Thursday, December 28, 2006
Great, great news for the Horn of Africa and the world! Six months of radical rule by the Islamic Courts has come to an end in Somalia, at least for the time being. Troops of the United Nations-backed interim government were cheered wildly as they rolled into the capital city Mogadishu today. Soldiers from Ethiopia stopped on the outskirts of the war-torn city, but give credit to Ethiopia who got the whole thing done. It was their military that was able to knock out what many thought to be an impenetrable Islamic militia which has links to al-Qaeda. The mujahideen were last seen fleeing to the south of the country.
Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Gedi definitely has his hands full trying to get a government set up in a country that has not had a workable governing body in 15 years.
Ethiopia became worried that the Islamic Courts was gaining too much power and would be a real threat to all the countries in the Horn of Africa. A well-regarded military, Ethiopia, took charge and has ousted the Islamists.
The courts were trying to establish Sharia law which is based on extreme fundamentalism of the Koran. I have no idea what role if any the United States played in all of this. Did they encourage Ethiopia? Did they send over some money? Arms? I don't know, but this is something that needed to be done. A failed state run by Islamists can not be allowed anywhere in the world, and I do mean anywhere.
The New York Rangers have been sliding lately, mostly due to surprisingly bad goaltending and the other teams' ability to shut down Jaromir Jagr. I have always felt that this edition of the Rangers will be better suited in the playoffs and that the team we see in the regular season would go through some changes during the year. I have believed that there would be more youth added to the team as the season went along.
So far Thomas Pock and Jarkko Immonen have been inserted into the lineup, well now joining the fray this weekend will be 24-year-old defenseman Bryce Lampman. He had a very small cup of coffee with the team at the end of the 2003-2004 season, but it looks like he could be up for a while. He has three goals and five assists so far for the Wolf Pack.
According to Hockeysfuture.com:
"Lampman is a solid defenseman with excellent leadership qualities. He is a great skater, which helps him play his excellent defensive game. Primarily a stay at home defenseman, Lampman does possess decent skills at the other end of the ice. He has a very hard shot from the point that he controls very well and he is very adept at making the outlet pass. One of those players that will never be seen as an all-star, but he will be extremely valuable to the team."
Sounds like what the Blueshirts need right now, especially with Marek Malik not expected to play in Ottawa or at home against Washington. Stay tuned...
It always seems as though famous people die around the holidays. I'm not sure if that is accurate or not, it just appears to be the case. As we all know former President Gerald Ford and "the hardest working man in show biz" James Brown both passed on. Add to that list a real good columnist from the New York Post, Uri Dan, who died over the weekend. Dan, 71, wrote some very good op-ed pieces for the paper and was a fantastic analyst on situations in the Middle East. He will be sorely missed...
If you are looking for a book that is really, really inspirational. I would highly recommend Og Mandino's The Greatest Salesman In The World. It's about 105 pages or so and cost $4.95. The book can be easily read in a couple of days and is just an incredibly powerful story.
Finally, have a safe and Happy New Year and here's to a prosperous 2007 for all. Like Louis Skolnick said in Revenge of the Nerds "This is gonna be a great year!"
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
The other day I was in the White Plains Library. I got there a couple of minutes before it opened at 10 o'clock and there are a bunch of people standing around in the lobby, waiting for the guard to let everyone in. So I notice a woman standing with three shopping bags literally overflowing with Christmas gifts. Next a little blond-haired girl and an Hispanic woman show up. The little girl says to the blond, "I haven't seen you for a really long time," and then adds, "What happened to you?"
I will never forget the adorable sound of the girl's voice saying those words.
The little girl asked this question with curiosity, concern, and a touch of anger. But anger more in a loving sense with great concern, as opposed to being filled with rage or hate.
I couldn't catch what the blond said in response, except the bits and pieces that I heard without looking like I was listening. They were "going to go upstairs to the children's room," "how nice it is up there," and "how nicely decorated it is." So as the three are getting onto the elevator the little girl says in a very matter of fact way, "I'm already seven."
I was heartbroken at this exchange. There is no question in my mind the blond was this little girl's mother. I am not sure who the Hispanic woman was. Perhaps child services? I'm not sure. I have my theories that I won't go into, but the bottom line is: Somehow, someway this little girl and her mother were separated. For how long, I don't know. As we all know, a long time to little kids can be a few weeks, a few days, or even just a few moments. I get the sense that it was a significant amount of time, though.
I had an urge to follow them onto the elevator and sort of hover and listen to what they had to say. This was a thought and in no way would ever be a reality. Still, I was very interested in how the mother and daughter would interact with one another.
I did what I had to do and left. But I was really struck by what I heard and saw. I still am. I drove away in my car with my radio off and was completely taken aback by the whole thing. I speculated about what I thought had happened? I though about how the time apart had effected the little girl and how it may impact her life going forward? I hope that the two can heal from whatever emotional scars may exist.
It appeared to me that this was a supervised visit for the mother and that is a shame on the one hand. Having to exchange Christmas gifts with your child in a library? Really sad. However, it also means that this woman is digging herself out of whatever adverse situation she was in, and is now restarting a relationship with her precious daughter. That of course is the positive to this and what really matters.
Some folks I know who are constant contrarians, would say I am being presumptuous and I may be completely wrong about who everyone was and what the circumstances behind all of this actually are. Yeah, I know some people think it's cute to just disagree for the sake of disagreeing. I've been wrong before, but there is absolutely no way I got this one wrong. The little girl was a "mini me" of the older woman. I also could tell by how the two were interacting, but basically it was just a strong sense that I had.
