Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Deadline Done: Beware Of The Penguins...

So the witching hour has come and gone. The rumors are finished. The wheeling and dealing is over. Some teams won, some teams lost, but here is a wrap of what went on during one of the most exciting NHL Trading Deadline Days' in recent memory.

New York Post and Larry Brooks

I woke up this morning to see that Larry Brooks had another New York Post exclusive. God, I love to hate this guy! He keeps it interesting, however. I don't know how often he is right, but at the end of the day it's about making money for these newspapers so he'll always have a scoop. That's why I'll read Brooksie before any of the other hockey writers. He gets me and many others to read his column. The other beat writers in the NY Metro Area never outscoop Larry Brooks. Maybe Biggie Smalls said it before me but I'll reiterate, "He gives out more scoops than Baskin & Robbins."

Brooks reported exclusively this morning that Jaromir Jagr was on the block. Although Jagr ended up staying with the Rangers, none of the other beat writers had that story, which is not to take anything away from them. But Brooks somehow is able to get it done. Many teams reportedly called about the Rangers' superstar, but were unable to offer enough to ply Jagr away from New York. I'm glad the NYR did not deal him. But it sure does make for great drama.

Beware of the Pittsburgh Penguins:
The Pens acquired left wing Gary Roberts from the Florida Panthers for unheralded defenseman Noah Welch and also picked up Georges Laraque from the Phoenix Coyotes for a 2008 third-round pick and minor prospect Dan Carcillo. The young Pens needed another vet or two for a long playoff run and they accomplished that. Roberts is a gritty, nasty, playoff-tested forward who can score goals. He along with Marc Recchi will provide the grit and leadership necessary for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to flourish in the hardcore world of the NHL postseason.

Meanwhile, fans in Pittsburgh will be screaming "Can you smell what Laraque is cooking?" The big guy can fight! But I remember him with Edmonton during the Oilers great run last spring and he did it all. Big hits to get the fans going, the occasional fight (which he never loses), and the timely goal. Laraque doesn't score often but when he does it rallies his team and generally comes at critical times. I would not want to play Pittsburgh.

The San Jose Sharks netted Billy Guerin for winger Ville Nieminen, a 2007 first-round pick, and prospect Jay Barriball. The Sharks got a Stanley Cup winner who provides toughness and goals. Guerin makes the Sharks a much harder team to play against and similar to what Roberts will do for the Penguins, he can show young stars Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo how to win in the playoffs.

The Dallas Stars bolstered their defense considerably by getting d-man Mattias Norstrom, right wing Konstantin Pushkaryov, and third and fourth-round picks this summer from the L.A. Kings for d-men Jaroslav Modry and Johan Fransson, a 2008 first-round pick, and second and third-round picks this June. Although this is only the second time Norstrom will be in the playoffs (once before in 2002 with L.A.) he is the rock that Dallas needed. The Swede will round out an already stingy defense with Sergei Zubov, Philippe Boucher, Darryl Sydor, and Stephane Robidas. Norstrom was the Captain of the Kings and at 6'2", 240 pounds, is a very, very hard hitter. He won't score many goals, but he makes few mistakes with the puck and rarely takes any meaningless penalties. I'd love to see him paired with Zubov. As a matter of fact both men were draft picks of the Rangers, and were separately part of the two worst trades during Neil Smith's tenure as Rangers' GM. Dallas has one heck of a mean hockey club and is definitely going to be a tough out in the Western Conference. Now if only Marty Turco could play like the 'other Marty.' Meanwhile, Modry returns to the Kings where he played from 1998-2004.

The New York Islanders nabbed right wing Ryan Smyth from Edmonton for centers Robert Nilsson and Ryan O'Marra, and a first-round pick this summer. This trade would be a slam dunk if the Isles had signed Smyth beyond the remainder of the season. But here's the problem: He's an unrestricted free agent July 1 and is going to command $5 million per year. The NYI are not guaranteed to make the playoffs at this point - currently in eighth - and if they do qualify will either play Buffalo or New Jersey. Highly unlikely the Isles could beat either team. Throw in the fact that Nilsson (15th in 2003 and has been compared to Peter Forsberg) and O'Marra (15th in 2005) are former first round picks.

