Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a zillion times on this site – there’s never a slow news day!
As I write these words late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, over the last 24 hours we have seen Jack Eichel’s agents issue a scathing press release, the Carolina Hurricanes adding another ex-Ranger (they’re onto their second hand now!), Evander Kane being accused of throwing games for gambling gains and an extremely eye-opening interview conducted by Elliotte Friedman with neurosurgeon Dr. Chad Prusmack.
And if that wasn’t enough for you, Larry Brooks is biting my ideas again! (I’m completely joking here, as Brooks doesn’t need my stuff for material. That said, it is amazing how many times where I’ve tweeted something or written something on this site – and then BOOM, 24 hours later, those ideas appear in the New York Post. Coincidence I’m sure!)
I know it’s “Sunday Funday” and people don’t want to be cooped up reading a manifesto which rivals the size of the 2021 NHL Draft. Heck, while I don’t feel “forced” into writing something; at the same time, and as any writer/blogger/podcaster (or anyone in general) will tell you – no one likes working on the weekends!
Let’s hit all the big stories and go back to enjoying our weekend. And I’m sure that after I hit that publish button, the Jack Eichel trade will go down. That’s the way it usually works!
Up first and as usual, before getting into the meat and potatoes of tonight’s blog – the PLUGS section.
Say it with me – here are my last few blogs in case you missed them:
BCBS For 7/30: Chris Drury and the New York Rangers Get Their “LEGION OF DOOM” Line; Trade For Ryan Reaves, Looking at Drury’s Recent Moves & Why This Reaves Signing Helps NYR, Carolina Continues to Collect NYR Alumni; Smith to Canes, Chytil Re-Signs, Eichel Watch & RIP to the Great Aaron Scott Davis
BCBS For 7/29: The Frenetic NHL Free Agent Frenzy; Salary Cap Continues to Destroy Franchises, Rangers Make Four Depth Signings; Eichel Watch Continues, NYR Alumni Update; Carolina aka The New Rangers South, The Never-Ending Tony DeAngelo Saga & His Trial/Press Conference, Duguay’s Affinity for Tequila, MAF, Georgiev, Lundqvist, NYR Can’t Be Done Yet & More
BCBS For 7/27: “HiJack” Eichel Mania Ramping Up; Time Running Out on the Sabres, NYR Qualify RFA’s; Igor’s Pay & Does Chytil Stay? NYR May Have an “Identity Line” Yet, Yegor “Trivia Question” Rykov, Baby-Sitting Kakko; Patrik Nemeth In/Brendan Smith Out, NYR Book Cover Art Released & More
In the never-ending saga which is the Jack Eichel story; on Saturday morning, July 31st, Elliotte Friedman released an amazing interview that he conducted with neurosurgeon Dr. Chad Prusmack. Rather than releasing a text article with the interview, Friedman opted to release this interview on his podcast.
As Friedman said himself during his introduction of this interview with Dr. Prusmack – you really need to hear this interview for yourself and then form your own opinion. Just recapping this interview in black and white text doesn’t give it justice. In addition, like Friedman, I’m not a doctor myself, (I know, shocker) so it’s easier to hear Prusmack explain things than if I wrote everything that Prusmack said on this site.
To listen to the interview, click the link below:
New 31 Thoughts podcast:
This is an interview we’ve chased for awhile. Dr. Chad Prusmack is part of Jack Eichel’s medical team. He explains to us why Eichel desires a disc replacement and gives insight into the potential procedure. https://t.co/Y1zxsR4CrE
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 31, 2021
While you will need to listen to the interview yourself to get all of the details; during the interview, Prusmack argues that Jack Eichel would be better off getting the artificial disc surgery, rather than going for a standard neck fusion procedure. Prusmack explains all the differences between these two procedures/surgeries during the interview. In addition, I thought Prusmack was right on the money when talking about Eichel, especially when talking about Eichel perhaps becoming the first NHL player to ever go for an artificial disc replacement surgery.
As Prusmack says, like anything in the medical field, there will always be a first. If we all adopted a mentality where we were afraid of change and new medical ideas, then as a society, we may as well go back to the caveman days. For progress to happen, these new surgeries must be explored. After all, whether it’s chemotherapy to fight cancer or heart surgeries – some patient was the first person to experience these major life-changing procedures. Again, listen to the interview yourself to get the full gist of it.