I have not seen many things like this that have touched me to this extent. Believe me, I can't overstate how moved I am. But it gave me a great deal of gratitude for what I have presently and have had in the past.
I am writing this on my blog to pass on because stories like this are really important. But also for selfish reasons, because I will have a record of it for myself and will be able to refer back to it in the future. I hope that I never forget the two women or the little girl. With her cute little face, she will not be easily forgotten. I kept all of them in my prayers over the weekend and hope to do so for a long time, perhaps you will as well.
Some days, and more specifically moments, stand out for good and bad reasons, however, most days in our lives are kind of all jumbled together. This is one moment that I doubt I will ever forget.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Cheers and don't drink to much egg nog!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The New York Islanders have been clearing out salary space for a possible signing of Brian Leetch. Is this just to force the Rangers' hand or are the Isles serious? Apparently, Leetch is not expected, however, to sign until after the all-star break. Huh? An aging defenseman who has not played since last April is going to sign that late into the season? Something is missing here and I'm going to get to the bottom of it. I will say this when it comes to Brian Leetch: Buyer Beware! Leetch is past his prime and could really upset a team's chemistry by being added so late in the year.
Brad Isbister was recalled from Hartford to play tonight in Florida. Isbister has size and potential, but his career got sidetracked and he has never lived up to his potential. But he is 29 and could serve as a solid checking forward. Meanwhile, Ryan Callahan, 21, was sent back to play for the Wolf Pack. He played well against the Isles, but is better suited to play in Hartford to gain more experience before playing with the big club.
Now if the Rangers want to go out and trade for Sergei Zubov to make up for one of the worst trades in team history. That I am all for. The Rangers dealt Zubov and Petr Nedved to Pittsburgh before the 95-96 season for Ulf Samuelsson and Luc Robitaille. Zubov is immensely talented offensively, but needs to play with a tough d-man to make up for his lack of aggressiveness. Can you say Derian Hatcher?
The Rangers and MSG are looking into buying an ECHL team and having them play in Brooklyn, at the new arena that is going to be built for the Nets.
Classy ceremony the other night honoring Brendan Shanahan and Jarmoir Jagr. A great touch by bringing out their respective families and Steve Yzerman (Shanny's old mate in Detroit) and Mario Lemieux (who played with Jaromir in Pitt), along with Mark Messier serving as the guy that got everyone lined up properly for pictures.
Later on Mark Messier, Yzerman and Lemieux all were interviewed by Al Trautwig. The next night Trautwig got to interview Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and Charley Oakley. Not a bad week at all...
Hey, I don't like to blow my own horn, but so far, I'm doing pretty well with these hockey names, no?
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Perhaps it was because of the flu which has really worked through the team or because there are some key guys banged up. It's not an excuse, just a fact. During the season every NHL team gets hit with the flu bug at one point or another. The Rangers are getting hit with it at the busiest time. A time in which they are playing 10 games in 17 nights. The guys on the blueline were the most stationary from what I saw. Marek Malik was the biggest offender in that area.
So that bring us to tonight against the New York Islanders at MSG. What will happen? Well, one thing we know for sure about 2o minutes from the game starting, is that the Rangers are going to look quite different tonight.
First off, Henrik Lundqvist has the flu and is out. So that means that Kevin Weekes is between the pipes. The Rangers have recalled future all-star Al Montoya from Hartford. He was taking a helicopter to the 34th street heliport. But believe me, I was in NYC today, and he's going to have a heck of a time getting over to MSG due to all the holiday gridlock. I suggest walking...
Brendan Shanahan also has a very bad case of the flu, but plans on playing. We'll see if he plays and how effective he is. So the Blueshirts have recalled the sensational Ryan Callahan who has 19 goals and 27 points in 25 games for the Pack.
If that's not enough number-one center Michael Nylander will miss his second straight with the flu; Matt Cullen has a sprained knee and may be able to go Thursday against Florida; Malik has a groin strain and is day-to-day.
So here's what I think the lineup will look like tonight:
Malik/Rozsival (If Malik can't go, Thomas Pock has been recalled)
Sandis Ozolinsh and his $2.75 million dollar contract have been put on waivers, which he has cleared and has been assigned to Hartford, thus, ending his short Rangers' career.
Which I don't like. If I were coach, here's what I would do.
My thinking being that Staka has played center before in his career and he plays his best with Jagr, so I think it is foolish to split the two up which was done Sunday night. I like a tough physical player like Hollweg to ride shotgun with Jagr. Hollweg can deliver punishing checks and will be great to pin the d-men deep while Jagr and Straka are able to do their thing from the cirlces and the slot. Ryan Callahan has been awesome with the Wolf Pack, so let's give him valuable minutes to show his stuff. I'll put Prucha on the third line, but would definitely be willing to use him on the second line, if Shanny is not up to par due to the flu. Prucha looked very hesitant the other night. Meanwhile, watching Shanahan over the years, I wouldn't be surprised if the guy goes out and gets a hat trick. Ward goes to the fourth line where he belongs. I'm not sure what Head Coach Tom Renney sees in this guy. But no way does he even sniff the first line if I'm behind the bench. That fourth line that I have with Hall and Orr on the flanks can actually serve as an energy or crash line.
