What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. As promised, I’m trying to do one blog a week during the Rangers off-season. I know some of you take off from hockey once the Rangers are out, but for me, this free time allows me to catch up on movies, TV, Yankee baseball and in today’s case, another great book.
If you missed my last blog entry, you can check it out here:
MDW Blog: Stanley Cup Finals Set Between PITT/NSH as the Rangers Hit the Golf Course, How To Attend Nashville Predator Games For Free, Lundqvist Gets a Medal Leads to Ranger Fans Overreacting, IIHF/Olympic Hockey, Team USA Woes, Lundqvist’s Subway Etiquette, Hellberg Moves on From NYR, Binge-Worthy TV Shows & Other Random Rumblings & Tidbits
Last week, I was able to get the time to read “Thunder & Lightning”, which is the autobiography of Phil Esposito. Written in 2003, there are several stories & occurrences that may make this book feel dated. That said, this book is well worth your time. In fact, it’s a nice companion piece with “THIN ICE”. In case you haven’t seen my “THIN ICE” book review, you can check it out here:
That said, let’s get into “Thunder & Lightning”.
In my quest to learn more about the Rangers from the 1970’s, after purchasing “Thin Ice”, that sneaky Amazon.com suggested I pick up Phil Esposito’s “Thunder & Lightning” autobiography. For $1.54 used, I figured what the hell? Going into this book, I thought it would be mostly Boston Bruins stuff. To my delight, the book did a good job talking about Espo’s Ranger years and really went in-depth with the creation of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After reading this book, this book is a MUST-READ book for any Bolt or Bruin fan. For Ranger fans, who only care about the Rangers, you may be disappointed, but you will be missing out if you skip this book.
While Esposito will always be known as a Boston Bruin, many fans may not realize his journey in creating the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise. Esposito, who is very open in this book, as he honestly admits to cheating on his wife, the drugging & drinking culture of the league during his playing days and his degenerate gambling, also goes in-depth on what it took to make the Lightning a reality. To me, while there were great stories up & down this book, to me, the final 100 pages of Esposito creating the Lightning was the best part about this book. With the Las Vegas Golden Knights entering the league, I found Esposito’s story of founding the Lightning very relevant. More on that to come.
I don’t make any money doing these blogs or doing these book reviews. The purpose of this blog is to share the knowledge I took from this book and hope that some of you guys enjoy it. It’s funny, after doing the “THIN ICE” review, someone emailed me to say Amazon was sold out of the book. I know when I bought it, there were something like 30 or so copies available. That means a bunch of you guys went out and bought the book. It’s been great discussing that book with several of you on email & Facebook. I’m hoping the same thing happens for this Esposito book, because it’s another book that I took a lot out of.
Just like the “THIN ICE” book review, I will be posting pictures of pages from “Thunder & Lightning.” In case anyone involved with the publication of this book from 14 years ago is reading this, don’t sue me, I’m plugging your book! For this review, I’ll share some of the key stuff I took out of this book, followed by my thoughts at the end.
After reading Espo’s stories of Duguay’s luck with the ladies, I had to ask about Farrah Fawcett. Duguay’s response:
— Ron Duguay (@RonDuguay10) May 30, 2017
I know no one wants to kiss & tell, but the second Ron Duguay writes a tell-all book, I’ll be first in line!
As you can tell, this book covers a wide range of topics. From Espo’s playing days in Chicago where he cultivated a friendship with Bobby Hull, all the way to calling games for the Lightning today, no stone is left unturned.
There is a lot I took out of this book and one thing that bothered me was Esposito’s relationship with his family. He would cheat on two of his wives relentlessly. He broke up another marriage, when he broke up the marriage of his current wife. As he got older, the disparity in ages between he & his wives grew as well. I thought he came off as a scumbag for all his philandering, just because it affected the relationships with his kids.
While this book was written in 2003, if you fast forward in time to today, his daughter, Carrie Esposito Selivanov (She married ex-Bolt Alex Selivanov) died in 2012, unexpectedly. His first wife died weeks before his daughter. His grandchildren were stuck in Germany & his eldest grandchild was without parents at a young age, as he was the son of Carrie’s first husband. Phil doesn’t mention his kids much in this book, but how could he, hockey always came first. A great career, but for all of his contributions in hockey, it did take a toll on his family life.
