Saturday, April 15, 2006

Another Keystone State Debacle

The Pittsburgh Penguins humiliated the Rangers Thursday night; Saturday afternoon the Blueshirts did it to themselves.
With their first division title in 12 years within their grasp, the New York Rangers decided not to show up Saturday in Philadelphia, losing 4-1.
Jaromir Jagr played admirably, but not all-world.
Kevin Weekes showed flashes of brilliance, but was not a phenom like injured backstopper Hendrik Lundqvist.
The win accomplished several things. First, it pulled the Flyers within one point of the Atlantic division leading Rangers. Second, it kept the New Jersey Devils' hopes for a division crown alive. The Devs trail the Blueshirts by three points. The Flyers and Devils square off tomorrow in New Jersey. Philly will conclude the season with a road game against the Islanders.
The Flyers got goals from Mike Knuble, Nicholas Dimitrakos, R.J. Umberger and Petr Nedved while Marcel Hossa scored New York's lone goal.
The Rangers conclude their season at home against Ottawa Tuesday night.
New York should have many of their injured players back for this enormous challenge against one of the league's best. Marek Malik, Darius Kasparaitis, Steve Rucchin, and the aforementioned Lundqvist should be able to play.
Hopefully, the Atlantic division title will not have slipped through their hands.

My Top Ten Lists

Favorite Athletes
1- Mark Messier---The Captain led the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. Also, first player to be named an NHL All-Star at two positions, center and left wing.
2- Mike Richter-- Incredibly acrobatic goaltender backstopped that storied Rangers' championship team. Also, amazing performance to lead United States over Canada in 1996 World Cup.
3- Bernard King-- Former New York Knick would score fifty and make it look easy.
4- Lawrence Taylor--New York Giants' linebacker changed the way his position was played and how the offense played against him.
5- Mario Lemieux--Battled cancer and back problems to be second only to Wayne Gretzky.
6- Walter Payton-- "Sweetness" was the late running back's knickname and anyone who is tough enough to gain hard yards playing for Chicago is something special.
7- Dave Winfield--Dynamic outfielder for the New York Yankees who always played hard and did so with a smile.
8- Magic Johnson--"Showtime" was the only player I've seen who could play all five positions and play them well.
9- Brett Favre-- Only player to be named NFL MVP three years in a row 1995-1997.
10- Pavel Bure-- I have never seen a hockey player that fast. I'll never forget him buzzing around Madison Square Garden while playing for Vancouver against the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals. If it weren't for the brilliance of Mike Richter Vancouver would have routed the Blueshirts.

Athletes I Loved to Hate
1- Reggie Miller-- Former Indiana Pace gave the Knicks fits with his clutch shots.
2- Claude Lemieux-- One of the dirtiest players ever to play in the NHL.
3- Ulf Samuelsson -- Same as above.
4- Eric Lindros -- Incredibly overhyped athlete that got the calls but at times could be incredibly dominant. Saved his best for the Rangers.
5- David Ortiz --What can you say about this member of the Red Sox. Just whips the Yankees.
6- Michael Irvin --World class athlete and a world class jerk.
7- Donovan McNabb --Class act but another guy who saves his best for the NY Giants.
8- Danny Ainge -- Hard working member of the Boston Celtics.
9- Dennis Rodman -- Phenomenol rebounder and one of the weirdest guys around.
10- Randy Johnson -- Even though he is a Yankee it is hard to warm up to this once dominant pitcher.

Athletes I Have the Utmost Respect For
1- Scott Stevens -- I will never forget in '95 after one crushing hit on Slava Kozlov he looks at the heavily favored Detroit Red Wing bench and says to anyone willing to look him in the eye: You're next!!
2- Tiger Woods -- Physically and mentally one of the most well-prepared athletes anywhere.
3- Jerry Bailey -- Overcame physical limitations and demons to be a hall of fame jockey.
4- Martin Brodeur -- Unflappable.
5- Steve Yzerman -- Very classy Detroit Red Wings' Captain.
6- Tim Duncan -- One of the few class acts in the NBA.
7- Charles Oakley -- Night in and night out always give his all for the Knicks.
8- Phil Simms -- Consistent NY Giant quarterback was always a professional.
9- Roger Federer -- Wow! Just awesome.
10- Kevin Garnett -- The other class act in the NBA.

Best Athletes in my Lifetime
1- Wayne Gretzky -- Charisma that the NHL has never seen before or since.
2- Michael Jordan -- Not enough adjectives to describe the man who could fly through the air.
3- Mark Messier -- Leader, champion, legend.
4- Joe Montana -- Cool under pressure.
5- Mario Lemieux --Graceful and overcame many obstacles.
6- Tiger Woods -- Probably will be recognized as best ever when his career is done.
7- Magic Johnson --Most versatile athlete in any sport.
8- Walter Payton -- Should have won more than once.
9- Emmitt Smith -- Cornerstone of a dynasty.
10- Mariano Rivera -- Definitely the best closer in history.