Time to go, since I am not behind the bench and I am actually behind a computer and the game about to start. Oh yeah, Jagr and Shanahan will be honored pre-game for both scoring 600 goals earlier in the season.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Darius Kasparaitis has looked good so far on the blueline and I expect him to continue to improve once he gets into better game shape. I would, however, like to see Sandis Ozolinsh moved at this point. He's too much of a liability defensively, so perhaps the Blueshirts can get a sixth or seventh round pick in exchange for him, which would also free up some cash.
Rangers are in Chicago tomorrow night, who recently signed future Hall-of-Famer, Peter Bondra.
The St. Louis Blues have reportedly fired Head Coach Mike Kitchen and replaced him with Andy Murray. Kitchen has been in an impossible situation and it pretty much was a foregone conclusion that he would be canned as soon as new ownership took over this past summer. The team stinks and I expect them to dump plenty of vets at the trading deadline in February.
Murray brings a wealth of experience having coached the L.A. Kings for seven seasons and also winning World Championships as Head Coach of Canada in 1997 and 2003. Still, the Blues have a ways to go, but it's a start.
Emotions ran high Tuesday night in Montreal when they hosted the Boston Bruins. Both teams were dealing with separate off-ice tragedies. The sellout crowd of 21,273 gave a standing ovation before the game in honor of Laura Gainey, who was lost at sea after being swept off a tall ship by a rogue wave. Meanwhile, the Bruins played without 19-year-old rookie Phil Kessel, who had cancer-related surgery Monday in Boston and is out indefinitely.
This is not the first time that Bob Gainey has dealt with a personal tragedy, his wife Cathy, died at the age of 39 from brain cancer in 1995.
Such sad news. I hope we all can keep in mind those who face such tragedies, not only at this time of year, but year round.
I've written on here before about the incredible ineptitude of anything involving the United Nations so let's write that one off write away. But the involvement of the Saudis and Iran is pretty pathetic. Those two countries have been involved and that's by supporting the insurgency. Iran supports the Shiite death squads while Saudi Arabia supports al-Qaeda and her offshoots, all Sunnis. Syria is basically a joke to me, they follow whatever Iran does, so in essence they are one and the same.
I keep hearing people saying that all these countries in the Middle East want a stable Iraq. If that were truly the case this whole thing would have been over by now. Iran wants to have control over the oil in Iraq which would make the Mullahcrats the most powerful regime in that region. The House of Saud does not want another competitor on the world oil market. A stable Iraq with oil flowing nicely to the rest of the world would bring about immense competition and would take a great deal of money from the Saudis.
Also, at stake for those two countries is that Saudi Arabia does not want Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, which most surely they would be able to do with the extra reserves coming from Iraq's oil wells. The Saudis also have designs on getting a nuke, same goes for Egypt.
There are nearly 80 recommendations by the Iraq Study Group being suggested. How many President Bush attempts to go with is any one's guess. It appears that he will increase troop levels, which was not recommended by the Study. We will know more after the New Year, however, the only ones who can and should decide their future is the people of Iraq. They need to step up and take control of their country, rather than allowing others to dictate their fates and fortunes for them.
We've done our job in Iraq: We got rid of Saddam Hussein and his sons, we searched for but did not find the stockpiles of WMD that our and other countries' intelligence apparatus believed existed, and we watched over as the Iraqis went to the polls to establish a democratically-elected government.
Bush may be looking to play one last card here by going full out and eliminating the insurgency. As usual, we have "friends" who are playing both sides of the fence. The Saudis tell us they are our partners in the War On Terror, but history has continually shown that they are anything but our pals. The Iranians continue to talk about their vision for a world without America and Israel. So do you really want to sit at the negotiating table with Iran?
It's not too late for the Iraqis to step up, what certainly should have been done a long time ago, hopefully will take place now.
I submit to you that America did what she set out to do in Iraq. But as far as Afghanistan we have not accomplished our goals. The top leaders of the Taliban and al-Qaeda continue to roam free, as does the top warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyer, who poses a threat to the Hamid Karzai regime and that nation's stability.
This will come back to haunt us, no question about that.
The Middle East as always has a ton of problems. The stakes grow higher if nuclear weapons are brought into the picture. When I look at what the Iraq Study Group had to come up with, I was very disappointed. Perhaps, this is reflective of the futility on the ground in Iraq. I don't believe it is, but the only ones who can show us otherwise are the Iraqi people.
A Boy and His Guardian Angel
Once A Boy,
No More Than Six,
Wrote A Letter To God,
It Went Something Like This:
If You Only Knew,
But Of Course You Do.
The World Seems So Unkind,
To You, Do I Even Exist?
You Don't Notice Me.
There's No Connection,
Which I Sorely Miss,
What Was Once.
Is This Letter Wasted Time?
No Crime Committed Here,
Just Hope For A Written Response.
The Lord Responded:
You Believe Your Life Hangs In The Balance,
But Ineptness Leaves One With A Blatant Emptiness,
A Feeling Of Disconnect,
In Need Of Some True Affections,
Instead What Surfaces Are Superficial Relations,
Creation Would Not Sustain,
If This Was How We Maintained.