If you can get past Espo being a terrible family man, the hockey stories in this book are well worth your money. He will go to the grave angry that he didn’t retire as a Bruin. In fact, while it’s not said, I think a psychologist would say that the trade affected Phil forever in every aspect – his family life, his attitude, etc. It also led to Phil creating the Lightning.
The journey of Phil Esposito and the Tampa Bay Lighting is something you must read. Just think, 25 years ago, the buy-in was $50 million. Las Vegas just paid $500 Million. However, Vegas should be a competitive team off the jump, where Tampa (and Ottawa, who entered the league at the same time) were forced to draft fringe fourth liners & 7th defensemen. Espo chronicles his entire process & his thinking during that time.
For the Ranger fans, Espo also talks about his entire tenure with the Rangers & his thoughts of the “Trader Phil” nickname that the press gave him.
The biggest thing I took away from Espo, in regards to the Rangers, is that Rangers management will never care about winning. Owners may change, but the number 1 goal will always remain – milk the fans for all their money.
“Thunder & Lightning”, by Phil Esposito, is available on the cheap at Amazon.com.
Couple of quick shots on this year’s Stanley Cup Finals:
- I’m glad the guy who threw a catfish on the ice in Pittsburgh had all charges dropped. Imagine getting 6 years for that? That would be some interesting conversation in the prison yard. “What you in for? Rape? Murder? Pedophilia?” “Nah man, I threw a catfish on the ice during a hockey game!”
- That said, the guy who threw a catfish is now signing autographs. Now it’s gone too far. I miss Dart Man. Remember when he was a thing?!?
- Just a reminder – not one Top 5 paid goalie has ever won a Stanley Cup in the new salary cap era. Rinne is third highest in the league. “Rookie” Matt Murray, who will probably get his second Stanley Cup, is the 30th highest paid goalie in the league.
- How big has Matt Murray been? Game 3 aside, he stole Game 2 until Pittsburgh turned it on in the third period. Could he be the Ken Dryden of our generation?
- Canadian Goalies > European goalies. Always.
- PK Subban is an interesting human interest story & he does a lot of good. I was happy to see him back up his guarantee in Game 3, even if he didn’t score. I wonder how happy Canadien fans are for him?
- How unfair is it that Pittsburgh is winning playoff games because of rookies in Jake Guentzel & Matt Murray? The rich get richer.
- While I want Nashville to win, but think Pittsburgh will win, it won’t bother me to see Hagelin get his second Cup. Excellent trade Senile Sather!
- Will there be an OT game in this years SCF?
- Please stop with the “hot takes” comparing NHL vs NBA playoffs. There is no comparison.
- Give credit to Pittsburgh & their front office. It’s tough to win the Stanley Cup. It’s even tougher to win it back-to-back in the salary cap era. It’s not just the Pittsburgh names carrying the team, they are getting contributions from everyone. Tough to swallow & accept as a Rangers fan.
- Pens in 6.
From USA TODAY:
The Washington Capitals won’t strip the captaincy from Alex Ovechkin, however general manager Brian MacLellan appeared to be open to trading the All-Star forward in the future if the right deal materialized.
MacLellan told reporters on Tuesday that Ovechkin is “a big part of the franchise” and moving him doesn’t “make sense from an organizational point of view,” although he added a caveat.
“Maybe at some point if there’s a legitimate hockey deal that came available, but I don’t know that’s where we are at right now,” MacLellan said via The Associated Press. “I think he’s got a history here. He’s a big part of the franchise and he’ll continue to be going forward.”
Ovechkin, 31, has four seasons left on his 13-season, $124 million contract. His contract carries a $9.5 million cap hit.
The three-time regular-season MVP scored 33 goals this season, the second-lowest output in a full season of his 12-season NHL career. His 313 shots on goal also represented the second fewest for a full season. (The 2012-13 season featured a condensed 48-game schedule.) He was dropped to the Caps’ third line as Washington fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the playoffs.
The Capitals have not advanced past the second round since 1998.
In my dream/fantasy world, I would love to see the Rangers trade Derek Stepan, Henrik Lundqvist & a first round pick for Braden Holtby, Alex Ovechkin and a second round pick. It will never happen, but a boy can dream!
