October 2007

The Rangers-Bruins game on Saturday, October 20, has been moved up to a 4pm start time due to Game 6 of the ALCS tilt between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox.  Given the way the Rangers sleepwalked through the Thrashers game in Atlanta, I hope someone reminds them that game time has been moved up.

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With Marcel Hossa still ailing and not able to practice, the New York Rangers have recalled Nigel Dawes from the Hartford Wolf Pack. In addition, the Wolf Pack have signed C/RW Dave Scatchard to a PTO contract. You see the terms PTO and ATO towards the end of the season in the AHL. In respect to an ATO, NHL teams use those to take a look at Junior and Collegiate prospects they don’t want to sign to NHL or AHL contracts – for various reasons. For example, Bobby Sanguinetti signed an ATO with Hartford in April 2006. The PTO term deals with professional players.

Here is the explanation from the AHL’s official site:

SPC = Standard players’ contract (also known as an “AHL contract”)
PTO = Professional try-out contract
ATO = Amateur try-out contract

AHL players not signed to one of these three contracts are on NHL contracts and assigned to their respective AHL clubs by their parent team.

In other words, the Rangers have bought time before making a decision on Scatchard and they give the veteran a chance to get his ice legs back.

Things are not going to get any easier when they travel to face the winless Atlanta Thrashers. It wasn’t going to bad enough that the Thrashers will be looking for revenge and their first win of the 2007/2008 season, they will also being playing under a new coach – albeit an interim one. Atlanta has fired head coach Bob Hartley and GM Donnie Waddell will coach the team until a permanent replacement for Hartley can be named. The Thrashers are dead last in the NHL in goals for and only Los Angeles and Toronto have allowed more goals than the Thrashers.

Quite obviously Hartley’s firing will start up the cascade of blog entries from fans calling on Rangers President/GM Glen Sather to fire Tom Renney and hire Hartley.

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I had the pleasure of attending the Rangers Opening Night game for the first time in a few years. You know things are going well when you get two free tickets in Section 208 (normally $80 each), but when you end up paying $10 for parking in the lot opposite the Garden (normally $38 bucks) you know it is going to be a special night. Throw in the surprise of seeing Brian Leetch drop the ceremonial opening faceoff and the Rangers 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers almost becomes an afterthought – almost!

Here are some random observations from Opening Night.

  • I hope the Rangers realize that they are not going to get anywhere this season if they think they can just “turn it on” whenever they need it. Hockey is three periods of 20 minutes and – more often than not – you need to play a full 60 minutes. Just ask the New York Mets what happens when you play the risky game of turning it on when you need it.
  • What was Reebok, and the NHL for that matter, thinking when they designed these new uniforms? I could have sworn that the Rangers were playing the Flyers and the Panthers last night. I am dreading seeing some of the fashion no-nos that Reebok has put together for the rest of the NHL. Outside of the “shirttail-sticking-out-of-the-pants look of the Blueshirts uniforms, we did get off rather lucky. However, I can wait to see what havoc Reebok will cause with our third jerseys next year.
  • Let me be the first (actually the second) to officially designate the third period of tied or losing games as Drury Time. Thanks to Ira Podell of the Associated Press for coming up with that designation. You get the feeling that Drury’s goal last night is the first of many more of those types of goals.
  • Marek Malik. Look every player in the NHL makes mistakes. Unfortunately for Malik his sometimes come at the worst times. However, this booing has got to stop. Look, I know Ranger fans need to have their whipping boys, but could those fans who boo Malik at least wait until he does something wrong. The bottom line on Marek Malik is that he is not as bad as some fans make him out, nor is as good as some writers make him out. He is what he is. He is a finesse defenseman in the body of a physical defenseman – a leaner and less imposing version of Willie Huber.
  • It was great to see Brian Leetch drop the ceremonial first puck. Last night served as a great warm up for January 24, 2008. A classy salute for a classy hockey player.
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