by Matt Pennino
As July 1st approaches the numerous rumors about the Rangers begin. It seems as though they will sign every player in the NHL, but for the first time in a long time, New York fans are worried that our franchise goalie will be gone. I can almost guarantee you that if Neil Smith were still here that Mike would’ve been resigned weeks ago. But this is now Glen Sather’s team and the Mike Richter relationship looks to be over after a 14-year love affair.
Yes he was at the press conference to introduce Bryan Trottier as the new head coach and Slats said he wanted Mike to be a career Ranger. This folks, is what I call window dressing. He is good as gone. I know that and you know that…even though it’s a tough reality to see him wear a jersey other than the Broadway Blue. No matter what free agents are signed during this off-season, this year will be the summer of the goalie for the Rangers. A position that is normally all signed, sealed and delivered with Richter in between the pipes.
According to the latest batch from the rumor mill Sather is supposedly interested in signing unrestricted free agent Curtis Joseph if a qualifying offer is not met by the Toronto Maple Leafs. While signing “Cujo”, I think, is a good idea we need to look at Slats track record here. First of all this past summer all the pomp and circumstance was that Jagr had become a Ranger before he signed on the dotted line. But Sather waited…. waited…and waited, and in the process a surprise team like the Capitals comes out and pulls the rug under Glen’s feet and Jagr now wears the bald eagle. The point I’m trying to make is if Sather wants Joseph as much he says he does he needs to jump out and sign him if (and that’s a big if) he doesn’t accept a qualifying offer from Toronto. If Sather does choose to wait then we might be seeing Blackburn share the goaltending spotlight with a mid-level goalie like a Jeff Hackett or Steve Shields.
If it were up to me, Joseph would be wearing Ranger blue next season. I know he won’t be back and that’s why I’d like to see Joseph signed because this team will not make the playoffs with Blackburn and Jeff Hackett unless the defense goes through a miraculous recovery.
In closing, I’d just like to say to not get the wrong idea. I love Mike Richter and if he gets resigned I’d be happy. But like Graves, his time in New York has gotten stale and it’s time for a change of scenery for both Richter and the Rangers.