by Gary Pino
This upcoming season has to be the long awaited arrival of Tomas Kloucek? He is the cornerstone of the Rangers defense of the future, Bar None! His aggressive style of play cost him ice time with the Rangers last year, and was only given 52 games to prove he belonged with the club, before promptly being sent down. In 2 seasons with the Rangers Kloucek has 211 penalty minutes, and much of those have been the result of crunching hits along the boards and highlight reel open ice hits to add to his resume.
Kloucek’s hitting seemed to be what this team has lacked since Jeff Beukeboom played for the Ranger’s and I don’t think it was so much the penalty minutes on the ice, but the 5 Game Misconducts he received in less than half the season. The problem with Tomas was the coaching staff, He did what comes natural to him and that’s hit first and takes names later! He is a hitter by nature, that’s his game, and Ron Low put a collar and leash on him by trying to attempt to keep him from getting anymore game misconducts to the point where the kid thought hitting guys hard may not be what the team wants?
What Kloucek brings to the rink is something you cannot teach, and what needs to be addressed here is the time and place for the big hit! Early on last season, I saw opposing players skating across the blue line with their heads on a swivel, every player was aware when Kloucek was on the ice. I’d like to think the new coaching staff would work with him, teach him and not reprimand him for every little thing he does wrong. Kloucek is 6-3 and listed at 220, but he added some serious size over the summer last year while rehabbing his knee from a thunderous hit on Ray Ferraro in Atlanta , which resulted in a torn acl/mcl, in a meaningless game towards the end of last season.
With that kind of size and strength he has, he can be one of the best big time hitters in the National Hockey League, maybe in the last 20 years? Kloucek is a gem! He is a special kid and this is one prospect/player the Rangers can’t afford to ruin. I do not see this developing into a Malhotra type of problem within the organization, because Manny was given ample ice time to prove he can play at this level, and he failed to produce. Kloucek is just a baby at 23, he is mean and nasty, and everything you want in a big time blueliner!
You cannot have someone like Kloucek playing in Hartford ! With the right touch, Tomas Kloucek will become one of the best defensemen the New York Ranger s have had in quite some time. Now I know why when Sather was trying to make deals at the trading deadline last year, every team involved wanted Kloucek, and that should have been the red flag for the organization, to finally realize what they have and what they should do to make sure he is developed into the board cracking, bone jarring hitting machine he should become? I think we all want to see the K-Train back at the Garden this upcoming season! “I know I do”.