Listening To The Pidder Padder Of The Rain,
You Glance Out Your Window Into A World Of Nothingness,
Where Such Darkness Looms Like In The Corner Of Your Soul,
This Bottomless Pit Can Not Be Filled With Man's Creations,
Remember Always What I Tell You,
You Never Fail To Count How You Have Been Blessed,
Trust In Me And Watch The Dark Hole Shrink,
Your World Will Expand With Positive Accentuations,
Negative Feelings Arise,
But Peal Back The Onion,
Try To Learn To Not Become Undone.
For Now I Send One To Guide You,
He Never Leaves Your Side,
Trust In His Guidance,
He Acts On My Behest,
In Favor Is How He Looks Upon You,
You Can Never Leave His Sight.
We Reach For The Stars,
You Crawl Through Space,
I Dream The Impossible,
Walking Into A Great Pasture,
You Asked What Heaven Looks Like,
Why This Is It I Proclaimed!
The Great Oceans Roar Is Now Silent,
While Anarchy Ceases Abruptly,
We Travel Along A Road,
To A Mansion Of Unseen Stature,
See The Glory In Front Of You,
Only Fear Keeps You Looking Back,
Past Hurts Gripped Tightly Dampens Spirits,
History Lessons Become Points Well-Taken,
Briefly Staring At Yesterdays We Revel In Its Success Only,
So Much Will Be Revealed As The Future Unfolds,
Faith, Persistence, Patience Are Our Trusted Guides,
Like Torches They Lead Us Not Astray,
But To A Place We Will Always Want To Stay.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I haven't posted any photos so I decided that I would start with this one. No, that's not me! It's Pete Townshend, for those that don't know, from a 1980 photo. However, the quote in the dasher and this photo seem to fit at this point in time. I had written an entire post before, saved it, came back and it was gone. Must be those blogger rats that show up every now and again. Anyway, didn't feel like doing a rewrite so this is what I'll post for now.
Rangers play Philly tonight after a solid performance Sunday night in a home win against Florida. Jed Ortmeyer and Thomas Pock have been sent to Hartford for conditioning.
For those of you who don't want to hear anything personal about me, I guess this is the spot to "rock out." For anyone else...
I had an absolutely horrible 12 hours beginning Wednesday night into Thursday. Long story short I had a misunderstanding with someone which I tried to settle as diplomatically as possible. Basically, the subject did not handle it well and went a little funny, you know, a little funny. OK, that one is from Dr. Strangelove. Anyhoo, they left me some really sick messages that had me contemplating if I should go to the police. I talked to someone about it Thursday morning and this subject actually made me more upset. Next thing I know - I am physically fine - but I got into an accident. Company car. But I got hit on the passenger side by a van. The accident was my fault and his. There's a lot of people on the roads now who are not paying attention and I should have been more vigilant. But accidents do happen.
I was sore for a few days but thankfully, no one was hurt. Unfortunately, it brought back some dreadful memories of an accident I had in 1999 in which I very well could have lost my life, but by the grace of God I was fine and so was the other driver. Not many people know about either accident so let's just keep it between you and me. OK? Ha Ha!
I am trying to take a lighthearted approach to this because in reality it has really thrown me off. But I want to again say that physically I am fine. I am not blaming anyone but what happened on Wednesday night really through me for a loop. But I'll get by. Unfortunately, I will run into this subject again, which I am not looking forward to. But I did nothing wrong and I am absolutely going to stand my ground.
Situations like this I am completely powerless over. What gets me through without losing my marbles is my faith in God. I finally went to a mass in Latin - like they used to do it back in the day - that I have intended to go to for quite a while but for one reason or another have not. I went this past Sunday and it was basically just what the doctor ordered. It's always good to change up the routine a little bit. Although I must say that the church where I usually attend mass is like a miniature St. Patrick's Cathedral and is always very uplifting for me.
I would never push religion on anyone, yet, I will say I believe that everyone at some point in their life will need to find something that sustains them and not just through situations where people go a little funny. For me I have found a place with Catholicism that I gain a great deal of comfort from. I know for myself that I can never waver from this. This is the religion that I was brought up in, but over the last eight years or so has taken on much greater meaning for me.
To be blunt, Wednesday and Thursday sucked. I don't know if I took some bad advice from someone and I am also down on myself for actually trying to discuss the situation regarding the voice mails with the subject who I allowed to upset me. Does any of this make sense to you?
I am sure there are some valuable lessons for me to learn and perhaps I have already recognized what those are. But I'm not exactly sure what is the next best thing to do in regards to the person who went a little funny. So time will tell. Believe me when I tell you this is the last thing I needed right now.
But the reality is that I blame myself. I really should have not gotten involved with said subject, but I sometimes am nice to the wrong people.
Well, that's all for now. Please tune in next time for more blogging with Fr. Sean. You can't say I did not forewarn you. What I like about having my own blog is it can be whatever I want it to be. Hope I am not being pious or that this in some way comes off as being pretentious, but this is really just my experience. I hope that this does not read like a sermon, but I trust that those who know me, know that I am not the sermonizing type. I also hope you don't think I am looking for sympathy, it really is just what is on my mind. Hey, blame the blogger rats, I had something all set to go about Iraq!
I encourage one and all to go check it out. TD has a great knowledge of all the New York teams and knows the college sports as well. If you need a golf lesson Dee's your guy also. My wedge game is better than its ever been thanks to a lesson from TD a couple of years ago down at the Bronx Golf Center on Gun Hill Road. I look forward to reading all of Tommy's musings about the world of sports and beyond.
