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Monday, January 16, 2012

Why the New York Rangers are exciting this season.

It is mid-January 2012. The NFL playoffs are going on, the NBA is in full flight after a lockout, Tiger Woods is back, the Olympics are coming this summer, Pitchers and Catchers is only a few months away and the sports world has tons to be excited about. But the most exciting thing in NY sports today is none other than the Blue Shirts, aka the New York Rangers. The Rangers currently sit atop the East Standings are close to having the best record in the NHL. They are currently getting solid scoring from 4-7 guys and boast one of the youngest and best defenses in the NHL. Backing them all is the soon to be Vezina Trophy winner, the wall known as Henrik Lundqvist. The Swedish goaltender is leading the NHL in a number of categories and is reliable for one or two highlight reel saves a night. He has saved the Rangers on numerous occasions. This team is just different than any other team since the great teams of the mid-90’s. They are getting solid production from 4 lines, are deeper than they have ever been and play with a grittiness and desire to win on a daily basis. They are dominating good teams and have avoided any major losing streaks this summer. Perhaps their greatest quality is that this team doesn’t give up. Every single night, every single minute, this team skates hard and puts the pressure on. They are not the most talented team in the league but they play the hardest. Perhaps no one better personifies this team than its Captain, Ryan Callahan. Cally as they call him is arguably the toughest little guy in hockey. He is scoring, passing, and fighting his way to the being considered one of the best leaders in the NHL. He backs down to no one and all the while producing on offense. Marion Gaborik, the prolific scorer, is back to form and has already scored more goals than he did all of last season. The biggest off season addition, Brad Richards has brought a ton to this team. He is another consistent scorer along with Gabby and he is a proven veteran who has won it all. Additionally, he has provided a much needed shooter on the power play that has been missing the last few years.

I recently started a new job and in my 3rd week at the firm, one of my first clients offered me a ticket to a charity event/dinner they run. This event happens to be at MSG and involves several past and present New York Rangers spending time with under privileged kids. It was quite the scene and after pushing many kids out of the way I got my chance to spend some time with some of the Rangers including Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto and the Half of Famer, Adam Graves. The first thing I want to mention is what amazing people these guys were. Dan Girardi is a fantastic guy and was amazing with the kids, I would let him watch my kids any day. I chatted with Girardi for a little bit and he is just an unbelievable guy. I also spent a solid 15 minutes chatting with the only #9 I knew growing up, Adam Graves. Other than the fact that he is one of the most charitable and community active NY athletes, Graves is the man. He was super nice and talked about everything from the ’94 team, Winter Classic, Gretzky, Messier, Shanahan (or Shanny as he called him), the current team, John Tortorella, and Lundqvist. He made a few fascinating points. Firstly, he could not say enough about how Messier was the greatest leader he has ever played with or seen. He also mentioned that this is the best team since ’94 and he himself has never been so excited. He then pointed out how John Tortorella has created such an amazing locker room. He is a no nonsense guy who tells it like it is and earns the respect of his team. With Tororella earning this respect the locker room has a confidence to it. He also mentioned that King Lundqvist is the best goalie he has ever seen.

I have to be honest, I most enjoyed talking to Del Zotto. Del Zotto is really just the nicest young man. He felt like he was my buddy from school or home who I could hang out with any day of the week. The young defenseman is a tough guy as he sported a nice shiner on his right eye. We spoke about the whole season and how he has tried so hard to just get wins and he views the +/- stat as a great indicator of how well rounded he and the entire team has played. We spoke about the Winter Classic and more importantly how there is just a confidence on the team right now that he has never been a part of. It was actually quite interesting that he pointed out that the team is playing so well right now and want to keep it going that the team and players actually can’t wait for the next game. They want to play every night. This is a team I want to root for. This is a team I want to succeed and from the looks of it, I think come April time, they will.

1 comment:

  1. Great pics and nice post. WHile we all didn't have the same intimate experience that you had at the event,from watching the team on the 24/7 HBO special, it's evident that many of these young guys are extremely nice guys and humble as well.
    As far as the team itself, I always say that they don't have all the finese that some of the top teams have as far as making all the bang bang plays night in and out, but they are very well rounded and play a disciplined game, esp on the defensive end of the ice. Henrik has been amazing but the defenders, particularly Del zotto, Mcdonaugh, and Girardi have been key, shutting down any extended offensive pushes from the opposing team.
    The team is a lot of fun to watch. Let's hope they keep it going!