Brian Leetch

2003-04 Ex-Ranger All-Stars

For the fourth consecutive year, Outside The Garden has searched around the league for the best and fairest of former Ranger players and properties.  This year things were a little more exciting with the addition of several high profile players to the “Ex-Ranger” ranks when GM Glen Sather purged the roster of a number of well known names.  Many of these players, along with several regulars from the previous four years make their appearance for the 2004 OTG Ex-Ranger All-Star team.

First Line

Martin Rucinsky
Vancouver Canucks
1-2-3 in 13 games
1st Appearance
Doug Weight
St Louis Blues
14-51-65 in 75 games
4th Appearance
Tony Amonte
Philadelphia Flyers
20-33-54 in 80 games
4th Appearance
The selection of Rucinsky to the 2004 All-Star team is more a result of his play with the Rangers prior to the trade deadline than what he did with Vancouver in the final month of the season.

Signed as a free agent, Rucinsky was one of the few bright spots for a woeful Blueshirt line-up and ended up being one of the several veteran players purged at the March 9th deadline.

Rucinsky is a free agent this summer, so there’s a good chance we’ll see him again in the All-star ranks in the near future..
Every season that Outside The Garden has held the voting for the Ex-Ranger All-stars, there are a couple of names that continue to feature prominently.  The first is almost always Doug Weight who received more votes as a forward than any other player except for his line-mate Tony Amonte.

Weight continues to be a premier pivot for the St Louis Blues and managed to remain a little healthier this year over the past couple of seasos.  Weight will once again return with St Louis next season and figures once again to be in the All-Star mix.
Despite playing for the hated Flyers, Amonte continues to retain the respect and admiration of Ranger fans.  Despite another year where he perhaps did not live up to his expectations, Amonte remains a useful winger who can still put in 20 goals a season.

Amonte remains under contract with the Flyers for next season, but like Weight has been subject of trade rumors as a result of his team’s high salary and the pending CBA discussions.

Second Line

Nils Ekman
San Jose Sharks
22-33-55 in 82 games
1st Appearance
Mike York
Edmonton Oilers
16-26-42 in 61 games
3rd Appearance
Matthew Barnaby
Colorado Avalanche
4-5-9 in 13 games
1st Appearance
After a lengthy absence from the NHL, Ekman finally made his return in grand style.  Unable to break through on the veteran laden Rangers, Ekman was traded last summer to the San Jose Sharks for prospect Chad Wiseman.

The AHL star soon solidified a roster spot during the Sharks camp and played in all 82 games for San Jose and a further 16 in the post season.

His 22 goals was tied with Luc Robitaille for the most by a former Ranger this past season, while his 55 points was second only to Doug Weight’s 65.
Another fan favorite, York makes it 3 for 3 in All-star appearances since the trade that sent him to Edmonton for defenseman Tom Poti.

While Mike struggled through injuries that cost him 21 games on the season, he continues to perform well at both ends of the ice.

The energetic centerman did however finish with his lowest goal scoring and points totals since the 2000-01 season and will be looking for a healthier season next year 
When Barnaby came to the Rangers it appeared his career in the NHL might not be a certain thing.  Scoreless for almost half a season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Barnaby appeared to have lost his spark.

In one of the few success stories for the Rangers, Barnaby not only regained his spark, but also became a useful offensive contributor in his time on Broadway and once again became a sought after commodity at the deadline.

A stirring run with the Colorado Avalanche after the trade has earned the fireplug winger a useful contract in Chicago where he’ll play next season. 

Third Line

Chris Simon
Calgary Flames
3-2-5 in 13 games
1st Appearance
Marc Savard
Atlanta Thrashers
19-33-52 in 45 games
4th Appearance
Radek Dvorak
Edmonton Oilers
15-35-50 in 78 games
2nd Appearance
Another of the veterans who were dispatched at the March 9th trade deadline, Simon also earned his spot as a result of his performances with the Rangers.

The surprising left winger totaled 17 goals with the Rangers and Calgary, the second best performance of his career and the best since the 1999-00 season.  When you consider that he played much of his time in New York on the fourth line, the number becomes that more impressive.

Chipping in five goals in the Flames run to the Stanley Cup finals only helped his cause and earned him another contract with Calgary.
If it weren’t for injuries, Savard could well be amongst the league’s scoring elite.  The smallish pivot put up 52 points in just 45 games on what was a dynamic offensive team in Atlanta.

Savard’s offensive prowess since his trade to Calgary back in the summer of 1999 has earned him four consecutive selections to the OTG Ex-Ranger all-star team and he will be hoping it also earns him a pay increase with the Thrashers next season.
The knee injury that pretty much spelled the end of Dvorak’s time on Broadway is now ancient history.  The speedy right winger appears to have returned to the type of form that he displayed as part of the Czech Mates line at the turn of the decade.

Although he did not approach his career high of 31 goals, Dvorak did manage to put up the second highest point total of his career and was just one short of his career high of 36 assists set back in the 2000-01 season.

Dvorak will once again ply his wares in Edmonton and may be joined once again by Petr Nedved.

Fourth Line

Luc Robitaille
Los Angeles Kings
22-29-51 in 80 games
3rd Appearance
Petr Nedved
Edmonton Oilers
5-10-16 in 15 games
1st Appearance
Mike Knuble
Boston Bruins
21-25-46 in 82 games
2nd Appearance
One thing is for certain, Luc Robitaille loves to play in Los Angeles.  After finally winning a cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002-03, Robitaille followed up his 50 point season with the worst season of his career.

Returning to Los Angeles for the third time last summer, Robitaille bounced back with a 51 point season and earned himself another contract while almost helping the severally undermanned Los Angeles Kings to an improbable playoff spot.

