Igor Shesterkin’s NHL Debut was a Win, Win

Last night’s NHL debut of New York Rangers’ elite goalie prospect Igor Shesterkin was a win, win in my opinion. While it didn’t take long for the young netminder to get a taste of the sometimes woeful Ranger defense, I thought he settled in nicely and made some good saves when they needed him to. True, he gave up two early goals but one would be hard pressed to think that this young man did not have a few opening night jitters to shake off too.

One of the highlights came early in the first period when Shesterkin made a flyball like outlet pass from just above his goal crease right to the tape of forward Kaapo Kakko who took the pass and broke straight into the Colorado Avalanche zone. Whether you watched on television or in person at Madison Square Garden, you could hear the “ooh’s and ahh’s” plain as could be, and the smile response from Rangers coach David Quinn that followed was a memorable moment for fans who have waited to see this young man play at the NHL level.

I also admire the fact that the New York Rangers organization decided to give this young goaltender his debut appearance on home ice against the leagues leading offense in the Colorado Avalanche. The 5-3 Ranger victory was the icing on the cake and quite imaginably it left a sweet taste in the mouths of all involved in bringing him to America and the New York Rangers. Looking forward to his next start and watching him fill up the highlight reels with all that he seemingly has to offer.

1968: One of the Most Historical Years in History

The world was changing in 1968 and it was quite possibly one of the most unforgettable years in American history because so many significant things took place that year. At the forefront of this commencing decade both the Vietnam War and The Civil Rights Movement were at full mast. 1968 was the year of the Tet Offensive in North Vietnam which saw an escalation of the American involvement in this tragic war while back home in the United States the public opinion of the war was changing from support for the war to anti-war protest.

It was on April 4, 1968 that following years of civil rights activism James Earl Ray murdered the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee. Then following Dr. King’s death a few months later in August of that same year, that two black athletes staged a silent demonstration at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City by raising their fists during the national anthem in support of the Black Power Movement that was taking place at the time in America.

1968 was also the year that American television viewers saw its first interracial kiss between a white man and a black woman when Star Trek’s Captain Kirk (William Shatner) smooched the USS Enterprise’s African-American Sergeant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), and it was televised in living rooms across America in Technicolor as television technology was continuing to advance the transition from black-and-white to full color. In addition, the American media continued to expand itself as 1968 was also the year that the legendary informational news show 60 Minutes took to the air for the first time on CBS.

In June of 1968 Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles California, and later that same year in August of 1968, the Republican National Convention (RNC) nominated Richard M. Nixon to run as the republican candidate in the upcoming November election against democratic incumbent then President Lyndon B. Johnson. In the end Nixon would win the presidency with Spiro Agnew on the ticket as his Vice President, but later resigned in 1974 to avoid an impeachment following The Watergate Scandal.

Many other interesting things took place in 1968; NASA orbited the moon with the Apollo 8 Mission that made astronauts Jim Lovell, Bill Anders, and Frank Borman the first human beings to set foot on the moon. Boeing introduced the first 747 passenger plane, toy maker Mattel introduced Hot Wheels Collectible Cars, and The Beatles introduced Apple Records. Later that year The Beatles released the White Album in America, while overseas in England the renowned Yardbirds appeared for the first time as what later became better known as the legendary band Led Zeppelin and Andy Warhol died.

In 1968 a gallon of gasoline was around thirty-four cents, a gallon of milk was just over one dollar, and a postage stamp was six cents. A new house cost just over $26,000.00 and the cost of a new car was right around $2,400.00. The Zodiac Killer was still on the loose somewhere in California and never found. It was the same year that the Broadway Show Hair opened for the first time and a little bit further down on Broadway the newly relocated Madison Square Garden also opened its doors to the public for the first time.

In sports, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Oakland Raiders at the Orange Bowl in Miami Florida to win Super Bowl II in 1968, the Detroit Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven game set to win the World Series of 68, the Montreal Canadiens swept the St. Louis Blues in four games to win the Stanley Cup in hockey, and the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in six games to win their tenth championship in twelve years in basketball. Bobby Unser won the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Speedway, and Cale Yarborough won the Daytona 500. Billie Jean King won the women’s singles tennis championship and John Newcombe won in the men’s doubles at Wimbledon, while in golf Arnold Palmer lost the PGA championship by one stroke to Julius Boros in San Antonio Texas that year.

Significantly my birth year is a shared one with such famous entertainment personalities as Will Smith, LL Cool J, Owen Wilson, Celine Dion, Rachel Ray, Lucy Liu, and Lisa Marie Presley. In addition, with other such iconic public personalities as sportscaster Kenny Albert, Baseball hall of famer Mike Piazza and also former MLB player Gary Sheffield, movie personality Daniel Craig who is currently Agent 007 from the James Bond Movie Series which ironically is one of my all-time favorite film series’ and Ziggy Marley who is the son of the late great music personality Bob Marley. Although the above may appear to be completely random and miscellaneous, for me it is all truly remarkable.