Most Disappointing Athletes
1- Mike Tyson -- Got involved with the wrong people who helped to ruin his life.
2- Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry -- Drugs shortchanged these guys of so much.
3- Alexei Kovalev -- Enigma.
4- Petr Nedved -- Enigma Part II
5- Hideki Irabu -- So much hype so little was delivered.
6- Tyrone Wheatley -- Never made it with the Giants but was better with Oakland.
7- Anna Kournikova -- Great looks never translated into big wins.
8- Dave Brown -- Former Giant QB was given plenty of chances to shine.
9- Brien Taylor -- Former Yankees' pitching prospect hurt his shoulder in a fight leaving New Yorkers wondering what could have been.
10- Friedrich Weiss -- Horrible Knick draft pick never made it across the Atlantic.

Favorite News/Sports Shows
1- Curtis and Kuby (770 WABC)
2- Mike and the Mad Dog (660 WFAN)
3- The O'Reilly Factor (710 WOR/FOX News)
4- Paul Harvey News (770 WABC)
5- Meet The Press (NBC)
6- Catherine Crier Live (Court TV)
7- The Sean Hannity Show (770 WABC)
8- Coast to Coast AM with George Noory (770 WABC)
9- The Brian Lehrer Show (National Public Radio)
10- The Gary Null Show (National Public Radio)

Favorite Actors
1- Al Pacino
2- Denzell Washington
3- Dennis Franz
4- Russell Crowe
5- Michael Douglas
6- Jimmy Smits
7- Morgan Freeman
8- Donald Sutherland
9- Matt Damon
10-David Caruso

Favorite Books (non-fiction)
1- Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
2- A Drinking Life: A Memoir by Pete Hamill
3- Blue Blood by Edward Conlon
4- The Westies by T.J. English
5- From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman
6- Crime Fighter: Putting the Bad Guys Out of Business by Jack Maple
7- My Life in the NYPD:Jimmy the Wags By James J. Wagner
8- Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile
9- Serpico by Peter Maas
10-Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Favorite Books (fiction)
1- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2- A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
3- Dracula by Bram Stoker
4- The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
5- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
6- Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
7- Jaws by Peter Benchley
8- A Skull in Connemara by Martin McDonagh
9- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
10- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Favorite Movies
1- Black Hawk Down
2- The Godfather
3- Scarface
4- L.A. Confidential
5- Serpico
6- Wall Street
7- Prince of the City
8- Training Day
9- Fletch
10- Miracle

Favorite Songs
1- Substitute by The Who
2- Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley
3- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John
4- Walk this Way by Aerosmith/Run DMC
5- Let's Get Pretentious by Pete Townshend
6- Hypnotize by the Notorious B.I.G.
7- Makin' Some Noise by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
8- Crazy by Aerosmith
9- Baba O'Riley by The Who
10- Hard Knock Life by Jay Z

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

One of the great things about the National Hockey League is the rich history of the game. Line combinations used to stay together more often "back in the day" but there are still some today and in the last few years which have become famous or infamous. I have compiled a list of some of the more noteworthy line combinations and their often catchy names. Please don't hesitate to send me some more. At the end there is also a list of some outstanding tandems.

The BOW Line
Johnny Bucyk-Murray Oliver-Tommy Williams
Circa 1963 Boston Bruins
*Thanks to a loyal reader.

The Bread Line
Alex Shibicky-Mac Colville-Neil Colville
1936 New York Rangers

The Kid Line
Busher Jackson-Joe Primeau-Charlie Conacher
1930s Maple Leafs

The Kraut Line
Woody Dumart-Milt Schmidt-Bobby Bauer
1930-40s Boston Bruins
**The "Kraut" name was dropped for a bit during WW II as political correctness ran amok.

The Production Line
Ted Lindsay-Sid Abel-Gordie Howe
1940-50s Red Wings

The Million Dollar Line
Bobby Hull-Bill Hay-Murray Balfour
1950-60s Blackhawks

The GAG Line (Goal A Game)
Rod Gilbert-Jean Ratelle-Vic Hadfield
1960-70s Rangers