I’ve talked about this plenty here on this blog, just check the archives if you need verification, but I’m a huge Ovechkin fan, even if he is a commie!
Ovechkin might be had for the right price and while I doubt he will ever go to the Rangers, because I can’t see the Capitals trading him to a division rival, I hope that Rangers GM Jeff Gorton is at least entertaining the idea.
It’s funny, there are a contingent of Capitals fans, who want Ovechkin gone, which is akin to myself & my merry band of Ranger fans that want Lundqvist gone from this team. To make a trade happen between teams, the Rangers would have to deal at least $9.5M in contracts to make an Ovechkin trade happen. Lundqvist would be perfect, but the Caps, like any other team, wouldn’t want Lundqvist & his contract, especially with Holtby signed.
The Capitals are going to have a rough go of it. Their window may be closed, as they have a ton of free agents. It’s hard to imagine that TJ Oshie & Kevin Shattenkirk both stay in Washington next season. I don’t know if the Caps will blow it up, but like the Rangers, they just can’t win and they have to make some changes.
The point of all this? It would make my pee-pee excited if Alex Ovechkin, and not Kevin Klein, was wearing number 8 for the Rangers next season! Can you imagine Ovechkin on the dot during the Rangers PP, which has always been a weak point for the team, winding up for a power-play blast? There is probably a .0000000001% chance of this happening, but one can hope!
As Ranger fans get anxious before the Las Vegas expansion draft, everyone has their idea on how Derek Stepan, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal & Rick Nash will be removed from this team. Even better, many of these people with these ideas, also have the Rangers getting the best players in the league for them. Like my Ovechkin fantasy, that’s what all those articles are – fantasy. It just boggles my mind that some fans think that other teams are salivating for the Rangers worst contracts and in turn, are lining up to give their best players to the Rangers via the trade! Then again, these are the same people, with erect weiners, typing up “THE RANGERS MUST SIGN JOEL LUNDQVIST” blogs. To quote Mike Francesa, “GET LAWST!”
In reality, the Rangers won’t win the Cup next season. They probably won’t win it the year after that, or the year after that and even the year after that. With Henrik Lundqvist and his terrible contract, as long as the NHL adheres to the tight & hard salary cap, the Rangers have no shot.
In addition, as we all know, Rangers management/ownership does not care about winning. They are laughing at all their season subscribers, who just received one of the biggest price hikes in recent memory! People are lining up to spend the most in the league for an inferior product. As long as M$G is sold out every night, Dolan and company could give two shits less if the Rangers win a Cup or not.
Just think, the Rangers haven’t won a Cup since 1994 and in response, the Rangers just keep raising and raising ticket prices because they know their Blueshirt addicts will pay whatever it is to get their fix. I for one, will be doing more Ranger road games than nights at M$G next season.
From CBS Sports:
After announcing Saturday that he suffered an injury during Sweden’s international gold-medal run, Lundqvist and the New York Rangers confirmed to the NHL that the longtime goalie will spend between four and six weeks recovering from a Grade 1 MCL sprain.
Lundqvist was not able to lift the Rangers past the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, but he isn’t expected to miss any significant time in preparing for another postseason run in 2017-18 because of the injury, according to the league.
The Rangers confirmed a report by Swedish website expressen.se and said they don’t expect any issues with Lundqvist going forward.
I hope beating the Scrub Squad from Canada was worth it. We all know the diva will be hurt next season, and if Raanta is gone, who knows who will carry the team while Lundqvist is out hurt & has his usual terrible stretch of games when he’s healthy. Prepare your “BUT HE ALWAYS STARTS OFF SLOW” excuses now. Of course, those excuses always ignores the way he finishes – Cupless.
A big thanks/stick taps to Michael Jurkowski who sent me a bunch of classic Ranger games on DVD. The DVDs include 8 games from 1974-1986, including games from the 1979 Cup run team.
This hockey season is almost over, but I’m looking forward to watching some of these games with my friends, while drinking a beer or twenty. If I feel so inspired, maybe I’ll do a RETRO GAME REVIEW. Maybe I’ll even throw in a PULL DAVIDSON joke!
That’s about it for this week. I got Jeremy Roenick’s autobiography next on my shelf. If you have any interesting hockey books to recommend, send them my way.
Let’s Go Rangers!
@NYCTHEMIC on the tweeter machine