Please note the views and opinions expressed in the written works contained within this site are solely those of the individual authors themselves. They are not intended to, nor meant to imply any type of endorsement, professional relationship, or affiliation to any of the individual people, organizations, or associations mentioned in the site’s publication. All written work is the sole property of the author of this website and may be subject to copyright laws 2019.

Hockey In My Family Is A Generational Thing

Like some sort of rare family heirloom, an inheritance, or a birthright: Hockey, Madison Square Garden, and the New York Rangers for our family is a generational thing now four generations strong.

Mike

The legacy started back in the early 1950’s when our grandfather Anthony, “Butch” as he was better known, started taking our dad to the New York Rangers hockey games at what has been widely referred to as the “old garden.” Way back in the days of then coach Bill Cook, Harry Howell, Frank and Andy Bathgate, and Lorne “Gump” Worlsey. That’s right, in the days when Nedick’s still sold hot dogs and orange soda at MSG, when Camille “the eel” Henry was a NY Ranger rookie, and the days when goalies like Glenn Hall and the “Gumper” didn’t wear masks.

Two decades later in the early 1970’s when my brother and I, the third generation of our family started going to the games at Madison Square Garden (MSG), then version IV of MSG spanned from 31st to 33rd street between Seventh and Eighth avenues in Manhattan New York where it still sits to this day. It was the time in Broadway Blueshirts hockey history when the team still wore white jersey’s at home. The days when Ranger legends like the (GAG) Goal-A-Game line of Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle, and Vic Hadfield played, and Bobby Rousseau and Ed Giacomin were all nearing the end of their careers.

As a kid I can remember waiting around after the games outside Madison Square Garden’s rotunda and sometimes Toots Shor’s Restaurant, where the players sometimes gathered after a game, and hoping for just one of them to come out and sign an autograph. It was a tradition my brother and I later carried forward with our own kids.

One of my fondest memories was of my brother and I playing foot hockey with Rangers goalie Eddie Giacomin while our parents thanked and thanked him for not only giving us the puck he brought out with him after the game, but for giving us his time and a friendly pat on the head as young fans. I was only seven years old when the Rangers traded Giacomin, or technically waived him, and he was later claimed by the Detroit Red Wings in 1975. I can remember being so angry at them for doing so that all I wanted to be at the time was a Detroit Red Wings fan for Eddie. Giacomin’s departure later became what is now broadly known as one of the most emotional parting of the ways in NY Rangers’ history.

Eddie Giacomin’s return to Madison Square Garden was one of the saddest moments as a hockey fan that I can remember. There is one video on you tube of this moment, but beware that the footage is rather old. Nonetheless it was a very powerful moment and I think you’ll get the idea. Anyone who knows the New York Rangers’ history and maybe even having lived through it would remember the garden chants of EDDIE-EDDIE. On the night Giacomin returned to MSG as a Red Wing during the national anthem, the fans again recanted EDDIE-EDDIE (just as they do HEN-RIK, HEN-RIK) for goalie Henrik Lundqvist today. While the tears ran down Giacomin’s face as the rival Detroit Red Wings prepared to face off against the New York Rangers that evening with him in net, you could literally feel the power of what it means to be a New York Ranger and what it means to be a hockey fan in general. click to see the video on You Tube

It was the end of an era, but it was also the dawn of a new era because it was the official beginning of the “JD” years when goalie John Davidson had just come to the New York Rangers from the St. Louis Blues. It wasn’t long before the chants of “JD-JD” went up at Madison Square Garden just as they did for Ed Giacomin.

The Rangers tradition goes deep as JD (John Davidson) is now the President of the New York Rangers while Eddie Giacomin’s retired #1 hangs in the rafters at MSG among the other New York Ranger legends. Nine to be exact, with number ten coming next season when I’ve read that they will retire Vic Hadfield’s #11 to complete the GAG (Goal-A-Game) line’s recognition. At the moment the nine hanging up are: Ed Giacomin’s #1, Brian Leetch’s #2, Harry Howell’s #3, Rod Gilbert’s #7, Andy Bathgate’s #9, Adam Graves’ #9, Mark Messier’s #11, Jean Ratelle’s #19, and Mike Richter’s #35.

The mid to late nineteen seventies and on into the eighties were the days of the Maloney brothers Dave and Don, and the garden faithful got their first glimpses of the newly acquired Swedes Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg. Hysterical as it still is, it was also the days of the ‘Ooh Lala Sasoon’ Sasoon jeans commercial days that was done by then Rangers Phil Esposito, Ron Duguay, Ron Greschner, and Anders Hedberg. The days when the unforgiving, but passionate New York Ranger fans would ride herd on defenseman Ron Greschner for not finishing his checks when he had the opportunity to do so.

It was the time in our sport’s history when as kids we would have to stand on our seats to see Nicky Fotiu pound a rival tough guy from an opposing team. The days when Fotiu would be the first player to come out for the pregame warm ups and throw pucks up into the blue seats where we sat with our dad in section 432. As kids we would long to sit anywhere but in the blue seats, but he used to tell us that the game was different from up there and we probably never really appreciated that theory till later in life.

My dad loved his seat in the blues because he could stand up without blocking other people’s view of the game, smoke his cigarettes, shout obscenities, and run to the beer stand in between periods without worrying about us because he could see us from the concession stand line nearest to where we sat. Ironically following the renovation in 2013 section 432 was permanently removed.

We sat in the blue seats at MSG as youngsters in a haze of cigarette smoke which at the time the Garden was notorious for. Amidst the scent of cheap weed and the smells of roller cooked hot dogs and domestic beer to watch our beloved New York Rangers, as many times in a season as he was willing to take us in place of our uncle who shared the season seats with him. They went to all the marquee games against the New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, and Montreal Canadiens while we always went see the games against the teams we could care less about as kids.

Nearly seven decades of Ranger hockey history has passed from then till now and in short, fast forward to the shortened NHL lockout season of 2012-2013 when following that season, generation IV of our family became the next in line to start attending the New York Ranger games from a season seat. It was the 2013-2014 season when my brother and I decided it was our time to further the family tradition by taking our own kids to the games.

My oldest son was a pee wee goalie at the time and playing hockey in upstate New York when although the blue seats were no longer, we were more than happy to move down a section to what used to be the green seats in the older versions of MSG. We sat just below the visitors goal line so my son could have a cat’s eye view of the goaltenders and learn. Those were the days, and these are the type of memories that make a hockey family’s tradition a legacy.


Please note the views and opinions expressed in the written works contained within this site are solely those of the individual authors themselves. They are not intended to, nor meant to imply any type of endorsement, professional relationship, or affiliation to any of the individual people, organizations, or associations mentioned in the site’s publication. All written work is the sole property of the author of this website and may be subject to copyright laws.

Ranger Rants: The Alexandar Georgiev Situation

By Mike -CenterIcePen
I’m not going to even waste your valuable time on yet another redundant game summary. Instead, I’m going to speak from the viewpoint of a loyal fan…

Hey folks, I’m not going to even waste your valuable time on yet another redundant game summary that anyone can get with one-click on ESPN or NHL.com. Instead, I am going to use this post to speak from the viewpoint of a loyal fan on the impending goaltender situation in New York.

As the roller coaster ride that is the New York Rangers rebuild continues, one can’t help but to think back to March 3rd 2004 when defenseman Brian Leetch was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs after seventeen seasons as a New York Ranger. Leetch was traded for Jarkko Immonen, Maxim Kondratiev and two future draft picks. Names are not important right now, but one of the two turned out to be Michael Sauer, which is a whole different story for another day. Do keep in mind though that Brian Leetch did contribute to bringing home Lord Stanley’s cup after 54 years and his number #2 now hangs in the rafters at Madison Square Garden. While of course hating to overstate the obvious here, the bottom line is that professional sports teams are also businesses.

Keeping that in mind, at times the unfavorable must be done. In this case it will be the trade that sends away young goaltender Alexandar Georgiev for likely nothing of any significance in return. Undoubtedly, although many people will probably disagree with this, one must think objectively in this case rather than emotionally.

When an organization like the New York Rangers, one with such a steep tradition as the Rangers have in it’s fan base, things like trades look a whole lot different from the business standpoint than they do from that of a fan’s perspective. Fact is that Henrik Lundqvist has spent fourteen seasons with the Rangers, will undeniably go down in Rangers history as one of the all-time greats, and you can pretty much bet your bottom dollar that at some point in the future Lundqvist’s #30 will go to the rafters like those who came before him. Sadly, as much as even I’d like him to stay, it’s near certain Alexander Georgiev’s #40 will not.

While it truly breaks my heart to think of what could have been when thinking about an under twenty-five goalie tandem in Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin, clearly management has other ideas. Lundqvist has a no-move clause in his contract and if the Rangers were to expose Georgiev to the waivers market it would be hard to fathom him not being picked up by another team. While I would love to see Henrik bow out gracefully, my guess is he won’t. Especially since he has repeatedly said that he would like to play out his career in New York while still trying to win the Stanley Cup which has thus far eluded him.

Although we will see Henrik Lundqvist in the net tonight as the New York Rangers face off against the Los Angeles Kings tonight in L.A., as a lifelong fan of the Broadway Blueshirts I’m not pumped for it at all. It’s far too predictable for me. Yeah, they might play well tonight against an ailing Kings team, but it’s pretty fair to say that the team itself will look different tonight than they did in Vegas. If I were to place a bet on this game like betting on the coin-toss in the Super Bowl, my money would be on yet another early game tally that will not just change the momentum of the game, but also quickly erase any confidence the young defense had gained from the last game against the Vegas Golden Knights. Simply hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Please note the views and opinions expressed in the written works contained within this site are solely those of the individual authors themselves. They are not intended to, nor meant to imply any type of endorsement, professional relationship, or affiliation to any of the individual people, organizations, or associations mentioned in the site’s publication. All written work is the sole property of the author of this website and may be subject to copyright laws.

New York Rangers Wrap Up November 2019

The New York Rangers ended the month of November on a high note by trouncing the New Jersey Devils in a 4-0 shutout at the Prudential Center on Saturday afternoon. The New Jersey Devils’ season woes continue as they sit at the bottom of the NHL’s Metropolitan Division 9-12-4 having played the same 25 games as the Broadway Blueshirts. Ranger fans who took the bridge over troubled waters to see the Saturday matinee got a pleasant treat as they got to see a rock-solid performance from the teams 23-year-old netminder Alexandar Georgiev who stopped all 33 shots on goal and recorded his first shutout of the season in NJ.

Pretty impressive considering the night he had in Tampa Bay against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the middle third of the month, having been pulled after the first period giving up four goals, and then later being reinserted in the third period giving up one more for a season high total of five goals in a single game. Not long after that Georgiev returned to the net in yet another five-goal outing in Montreal against the Montreal Canadiens on November 23, but this time he escaped with a 6-5 victory. These two outings certainly scuffed his overall numbers having given up ten goals in a two-game span, however he continues to be focused amid the buzzing rumors that he may be moved to make way for the less than challenged thus far rookie Igor Shesterkin playing for the team’s minor league affiliate the Hartford Wolfpack in the American Hockey League.

After 25 games played, even though they are still in the bottom half of the Metropolitan Division, the Blueshirts are playing above .500 hockey at 13-9-3 with 29 points, perched just three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins with two games in hand going forward. Beyond the ups and downs of November, the good news is Mika Zibenajad recently returned to the lineup and appears to be in sound physical condition. Zibanejad has two goals and an assist for three points in the three games since his return, and his presence has been felt in the wake of it. Something which is probably a huge relief for head coach David Quinn as he was smiling in the post-game interview following yesterday’s win.

Zibenajad missed 13 games after the ‘reverse’ hit he took from Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron on October 27th. While Zibanejad is likely the best two-way player on the team, one cannot overlook Artemi Panarin’s productivity since joining the New York Rangers.

For the month of November, Panarin contributed 7 goals and 16 assists for 23 points with a +11 rating, thus making him the most consistently productive offensive player on the team. In addition to his offensive contributions, he has made some sound defensive plays on the backcheck as well. Panarin has shown that he is by no means the defensive liability that other players of his caliber have been when arriving on Broadway with the same high expectations as he has. Most would likely agree that Panarin is worth every dollar the New York Rangers paid for him.

Other notable mentions for November, appropriately go out to D-men Tony DeAngelo and Adam Fox for their sound gameplay at both ends of the pond. Of course one cannot ignore the endless efforts of forward Brendan Lemieux who continues to make a case that he is likely worth the money he will probably ask for going into next season.

November was somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for the Blueshirts, having played the better part of the month without veterans Mika Zibenajad and Marc Staal. All things considered it really wasn’t all rat turds. In reality, with the youth the Rangers put on the ice from night to night, anyone who thinks that they’re not going to make mistakes is fooling themselves. Barring the middle five games of the month which included the 9-3 loss in Tampa back-to-back with the 4-3 loss against the Florida Panthers, the Blueshirts came out of it smelling like roses since in the last five game set of the month they pulled 9 out of 10 potential points on the table.

November wraps up looking like this: 13-9-3 overall, with 29 points in 25 GP. They are 6-3-1 in the last 10 games played and they are at an even split with 83 Goals For and 83 Goals Against. They’re currently 6th in the NHL Metropolitan Division, just 3 points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins with two games in hand, and the same 3 points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets with one game in hand going into Monday night’s game at Madison Square Garden against the Vegas Golden Knights 7:00pm EST.

Please note the views and opinions expressed in the written works contained within this site are solely those of the individual authors themselves. They are not intended to, nor meant to imply any type of endorsement, professional relationship, or affiliation to any of the individual people, organizations, or associations mentioned in the site’s publication. All written work is the sole property of the author of this website and may be subject to copyright laws.