Go get 'em Dee!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
So will we once again abandon Muslims? The Iraq Study Group released their report this week and are basically saying that we should retreat. It has been suggested that the U.S. sit down with Iran and Syria in trying to get those two countries on board. Good luck! Both of those nations have been funding the insurgency and I really doubt that they are going to do anything to help our cause. Some suggest that the last thing either one of those terrorist-supporting regimes would want is an unstable Iraq. However, I put to you that this is precisely what they are seeking. They want to humiliate the United States and her allies and then be able to take over a war-weary country which would make Iran the undisputed power in the Middle East.
Time after time appeasement has shown to be ineffective, and that's exactly what we would be doing if we sat down with either Iran or Syria. Engaging in dialogue to me would only be window dressing and little else. If we decide to give up any leverage then we would really put ourselves behind the eight ball. The U.S. has to also carefully consider when dealing with Iran, how it would impact our negotiations with North Korea and other regimes that wish to pursue getting nukes in the future.
I believe I have stated on this blog before, that in the past we have abandoned Muslims, and in some ways this report suggests that we do the same thing again. We were of no help in the aftermath of Afghanistan ousting the Soviets in the 1980s and again when we encouraged the Shiites to rise up against Saddam Hussein at the end of the first Gulf War. I actually don't even see us being helpful in Darfur where a genocide is taking place as we speak. Of course the rest of the world has been absent in regards to the continual genocides that occur in Africa, but we are the lone superpower and have to take the lead on these issues, like it or not.
After Pearl Harbor the United States was able to field an incredible army that was victorious in World War II. Why the Iraqis have not stepped up in a similar way is mind boggling to say the least. I hope that the folks in charge in Iraq and more importantly the populous, do realize that we can't stay there forever and that maybe now they will have a greater sense of urgency and get things going in the right direction.
I would also like to see a bi-partisan committee put together to examine how we fight wars, when we should use American forces, and how to fight an insurgency effectively, if defeating an insurgency is at all possible. I don't think that all is lost in Iraq, and I do believe that there should be a shift in strategy, but a complete pullout or even a partial pullout is premature at this point. That's the reality. We would all like things to be different but they aren't.
In the future we really have to understand what we are attempting to do if the U.S. does decide to invade a country again. The goals have to be clearly stated and when they are met we have to leave. I submit to you that we have already achieved our goals which were stated before the invasion in March 2003. We got rid of Saddam and his sons, changed the regime, established a democratically elected government, looked for but did not find WMDs, and captured many of Saddam's top henchmen. We have trained an Iraqi army and police force, however, they have not been able to consistently stand up to the insurgency. Why that is, I don't know, but I certainly would love to know exactly why.
The bottom line is that Iraq can not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Shiite regime in Iran nor the al-Qaeda folks.
Let me also say that we did not achieve our goals in Afghanistan. Yes, we caught or killed many member of al-Qaeda, however, we did not capture the big fish. Ditto in regards to the Taliban. It seems as though Afghanistan is the forgotten war, which I just can't understand. But let's just add that to the list of things I can not grasp about our government.
So now we turn to the frivolity of pro sports. The New York Rangers played there most complete game of the season Saturday afternoon in their 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators, on the road no less. The defensemen are playing much better than they have at any time during the season and the forward lines seem to have a pretty good balance. Henrik Lundqvist made some truly phenomenal saves and seems to have bounced back well from his dismal first period performance against the Islanders. I expect Hank to start against the Florida Panthers tonight.
The line combos that were reported elsewhere that I mentioned the other day were in fact accurate. I am definitely a little puzzled by Adam Hall's fall from grace, but the lines right now seem to have good chemistry.
Jarkko Immonen plays a well-rounded game and seems to always have on his thinking cap. I don't know if he is the number two center that the Blueshirts want heading into the playoffs, but that is obviously a long ways off. Let's give Immonen some time to adjust to playing in the NHL. Apparently Head Coach Tom Renney will do just that according to quotes in today's New York Post.
The Rangers set the tone early in Ottawa with the likes of Ryan Hollweg throwing the body around as New York were the aggressors early. Martin Straka scored his 16th as he continues to play the best hockey of his career, Jaromir Jagr scored a vintage 'Jags' goal with a wrister from the high slot, and who else but the former Red Wing Brendan Shanahan to score the empty netter.
Brian Leetch's name continues to be bandied about as being a possible addition to the Blueshirts' blueline. Reportedly Leetch will play for only the Rangers, so stay tuned...
I previously posted about the retirement of Joe Nieuwendyk. Thinking back about his career it's amazing how he had an impact on the New York Rangers without ever lacing up the skates for New York. Before he was dealt from Calgary to Dallas, the Blueshirts showed a strong interest. Neil Smith, the GM at the time, refused to part with Christian Dube in a deal for Joey N. who would have been a perfect second-line center behind Mark Messier.
Fast forward to the summer of 1996. The Rangers go out and sign Wayne Gretzky. For some reason the folks at MSG told Smith he could either sign Pat Verbeek who had scored 41 goals and 82 points in 61 games before injuring his shoulder in a game against Buffalo when he crashed into the crossbar. Ouch! Or he could sign hulking d-man Jeff Beukeboom. Smitty went with Beuk a crowd favorite. Most Rangers' fans thought that Smith would compliment Gretzky with a scorer on his flank. Naturally, after letting Verbeek walk, he would then go out and deal for Brendan Shanahan who was playing for the Hartford Whalers. Again, Smith refused to put Christian Dube in a deal that would have included Alex Kovalev.