As noted previously on this site, and as Prusmack says himself; no NHL player has ever received this artificial disc surgery procedure before, but UFC fighters have. And let’s face it, UFC/MMA is a much tougher sport than hockey, from a physical (wear & tear) end of things.
In the UFC, and in other MMA organizations; fighters have to deal with people trying to knock their heads off while also trying to fight through neck crank submissions. That’s just part of the paycheck that these fighters earn. While hockey players definitely get roughed up too; targeting your opponent’s neck is outlawed and illegal in the NHL.
And please, don’t twist this or take this as me trying to say that hockey isn’t a physical sport or anything like that. Far from it. However, when it comes to serious damage and putting your health at risk, participating in a UFC and/or MMA fight is definitely more taxing and riskier than playing hockey. That’s all I’m trying to say here, as both sports are rough on the body, physical and grueling.
At the same time, a hockey player, no matter what their role is on a team; a hockey player will play a significant percentage of more games than an MMA fighter will have fights. In addition, during a normal NHL season, a hockey player can play 82 games a year (without playoffs), while your normal UFC fighter fights 2-3 times a year.
I hope I’m phrasing this all right, as there is just no way in hell I would ever diminish how hard and how tough these NHL games are on players.
Making this Friedman interview with Prusmack more timely, was that on Friday night, Jack Eichel’s agents issued the following press release:
As you can tell, this whole situation is getting ugly. And for those wondering why Eichel doesn’t just go out and get this surgery, if Eichel did so, he’d risk voiding his entire contract, due to the NHL’s current contract bargaining agreement with the NHLPA. Needless to say, if Eichel went down this path, it would open another whole can of worms for both Eichel and the NHL. That said, who is going to jeopardize a $10M annual salary?
One last time – listen to what Dr. Prusmack has to say and form your own opinion from there.
All I can say, is that when the Eichel to Rangers rumors first started, at first I was against it. During the last few weeks, I warmed up to these rumors, where I could see either way. Now, I kind of hope to see Eichel land with the Rangers, just because of what Prusmack said. Plus, as someone who believes that we have the best doctors at this point in time and in all of civilization – I think Eichel will be fine if he does get this artificial disc replacement surgery. I think this surgery is a one-and-done thing, rather than anything that will produce lingering effects. You may disagree.
And I guess I should give you this caveat too – no matter what happens, and you can call me a homer/delusional/loyal/blinded if you want here, I’m going to side with whatever Rangers general manager Chris Drury decides. He’s the one having the talks, he’s the one getting expert advice from medical professionals and he has all the information humanly possible in front of him. In addition, there’s also that whole thing about needing to be strong down the middle in order to win Stanley Cups.
If there’s anything we can say for a fact right now, it is that Buffalo has handled this whole situation poorly, and the longer this drags out, the uglier it will get.
No matter what your opinion is on the Rangers acquiring Eichel, this much is known – the Rangers are a suitor. Whether Eichel becomes a Ranger or not is anyone’s guess, but until Chris Drury flat out says that he’s done exploring this option, the Eichel to the Rangers rumors will not go away.
Adding gas to the fire of these trade rumors, is that despite a ton of moves made recently by Drury, Drury, as of this writing, has yet to hold a press conference during this free agency period. Traditionally, and as we’ve seen this off-season too, GM’s usually speak to the media once they are done wheeling and dealing. It doesn’t seem like Drury is just done dealing yet.
And speaking of trade rumors and Eichel, one thing if I may here, a thing that I know is a sore spot for some people – moving on from Kaapo Kakko. Keep in mind, just like you, I’m just a fan and what I’m saying here is not the end all, be all. I’m just here to make you think and predict, where without doing the self-pat on the back stuff, I do have a good track record with my predictions. (Except for my predictions of the Rangers making the Stanley Cup Playoffs every year!)
