Alexei Kovalev

Stealing My Thunder

by Jess Rubenstein

You know some people just have to hog all the attention, they have to steal the spotlight from another and so what if they hog all the glory .   Damn that Glen Sather how dare he try to ruin my debut here at Outside the Garden, who the heck does he think he is?  Oh sure he makes the trade for Alex Kovalev and so all everyone wants to talk about is the Kovalev trade instead of my debut here .   Boy that really ticks me off when someone does that.  I wish for just once Slats would realize that the Ranger world does not revolve around him .

Now that I have gotten your attention with a rather silly intro, let us get right to the point .   Yea they got Kovalev as part of their annual “Bring in a Big Name and hope for the best”, nonsense that has become a trademark of the Ranger s under the ownership of the Dolans .   Oh sure Slats on paper gave up very little of value to get Kovalev but what we really have to ask is what exactly did the Ranger s get besides the player?

Let us get this part out of the way now, Kovalev is a solid offensive weapon who when his game is on has matured to where he can do a lot of damage to an opposing team with his offensive skills .   He can create a lot of havoc on the offensive end of the ice and as Slats loves to point he is considered a world class player .   What he isn’t, is the answer to the Ranger ’s biggest of problems and in some ways will contribute to them with his style of play .  

Kovalev likes to play a free wheeling go for broke style of game, he fits in with Slats and his offensive style of play but free wheeling also means that he plays at time out of control and without any discipline .   Would you like to guess where two of the Ranger ’s bigger problem areas just so happen to be?  If you said that the Ranger s play out of control and lack discipline you may help yourself to one of Slat’s cigars .

Look I will give credit to Slats for making this deal without having to include any of those very few prized kid players .   Yes I am very grateful that Danny, Jamie, Fedor and Garth are still Ranger property (for now at least) but what bothers me about this deal is what it did and the message that was sent to the fans .

First off once again guess which team is the ‘bad guys” in the NHL again? The Ranger s using money to take from a team in money hell has simply done more to help advance the Bettman agenda of 2004 which is supposed to lead to a salary cap .   It helps give Bettman the ammo he needs to keep public opinion on his side that says that without a salary cap the smaller market teams will never stand a chance against those evil Ranger s .

Second adding Kovalev is not going to mean that they will actually live up to the guarantee made by first Slats and then Jim Dolan that they are going to make the playoffs .   What this trade did was generate a lot of attention for the Ranger s .   It got those fans who were straddling the fence as to whether or not to hoist the white flag of surrender to pause and say wait a second .   What it will do is help sell tickets and get people watching on the tube during that all important sweeps month for Cablevision .  

Third it once again deflects the attention ever so briefly about how messed up this team really is .   If you go take a look at the various message boards the topics being talked about is the trade itself, how Kovalev will be used and with whom and how happy that the kids weren’t traded .   It seems that a winless streak that has reached seven games has all but been forgotten .   Sure there still is some talk about what the Ranger s really do need but it has been the trade that has been getting the majority of the attention .   Don’t think for a second that the spin doctors at MSG and Cablevision are not happy about that .

Finally take a good look at the standings folks, if they made this trade say in November, December or even last month then they would have had a better shot at the playoffs but not now .   After the games on Tuesday evening the Ranger s find themselves trailing the Islanders by eight points (plus their 3 games in hand) and now the Canadians by seven points (no games in hand) . We can’t forget the Lightning being six points ahead of the Ranger s (with 2 games in hand) either .

Slats, Messier and the rest of the Ranger s can claim all they want that nobody is running away with the last two playoff spots but the numbers don’t lie . Unless three different teams all fall totally apart there is neither enough time nor games left for the Ranger s to make up the difference in the standings .   Unless somehow that since the Flyer’s game the Ranger s have learned to kill penalties . That they have somehow learned how to play with self control and discipline and discovered what defense is supposed to do then while the games will be exciting to watch they aren’t going to win enough games to overcome the other teams .

I also think before I go that a word of caution has to be said about how great Slats did in the Kovalev trade .   There remains a full month before the trading deadline and I doubt that this was the last move Slats is going to make in that time .   While we applaud that he didn’t use kids in this trade we now have to wonder what he has left to offer in a trade to bring in any more impact players like penalty killers or solid defensemen .   Until the trading deadline comes and goes with all those kids still a part of the Ranger s we have to hold our breath and pray that Slats doesn’t move them .

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