A Week Ahead

Ranger NationCorrespondent IOctober 9, 2008

 or visit me at PucksonBroadway.blogspot.com.

By: Daniel Akeson

Hello fans and welcome to the new 2008 – 09’ season! Last year was a bit of a last minute opportunity here at NYR Nation, think of it like a 2:59 pm trade deadline acquisition. Now that I am here on a three year contract with a no-trade clause (Jonathan doesn’t know about the contract, but he will…) I am excited to get back rolling.

It was an exciting off-season to say the least. They went in a lot of different directions, much of which has been discussed here at The Nation as well as my Pucks on Broadway and The Hockey News blogs. What we have seen so far, more than anything, is that this team has potential. It is quick paced, young (second youngest in the NHL) and creates some wonderful comeback opportunities for some special players such as Markus Naslund and Wade Redden.

So without further adieu, I give you the first “A Week Ahead” of the new season.  For those unfamiliar, here’s the format. I write about some points of contention, debate, and general issues to discuss. I outline the issue, give my take on it, then everyone can feel free to rip me apart or call it gospel. As I see comments, questions, rants, raves, etc. I will respond to keep the good times going.

The Shanahan Debate: Some have sworn he’s going to be a Ranger. Others say “no way.” While I think he is pressing the Rangers hand to the eleventh hour, where does he fit on this team? Is he a role player on a third or fourth line? Does he have the stamina to keep up with this speedy group? He is a locker room presence for sure, but is he necessary in this lineup? I loved Shanny the past two season, but let’s be realistic: this team has passed him. He will struggle to keep up and take the place of well-deserved youth.

Czech-mates:Much has been written about the bonding that the team did overseas, but what has yet to be seen is the effect that jetlag will have during the next 6 games in 9 nights. Was it a worthwhile trip? Was it fair to make the Rangers do it? Should it be done annually? While I love the idea of putting the NHL in interesting venues, the Rangers were used as a media ploy for the NHL. The players were not thought about in this instance. The biggest thing to soothe the tensions between the KHL and NHL was just this. The Rangers may not regret it, but if their play suffers the NHL will have a bigger problem than the KHL. Their most recognizable franchise could find themselves out of the playoff picture.

Seventh Heaven:While I write this, the Rangers roster has yet to be officially announced as the deadline for the salary cap was Wednesday at 3 p.m. Yet, as it stands, the Rangers will continue to only carry 6 defensemen. It was a priority for the Rangers to upgrade their defense in the off-season and they did that with their acquisitions, but the now abundant lack of a veteran bottom pairing defenseman has become evident. Should the Rangers go forward with 6 and use Hartford in an emergency? Should the Rangers acquire a player or sign another UFA? Thus is the world of the salary cap and it’s going to take an interesting bit of juggling to get it squared away.

Pucks Final Word from Broadway

Every year it seems that there is a free agent that fans and rumormongers alike await anxiously for a decision. (See Niedermeyer and Selanne)This year was the year of the Mats. Sundin, the skilled Swede and former Leaf’s captain, remains unsigned and really unsure about his NHL future. Here are the facts: Sundin wanted exclusive negotiating rights with the Rangers prior to the July 1 UFA period. Sather declined. Bob Gainey, GM of Montreal, won the right and was unable to sign Sundin. Come July 1, Vancouver made an outrageous $20 million offer for two years. Still, he hasn’t signed. It has come as no secret that Mats wants to be a Ranger if he returns to the NHL. What remains to be seen is whether he wants to return to the NHL at all. Don’t be surprised if Sundin and Shanahan are somehow connected because both really make little sense given the cap constraints that teams struggle with. Don’t get me wrong, Sundin has earned the right to play where he desires for what he desired. However, for the sake of the fans, a decision needs to be made. Enough of the mid-season UFA signing. What does that say for the player who worked from training camp and into the season just to earn a spot, to just see it taken away because of laziness, greed, or simple indecision. It’s not fair to the team or the fans. So Mats, I respect you, but you need to make a decision. If it’s on Broadway, it will just give me more to write about…


Feel free to contact me at pucksonbroadway@gmail.com

Dan Akeson is a graduate of Fairfield University with a double major in English and Journalism. He served in all sports positions with the newspaper, The Mirror. He is the Copy Editor of the Blueshirt Bulletin, the New York Rangers’ Monthly Publication, and works part time with “The Maven” Stan Fischler. Recently, he was named Editor-In-Chief of the NYR Fan Club.

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