If you’re a regular reader here, you know this for a fact – I have never jumped into the Eichel trade suggestion talk or click-bait waters on this site. In fact, I wanted to stay on dry land this whole time, because after all, I never really wanted to see an Eichel to the Rangers trade in the first place. Again, I know I’m wishy-washy on this, but with information on Eichel’s medical stuff now becoming public – I wouldn’t mind seeing the Rangers make a deal with Buffalo at this present time.
There have been 786786786789678969 different Eichel trade rumors suggested around the internet. However, and more importantly – who knows how many different trade packages that both Chris Drury and Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams have discussed?
I want to share with you something that I said last night on Twitter, where I “broke the seal” on all of this and gave my proposed offer:
Of note here, Twitter limits characters, so I didn’t add that I’d only do this trade with the provision that Buffalo assumes some of Eichel’s salary. While I know 50% may be unrealistic, I’d at least ask Buffalo to assume 25% of Eichel’s cap hit.
To quickly explain this offer, let’s take a look at the pieces that the Rangers would give up in such said scenario:
— Libor Hajek – I feel he’s played his last game as a Ranger and the Rangers are stockpiled defensively.
— Alexandar Georgiev – he’s willing to accept a trade elsewhere, in order to get a starter’s gig. There’s also this too:
I think we’re splitting hairs here. “Official” versus “unofficial” trade request. Is “open to a move” really all that different? Does it matter if the Rangers are equally “open to a move” because Georgiev may not be a unanimously well-liked teammate?
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 30, 2021
If you don’t remember who Seravalli is, he’s the guy who pretty much broke the entire Seattle Kraken expansion draft ten hours before it happened. I’m inclined to believe what he’s saying here and I do think this is Mercogliano splitting hairs here. After all, when was the last time Mercogliano broke a story?
And to be clear, I don’t doubt that Mercogliano talked to Georgiev’s agent, but I do believe Seravalli’s initial reports, where Seravalli said that Georgiev would be open to a trade, as long as that trade gave Georgiev a chance to compete for a number one goalie job. Georgiev would be able to do just that in Buffalo.
Of course, the line about Georgiev not being “unanimously well-liked” does seem off to me. At the very least, that line is eyebrow-raising. Of course, with Seravalli saying that, one can automatically think about Tony DeAngelo here. (And really, I wish TDA, Georgiev and/or DQ would just give us the full details of what actually happened and then put this story to bed.)
As we’ve seen recently, every teammate of Tony DeAngelo’s has something nice to say about him and both Jesper Fast and Brady Skjei went to bat for DeAngelo prior to Carolina signing him. At the same time, we don’t see teammates of Georgiev raving about him publicly. However, to be fair and to look at the other side here – it’s not like players have been asked to defend Georgiev or his character either.
— Filip Chytil – check the PLUGS section, as I wrote an in-depth blog last week on why I don’t see Chytil as a Ranger come opening night of the 2021-2022 season.
To add something else here, if the Rangers trade for Eichel, of the centers that the Rangers could offer to Buffalo, losing Chytil wouldn’t hurt the Rangers a bit. For Buffalo, they’d get another young piece for a team that’s on their 7867867896th rebuild. After all, while Strome and Zibanejad are better than Chytil; (Zibanejad has a NMC anyway, and he isn’t waiving it to go to Buffalo) both Strome and Zibanejad can become UFA’s after this 2021-2022 season. Chytil’s current contract expires after the 2022-2023 season.
— A first round pick – I’ve always been of the belief, that unless you have hit the draft lottery like the Rangers recently did; that you always go with the known asset over the unknown. As someone who thinks that the Rangers will be a playoff team next season, I’m not worried about losing a late first round pick at all. The Rangers have enough young talent already.
In addition, if you listen to what Prusmack said and what Eichel’s agents are saying; if Eichel was able to get the surgery that he wants tomorrow, Eichel would be ready for the start of the 2021-2022 season. (In other words, you can throw away all those LITR/”Kucheroving” ideas now.)
And of course, last but not least, the name which everyone has an opinion on – Kaapo Kakko.
Again, keep in mind here that everything I’m saying now is assuming that Eichel gets the surgery he wants and is ready to go.
When you look at Chytil, Georgiev, Hajek and a first round pick, ask yourself this – will the Rangers miss any of these guys/assets? To me, it’s a definitive no.
