Monthly Archives: February 2020

The Rebuild is Done

The Rangers are worse tonight than they were this morning, but the takeaway from the NHL trade deadline is that the rebuilding part of this makeover is over. It’s always a delicate process to decide when to add and when to subtract, but the Rangers are clearly done subtracting. Extending the contract of Chris Kreider for seven years shows you that.

The Rangers could have traded him and gotten back a draft pick and a prospect, but they extended him because his value to the team goes far beyond what he does on the ice. As they’ve shed veteran players the past two years, Kreider has emerged as the soul of the club and he will probably get the “C” sewn onto his jersey when the Rangers return home Sunday.

So how are they worse after keeping such a key piece?  Part of it is bad luck and part of it is strategy. The bad luck is that their rookie sensation goalie got hurt in a car accident last night. Shesterkin is going to be out at least a few weeks, if not the rest of the year, which is a huge blow when you consider he is 9-1 with a .940 save percentage since entering the league. In addition, they traded Brady Skeji, a defenseman they clearly overpaid, but still at least a second-pair defenseman, for Carolina’s first round pick. That’s a great trade in my opinion for the future because it allows them the cap space to extend Tony DeAngelo when he becomes a restricted free agent this offseason and the Rangers are now freed from the four years remaining on Skeji Also, the Rangers are loaded with defenseman prospects so this shouldn’t hurt down the stretch.

And it helps them get to the draft lottery which really should be this year’s goal. A playoff appearance is always great, but the Rangers had plenty of those over the last fifteen years. Expectations are going up next year, I think this squad will be ready.

A Little Anniversary Magic

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, the U.S. beating the Soviet Union 4-3 in one of the most improbable upsets in sports history. Last night we had a fitting hockey tribute when a 42-year old kidney transplant survivor and Zamboni driver earned one of the most unlikely wins in NHL history.

Ayers was the “emergency goalie” a figure each home team in the league has to have ready in case either team loses their two active goalies. And that exactly what happened to Carolina in the second period when their backup goalie got into a collision and had to leave the game just like their starting goalie had to in the first period.

In came Ayers, wearing a Maple Leafs t-shirt under his Carolina pads and promptly surrendering two goals.  But he stabilized, made eight saves and became the oldest person to win his NHL “debut”.  A pretty amazing story

 

 

A New Record?

Look at the current title winners of the four major sports leagues and I think you might have a record for the four longest-suffering fanbases celebrating those titles. Last night the Chiefs won their first title in 50 years. Last fall the Nationals/Expos won their first title in their 50 years of existence. Last June the Raptors (24 years) and Blues (52 years) also won their first titles. Add it all up and you have 176 years of misery coming to an end. Could that be a record? 2016-17 came close thanks to the Cubs (108 years) and Eagles (57 years) but didn’t make it thanks to Golden State repeating and Pittsburgh winning another cup after seven years of waiting. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another year that came close.

Looking at current droughts, we could shatter the 176 years with a quartet of Arizona Cardinals (72 years) Cleveland Indians (71 years) Sacramento Kings (68 years) and Toronto Maple Leafs (52 years) but that might bring on the zombie apocalypse.

Heck of an Ending

If the Super Bowl had played out like it looked it would with about twelve minutes to play, I think we would have relegated it to the dustbin of ho-hum Super Bowls. There wasn’t much that great that happened in the first three-plus quarters and while the 49rs would have certainly deserved their title, I think we all would have felt a bit letdown that these two clubs gave us such a mediocre game.

Instead we got a great ending as the Chiefs made then plays they had to and turned a 20-10 deficit into a 31-20 win. They have the youngest player to ever win both the regular season MVP and the Super Bowl MVP, and when you consider the deficits they overcame this postseason, this looks like a team setting up for a sustained run of excellence.

But as soon as I type that, I recall that KC went to three of the first four Super Bowls and then waited 50 years to return. Let’s see how the offseason shakes out before we make another prediction.

Super Sunday

This is a really interesting game. You have two teams where the narratives are not exactly in line with the facts. The 49rs, are perceived as a defensive juggernaut, but Kansas City actually gave up fewer points. And while KC is considered the dominant offense, San Fran actually scored more points than they did. Put it all together and the 49rs are a 1 or 1.5-point underdog heading into the game.

Before the New Year, I picked a KC Super Bowl win over the 49rs, so I’m not deviating from that now. It’s been 50 years in the making, but they are champs again in KC.