Verbeek went on to win a Cup for Dallas in 1999 and Shanny went on to win three Cups in Detroit. Christian Dube? He went on to have an "illustrious" career playing in Switzerland.
There was not enough room on the Rangers for both Mess and Gretzky, so after the '97 season Messier headed for Vancouver. Rangers' management offered Mark Messier a one year deal that would not have paid him more than "The Great One," but not less either. Mess reminded MSG that he brought them their first Cup in 54 years. He was already incensed that The Garden had signed Knicks' free agent Patrick Ewing first and that Neil Smith hadn't even paid much attention to him until it was too late. Both sides deserve fault in what was an ugly divorce that did not benefit either party, but MSG blew it in this one.
I often wonder if the Rangers had in fact signed Verbeek and Shanahan what would have transpired. Nonetheless, the top two lines would have looked like this:
Oh well, dare to dream!
The Rangers were never able to find a suitable scorer to play with Gretzky. Luc Robitaille managed only 24 goals playing with Wayne before being injured. Ironically, he got hurt just before he was about to be sent to the L.A. Kings for Kevin Stevens, a deal that would be made that summer. Kovalev, meanwhile, managed only 13 goals in 45 games before blowing out his knee and being done for the season. That really screwed up the top two lines. The Broadway Blues then had to use such notables as Vladimir Vorobiev (five goals in 16 games) and Daniel Goneau (10 goals in 41 games) for offense. Still, they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, largely on Mike Richter's outstanding play.
By the way, Robitaille would eventually end up with the Detroit Red Wings where he would play a key role in the Wings' 2002 Stanley Cup Championship. Head Coach Scotty Bowman seemed to be able to bring out the best in all of his players, including Robitaille and some other former Rangers who were pretty much inept on Broadway. Gee, and Chris"Mad Dog"Russo once said that the eight-time-Cup-winning-coach Bowman was overrated. Hmmm...
Getting back to my original point, if Joe Nieuwendyk had been traded to the Rangers, things would have been much different. Gretzky never would have come to New York and Messier would probably never have left. But that's life I guess.
I'm not planning a parade just yet because the Knicks are 8-14. But they are much more cohesive than last year. Larry Brown did a horrible job with the Knickerbockers, despite his stellar career. That is always going to be a blemish, as far as I'm concerned, with Brown's career. I basically think he tanked it, so shame on Brown.
If only the Knicks could find a way to win at home where they are 3-11.
Randy Johnson, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, and Roger Clemens? Let's say the Bombers do sign Kei Igawa and let's say he is pretty good. Fine, there is a bit of a logjam in the starting rotation but stick with me for a second. Does this starting staff in any combination win a World Series for the Yankees. Am I the only one thinking that this time next year Joe Torre will be talking to Fox or ESPN about being an analyst and that Brian Cashman will be looking for work elsewhere? Call me nuts, and I've been called worse, but I thought the Yankees were about winning championships. The question I have right now is which upstart team will beat the Bronx Bombers in the first round? But it's still a long way until the season starts, so let's see if Cashman has any tricks up his sleeve.
I can't overstate how good Christ The Lord by Anne Rice is. I thoroughly enjoyed her latest masterpiece and look forward to her next book. I also can't overstate how much I admire Rice's writing and her obvious thoroughness in research.
Speaking of thorough research, MSG's Fifty Greatest Moments has been superb. But there has been a couple of mistakes. The first one being when they showed the Rangers opening their season against the Buffalo Sabres less than a month after September 11, 2001. Their was a tremendous ceremony before the game honoring the NYPD and FDNY hockey teams. The narrator said that after 9/11, symbols of New York took on greater importance. While he was saying this they showed two fans wearing "Kovalev" and "Lundqvist" jerseys. Uh, Hank wasn't even a thought back in October of 2001.
The second being that they got the main event for Wrestlemania wrong. It was Hulk Hogan and Mr. T versus Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper. Jimmy Snuka and Bob Orton did not fight in this one, but served as cornermen. They also left out that Billy Martin was the guest ring announcer. But I guess we all make mistakes, oh yeah, except Mike Francesa.
I saw an interview with Joe Namath this week and the strangest thought popped into my mind. Do you remember when Namath appeared on The Brady Bunch and threw a pass to I believe Peter Brady?
WHY THEY HATE US
Britney Spears went underwear shopping on her birthday last week and reportedly spent $2,600!
Boy I sure am glad photos of Marilyn Monroe practicing her lines in front of a mirror are being released. Do we let anyone rest in peace?
LET'S HOPE NOT
I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton will be our next President. I hope I am wrong, but I just can't see anyone stopping the Clinton political machine. Can you?
Finally, finally, finally, it is said that everyone should get eight servings per day of fruits and vegetables. But what constitutes a serving? Obviously, one strawberry is not the same as one banana. Your help is much appreciated!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Karel Rachunek and Sandis Ozolinsh will both sit. I would love to see some shuffling in the pairings. Aaron Ward and Fedor Tyutin don't seem to have the same chemistry that Toots and Kasper had last season so I would reunite those two; Ward and Pock would be a good pair, and would greatly benefit the inexperienced d-man; meanwhile, the pair of Marek Malik and Michal Rozsival should remain intact.