Hajek is good as done with the Rangers. A first round pick is an unknown. You can replace Georgiev with a veteran back-up for much cheaper, including perhaps Henrik Lundqvist. (I’ve already written about Lundqvist return scenarios before, so refer to the archives of this site for more on that. In short, I think it would be a winning idea for everyone involved. In addition, you could always go with Keith Kinkaid instead.) Chytil really doesn’t have a secure spot on this team, at least not as a center, especially if Chytil continues to be terrible at the dots.
So yeah, you can write off these pieces and not blink an eye, at least in my opinion from a guy sitting in a beer stained computer chair and not sitting in the big chair at Madison $quare Garden.
Of course, trading Kakko will not only make people blink, but twist their heads too – especially the younger generation of Ranger fans who are more loyal to individual players than to the front of the jersey.
Throughout this whole Eichel ordeal, Buffalo has always pushed for Lafreniere, Kakko and/or Kravtsov. Obviously, Lafreniere isn’t going anywhere, nor should he. That leaves you with Kravtsov and Kakko, and to me Kravtsov is the better of the two. Yes, Kravtsov is older and more developed than Kakko, but keep in mind, the Rangers are in WIN-NOW mode. If you think this rebuild is still going on, you have your head in the sand.
Furthermore, you just don’t want to waste the primes of guys like Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad either. If you’re trying to WIN-NOW, who’s your better option – Kravtsov or Kakko? To me, hands down, it’s Kravtsov.
Wouldn’t you know it, that after I tweeted out this trade of Kakko idea to the world; no less than 24 hours later, Larry Brooks wrote a whole article backing my suggestion? Of course, Brooks didn’t mention who pushed this idea first! And yes, while I’m joking here, it does seem more than a coincidence!
Here’s the NY Post on Twitter, plugging the latest out of Brooks:
In the article from Larry Brooks, (you can read the article here: https://nypost.com/2021/07/31/kaapo-kakko-may-be-rangers-key-to-jack-eichel-sweepstakes/) Brooks, like I previously did, argues that Kakko could make an Eichel trade work.
What makes me think that this trade may actually happen, is the fact that Brooks is in the loop and usually, unless he’s waxing poetically for the Rangers to sign Josh Anderson; Brooks usually writes from a “tipped-off” perspective. As I’ve said for a long time on this site, Rangers management, especially during the Sather days, have used Brooks to test the waters and put out their side. To me, this is no different than anything else.
For the fans who are 100% against the Rangers trading for Eichel, it’s the same stuff, stuff such as Eichel is “damaged goods”, Eichel’s cap hit, Eichel’s character and blah blah blah. What is lost in all of their talking points, are the following:
— Buffalo blows. As Shawn S., of the “2 Guys 1 Cup” podcast has said and has given examples of – Buffalo is just a terrible environment. Once players get out of there, they thrive. Need a recent example? Just look at Taylor Hall. If Eichel got out of hockey hell, food would taste better and air would be fresher. (Okay, maybe not literally in NYC as @Blueshirts_2 on Twitter pointed out, but you get the idea here!)
— For all the “damaged goods” talk out of people who are anti-Eichel, are you really writing off Eichel because of a surgery? Players have surgeries all the time. Not mentioned in any of this stuff – Kakko’s Celiac disease, a disease that effects his life every day.
And please, don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not trying to be cruel or even equate Kakko to being “damaged goods” like others are currently doing with Eichel. All I’m saying is that it’s easier to recover after a one-time surgery than deal with a disease that has no cure. Would people be calling Kakko “damaged goods”, if Kakko could go through some sort of an experimental procedure/medication to cure his Celiac disease once and for all? I don’t think so Jack. (Eichel!)
— Brooks, like me, is arguing that the Sabres would have to assume some of Eichel’s cap hit, where Brooks is pushing for the Sabres to accept 50% of the hit. Are you telling me that you’d rather wait-and-see what happens with Kakko, rather than receiving an elite first line center for $5M a season? If you know anything about the NHL, elite centers are hard to come by. It’s much easier to find wingers.
