Tomas Kloucek

Christmas In July

by Chris Ruddick

Thank god the broken air conditioner in my car reminded how hot it was, because I thought I saw snowflakes falling from the sky.

Glen Sather must feel like the luckiest man on the face of the earth right now. After years of having to sit on his hands with the money-strapped Edmonton Oilers come free agency time, Sather was able to jump head first into the 2002 pool.

Sure having a blank check helps. The fact that MSG is not too pleased that their Rangers have missed out on the postseason the last five years does not hurt either. But Sather didn’t just give the Dolans’ money away, he addressed the needs of this team and totally transformed them into a legitimate contender for the upcoming season.

Bobby Holik, coveted by the Blueshirts for nearly a year, was the first chip to fall into place. Bar none this was the one signing Sather had to make. Nine-million dollars a year for a guy who has never scored 30 goals??? Absolutely!!!

Holik was going to get something close to that from a number of teams anyway, quite possibly the hated Philadelphia Flyers. So blow him out of the water right away and take the decision out of his hands. Holik brings something this team has missed for a longtime – Toughness. Maybe, finally, teams will think twice about taking a run at our best players.

“Bobby is a big dominant center who brings a lot of intangibles,” Sather said in a release. “He works hard. He plays hard every night. He’s physical. He’s good on faceoffs. He’s going to make it a lot more difficult for teams to check Eric”

Then when I thought that Tuesday July 2nd could not get any better, Sather wasted little time in addressing the team’s other glaring need. Acquiring a big bodied defenseman not afraid to take a hit — with the signing of the monstrous Darius Kasparaitis, who by all accounts was the main target of the New York Islanders.

The Rangers have been looking for a player of Kasparaitis’ caliber since concussions forced the retirement of Jeff Beukeboom.

Not only does Kasparaitis fill a monster hole, but how good is the young Tom Poti going to be next season with this monster by his side. Add in the fact the Tomas Kloucek will learn how to use his body from one of the best.

Do they go after Bill Guerin or Tony Amonte? I doubt it but I still think there are things to be done.

However, it is indeed a good time to be a Rangers’ fan again my friends.

They still need a veteran goaltender between the pipes to show young Dan Blackburn the ropes. Blackburn clearly is not ready. Hopefully Sather has not burned any bridges with our franchise and everyone knows who I am talking about.

Wait I think there is another present under the tree. I think it has #35 all over the package.


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