By the way, Robert is the son of Kent Nilsson, who won a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1987. Kent is regarded as one of the best players ever to come out of Sweden. Allegedly he was threatened during that season by Mark Messier to either toughen up or get thrown off an airplane. Legend has it.

Anyway, if the Islanders were higher in the standings and had a legit shot at the Cup, I would love this trade. But they gave up way too much for a guy who in all probability will be back in Edmonton having hot dogs with Oilers' GM Kevin Lowe some time around the Fourth of July. This is a classic case of an experienced GM taking an inexperienced one - GM Garth Snow (first year) - to school.

The Detroit Red Wings rarely do anything wrong, so I was quite hesitant to put them in this column. But to trade for Panthers' forward Todd Bertuzzi who has not played much this season is extremely risky. The Red Wings will send a conditional pick – either a first, second or third-round selection in this year’s draft and a conditional second-round pick in next year’s draft back to Florida. Bert underwent surgery for a herniated disk on November 2 after experiencing back problems right from the start of the year. Apparently he has resumed skating and is close to playing, but after that type of surgery I would be surprised if he is even close to being like the old Todd Bertuzzi. The Bertuzzi situation can end up being a distraction to a team who already includes Mr. Distraction himself, Dom Hasek. GM Ken Holland will rue the day he didn't go harder after Guerin or Keith Tkachuk.

Some Good, Some Bad:
Hard to figure both on and off the ice of course are the New York Rangers. Don't know where the guy was living, but I hope he wasn't overly ambitious and paid his rent already for March. Because Pascal Dupuis is on the move again. Acquired from Minnesota for Adam Hall on February 9, he was sent today to Atlanta along with a third-round pick this summer for highly-touted forward Alex Bourret. The 5-foot-11, 205 pound Bourret was drafted 16th overall in 2005 and is currently playing forward in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves. Bourret put up pretty gaudy numbers with Shawinigan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), scoring 44 goals and helping out on 70 others. But beware because that league is a scorer's paradise. Don't believe me? That's where former superprospect Christian Dube once roamed.

According to reports the last few days Aaron Ward was more of a problem than just his on-the-bench spat with Jaromir Jagr February 3 in Tampa Bay. So exit Ward, enter Paul Mara. The Rangers exchanged defensemen with the Bruins bringing back Mara, who has 11 of his 18 points (in 59 games) when Boston has the man advantage. So the thinking might be that he will help the Broadway Blues on their very inconsistent power play. But the folks in The Garden are going to have to be wary of short handed goals; what with Mara possibly manning a point with his abysmal -22 rating. Yes, -22! Can you give me a loud OOFFAAA!

All in all a pretty exciting day. There were some other deals that bolstered depth and added youth to rebuilding teams. The Flyers got goaltender Marty Biron from Buffalo which was a very good move; Colorado brought back right wing Scott Parker; Buffalo added right wing Dainius Zubrus who is having his best season (20 goals and 32 assists in 60 games); Brad May comes from Colorado where he has only played 10 games this year and will bring toughness to the Ducks if he ever gets off the bench; Bryan Smolinski and Brent Sopel go to the Canucks which would be great if goalie Roberto Luongo can get hot; and Minnesota traded for Dominick Moore who can say hello to the guy he was traded for during the summer, Adam Hall.

Stay Onsides!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

You Bet Your Ass I Know Hockey!

BREAKING NEWS: I woke up this morning to find out that Keith Tkachuk had been traded from St. Louis to Atlanta for Glen Metropolit, a first round pick, and two other draft picks. Now back to my original post...

I guess everyone is a little on edge right now, what with Sean Avery bringing plenty of snarl to New York and the Blueshirts doing nothing to support their superhuman goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. Anyway, you kind of got the feeling that tonight would be rough for the New York Rangers following a very hard-fought home and home series against the New Jersey Devils this week, in which the Broadway Blues only picked up one point.