The Espo Line / Nitro Line
Wayne Cashman-Phil Esposito-Ken Hodge
1960-70s Bruins

The Dynasty Line
Steve Shutt-Jacques Lemaire-Guy Lafleur
1970s Canadians

The French Connection
Rick Martin-Gilbert Perreault-Rene Robert
1970s Sabres

The LCB Line
Bill Barber-Bobby Clarke-Reggie Leach
1970s Flyers

The Trio Grande Line
Clark Gilles-Bryan Trottier-Mike Bossy
1970-80s Islanders

The Triple Crown Line
Charlie Simmer-Marcel Dionne-Dave Taylor
1970-80s Kings

The ?? Line
Al Secord-Denis Savard-Steve Larmer
1980s Blackhawks

The Kid Line
Adam Graves-Joe Murphy-Martin Gelinas
1990 Edmonton Oilers

The Crazy Eights
Marc Recchi(#8)-Eric Lindros(#88)-Brent Fedyk(#38)
Mid Nineties Philadelphia Flyers

The Crash Line
Randy McKay-Bobby Holik-Mike Peluso
New Jersey Devils 1994

The Legion of Doom Line
John LeClair-Eric Lindros-Michael Renberg
Philly Flyers mid to late 90s

The Czech Line
Jan Hlavac-Petr Nedved-Radek Dvorak
Circa 2000 New York Rangers

The 'A' Line
Patrick Elias-Jason Arnott-Petr Sykora
New Jersey Devils Early 2000s

The HMO Line
Ryan Hollweg-Dominick Moore-Jed Ortmyer
New York Rangers 2005-2006

Not a line but still worth mentioning a group that Scotty Bowman would send out. "The Russian Unit of Five" in the mid-90s.
Slava Kozlov-Igor Larionov-Sergei Fedorov
Slava Fetisov-Vlad Konstantinov

"The Super-Five of the USSR" which included the "KLM Line" (Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov, and Sergei Makarov), and legendary defensemen Viacheslav Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov.

The Unified Team in the 1992 Olympics
Alex Mogilny-Sergei Fedorov-Pavel Bure

Famous Duos
Darryl Sittler Lanny MacDonald
1970s Maple Leafs

Wayne Gretzky Jari Kurri
1980s Oilers

Mark Messier Glen Anderson
1980s Oilers

Peter Stastny-Michel Goulet
1980s Nordiques

Mario Lemieux Jaromir Jagr
1990s Penguins

I Bid You Welcome!

Or so said the Count. No not Rich Monteleone, New York Yankee fans. Bela Lugosi in the 1931 classic, Dracula. Lugosi was the original nosferatu, a real scary vampire. But I am getting away from my point. Well, I like horror movies. Oh OK now to the purpose of all this:

Anyway, Welcome to my blog. This blog is going to be about many things, in the same way that Seinfeld was about nothing this blog will be about everything. Well, not everything, but close.

The title of this blog is in tribute to the bravest men on the planet: the United States Army Rangers. "Rangers Lead The Way" is their creed. The title of this website is in tribute to the greatest hockey team on the planet: the New York Rangers. Let me explain the origin of my affinity for both.

The first came in the early 1980s. I remember hearing the excitement coming out of my alarm clock radio by the nasally voice of legendary broadcaster Marv Albert when he described the New York Rangers. Known affectionately as "the Smurfs" they were a ragtag bunch with great personality. I was instantly hooked on that team. A team led by the helmetless captain Barry Beck, the brothers Maloney (Dave and Don), goalie Eddie Mio, and who could forget the wild hair of Ron"ooh la la Sassoon"Dugay. Incidentally, years later I would have the privilege of working side-by-side with Dave Maloney as we called several local high school hockey games for AM 1490 WGCH in Greenwich, CT.

So many great memories with the Rangers and some rough ones as well. But overall there is nothing I love more than watching the Blueshirts. Yeah there were some tough times from 1998 through 2004. But the Broadway Blues are back in the playoffs and ready to rumble in 2006. Best of all the Flyers and Islanders are eating our dust.

The second group of rangers that I admire is the United States Army Rangers. These are the best of the best in every way possible. I recall watching CNN in 1993 and was appalled by the horrible images of dead American soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. But what stood out to me was the bravery of these U.S. soldiers. These guys were surrounded by what seemed like an entire city as their mission went so terribly wrong.

The story goes that American Rangers and Delta Force soldiers are in the capital city of Mogadishu to capture Mohammad Farah Aidid, a fierce warlord, whose group of thugs has caused the starvation of hundreds of thousands of Somalis. The mission falls apart as two black hawk choppers crash and these brave men are surrounded by an angry city seething for blood.

The solidarity and bravery showed by these men in such a perilous time is absolutely inspiring. I remember how disgusted I felt walking out of the multiplex after seeing the movie Black Hawk Down and then subsequently reading the book by Mark Bowden. What these soldiers faced embodies the expression "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." Rent the movie, read the book. This is one of the rare exceptions where the book is better than the movie. You will be angry, sad, but mostly inspired by these great Americans.

So I dedicate this blog to the US Army Rangers and all those who defend freedom each and every day.