I mentioned candidates for promotion from Hartford recently, well, one of them has been called up and will be in the lineup tomorrow night: Jarkko Immonen. Immonen, 24, has played very well lately for the Wolfpack. According to the New York Rangers' website, in the last five games Immonen has picked up five goals and two assists for seven points.
I love seeing the young guys playing for the Broadway Blues but at this point in time I kind of am wondering if it is the right thing to do. Hartford got off to a very rocky start but has played much better over the last month, so perhaps it is better for the team to stick together and develop some confidence as a team and as individuals.
But the Rangers do seem to need a player like Immonen who is a fantastic penalty killer, can score, and plays sound defensive zone hockey. I hope Immonen sticks and Head Coach Tom Renney finds a suitable place for him. Three or four minutes a night won't cut it.
Here's what I see for the game against Pittsburgh:
Forwards sitting: Colton Orr.
The way I see it the top line is obvious; the second line again has Adam Hall on the left side after he was moved up over the last week or so in place of Petr Prucha, but the third and fourth lines are definitely interchangeable. The above is what I think will be put together, but if I was the Head Coach, I would put Ryan Hollweg at center between J. Ward and Macel Hossa, then I would put Immonen on the right of Blair Betts with Prucha on the left.
Which would look like this:
I think then you would have a pretty good balance on the third and fourth lines of good faceoff men in Betts and Holly, good scoring balance with Prucha and Hossa, and good defensive forwards in Immonen and J. Ward. But we'll see. Just a guess.
It has been reported elsewhere that Immonen will center the second line and thus the top 12 would look like this:
But if you are going to put Prucha on the fourth line you might as well not play him. He's a goal scorer and needs to play a bunch of minutes. Renney was recently raving about Hall so I don't know how he can fall from grace so suddenly. If anything Hall will fill the slot for Hossa as third line left wing. These lines reported elsewhere came from a pretty good source but don't make sense, so stay tuned...
Brett Hull's number 16 was retired last night by the St. Louis Blues in a game against another former team of his, the Detroit Red Wings. Hull had an uncanny ability to get open in the slot and to park himself to the goalies' right where Hullie would blast one-timers like few others. "The Golden Brett" won a Cup with Dallas in 1999 and Detroit in 2002. He was always candid in his interviews and sometimes ticked off some of the folks in the NHL offices. Hull was a great player and is sorely missed both on and off the ice.
So long to another hockey legend, Florida Panthers' center Joe Nieuwendyk has called it a career, and what a career it has been. He won Cups with Calgary (1989), New Jersey (2003) and Dallas (1999); scored 51 goals in the season the Flames won the Cup; won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs in 1999, and won a Gold Medal for Canada in 2002. No question in my mind a first ballot Hall Of famer.
Incidentally, he was traded by Calgary to Dallas for C Corey Millen and the rights to eventual superstar Jarome Iginla on December 19, 1995.
Speaking of the Hall of Fame, is there any reason why six-time Stanley Cup Champion Glenn Anderson (498 career goals) and Pavel Bure (437 career goals and a pioneer for Russian players) are not in the Hall. Or is it just because someone has a grudge?
By the way, the Knicks are hosting the Wizards tonight who are winless (0-8) on the road, so I expect New York to drop this one. The Knicks are a game and a half out of first in the very inept Atlantic division, but they are a much more entertaining team and a much more cohesive team than last year. That may not be saying much, but it's improvement, which I'll take.
Stay onsides and don't foul out!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Bobby Clarke did not take long to find his way back into a top position with the Flyers.
Believe me when I tell you Devils' Head Coach Claude Julien is not going to last the season. His inability to get John Madden and Jay Pandolfo on the ice against the other team's top lines is deplorable and definite grounds for dismissal.
The New York Rangers have a mild interest in John LeClair, who was recently waived by the Penguins.
A lot was made over the weekend in certain spots about the Rangers not having certain young players in the lineup. Basically, in Hartford promotable forwards are Lauri Korpikoski, Jarkko Immonen, and Greg Moore. Ryan Callahan was up this weekend for a cup of coffee while Nigel Dawes started the year on Broadway. On the blueline there is Ivan Baranka and Byrce Lampman. The only guy out of all of the above I would like to see is Greg Moore because of his grit and the fact that he has a right handed shot, which the Rangers currently do not have enough of. The other guys are still a ways off in terms of development and I feel more damage can be done by bringing them up then keeping them in Hartford.
Basically the way I feel is pretty burnt out for the most part as a result of several things. But I know that when I am angry with someone it has something to do with me and not so much that particular person. For instance, someone at work is a bit of a pain in the ass, but they have been this way since I have known them which is a pretty reasonable amount of time. So what is it with me that allowed them to upset me so much this time around? Because he or she has not changed and is the same person they were years ago and in all probability always will be. So it is my responsibility to examine what is really on my mind and make the appropriate changes to my life where I deem necessary. I have made some decisions recently and am in the process of going forward with them. When nothing changes nothing changes. So in order for a situation to have a chance to improve I must take responsibility for who I am and how I feel and go forward. Life really is way too short for a job or anything along those lines to make one feel burnt out.
I haven't gotten any negative feedback in terms of me going into personal stuff, and quite frankly it won't prevent me from writing about whatever I want on here. I don't think there is one person who reads this blog who is going to get bent out of shape about what I write or don't write and if they do, oh well.