The Columbus Blue Jackets don't exactly stir up a lot of emotion for anyone in these parts. The word going around the Internet this morning was that the outcome from the slate of games scheduled for tonight, would determine who will be the buyers and who will be the sellers leading up to Tuesday's 3 p.m. trade deadline.

The numbers just aren't good for the Blueshirts right now. Twenty games to go and six points out of a playoff spot following tonight's loss to the Blue Jackets.

So which way does GM Glen Sather go on Tuesday? Well, first off Sather won't even be in New York to participate in the flurry of activity that is expected; whether or not the Rangers are participants. No, Slats will be up in Edmonton for the retiring of Mark Messier's number 11 when the Oilers host the Phoenix Coyotes and Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. Just wondering if Wayne is going to thank Mark for enticing him to come to New York before Mess took a heap of money to play in Vancouver? Even more chuckles comes from the fact that Sather will be accompanied by Assistant GM Don Maloney, who you might expect to be the heir apparent to Sather's job. But, oh yeah, I forgot, Messier has already lobbied for that position. I suppose though Sather can be about as inept from Edmonton as he has been from New York. But let's get back to reality:

What I said in my previous posting still remains the same. If it takes 93 or 94 points to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, that would mean the Rangers would have to win 15 of their last 20. This from a team that has been a .500 squad all season. It's just too hard to turn it on like that. There are just too many teams for the 12th place 'Shirts to leap over.

Here's some guys who are definitely tradeable:

Goalie Kevin Weekes would bring back a draft pick, but unfortunately he's out with a strained quad muscle in his right leg. I would love to see the Rangers deal him in order to give a few games to all-world goalie, Al Montoya. I've read Weekes could be back in a week or so, however.

Of the d-men who could retrieve something of value, Aaron Ward is the most likely. Ward has been pretty mediocre with the Blueshirts after signing as a free agent last summer following a Cup victory with Carolina. Yes, I seem urgent in dealing Mr. Ward. No, it is not because he is an outspoken liberal. Nice try.

Karel Rachunek probably would only fetch a prospect, but it would be addition by subtraction if the Rangers were to get rid of him. Marek Malik, a veteran, would probably be the most attractive to the many teams in contention who need a good defenseman. Malik is a solid number four on a good team and I wouldn't mind seeing him go.

I like the core of youngsters New York has assembled on the blueline: Michal Rozsival (28), Fedor Tyutin (23), Dan Girardi (22), and Thomas Pock (26). Rozsival should right now be in his prime as a defenseman, it generally takes a player four years to get used to manning an NHL blueline, so Rozsival is basically in his prime and probably is not going to get any better than he currently is. So would you use him in a big deal?

Most of the forwards aren't going anywhere. The only guy I could see being dealt is Matt Cullen. I wouldn't do it, but he would bring back some value. Of course, Petr Prucha has been rumored all season to be on his way out. But I just can't understand why the Rangers would trade a young player who has proven he can score goals and plays hard. The thinking is that Prucha is bound to get seriously injured. He plays with reckless abandon and at 175 pounds I bet the Blueshirt brass feels it's just a matter of when, and not if the 24-year old Czech is unable to get up after a vicious hit.

There are two teams in the Eastern Conference who have a legitimate chance at winning the Stanley Cup: the New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabres.

The Sabres have at least five players out with injuries (including Captain Chris Drury) and are set to deal backup goalie Martin Biron. I expect Buffalo to be very active. Biron is absolutely a number one goalie in the NHL and most definitely will return a very high impact player.

You never know what Devils' GM Lou Lamoriello has up his sleeve. The Devs are scheduled to move in to a brand new arena in Newark (if they are ever able to put a roof on the darn thing) and are always in need of some offense. Martin Brodeur is playing better than ever, considering the fact that he no longer has Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, and Scott Neidermeier in front of him. Could the GM and Bill Guerin make up long enough for a playoff run? Probably not. I expect NJ to add a defenseman though. I'm big on Phoenix's Derek Morris in a Devils' uniform.