Luc’s time in the NHL appears to be nearing an end, but his 3rd selection in 4 years was well justified.
Freed from the constraints of New York at the March trade deadline, Petr Nedved almost immediately began to regain his scoring touch.  With just 31 points in 65 games as a Ranger, Nedved upped the tempo to over a point a game with the well-coached Oilers.

With his contract now up, it appears likely that Nedved will have to accept a pay cut to return to the Oilers, though there have been rumors that a handful of other teams may be interested in the newly married Czech centerman.
Last year Mike Knuble burst onto the scene with what can only be described as a career year.  He was certainly helped by his transition to left wing where he saw plenty of time with the likes of Joe Thornton and Glen Murray.

A year later and the versatile winger saw his ice time split between different lines and both wings.  As a right winger he appears to have begun silencing his doubters with another 20 goal season and a new contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.

First Defensive Pair

Brian Leetch
Toronto Maple Leafs
2-13-15 in 15 games
1st Appearance
Kim Johnsson
Philadelphia Flyers
10-29-39 in 81 games
3rd Appearance
It was sad day March 3rd, 2004 when lifelong Ranger defenseman Brian Leetch was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a handful of prospects and draft picks.  It sparked the beginning of the end for the Rangers roster and sparked numerous debates over the health of the organization and mismanagement from the front office.

But most of all it sparked cries of despair from the Rangers faithful, who saw in the departure of Brian Leetch, the last tie to the glory days of the early 90s and the loss of one of the game’s best defenseman.

Leetch though handled it as a professional and immediately made a mark on the power play where he put up many of his assists.  With another year remaining on his contract, Leetch will remain in Toronto for the coming year before free agency once again beckons.
With the departure this summer of Eric Lindros, Kim Johnsson earns the distinction of being the only player involved in the deal to remain part of his team.  The young Swede has also proven to be a success on Broad Street where the Flyers have begun purging their veteran defenseman in an attempt to shed payroll and get younger.

Johnsson was also one of the few, or perhaps only blueliner that remained healthy for the Flyers in a year that took on epic proportions as one defenseman after another fell to injury.

His 42 points this season marked the highest of Kim’s career and his goal total of 13 was two better than his previous best.  Johnsson will return once again next year to Philadelphia for his 4th season there.

Second Defensive Pair

Sergei Zubov
Dallas Stars
7-35-42 in 77 games
4th Appearance
Mathieu Schneider
Detroit  Red Wings
14-32-46 in 78 games
4th Appearance
It wasn’t a particularly memorable year for Sergei Zubov who managed just seven goals, his worst total since coming to the NHL back in 1992-93 with the Rangers.  With the loss of Derian Hatcher, the entire Dallas team appeared to be worse off and Zubov was no exception.

The veteran blueliner’s performance and salary sparked rumors that his time in Dallas may be coming to an end, but after some initial uncertainty it now appears that he will once again return for Dallas in 2004-05
Mathieu Schneider continues to be one of the more underrated offensive defenseman in the league, though it’s fair to say that he is well appreciated in Detroit.  As part of a veteran blueline corps that features the likes of Chris Chelios, Jason Woolley, Niklas Lidstrom, Derian Hatcher and Jamie Rivers, Schneider has managed to stand out and become a reliable blueline threat.

With his contract status up in the year, it remains to be seen whether he will return to Motown, though initial reports seem to suggest that that is where he’d like to continue his career.

Third Defensive Pair

Marek Zidlicky
Nashville Predators
14-39-53 in 82 games
1st Appearance
Mattias Norstrom
Los Angeles Kings
1-13-14 in 74 games
4th Appearance
To say that Marek Zidlicky’s rookie season in the NHL was a success would be an understatement.  The smallish Czech defenseman was part of a surprising Predators team that made their first playoff appearance since joining the league.

Included as part of the trade that brought Mike Dunham to New York, Zidlicky’s unwillingness to sign a two-way contract was not a problem for Nashville who quickly took advantage of his prowess on the powerplay.

While Zidlicky remains relatively weak on the defensive side of the puck, it’s fair to say that most observers are more than willing to overlook that in light of his offensive output.
The lone defensive presence on this year’s All-star team, Norstrom along with Zubov and Schneider, continues to be a consistent feature on the Ex-Ranges blueline.

The Kings captain once again demonstrated why he is so well respected around the league as he and former Ranger Luc Robitaille guided an ailing Kings franchise towards the playoffs, faltering only at the last moment when the injuries finally overwhelmed the team.

Norstrom will once again be in Los Angeles next season and will be looking to lead a healthier team back to the post-season..


Dan Cloutier
Vancouver Canucks
33-21-6 in 60 games 2.27 GAA .914 S%
4th Appearance
Jussi Markkanen
Edmonton Oilers
2-2-2 in 7 games 1.83 GAA .934 S%
1st Appearance
Once again Dan Cloutier hit the 30 win mark with the Canucks, the third straight year in which the young netminder has reached the milestone.  He also put up the best goals against average of his career and equaled his best save percentage of .914 which he set back in his days with New York.

Despite continuing questions about his post-season play, Cloutier easily remains the most promising former Ranger goaltender in the league.
Markkanen came over to New York last summer and was a solid performer for the Blueshirts as a back-up to Mike Dunham.  Included as part of the trade that sent Petr Nedved to Edmonton, Markkanen continued his strong season backing up Ty Conklin and setting some impressive marks in GAA and Save % with his old team.

Markkanen will return again in 2004-05 to back up Conklin, and will be ready to step in should the starter fail.


Andreas Johansson
Nashville Predators
15-14-29 in 79 games
2nd Appearance
Alexei Kovalev
Montreal Canadiens
12-21-33 in 54 games
1st Appearance
Greg de Vries
Ottawa Senators
2-3-5 in 11 games
1st Appearance
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