I learned a great lesson a couple of years ago. I wrote a few political commentaries and emailed them to some folks. Well, one person in particular really ripped into me and my personal life because of my political beliefs. I became very discouraged and did not write anything for a while after that. But that's my loss and that is me giving someone else an unnecessary amount of power. In essence, I am allowing that person to control me and my life. Believe me when I tell you I have learned many, many great lessons the last two and a half years. Allow me to share a couple of them while we are at it.
One is that you really don't have as many friends as you think. When difficult times come you'll find out who really is your friend and who is just an acquaintance. That is why I am hesitant to labeling this one my "friend" or that one my "friend." I learned that there are people who really are only in it for themselves and are "takers" rather than "givers."
As far as that person who ripped me about what I had to write, they are no longer in my life. Not for that reason alone but it became par for the course. Really what it all comes down to is this: I make a choice as to who I want in my life and who I don't and if someone is a drag then I have to figure out exactly what my role is. What part am I playing in it?
There is too much in this country of passing the buck and not taking responsibility. It's too easy for me to blame others, rather it is about me looking in the mirror and seeing where I may come up short. I am not saying that I am at fault all the time either, sometimes yes, sometimes no. But like I said I no longer have room for toxic people in my life because in the end it will come back to bite me in the ass. That you can take to the bank.
I write all this because I got an email from a young lady asking me to expound on what I touched on last week in regards to me being bummed out with someone I work with. It is actually irrelevant as to who he or she is or what he or she did, but it is all about my response. In summary, all I am really saying is that I have to focus on my reactions to things as opposed to how other people behave.
That's my tale to tell for today. Tune in next time for more blogging with Dr. Sean....
Monday, December 04, 2006
Bobby Lashley is the new ECW World Champ having won the Extreme Elimination Chamber match at "December to Dismember" on pay-per-view yesterday. Lashley eliminated the Big Show en route to victory. Show is scheduled to face the new champ tomorrow night and will probably lose due to the fact that he is scheduled to take some time off to heal some injuries.
"The Godfather of Extreme" and Scarsdale resident and native Paul Heyman has been fired by Vince McMahon over a disagreement about the direction of ECW and some problems at yesterday's pay-per-view. What a shame this is.
Heyman built ECW in the mid-90s before being bought out by McMahon who then flushed the ECW brand down the toilet before resurrecting it this past summer. This version of "extreme wrestling" is more like an extended version of the WWE. The problem stems from the fact that when Vince bought out all his competitors, namely WCW, he had an overflow of talent. Hence, he spread the wrestlers around on two rosters, Raw and Smackdown. Those two brands were not enough so more talent has been spread to ECW making it look more like WWE than anything like the old ECW.
I am not saying it's bad but over the last month or so it has more and more resembled WWE as opposed to being like the old ECW.
Heyman, I believe, will show up in TNA(Total Non-stop Action) which has a show on at 9 p.m. on Thursdays on Spike TV. Although Heyman and Vinny Mac have had their disagreements before and have made up, so you never know, maybe before long he will be back with WWE in some capacity.
NEW YORK RANGERS
The Rangers got off to an ugly start last night against the Islanders at the Garden last night. After the game Head Coach Tom Renney and Brendan Shanahan had a long talk about defensive zone coverage. Shanny came from a great system in Detroit and maybe he can bring some of that experience to the Blueshirts who need to play more like last season when their was an overall greater commitment to defense by d-men and forwards. Let's also not forget that Dominick Moore was traded over the summer and was a key component to the Rangers forwards doing a better job backchecking; ditto for Jed Ortmeyer who is due to return in early January; and let's also not forget that for some unknown reason Darius Kasparaitus continues to sit in street clothes.
Kasper was very good on the Blueline last season and was a fan favorite delivering punishing hipchecks and really getting under the skin of the opposing team's top forwards. Kasper needs to play, now! Fedor Tyutin is constantly improving and is benefiting tremendously from being paired with Aaron Ward, but I would rather see Toots with his fellow countryman, Kasper. I know, Kasper is from Lithuania while Toots is from Russia. But you get the point. Kasper has played in international competition for the former U.S.S.R. and also Russia. So you get the picture I hope.
Speaking of Russia, I have finally seen a guy who resembles Pavel Bure in his skating and play on the ice and that is the fabulous Maxim Afinogenov of the awesome Buffalo Sabres. I have never seen a guy skate as fast with the puck as Pavel but Maxim is a close second.
I missed out on getting tix to Rachel Fuller's In The Attic concert at Joe's Pub and apparently I would have seen some surprises. Jimmy Fallon hosted with Fuller and Pete Townshend teaming up as they usually do along with the other 'Attic folks such as Simon Townshend (who is a pretty good guitarist), Martha Wainwright (very good singer and from an impressive family tree), Mikey Cuthbert (I don't know him), Sean Lennon (son of a legend), and Ryan Adams (I have never heard any of his stuff). But in addition, David Bowie showed up!
I hear Joe's, which is located in lower Manhattan, is a great place to hear some music so maybe I will be able to check out the In The Attic gang next time around. I have read that full-time Oasis/part-time Who drummer Zac Starkey is expected to be on the bill which I would love to see up close. Also, tickets were only $50 which is a bargain for what you get back.
Finally, get well soon to Rowdy Roddy Piper who was recently diagnosed with a low grade lymphoma cancer. Ironically, it was discovered during surgery after Piper hurt his back while wrestling in the UK with the WWE. Reportedly a full recovery is expected for the legendary "Hot Rod."