Pittsburgh is a long shot to win a Cup, but their core of young players is incredible. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal, plus goalie Marc-Andre Fleury need a veteran or two to help forward Marc Recchi guide the young Pens through their first foray in the playoffs. Guerin would be a great fit in the Steel City. I know it's unlikely, but Kevin Weekes would be an upgrade in Pitt over current backup Jocelyn Thibault.

Atlanta also has high hopes. News has just come down that they have acquired Alexei Zhitnik from the Flyers. The Thrashers have enough to make a strong run, possibly to the Eastern Conference Finals. Superstars Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa can score like any twosome in the league; they have great leadership in Scott Melanby, Bobby Holik, and Steve Rucchin. If he can stay healthy, their goalie 6'4" Kari Lehtonen could carry the Thrashers very far.

The NHL would benefit greatly if Atlanta met Pittsburgh in the playoffs. Who wouldn't want to see the Thrashers' Kovalchuck/Hossa duo go up against the Pittsburgh tag team of Crosby/Malkin.

In the Western Conference, there are three teams with a real shot at capturing the Cup: Detroit, Anaheim, and Nashville. A close long shot is San Jose if that makes any sense. Detroit will probably look to add a defenseman, because you can never have enough of those. Anaheim probably is looking for some depth on the wing; while Nashville is most likely done dealing after they traded for Peter Forsberg. San Jose could be the most active. The Sharks are definitely a notch below the obvious triumvirate of Cup hopefuls, however, Keith Tkachuk would look great with Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo.

There are quite a few teams who will not make the playoffs that have some goods vets to dump, such as Colorado (Joe Sakic, Jose Theodore), Florida (Gary Roberts, Jozef Stumpel, Martin Gelinas), Philadelphia (Joni Pitkanen, Derian Hatcher, Simon Gagne) St. Louis (Keith Tkachuk, Bill Guerin, Martin Rucinsky) and Phoenix (Jeremy Roenick, Kevyn Adams, Owen Nolan, Yanic Perreault). So in a sense the sellers can't be too greedy because there is more than enough to go around. I expect Tuesday to be a very busy day, so here are some things to chew on:

Will Tampa Bay bring back Stanley Cup winning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin from Chicago?

Will Joe Sakic/Jose Theodore be dealt from Colorado?

Which of these teams will make a blockbuster deal: Dallas, San Jose, or Buffalo?

Will Rob Blake waive his no-trade and agree to go from L.A. to a contender?

For answers to these and other pertinent questions, there's only one place to go and that's right here.

Stay Onsides!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ooffaaa!!! Seeing New Jersey Red...

First off, the title of my last posting "Little Tommy" was named so because I was delusionally hopeful that it would be turned into a masterpiece - like Tommy - which was on TCM the other night. I'm not sure which awards the film version of the rock opera won, but TCM is getting movie buffs ready for the Academy Awards by airing films from the past that have featured so and so who have won for such and such. I guess sometimes the titles of my postings don't always add up, but then again what does add up? Now that such vital information has been cleared up, let's get to what is really important: the New York Rangers and boy am I bummed out about the last two games!

I might be extremely pessimistic or perhaps I am being realistic. But after only picking up one point out of a possible four from their home and home series with the New Jersey Devils, I think the Blueshirts are done. Yes, mathematically they are still in it and the teams in front of them are not exactly the 1984 Edmonton Oilers. But if you subscribe to the widely held belief that it will take 93 points to make the playoffs, then the Rangers would have to win 15 of their last 21 games which would add up to 94 points. Am I to believe that a team that has been largely mediocre all season is suddenly going to go 15-6?

In many ways the Rangers are better than they have been at any point of this season. Let's start with the goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist has allowed two goals or more only three times in the last 17 games. During that span the New York Rangers have only won seven times. King Henrik has been awesome and the guys in front of him just aren't scoring enough.

The blueline has been much better. But someone explain to me why Aaron Ward continues to play out of position with Karel (sounds like Carl) Rachunek. Ward normally plays on the right side of the blueline. I've heard that it is because Head Coach Tom Renney wants to keep Fedor Tyutin and Dan Girardi together, but I don't buy it. I am not impressed with Ward, and Rachunek continues to commit unforgiving gaffes over and over again. Girardi, however, has been very impressive and has been a 'plus' in all thirteen games he has played except for one.

