Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. We do have some light news to go through tonight, but first, an announcement!
Drum roll please…
My new four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember” are now available for purchase. You can buy all four volumes of the series on either Amazon.com or directly through me.
For complete information on how to obtain signed copies of the physical version of the book (paperback and/or hardcover), visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/
To order unsigned copies, including the Kindle (e-Book), paperback and hardcover versions, visit: Amazon.com
Thanks for all of your support, as many of you have already pre-ordered signed copies through me, copies that should hopefully ship out next week. (I’m just waiting for them to come in, and once received, I’ll sign and ship them out ASAP.)
Up next, completing “Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” where admittedly (and just like my first book), this title is my passion project. It will also be a volume set, as it’s tough to cover nearly 700 trades in nearly 100 years in just 540 pages – Amazon’s page count limit.
Lastly, and very quickly, two more plugs before getting into everything else.
On Friday, my profile on “The Hockey News,” as written by Stan Fischler, was posted online. You can read it here: https://thehockeynews.com/news/bluelines-who-is-better-mcdavid-or-matthews
On Monday afternoon, my latest work in “The Fischler Report,” via “The Hockey News,” was posted. You can read it here: https://thehockeynews.com/news/fischler-report-putting-price-in-his-proper-place
And yes, I’m aware that the last few blogs posted on this site have been very “plug heavy” – but who is going to promote my books and other appearances better than me?
This past Tuesday, on August 16th, Ducks’ center Ryan Strome was the featured guest of “The Cam & Strick” podcast. The interview, which runs nearly an hour long, can be heard in its entirety here: https://www.camandstrick.com/subscribe
(For those who want to get right to it, the interview starts at the 1:38:01 mark.)
Over the weekend, I finally got a chance to listen to the interview in its full duration.
If you’re not familiar with the podcast, co-hosts Cam Janssen and Andy Strickland have an amazing track record when it comes to landing big-name guests – especially people formerly associated with the Rangers, such as Jeff Gorton, David Quinn, Tony DeAngelo and now Ryan Strome himself.
The interview was originally conducted a few days following Ryan Strome signing his five-year deal worth $25,000,000 overall with the Ducks on July 13th, 2022. (In other words, this interview was publicly released a month later.)
As is often the case with the now former #16 of the New York Rangers, Strome came off very well.
The interview covers Strome’s entire career, his family, his past with the Rangers, and his future with the Ducks.
For the purpose of this site, I’ll give you the highlights of what Strome said about his time with the Blueshirts.
Please keep the following in mind before continuing. My black-and-white words don’t cover the tone, nor the inflection, of Strome’s voice.
As a general statement, the man known as “Stromer” was very humble, realistic, friendly and knowledgeable whenever discussing himself, the Rangers and/or his teammates.
Among the highlights:
— Strome thought he had a good chance of re-signing with the Rangers last season, but as the season progressed, and with not much talks going on between Chris Drury and his agent – he realized that a return/new deal was most likely not a reality.
— Outside of saying something akin to, “I wanted to finish what we started, we had a good thing there,” Strome never flat-out said, “I wanted to remain a Ranger” – but you could tell that was the sentiment that he had – or at the very least – that’s the impression I received. Again, he never said it, but I just felt that if given the choice, he would have preferred staying in New York.
— Throughout the interview, Strome talked about his long history in New York, where he spent the majority of his twenties living in New York and in its suburbs. He also talked about how his personal life changed while with the Rangers, having become a father during his time with the Blueshirts.
— In what I think is public knowledge (but it may not be for some), Strome brought up how the Rangers live all over the place. (This fact has remained true throughout Rangers’ history, where many believe it hurts team chemistry/bonding off-ice activities.) Most of the married players (especially ones with kids), live in Greenwich, Connecticut, a town that’s known for its many millionaires – and a twenty minute ride from the Rangers’ training facility. Some of the younger players, the single players, do live in NYC, while others either reside in New Jersey, Westchester or in other Connecticut towns.
— While Strome, who has previously shed some light on some of the things that former head coach, David Quinn, did (things that were perceived to be wrong, such as being too hands-on with his players); the man who just built a brand-new house in Mississauga, Ontario didn’t have much to say about DQ. Instead, Strome praised current Rangers’ head coach, Gerard Gallant.
— Strome brought up Gallant’s uncanny ability to routinely use tired-and-old cliches (such as “One Game at a Time” – hence the title of my new volume set of books) and then get his players to buy into it. Again, while Strome never said this directly, it was my impression that Gallant is/was a more calming influence than David Quinn was during his tenure. Strome would later praise “The Turk” in the interview.
— Strome, when pressed (as he didn’t bring this up himself), said that he was very lucky to be making the money that he’s making. He also made sure to make clear that he was aware that not everyone is as fortunate as him, including his own two brothers, Dylan and Matthew, who also play in the NHL.
