach also said that he’s been in contact with Blake Wheeler. While Wheeler has already been ruled out for the rest of the regular season, and most likely the playoffs too; Lavy said that Wheeler has an open invite to rejoin the team at any time in a moral support role.

Let’s wrap up by looking at Rangers/Devils one last time.

Didn’t we all know at the time that Schmid was never going to be better in his career than he was during the first-round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

As the Devils are dangerously close to not contending for one of the three Metropolitan playoff seeds, and where today, their best path, a perilous one at that, to the post-season is via the wild card; the club announced the following on Wednesday:

Poulter, like Schmid before him, is another young (22-years-old) rookie goalie – and one that just recently signed his first NHL contract too (on 2/15).

The state of the Devils’ goaltending has been dismal this season – which is somewhat ironic since one of the best to ever do it, former St. Louis Blue, Martin Brodeur, currently is the team’s executive vice-president of hockey operations.

Starter Vitek Vanecek has a .890 save percentage and a 3.18 GAA.

Prior to the recall of Poulter, his present back-up, Nico Daws, also has a 3.18 GAA – but a .903 save percentage.

However, Vanecek is presently on the team’s injured-reserve list, hence the recall of Poulter.

Schmid, after looking like Brodeur himself during the final weeks of April ’23, has gone 5-7-1 this season and with a horrific stat line of a 3.26 GAA and .893 save percentage.

This is why whenever someone brings up the Devils and what they’ll do at the trade deadline, then the first thing discussed is a goaltender – and where it feels like Ducks’ goalie, John Gibson, has been rumored for years – and especially following Connor Hellebuyck re-upping in Winnipeg.

It’s tough for any Ranger fan to have any “Sympathy for the Devils” – and especially for Schmid.

However, what we do know (and we know how the Rangers fare against no-name goalies too – but the less said about this, the better) is that the Blueshirts are catching a New Jersey team in a desperate state – and while that could motivate Hughes & Co. – the Rangers can’t let these reeling red-and-blackers off of the hook either.

In the only game of the season played between these two teams thus far, and the first since May 1st, 2023 too, the Rangers, on 11/18/23, beat their enemies in the Devils’ own barn by a final score of 5-3.

For the full recap of that game, then check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/111823/

I fully expect Sam Rosen, worse than ever these days, to be completely unbearable when calling Thursday’s game. The over-under on how many times Rosen will praise Jack Hughes has already been set at -90000000.

This may come off as yours truly building an excuse should the Rangers lose tomorrow – but that’s not what I mean by what I’m about to say next:

Should the Rangers fall tomorrow, then really, I don’t want to hear it.

The team is on an eight-game winning streak, and where they have knocked off a bunch of heavyweights during it, including the Avalanche, Lightning and Stars.

And nothing can take away that feeling from last Sunday either.

Similar to the losers from Sunday, the Islanders – the Devils need this game more than the Rangers do.

That’s not an excuse either – that’s just a fact.

But for a Ranger team that has a shot at the Presidents’ Trophy once again (and you don’t have to tell me about the “Presidents’ Trophy Curse” either), they need to take care of the bad teams when they can.

For the Blueshirts, the game in dirty Jersey is the first of a three-game in four-nights road-trip against “driveable” Metro foes; as once done with the Devils, the Rangers will travel to Philadelphia on Saturday and then play in Columbus on Sunday.

And with the way that the Flyers have been playing this season (while smashing all expectations in the process too), then the Rangers must avoid falling into the cliche “trap game” with a bad Devils team – but since most of the Blueshirts’ core from the playoff loss is still around – I don’t expect that to be the case either.

Let me throw something crazy at you before going home tonight.

Should the Rangers beat the Devils, then handle both the Flyers and Blue Jackets too, then not only will the team be on an eleven-game winning-streak – but come Wednesday, 2/28, and should the team win their “home-and-home” rematch with the Blue Jackets at M$G – then not only will they have strung a dozen w’s together – but they will have swept all of their games in February too.

But to quote Laviolette’s predecessor, Gerard Gallant – “ONE GAME AT A TIME.”

Speaking of times, this brings us to…

PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)

On Wednesday night, our friends over at “The Blueshirt Underground Show” returned with a new episode. To check it out (and where they replayed a lot of Laviolette’s press conferences too – so a bonus in case you missed them), then click the play button below:

My fourth title and tenth book is now available!

“The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” is now available for sale!

For complete information, please visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/rangerkillers/

The hardcover version of my first book, available now at Amazon.com

My second plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”

As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:


For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:

Order “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” Book Today

My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.

My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.

To obtain signed copies, visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/

To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: Amazon.com – “One Game at a Time.”

The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!

“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.

All four volumes of the title can be purchased on Amazon.com and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.

To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit Amazon.com

To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/

Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:

NYR/DAL 2/20 Review: Blueshirts Extend Winning Streak to Eight Straight; Another “Best Win of the Season” Contender, CZAR IGOR Shines Brightest During a Team-Wide Sixty-Minute Epic Performance, Ryan Lindgren’s Face Continues to Rival a Maskless Goalie; Has a Heck of a Game (As Usual) Anyway, A Victory to “King Kong” Your Chest About, Laviolette, Senile Sam Hits New “Mile Highs,” M$GN & More

NYR/NYI 2/18 Review: MIRACLE ON ICE! Rangers Win Superbowl Spectacular Stadium Series Game; One of The Most Incredible “Disney Finishes” of All-Time, What Fans Will & Won’t Remember, Rempe’s Historical Debut Lives To All Hype & Expectations; Give Credit To Matt Martin Too, Questionable Officiating, Both Teams Exhibit Their Season-Long Issues & Microcosms, Alumni, ESPN & More

Rangers & Islanders Set To Do Battle For the 290th Time; First Regular Season Meeting in 424 Days, Matt Rempe(STEIN) Set to Make Unique NHL History; Laviolette & NYR Too, Blake Wheeler Officially Down For Remainder of the Campaign; Pat “Price Gouge” Verbeek, Panarin’s Politician Murdered in a Russian Prison, Ramsay & More

If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:

Now on sale!

Don’t forget to order my four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”

If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on Amazon.com

For more details, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/

Thanks for reading.


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine

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