The Toots/Girardi pairing could be together for a long time. Why Thomas Pock sits out is beyond me. Marek Malik somehow has managed to be a +20, but every time I look up the guy is out of position and letting the opposition's forwards muscle around him. In many ways the Rangers' blueline has a good young core, but I would still like to see them get rid of Ward and/or Rachunek and either play Pock every game or trade for someone to strengthen the defensive corps. Preferably a guy who can move the puck, such as Phoenix's Derek Morris or the Flames' Roman Hamrlik.

By the way, I'm blogging from the Regal Beagle where I'm trying to get over the Blueshirts' woes by drinking endless amounts of warm milk! Now back to this posting...

The dynamics of the forwards has been changed immeasurably since Sean Avery and Pascal Dupuis (pronounced Do Pwee) were acquired. Not having Brendan Shanahan in the lineup obviously hurts. However, Petr Prucha's play has been raised several notches as he continues to show enormous courage by driving to the net against much bigger forwards and some pretty nasty d-men. Matt Cullen seems to be the most inspired he has been since the former Hurricane was signed as an unrestricted free agent last summer. He looks good on the point and has been showing excellent speed. His line - with Dupuis and Jed Ortmeyer - provide a lot of spark to a team that has seemed indifferent during large stretches of the season. Those guys can also kill penalties. Avery has been all over the place and has given the team much needed snarl, and what can you say about Marcel Hossa. Placed on a line with Jaromir Jagr, Marian's brother has undergone an amazing transformation. He's actually using his size and skating ability to drive to the net and create scoring opportunities.

So this brings me to the 'big guy.' Jaromir Jagr stated after the all-star break that he had to step up his game if the Rangers were to make the playoffs. Well, it's not for a lack of trying but the results just aren't there. Yes, the Devils do an incredible job of shutting Jagr down, but the same goes for every team. Jagr constantly has three guys on him. But the issue I have is that too often Jagr stays near the half boards. Last night when he went to the net with the puck he drew three guys to him which enabled a wide-open Petr Prucha to stuff home a goal past Martin Brodeur.

Playing on the perimeter - especially against New Jersey - does little. I don't know if Jagr's shoulder which he had surgically repaired last summer is still pretty bad or if it is a lack of confidence, but Jagr just isn't up to what he was last season. Yes, he has had a good season and is ranked fourth in the NHL with 52 helpers. But by the standards that Jagr has set, it just hasn't been good enough.

Last season, Jagr scored 54 goals; this year he has 21. Last season, Double J scored 24 goals on the power play; this season Mario Jr. (Jaromir's name scrambled) has four with the man-advantage. Last season, the Rangers looked to Jaromir Jagr to carry them to the playoffs; this year Jagr will be looking for someone to carry his golf bag.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Little Tommy

This posting won't be a masterpiece by any means, but I am always hopeful that it can be transmogrified into something greater. Basically, it is just a few rants, starting with...

Note to media: Please, please, please!!! Stop with Anna Nicole! Stop with Britney! It's pathetic! I have empathy for Anna Nicole and her family. Same goes for Britney. But c'mon enough is enough. There are so many things going on in the world. Start with Iraq; the snow is about to melt in Afghanistan which means big problems for NATO; every day in Darfur men, women, and children are slaughtered and I don't hear a sound from the U.S. media.

Shame on the media in this country, a genocide goes on as we speak and they don't even mention it!

Al-Qaeda has regrouped and may be stronger than they were pre 9/11. According to reports in the New York Times on Monday and Tuesday the terrorist group is bracing for the winter thaw and ready to attack in Afghanistan and also may be able to launch attack against western targets from the region known as Waziristan in the rugged terrain of Pakistan.

Are you skeptical because it is in the NYT? I'm not and this is my reasoning: Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf made a deal with the locals in Waziristan to pull out his troops from the lawless region a few months back. This enabled al-Qaeda and company to regroup in that area without any threat of being turned in.