— When Ryan Strome first signed his deal with the Ducks, he said he couldn’t really celebrate it too much, as he was awaiting the fates of his siblings. In other words, he didn’t want to give off the impression of rubbing it in, and as a tight-knit family – he wanted to make sure his brothers were taken care of before he could relax and appreciate his own situation.
— On his friendships in New York, Strome talked about what we all already knew – he’s very close with Artemi Panarin. And as we also knew about, Strome talked about how he’s close with Tony DeAngelo too, mentioning that the former #77 of the Rangers’ blueline is one of his best friends today.
— On the controversies surrounding both Panarin (the Russia nonsense/lies) and DeAngelo (I don’t think I have to explain this for the 986786876786796th time), Strome defended both and said that a lot of what was in the media was incorrect. Strome said it was tough, from a first-hand perspective, to watch Panarin become a victim of what essentially was a politically-driven story, a story centered in flat-out lies out of Russia, and how Panarin was a family man himself. (Panarin was worried about his grandparents at the time.)
— On the DeAngelo stuff, Strome said a lot of what was reported about the defenseman was false too, but he never said “Adam Herman” by name.
— Somewhat related to DeAngelo (the co-hosts were very familiar with Tony D., since they just interviewed him a month prior), Strome said Tony’s situation impacted him, meaning that Strome won’t get involved in talking about hot-button topics anymore, such as politics. Strome said he can do all that stuff after he’s retired.
(I know I’ve mentioned this plenty of times before – but when DeAngelo was getting roasted for sharing his political opinions on a liberal platform, Adam Fox, who spent some time at Harvard, quickly scrubbed all of his thoughts on politics from his social media accounts. That’s the difference between a high school and a Harvard education!)
— On Henrik Lundqvist, Strome said the final years of Hank’s career were tough, first starting with Alexandar Georgiev receiving more starts, followed by the ascension of Igor Shestyorkin, and then the ultimate conclusion – heart troubles for the future Hall of Famer.
— Strome said that since Lundqvist was in a different point in his life/career than nearly everyone else on the team, Lundqvist didn’t really hang around his teammates too much. However, Strome made sure to mention that Lundqvist threw extravagant Superbowl parties at his luxurious NYC condo for the team.
— Strome, when speaking about Lundqvist, was also quick to reiterate that everyone lives all over the place, meaning that it was tough to gather the entire team together during off-days. Strome also said that he didn’t really hang out with NYC celebrities, but if there was ever a contact to be made, it was Lundqvist, the big fish of the Rangers, who made these contacts.
Overall, if you have an hour of free time, even if it’s just driving in your car – I think it’s worth going out of your way to listen to this interview.
While this interview isn’t all about the Rangers, I’d say about half of it was.
The non-Ranger stuff included talk on Connor McDavid, Strome’s time in Edmonton, the Oilers in general, being a star as a youth hockey player, his time with the Islanders (and why it didn’t work), his new aspirations in becoming a surfer, and his current status with the Ducks.
If there was something that really landed with me, something that I think as fans we often forget – it is how tough it is for these players to be constantly on the move. (At the same time, when you’re being paid millions of dollars like Strome – I think any of us could accept this part of the job – just as Strome does!)
For example, Strome had a place in Connecticut that he had to get out of. He just built a new home in Mississauga, Ontario. Now he’s looking for a second place to live in near Anaheim. (He mentioned Newport Beach, California.)
Strome also talked about his post playing days future, where he said the number one thing that he’s looking forward to is never having to move and travel again. (He said this while laughing, but he was serious about what a pain in the ass it is to travel non-stop.)
However, he also mentioned that he’d love to get into a team’s front office, where he said it’s his dream to become a general manager one day – a job that many hockey players later go on to attain. Of course, there’s only 32 of these jobs today. (Will there be more of these jobs in ten years, or whenever Strome retires? Hmmm!)
Ironically, a former Ranger, Pat Verbeek, currently serves as Strome’s general manager today, now in Anaheim.
Isn’t that amazing Suzyn?
On Saturday night, just two hours prior to Leon Edwards knocking out Kamaru Usman to win the UFC Welterweight championship; the young men compromising the Canadian world juniors team knocked off the Finns by a final score of 3-2, where an overtime period was needed.
As noted about 978678968796967687 times before on this site (hi Mike the Esquire, Dave M., and Rich M.), I’m not really into teenagers playing hockey, nor consider these tournaments to be make-or-break for aspiring NHLers. (It’s my opinion that for every player that has an amazing tournament, players who weren’t as amazing, still have a shot in the NHL.)
While sure, there have been many cases of good showings during these tournaments leading to NHL success – it’s not the general rule either.
