The Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight, and although my dearly loved New York Rangers will not be part of the contest this time, the Cup itself is still majestic and magnificent — and simply the best trophy in all of sports.
The 1993-’94 Rangers’ names on the Cup
It is a thing of beauty (unlike that… object that gets foisted on the winner of the World Cup) and simplicity (unlike the Commissioner’s Trophy in Major League Baseball), and everybody who wins it gets his name engraved on it forever. It’s not just a hunk of metal that gets passed around each year (unlike the NFL’s Lombardi Trophy). It’s a prize that is imbued with the spirit of the victors; every player becomes part of the Cup, literally and figuratively.
It’s the hardest prize to win, but unquestionably worth it.
Forget the Jamaican bobsled team — when it comes to an unlikely sport in an unusual place, I think ice hockey in Kenya takes the cake! I love NHL hockey and think more people need to embrace the sport. The league needs this kind of dedication.
There is only one place in the entire country to play hockey on ice — the Panari Hotel in the capital city, Nairobi — but enthusiasts also play on inline skates. In an odd coincidence, “Nairobi” translates from the local Maasai language as “cool water”!
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist of my beloved New York Rangers released images of the mask he will wear for the 2014-’15 season, and it looks like a stripped-down, simplified version of previous masks. It doesn’t seem as “busy” to me. King Henrik’s mask has his usual stylized crown on the front, with the Statue of Liberty on each side. As a hidden message, the three crowns on the mask (his, and the twin Lady Libertys) pay homage to the three crowns on the Swedish flag, (the “Tre Kronor”).
The mask was designed and painted by Dave Gunnarsson, who does a lot of work for NHL goalies.
Backup goaltender Cam Talbot also has a new design ny Ginnarsson, this one paying homage to the New York-based comedy classic Ghostbusters.
Anyone who still doubts that NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan is really really bad at his job comes Reason No. 345,458,945,678 why Shanahan needs to be fired: He thinks it’s perfectly fine that Pittsburgh Penguins assassinthuggoon forward Matt Cooke sliced the Achilles’ tendon of Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, ending the star’s season.
That’s right; the head of the department of player safety doesn’t think cutting 70 percent of a player’s Achilles’ tendon is an issue.
Judge for yourself: The incident first happens about 7 seconds into this clip, but watch for replays from different angles that show a clear stomping motion by Cooke.
Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers was finally awarded the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding goalie for the 2011-’12 season. Lundqvist capped his seventh pro season by winning the accolade on his fourth nomination.
It’s hard to express how proud I am of Hank, who was like a brick wall in backstopping the Rangers to their best finish since the 1993-’94 season, when they won it all. In my book, he should have won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP, because the Blueshirts would have gone nowhere without the King between the pipes, let posting the best record in the Eastern Conference (and second in the league) and surviving deep into the conference finals. Continue reading
It was on this date in 1994, a mere 18 years ago, that the Blueshirts ended a 54-year drought quest and brought the Stanley Cup back to New York at last. This feat was accomplished by the Messiah, Mark Messier, whose leadership of the Rangers crowned one of the most incredible careers in NHL history.
But the Captain didn’t quite do it alone; he had help from the Rangers other stars, Brian Leetch and Adam Graves — who scored the other two goals in the 3-2 victory — and all-world goalie Mike Richter. And let’s not forget the contributions of role players like Steve Larmer — who took so many crucial faceoffs in the final moments of the game. I can remember watching this at home with my brother and our good friend Brian, agonizing over those final ticks of the clock! And then… jubilation! I’ll never forget that win. As the sign said, “Now I Can Die in Peace.” Continue reading
This is the way the world ends: a pileup, a scrum, and a little black blip skitters into the net.
I don’t know who scored, and I don’t care who scored. All that matters is he was wearing a red sweater, it was overtime, and my New York Rangers have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup tournament. The finals are next for some folks, but not me; the NHL season is over. My Rangers are out.
After a long, hard-knock season that began in Europe and ended in the swamps of the Garden State; after winning the Winter Classic and featuring on HBO’s 24/7; after my brother and I went to dozen of home games at MSG and sang the goal song in the balmy humidity of Indian summer and the frigid depths of a cold, virtually snowless winter; after all that, it’s all over. Continue reading
In the words of Ronald Reagan: “Well, there you go again…”
Former New York Ranger and longtime New Jersey Devil Brendan Shanahan, who is currently the NHL senior vice president of player safety, has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow morning to pretend to listen to New York Ranger Brandon Prust’s side of the story in the case of a high elbow from Saturday’s game against the Devils. Then Shanahan will mouth some tripe about “player safety” and suspend Prust for one to three games. Continue reading
OK, so here’s the situation, as detailed in this video clip: Washington Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin leaps off the ice to deliver a tremendous blow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi. Ovechkin was handed a two-minute penalty for charging, which he clearly did. However, this case also clearly calls for supplementary discipline from the league — suspension and fines — but it looks like that probably is not going to happen.
Ovechkin, who apparently likes to leave his feet to deliver savage blows only slightly less than he enjoys breathing, more than fits the criteria established by Brendan Shanahan, NHL senior vice president of player safety, as a repeat offender. The video also shows that the primary point of contact was the head.
Brendan Shanahan, NHL senior vice president of player safety, has once again proved that if he is not flipping a coin to decide whether to discipline players, he must be trying to confuse the players and fans. His rulings – and non-rulings – have been so wildly inconsistent as to beggar the imagination. If he was purposely attempting to make people believe that he was ruling randomly, he could not do a better job.
The man does not mete out justice fairly. He is so scattershot in his rulings, that there is no way players or clubs could possibly anticipate what he is going to do next. The one thing – the one thing – an authority figure should be is consistent. Even if he Shanahan is unfair, he should be unfair to everyone. Parents need to present a united front in order to instill discipline in a child. If Dad decides one day that the penalty for sneaking a cookie before dinner is no TV before bed, and the next day there’s no punishment, and the day after that the kid is grounded for six months –what’s the penalty for sneaking a cookie? Who knows? Ask Brendan Shanahan. Continue reading
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