I know many liberals are high-fiving one another because Britain is set to pull her troops out of Iraq. But if they read the story a little further than just the headline they would find that part of the reason is so that the Brits can send more troops to Afghanistan. Everyone is bracing for a very strong offensive from The Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Just like Rome, while our media fiddles the city burns. I will never grasp our country's obsession with frivolity and I fully understand that the media is driven by the almighty dollar. However, politicians on the left and right must be called to task, that my friends, I believe is the reason this stuff should be reported. Our elected officials must be asked why al-Qaeda has been allowed to retool and why another genocide in Africa occurs when so many people once said "Never Again!" in 1945.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Two Weeks Left...

Just under two weeks from now at 3 p.m., the buyers and sellers will be finishing up registering their transactions with NHL Central Scouting. So where exactly do the locals fit in?

Let's start with the easiest team to look at which is the New Jersey Devils. I don't expect them to do much. Right now they sit at the top of the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference and are at this point jockeying for home ice throughout the playoffs. Although the Sabres got off to such an incredible start, the Devs only trail Buffalo by six points for tops in the conference.

The issue with New Jersey is offense. They never score a ton of goals. But with their style and with the "ultimate goalie" between the pipes, the Devils never need to score more than two or three per game.

However, I look for the Devs to add another blueliner and possibly a defensive-minded d-man. The Phoenix Coyotes are definitely going to be sellers; Derek Morris would look great manning New Jersey's power play. Could a Morris for Scott Gomez swap be in the offing? Right winger Nikolai Zherdev of Columbus or center Vinny Prospal of Tampa also would fit well into the Devils' scheme.

The New York Islanders have several players who appear to be on the trading block. Those include Mike Sillinger (who has played for 12 teams), Tom Poti, and Chris Simon. The Isles need help all over the place. I'm not sure if they make a big splash, but perhaps the NYI will look to snatch Mike Knuble from Philly who is one of many members of the "Orange Crush" who could possibly get dealt. Sillinger started in Detroit and probably could bring back a draft pick or a prospect; Poti is a solid fourth or fifth defenseman on a good team who could also fetch a decent draft pick; and Simon brings grit and playoff experience, which every contender will be looking for.

The New York Rangers are always involved in trade rumors no matter how unreasonable they may be. As I wrote about on Sunday, Sean Avery's arrival to New York gives Head Coach Tom Renney greater flexibility with his lineup. The top 12 forwards can now be more balanced and in addition the Broadway Blues now have two power play units with Jaromir Jagr on one and Brendan Shanahan on the other. Matt Cullen can now man one of the point positions on the Shanny unit; Cullen by the way played quarterback when Carolina had the man-advantage in last spring's playoffs which led to a Stanley Cup win for the 'Canes.

Calgary is said to be making Roman Hamrlik available and Derek Morris would look great in a Rangers' uniform. The price for either one of those two pointmen could be pricey, but don't be surprised to see Peter Prucha go in a deal for either one of the two.I have no idea why, but it seems like Glen Sather is set on trading Prucha.

Of course, the main rumor is in regards to Peter Forsberg. Nothing significant came out of Sunday's meeting between Forsberg and Philly's Owner Ed Snider. But the price may be too steep for the Rangers.

There are a few players who I wouldn't mind see donning the Rangers' sweater. Brendan Morrison of Vancouver, Robert Lang of Detroit, and Mats Sundin of Toronto. I would love to see the Blueshirts snatch Lang from the Wings. He's played with Jagr and is a centerman with some offensive ability. Sundin is unlikely because the Leafs are still in the playoff hunt. Morrison is likely to be moved by the Canucks, but he'll get some pretty good value in return.

If I were a betting man I say the Rangers make a minor move, I just can't see them giving up much for one of the big horses that may or may not be available.

Stay Onsides!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Shame, Shame, Shame!

So many shameless fools running wild. Here's a short sampling...