That stated, I did watch this gold medal game between Canada and Finland – and really, I wasn’t that impressed – that is, until the overtime period – where Mason McTavish (who just last week, I praised on this site), officially became a Canuck hero:
Mason McTavish making the gold medal-saving save as Team Canada captain in the WJC was straight out of a movie 😳🎬
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) August 22, 2022
As stated in my spot during “The Hockey News” on Monday, McTavish’s heroic save in overtime led to Canada’s “Disney Finish” over Finland.
Following the save, Kent Johnson scored the golden goal for Canada, giving the red-and-white (and sometimes black, as is evident by their jerseys), the thrilling 3-2 overtime victory.
Why wasn’t I impressed with this game prior to the McTavish play, and why did I use the phrase “Disney Finish” here? Let me list the reasons:
— Canada was up 2-0 in the game, and then allowed Finland to score the final two goals of regulation.
— Canada once up 2-0, then went 0-7 on their power-play. Conversely, the Finns only received one power-play in the game. Home cooking? You be the judge!
— While I know that most of these tournaments tend to favor offense over defense (especially during the preliminary rounds); despite the low-scoring during the final game, the defense was pretty much atrocious. It was flooring that Canada couldn’t score on their power-play, despite their numerous and seemingly never-ending chances.
— During their first four games of the tournament, Canada outscored their opponents 27-7. They only scored two regulation time goals against the inferior Finns, and it if wasn’t for McTavish – the Canadians would have lost the gold medal game – a game where the home country entered the contest as the heavy favorite.
While I did enjoy the energy, from both the players and the crowd (this game was played in front of over 13,000 people, following many games of this tournament being played out in front of dozens of people – go figure, a hockey game played during prime-time Saturday night was a draw – where was this thinking during the other games of the tournament?); outside of McTavish, not much else stood out, or at the very least – anything that jumped off the page as “NHL worthy.”
Again, I’m the wrong person to pontificate on the future of prospects, especially since I don’t watch these games, nor know as much about these young men like friends of the site, Danny Mack, Steven K., and several of you readers do; but just some general observations on the Rangers’ three most recent gold medal winners:
— Goaltender Dylan Garand, the Rangers’ fourth-round pick (#103rd overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, was serviceable. I can only tell you what I saw during the gold medal game, where the pressure and the crowd were at their max, but the twenty year old only had to make thirteen saves during the first forty minutes. He then blew a 2-0 lead (while his team somewhat looked sleepy during the third period), and if it wasn’t for McTavish – Garand would be shining his silver medal right now.
I hate to sound down, but I’ve been both tagged and received many notifications, all from Ranger fans, with their chests pumped out and in KING KONG mode – all because of one gold medal – in a game that Canada should’ve handily won. (Canada, and very easily at that, could have been up 4-0 or 5-0 by the start of the third period.) Some of these people are also suggesting to me that Garand will be a Ranger during the 2022-23 season.
I’m not knocking Garand at all here. Far from it.
I’m just saying (opining) that he will not be backing up Igor Shesterkin this season, unless everyone in Hartford comes down with COVID, Monkeypox, and every single disease from the “Oregon Trail” too.
— Will Cuylle, the left winger who the Rangers drafted during the second-round (#60th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, was more impressive to me than Garand.
A player with captain qualities (he’s the captain of his OHL Windsor Spitfires), I can’t profess to know what he brought to the Canadian locker room. And yes, this is an unfair comparison (McTavish is a third-overall draft pick), but from what I saw and heard – McTavish, who was Canada’s captain, was light-years ahead of everyone else – and among all nationalities. (McTavish was later named as MVP of the tournament.)
Again, since I’m not a prospect guy, and that I can only go by what my people tell me and from the limited amount of stuff I read and watch of these teenagers – I do think that Cuylle will eventually become a Ranger (the salary cap pretty much determines that to be the case) – but I think his 2022-23 fate is howlin’ with the Wolfpack.
— Brennan Othmann, as previously raved about on this site, impressed me the most.
If you’re familiar with my own history as a wrestling promoter for ten years, or just know me from what I do on this site, I admit it – I’m drawn to colorful personalities. Othmann, who has compared himself to
Calgary’s Florida’s Matt Tkachuk, displayed both Tkachuk’s charisma and on-ice bruising abilities during the tournament.
And while someone from the Rangers will one day get into his ear, and tell him to calm down a bit – the kid is also a walking quote machine – something that every writer, blogger, podcaster, fan, whoever-you-name-it, loves:
Brennan Othmann, what a quote. 👀 pic.twitter.com/nJyT0hFtVl
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) August 21, 2022
Brennan Othmann: “If you can’t play with the big boys then don’t come out”. pic.twitter.com/2672dZZYRy
— The Hockey Focus (@TheHockeyFocus) August 20, 2022
I know I’ve done it before, but at this time, let me explain why I’m not a prospects guy, outside of the fact that my affinity and interest is in history.