— It’s been routinely mentioned that Kakko is a former second overall pick. Lost in that discussion is that Jack Eichel is also a second overall pick of an NHL draft, where if it weren’t for Connor McDavid, Eichel would’ve went number one overall. Needless to say, Connor McDavid is a lot better than Jack Hughes, the same Jack Hughes who the Devils took first overall, rather than drafting Kakko.
I will remind you one more time before wrapping up on this subject, that if I didn’t hear the Prusmack interview, I wouldn’t be as confident as I am right now while suggesting Kakko being the key piece going the other way to Buffalo. In addition, I’m also aware of the take of “Buffalo is screwed so they’ll have to take less in a package anyway.” Of course, that take assumes that the Rangers are the only ones knocking. That wouldn’t be the case.
Lastly, Friedman is one of the best reporters in all of the NHL today. You can bet your ass that every NHL GM listened to that interview and have done their own research too. For Drury, perhaps after listening to this interview, some of Drury’s concerns about Eichel may have decreased.
Damn, I said I wouldn’t go long tonight, so some quick hits here before going home!
While we will have to wait to see if my Kakko/Eichel trade prediction eventually pans out; I can say that another one of my predictions panned out on Saturday.
After the Carolina Hurricanes made Brendan Smith the fifth member of the Rangers alumni to join their current squad, I said the following on July 29th:
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) July 29, 2021
Two days later, the Canes did exactly just that:
Welcome to Carolina, Derek!
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) July 31, 2021
This now brings the current Canes roster to six ex-Rangers, as Stepan joins Brady Skjei, Jesper Fast, Antti Raanta, Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith.
Ironically, the Canes now have 75% of the players involved in the Rangers/Arizona 2017 NHL Draft day trade, in Stepan, DeAngelo and Raanta. Maybe Carolina can now swing a trade with the LA Kings, to add the bust known as Lias Andersson to their roster and complete the set! Collect ’em all! (While supplies last!)
I have no clue what Carolina is doing by stock-piling all of these ex-Rangers. It just feels like what NFL teams used to do in the day, when these teams would load up on free agent players from their rivals. (The AFC East was notorious for this at one point.)
I’ve already seen Ranger fans backing Carolina now, but I won’t be one of them, despite my fandom of some of these guys; as I’m an especially big fan of Stepan, Raanta and DeAngelo. After all, Carolina is a division rival! It’s not like riding Tampa when the Rangers were out of the playoffs. I just don’t want to see any Ranger divisional rival win! (The only time I’ll root for Carolina, is if they are playing the Islanders or something.)
As I said last blog, after the Canes signed Brendan Smith; all Carolina needs now is an ex-NYR captain to pull off what Tampa once did. Jaromir Jagr remains available!
And wouldn’t it be something if Carolina tried to pull a future Rangers move, and tried to land Jack Eichel right now? (Joke Credit: @Charger_J)
Our final story of the evening is a big one and it involves Evander Kane.
“OH JOE, IT’S EVANDER KANE JOE! NO RELATION TO PATRICK KANE!” (Okay, Sam Rosen never said that, but he did mention a few times last season how Colin Miller of Buffalo wasn’t related to K’Andre Miller!)
Evander Kane, who doesn’t have the best reputation ever (look his criminal history up), is involved in headlines again. After Kane filed bankruptcy earlier this year, a filing which was the result of serious and massive gambling debts; on July 31st, Kane’s estranged, and now soon-to-be ex-wife Anna Kane levied serious allegations against her husband, where Anna Kane accused Kane of throwing games last season for money.
Using her Instagram account as her platform, Anna Kane said the following:
“How does the NHL let a compulsive gambling addict still play when he’s obviously throwing games with bookies to win money? Hmm maybe someone needs to address this.”
Anna Kane later added:
“Can someone ask (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman how they can let a player gamble on his own games? Bet and win with bookies on his own games?
Before you make the Pete Rose comparisons, keep in mind that Pete Rose never bet on his team to lose, or at least so he says. Rose has said a lot over the years, but to be fair, Rose has always been consistent on claiming that he never bet on his team to lose. Anna Kane’s allegation is far more serious, as she’s flat-out accusing Evander Kane of losing games on purpose.