Shame on the world for continuing to ignore the genocide that ensues in Darfur, which has killed over 400,000 and has caused two million people to flee their homes. Thankfully, Congo-Brazzaville has been chosen to head the African Union after Sudan withdrew its candidacy. Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir backs the Janjaweed which is mostly responsible for the genocide. Bashir deserves the same fate as Saddam Hussein.

Shame on former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro. Apparently, Miss Lip Gloss did not release 300 pages of evidence while her office brought charges against a man who was eventually sent to jail for the 1994 killing of Louis Balancio, a Westchester County resident and fellow Stepinac High School alum. A judge ruled that the accused man who was sitting in jail for committing the heinous stabbing of the former Stepinac student can now go free. Because of double jeopardy the judge ruled that the case can not be retried, however, current Westchester County D.A. Janet DiFiore will definitely appeal. Tragically, a family has to relive a very dark event in their lives with no justice in sight.

First off, I did not know Balancio because he was several years ahead of me in high school. But as far as Jeanine Pirro, the record has shown that Pirro was more about rushing toward convictions which would further her political aspirations, rather than getting justice, which was her job.

Pirro's political career is finished and a plan for her to host her own t.v. show has been cancelled. Hopefully, this reckless and self-aggrandizing woman will go away to a faraway planet with her crooked husband. Sadly, though, her checkered prosecutorial record will continue to haunt the innocent.

Shame on the media for spending so much time on the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Although, I do feel sorry for Ms. Smith and her family, I just don't get the appeal of this woman who unfortunately resembled a macabre cartoon figure and thus was hard to take seriously. The shame of this is that Smith has now become 'martyred' in some circles, while the dangers of her lifestyle are conveniently swept aside.

Shame on the GOP for going after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for wanting a luxurious plane to zip back and forth across the country. Yes, she is asking for a little more than what Republican Speaker Dennis"The Pillsbury Doughboy"Hastert got. But right now, Pelosi is very popular and the GOP isn't. Perception versus reality is very important in politics. The public sees the Republicans not wanting to debate the Iraq war, but instead have made the very ill-advised choice of verbally attacking Pelosi; whose popularity is inexplicable to your humble blogger.

The reality is that the Republican party needs to get back some respect that they have lost over the last couple of years. This fight with Madame Speaker is one that does little to advance their cause.

Shame on the media for giving Senator Joe Biden a pass in regards to his "racist" comments regarding Senator Barack Obama, however, President George W. Bush simply says that Obama is "articulate" and everyone is up in arms. No liberal bias in the media? Gimme a break!

Shame to the "anonymous one." Wayne Gretzky once referred to the New Jersey Devils as a "Mickey Mouse Organization" back in the early 80s. I just finished ordering a pair of mouse ears for an anonymous person who would wear the ears as proudly as a king wears his crown. C'mon everyone join in with me, M-I-C-K-E-Y....!

Stay Onsides!

Are The Rangers Built To Last?

A very significant event is occurring this afternoon in Philadelphia, with Peter Forsberg and Flyers' Owner Ed Snider meeting to discuss the future of the oft-injured Philly center. The acquisition of two wingers - Pascal Dupuis and Sean Avery - by the New York Rangers in the last week means that something may be cooking.

Head Coach Tom Renney now has greater flexibility with his lineup. Avery's grit and ability to score goals has given the Rangers' top 12 much better balance.

Right now the Rangers' front office has to decide what the potential is for this current edition of the Blueshirts and who they are willing to give up for Forsberg. Make no mistake, Peter the Great is one of the best players in the world when healthy, however, the reason he would become available is that his recurring foot problems have made him a risky proposition. Is it high-risk high-reward? From what I have read it appears as though Philly is going to demand two number one picks and one or two current NHL players. That would mean Peter Prucha and Fedor Tyutin from the Rangers' roster, and that's before we look at what they have in the minors and juniors.

The trade deadline looms in the NHL and with that comes big decisions from GMs around the league. Do you mortgage the future for a guy who may play one game and then be done for not only this season but his career? Yes, Forsberg's status appears to be that tenuous at this point.