Without any true insider access to these guys (and outside of NHL scouts – NO ONE has full access to these guys) – how can any fan, blogger, reporter, podcaster, whatever; determine the mental make-up of a young player?
I don’t want to rail on Lias Andersson for several paragraphs, but the former seventh-overall pick just wasn’t mentally there for the Rangers.
To some people, the “woke” generation, the following might sound barbaric/cavemanesque, but I do believe this remains true – North American players will always have a higher success rate in the NHL rather than their European counterparts. And yes, as a disclaimer, the disparity in that statement/comparison has been tightened over the years.
Like anything else, there are always exceptions to what I’m saying here, but it all boils down to this – every North American hockey player grows up dreaming of playing in the NHL. The same doesn’t apply overseas.
While there are European and Russian players who do aspire to play in the NHL one day; North American players don’t grow up saying, “I can’t wait to light it up in the SHL and in the KHL!” Instead, European leagues, including the KHL, is where a lot of NHL careers go to die.
While everyone, of all races, nationalities and whatever other trait you can come up here, all have to deal with mental health; when it comes to NHL prospects, I think you really have to get inside of the head of a European prospect, more so than you have to do with a North American prospect.
Come interview time, NHL scouts have to figure out the desire, the passion and if a player can make a life-changing adjustment/transition to a new country – a new country where the player may not even know how to read/write/speak in English, or in some cases (Montreal), French.
As I often say on this site, I don’t know how an eighteen year old version of me would handle being dropped in the middle of Russia. Heck, I don’t know how the current version of me, now at forty years old, would handle living in Russia today! I’d suggest not good! However, I know that at any age, I’d have no problems adjusting to Canada, just like how many Canadians adjust to the United States.
To go back to Othmann here, the Rangers’ first-round pick (#16th overall) of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, and who was born in Scarborough, Ontario; the Canadian kid (I hate the phrase “Baby Rangers,” because if Othmann is a baby, what’s Chris Kreider? Grampa Chris? In the same vein, what’s Sam Rosen? Fred Flinstone riding a dinosaur version of Joe Micheletti?) was the most impressive of every Ranger prospect during this 2022 World Juniors Tournament.
What sucks, for everyone involved, including Othmann, the Rangers and the fans; is that it’s the NHL or bust for the hard-hitting Ontarian.
Due to archaic NHL draft rules, Othmann isn’t eligible to take the next logical step of his hockey career – a 2022-23 “seasoning” campaign in the AHL.
Instead, the nineteen year old, who doesn’t turn twenty until January 5th, 2023, can either play for the Rangers or spend another season in the OHL with his Flint Thunderbirds. There’s no in-between, which the Wolfpack could have been for him.
Othmann, a left winger, may be ready for the NHL. As someone who isn’t afraid to make contact, you’d have to think he’d fit in wonderfully under Gallant and Drury. However, the Rangers already have plethora of left wingers on their hands.
In addition, even if you were to flip Othmann to the right wing, there’s competition there, and the Rangers, at the present moment, are more interested in getting both Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov going.
There’s also the issue of bringing up Othmann, only for the first-round pick to play limited fourth-line minutes. He’s most likely better off playing twenty minutes per game in the OHL, rather than 4-5 minutes per game with the Stanley Cup contending Rangers.
Again – it just sucks that Othmann can’t spend a season in Hartford – a situation that you’d have to think would have been the best thing for him.
It’s my opinion (and it doesn’t have to be yours), for Othmann to make the Rangers 2022-23 roster, he’s going to have to blow the balls off of everyone during both training camp and the preseason. He has to force Gallant and Drury into a difficult decision. Anything less than a superstar performance, and it’s back to the OHL for him – which may be the Rangers’ original plan in the first place.
My first 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:
Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
Sample Chapter of Upcoming NYR “Tricks of the Trades” Book; Glen Sather, James Dolan & The Henrik Lundqvist Draft, Nazem Kadri Flames Islanders; Isle Problems, Three NHL Teams To Watch, An Interesting MAF Return Scenario, “One Game at a Time” Presale & More
“Then and Now: Alexei Kovalev and Artemi Panarin,” Phil Esposito and Russian Entry into the NHL, “One Game at a Time” Preorder Info, World Juniors & More
Jacob Trouba Named 28th Captain of the New York Rangers: Complete Quotes, Thoughts and Details from NYR & Their Press Conference; “Why Not Kreider?,” Telling Words From Gallant & Drury, Weekes Scoops The Beat (Again), Book Update & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Up next for yours truly: rifling through pre-orders and completing “Tricks of the Trade!” I’m in the home-stretch now, especially with “One Game at a Time” complete.
Enjoy the rest of your summer. I should be back next Monday – barring anything major taking place. And I hope nothing major takes place!
Thanks for reading.
LET’S GO RANGERS!
@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine