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May 16, 2006

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At least top pro athletes today make enough money so that they shouldn't end up on the street if they have a drinking problem. Doug Harvey, the seven-time Norris Trophy winner, ended up sleeping in boxcars although the Habs gave him a scouting job at some point. Gordie Drillon, the 1937 scoring champ whose career was cut short by WWII service, at one point was given a job by the local brewery, providing him with a veneer of respectability as he promoted the product. He later got handed something more substantial, a civil service job in his native province. As long as he's not on steroids, I hope Ozo can get the monkey off his back and return to the ice. I speak Hebrew fluently but I don't think there is a word for cheating through steroid use. Is there one in English? I think sports fans owe it to the Babe to come up with one.

The Sykora decision is a difficult one for me. What to make of his playoff performance: do we forgive all his failures to cash in, and focus instead on the fact that at least he was in position to score repeatedly? Or do we look at him as someone who adds nothing to the team if he isn't scoring, and he didn't get it done at crunch time? I loved his ability on the shootouts, but his overall game seemed streaky to me. Not sure where I come out on this, though I will cast a strong vote against bringing in Arnott and Elias in a misguided attempt at a reunion.

I wouldn't go crazy looking outside the organization, but if we do go shopping, I think the emphasis should be on adding speed. Though many people focus on the need to add scoring depth behind Jagr, watching these playoffs reinforces my belief that with good team speed, the goals will come. In that season finale vs. Ottawa, the guy who stood out to me in terms of quickness was Martin Havlat. I haven't seen him on a consistent enough basis to know enough about his overall game (ie. does he lack grit?), but with that type of speed he's someone I would give some consideration. Other than that, I'd like to add a defenseman, and then continue to build from within. Unfortunately, I worry, still, about Sather in this regard; he'll show us, in the next few months, whether he really gets it.

I think Sykora would be a good addition, a 1 yr deal. Shootout goals, are of important with the points on the line, and Petr always for the most part came through. I think he's a critical part of our non Jagr/Nylander/Straka scoring that we need to amend...I wouldn't mind letting Rucinsky walk (injuries and age), but sign Sykora and Straka. Sykora and Prucha with a new, playmaking centre on line 2 sounds fine to me...and on the 3rd/4th lines, see what we can do for younger guys.

Dov, hindsight has shown us that Doug Harvey's situation was exacerbated by the NHL's vindictiveness over his role in trying to unionize players back in his day, making it all doubly sad that a player of his stature would be treated that way.

Throwaway -- the thing that Sather needs to "get" most of all is to continue to delegate his authority to Renney and Maloney. Those are the guys who pushed for and implemented the rebuilding program. All the credit that Sather gets for last season comes from stepping back and letting those guys do their jobs unmolested. The one time where Sather stepped in was in going after Ozolinsh, after seeing him at the Olympics and thinking he had made a coup because so few other GMs were there -- he also saw Marcel Hossa used as a penalty killer in the Olympics and suggested to Renney he try that, failing to take into account that Hossa was a sparingly-used fourth liner in Torino, even though his own father was the team's coach!

Well, all that aside, Renney told us on break-up day (and he seemed like he meant it) that the team could get even younger next season and that this season's success was not going to put extra pressure to do better next season, not if it meant deviating from the long-term program. In a sense, making the playoffs this season could fortify the long-term plan, since the stigma of missing the playoffs for so many years in a row has been removed.

Ed, I agree with your take on Sykora. However, I'd expect to see Rucinsky back, 100% for certain. He supposedly signed a handshake deal with Sather that he'd play the second year for $1 million (a way of getting around the salaray cap by front-loading a de facto two-year deal into a season, last season, when the Rangers had cap room). Despite his injuries, he played well enough for Sather to certainly want to snap him up at that price for one more season. The guy who is more of a question mark is Straka, who may choose to retire from the NHL.

In another thread, Jess talked about the resilience of Brandon Dubinsky. I remember telling Jess after the first day of training camp last fall how overmatched Brandon was -- on the ice and off the ice, he seemed to be in awe of the players around him, looking for all the world like a boy among men. Jess was surprised to hear that, but not surprised to hear that Brandon came back out the next day even more determined than ever to make an impression, and he certainly did so the rest of the week, being the second-most impressive junior-eligible in camp after Marc Staal. The kid definitely rises to all challenges, a quality that helps him overachieve.

"The kid definitely rises to all challenges, a quality that helps him overachieve."

Sorry Dubi but Dubinsky is not an overachiever but rather he is just beginning to realize just how much talent he truly does have. Everyone keeps trying to tell this kid he can't do this or he can't do that so he goes out and proves them wrong.

This is a kid who (in an attempt to push his buttons) I told in Mid-March that he was at the time the 5th best prospect the Rangers had and he took that insult as a motivating force which we all saw the results of.

Subscribers to the BB are going to find out in the next issue WHY I call Brandon Dubinsky the future Prime Time Impact Player of all the prospects.

He got a bum rap in Portland as he was and should have been the captain of the Winterhawks. He was the straw that stirred the WHs drink just like a former Yankee used to claim he was. If he stays healthy he is going to become a star.

Just keep doubting him as it helps fuel his fire.

Jess

Note: This is not me saying Dubi will be a #1 center. Look at the praise you are lavishing on the kid. It's hard not to take such info and then not believe he could be this organizations version of, say, Brad Richards, perhaps? I don't want to see the kid rushed. But, if he blows away his competition, then, by all means, make him 2nd line center. Hopefully, Dubi (Silverstein, that is) is correct that Maloney and Renney will remain in charge of things, and we won't see the reunion of the "A" line on Broadway, and the youth will continue to be served.

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