Too risky for me, but Glen Sather and Don Maloney are the guys calling the shots. Let's see if they take the bait or pass on Peter the Great.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Odds & Sods

Interesting happenings in the world of blogging, which actually can be quite adventurous to say the least.

I have now watched two special on television(CNN and Fox News) about the seeds being sown in London that will eventually lead to a catastrophic attack in England. The openess of imams preaching anti-western beliefs is astounding.

The rhetoric is much greater than it was in New York City before the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, when al-Qaeda had major operatives living and recruiting in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Al Farooq Mosque was originally used to recruit money and men to go fight against the Soviets who had invaded Afghanistan. But eventually the mosque transmogrified itself into a recruiting ground for jihadists. In fact, it was a central meeting place for the men who bombed the WTC in 1993.

Right now, London, or Londonistan as it has been known to be called, is mostly turning a blind eye. However, instead of blaming the U.S., eventually they will have to confront this potentially lethal problem.

I keep hearing politicians saying that Americans are "war weary." Very interesting. So are we in Iraq and Afghanistan to win or what? My message to all these politicians is that we should never under any circumstances send our military into a country unless we are fully committed to victory.

I am very eager to see how the politicos, especially those seeking the 2008 Presidential nomination, will handle the issue of Afghanistan this spring. As I mentioned in a prior post, when the snow melts the Taliban and al-Qaeda are going to prove to be more formidable then they were in October 2001. Again, are we going to do the right thing or what?

You're going to hear a great deal over the next two years about candidates promising to bring all the troops home. Well, I guarantee you that in 2012 we will still have at least 50,000 troops in Iraq.

This brings me to Senator Clinton. It is so superficial to see Hillary Clinton saying that if she is elected she will bring all the troops home from Iraq. She supported the invasion and has backed Bush on the war all along. Say one thing and do another is what she is all about. It's like Hillary pretends to have a doppelganger that votes for things that she later claims to oppose. Still, I think she can be elected President.

If I were a Democrat I would want Al Gore to run for President; the most qualified and forward thinking Republican is Newt Gingrich. However, it does not appear that Gore will run, and Gingrich lacks any pizazz to catapult him to the Oval Office. Those two, I believe, are the best and the brightest between the two parties.

Nice to see that Hamas and Fatah are playing nice! What a joke, they blame the Jews for their problems but they just can't find a way to live in peace, now can they? It's really sickening to hear people constantly blaming Israel for the world's problems, but if you take an unbiased scan of the globe you will see that there are a least 14 conflicts going on right now that have been spurred on by Islamic fundamentalism.

Vince McMahon did a funny Rosie vs. Donald Trump parody on Monday Night Raw a couple of weeks ago. Well, The Donald got his revenge" on Vinny Mac by having thousands of $100 bills dumped from the rafters to show appreciation to the fans in attendance at last Monday's Raw.

Just wondering if this is setting things up for a McMahon vs. Trump showdown at Wrestlemania 23.

My girl Rachel Fuller has a couple of songs that are up for Indie Song of the Year. I hope she wins! One of the things I like about her is that she gave first dibs on concert tix to her fans who read her blog. Good to see an artist with some humility!

I made my Super Bowl prediction in a prior post. But I'm not really into the game to be quite honest.

Brendan Shanahan ripped the officials this week for allowing Jarmoir Jagr to get pulverized game in and game out with no penalties being called. My thoughts are that the Rangers need to find a way to stand up for their top player and have no one else to blame but themselves. If guys like Darien Hatcher were laid out when they elbowed Jagr in the head, no one would come near the Blueshirts' superstar. Having said that, I somewhat agree with Shanny in that I believe the officiating right now in the NHL is atrocious. I've been watching hockey for a long time and I have no idea what a penalty is anymore. I see so many phantom calls it has become ridiculous. I understand it's a hard game to call, but in some ways I almost wish there were no officials on the ice.

R.I.P. Barbaro.

Finally, I was kind of hoping we could name tomorrow "National Blowhard Day" in honor of Mike Francesa. You know we could all wear pins with a picture of the FAN talkie on our lapels!

Stay Onsides!