What Anna Kane is saying here is extremely serious and can’t be ignored – even if you want to accuse her of having an agenda. In fact, after her public allegations, both the NHL and the San Jose Sharks immediately released statements. Here’s what both parties said, courtesy of https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-statement-evander-kane/c-325888910
The NHL’s Statement:
“The League was made aware this evening of a post on social media alleging that San Jose Sharks Player Evander Kane bet on NHL games. The integrity of our game is paramount and the League takes these allegations very seriously. We intend to conduct a full investigation and will have no further comment at this time.”
The Sharks statement:
“The Sharks have been in contact today with the (NHL) about the serious allegations made against Evander Kane. We support a full and transparent investigation into the situation to maintain the integrity of the game and consistency with our team values.”
Who knows how true these allegations are, but regardless, serious comments like these need to be investigated. Of course, this could also be a case of “hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.” If that’s the case, perhaps Kane needs to enlist Silvio Dante of “The Sopranos” for his services. (I’m completely joking here and ten years ago I could’ve made that joke without having to explain that I’m joking and just trying to get a cheap laugh. Thank you PC America!)
For Evander Kane, who has a criminal history, marital problems and who had to file bankruptcy; this is the last thing that he needed. If there’s any silver lining to this story, it’s the fact that it broke during the off-season. If he’s innocent, he’ll be cleared. Had this happened during the season, it’s likely Kane would’ve been suspended, pending the results of the investigation.
Do you know who this story is also a silver lining for? Easy – the Sabres, the Blackhawks, the Hurricanes and the Canadiens, who now have their own stories now pushed to the wayside and to the second page of an “NHL Scandal” google search.
The topic of the NHL (and the three other major sport leagues) being in bed with all of these gambling outfits is a story for a different day. In fact, I think I’ve written about 7867867869 different articles on this in the past. In short, all of these leagues promote gambling and you can’t watch a Rangers broadcast today without John Giannone suggesting 678678686869667 different ways to bet on these games. There’s just too much money to walk away from and the idea of separating these worlds is long gone. That barrier between gambling and integrity was blown away a long time ago.
What we know for a fact here is that Kane is a bad gambler and most likely an addict. After all, you don’t earn money which could support your family for multiple lifetimes and then have to file for bankruptcy. (Unless you’re Jack Johnson and he’s the exception and the rare victim.)
If you know anything about a bad gambler or an addict, they will do anything to feed their addiction. For a pro athlete, swinging games could be a last resort. If these allegations wind up being true, would you really be surprised, especially considering Kane’s previous history? After all, all the casinos and the other legal gambling outfits have cut him off. The only way Kane could place a bet these days is with an illegal bookie. As you may know, illegal bookies usually have ties to the world of organized crime. And if this leads to loan-sharking, it’s even worse.
As you know, even if this doesn’t necessarily ring true in the world of public opinion – everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Kane’s finances will now get a deep look by the NHL. Hell, who knows – maybe Gary Bettman sends one of his underlings to check to see if there is any cash under the mattress of Evander Kane?
Whatever the case, and whatever the result, this is a bad story for the NHL. Considering Kane’s previous transgressions, this isn’t something that he needed right now. Think about it – Kane could be exonerated from all of this, but whenever someone googles his name, this story will always come up. And even if innocent, there will always be the snickering and jokes.
And if Kane is guilty? What a fiasco for the NHL. For Kane, not only would he be blackballed out of the league; but for a guy who has money issues to begin with – Kane will have no way of getting out of his financial peril. And then there is the whole criminal charges aspect too.
As far as what I think? I have no way of knowing if this is true. All I’ll say is that if Anna Kane really wanted to stick it to her husband, she would’ve done this during the season rather than during the off-season.
What. A. Mess.
In one last piece of news before going to the “subscribe” plug; Nick Ritchie, who many Ranger fans were clamoring for, signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. While it would’ve been nice if the Rangers added Ritchie, with Ryan Reaves now with the Rangers (and extended for one more year too) this probably took the Rangers out of the mix for Ritchie. I’m fine with it!
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
So much for having the weekend off!
Stay FABULOUS my friends.
As always here, thanks for reading and…
LET’S GO RANGERS!
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