Category: Hockey

Three Goalies? Mike Richter Has Been There, Done That

Mike Richter,Rangers great, skates during an intermission of the Yale/Harvard hockey game at Madison Square Gardens,NYC,NY 01/11/20 .Photo by Neil Miller /The New York Extra


By Lenn Robbins

Rangers great, Mike Richter talks to Lenn Robbins of The New York Extra at the Yale /Harvard hockey game 1/11/20 at Madison Square Gardens NYC,NY. Photo by Neil Miller /The New York Extra

There might not be a person on the planet who has a better sense of what’s going on with the Rangers’ three-headed goaltending situation then Mike Richter.

Richter, the star goaltender on the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion Rangers’ team, was back in The Garden Saturday night where he served as the ambassador for the Harvard-Yale Rivalry on Ice.

It is that same ice that three Rangers’ goalies – future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist, his once-presumed replacement, Alexandar Georgiev and rookie sensation, Igor Shesterkin – have to share.

In the world of goaltending, where three’s a crowd, Richter knows something’s gotta give.

Rangers great, Mike Richter talks to Lenn Robbins/The New York Extra at the Yale /Harvard hockey game at Madison Square Gardens,NYC,NY/ Photo by Neil Miller /The New York Extra

“I think this is the sign of a great organization, right,’’ Richter told “They’re drafting well and they’re developing very well. And so, they are blessed with three world class goalies.

  “Does that mean that somebody’s going to have to be moved? Eventually, yeah. And when I say move, when I came here there was Bob Froese, John Vanbiesbrouck and myself and you’d rather have strength at the position.

 “The nature of it is injuries, people getting older you always have to have the ability to create new, great players from within the organization. You can’t always pick them. So yeah, I think that’s a real indication that they’re doing something well. These are hard guys to get.”

Since 2005, Lundqvist has given the Rangers amazing stability at the most important position on hockey. He made his first start when Kevin Weekes was injured.

Cam Talbot seemed on track toward replacing The King, after he got injured. The Rangers traded Talbot to Edmonton for three picks in the 2015 draft.

Georgiev came on the scene in 2017 and by the end of last season had tongues wagging that the Lundqvist Era was nearing its end. Enter Igor.

It’s been more than five years since the Rangers took Shesterkin in the fourth round of the 2014 entry draft. If he’s returned to the Hartford Wolf Pack he has the option of returning to play in Russia, or elsewhere.

After a shaky start against the Colorado Avalanche, a 5-3 Rangers win, Shesterkin settled down. He’s 2-0 with a 3.01 GAA and .926 save percentage.

So as Richter said, eventually someone is going to have to be moved.

“Well, you never know where everybody’s going to end up,” said Richter. “I was in that position. I was in the lucky position of the new guy coming in. It’s harder on the older guys, when the young guy comes up, if you’re already established.

“I think time will tell because nowadays its almost impossible to answer in less you have all the information on the table. There’s salary caps, there’s no-trade clauses, there’s the ability of Shesterkin to go back. All of these things factor in.

“One thing you don’t want is to be left with nothing. If I’ve got wealth in this position, how do I parlay that into strength for my organization? But you’re never in that position unless you’re doing two things – drafting well and developing players within your organization.”

#13 Nathan Krusko from Havard , is checked into the boards by #10 Chandler Lindstrand from Yale, at the Yale/Harvard hockey game at Madison Square Gardens NYC,NY 01/11/20 Photo by Neil Miller /The New York Extra
#33 Corbin Kaczperski ,Yale, looks behind him after being beaten for a goal by #18 Jack Drury, Harvard in the 1st period of the Yale/Harvard hockey game at Madiosn Square Gardens NYC,NY 01/11/20. Photo by Neil Miller /The New York Extra

NOTES: Richter, a Yale alum, is a strong supporter of finding ways to reverse global warming. He skated with Last Game in between the first and second periods of Harvard’s 7-0 win over Yale.

Founded by former New Jersey Devils great, Slava Festisov, Last Game is a series of hockey games that strives to bring awareness to the devastating effect of climate change. Last Game is trying to schedule a final game in the North Pole.

“We have a lot of really smart people in this country that working together, can find solutions,’’ Richter said. “This is something we should have been addressing 20 years ago. It’s not a political issue. This affects all of us.”

Some Holiday NY Sports Cheer

So it goes. Another holiday season is here and from yours truly to yours a Merry Christmas and Happy holidays.

There were the usual highs and lows during the 2019 sports year in New York. From the abysmal Knicks, to the continued regression of the Jets and Giants, the Yankees failure to close the decade without another championship. 

And the Mets, of course, awaiting the check book of billionaire Steve Cohen as they try to contend and deliver.  Hockey is healthy as the Rangers and Islanders are at a pace to be contenders for playoff position.

With all of this, and more, here is that annual Christmas list for the New York sports fan. A little of everything and not being naughty but nice.

Yankees: The Gerit Cole signing to a record nine-year $324 million contract is the missing piece, so says the Yankees hierarchy. Though, as mentioned on  these pages,a pitcher with that long term deal is expected to deliver.

 The Yankees, as that holiday gift for their fans, got them Cole. It means the supposed best pitcher in baseball is expected to deliver, and at a risk in this long range plan to end their decade drought without a World Series championship.

Though, the appropriate gift of cheer for the Yankees is to get the timely hits in the postseason, which was more of the contributing factor of their failures to go deep in another postseason series loss to the Astros.

METS: The gift has been Michael Wacha and Rick Procello, two pitchers at low cost that add to their depth. If anything, rookie manager Carlos Beltran has been granted some flexibility. 

Seth Lugo, the Mets most reliable reliever, can stay in the bullpen as does Robert Gsellman. The need was to revamp a bullpen that was second worst in baseball to the Red Sox in 2019.

The gift this holiday season for the Mets, another bat in the lineup before Opening Day and possibly a healthy Yoenis Cespedes in his final year of a revamped contract.

Most of all, the best gift here? A turn-around 2020 out of the pen for Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz. Late inning outs and saves cost the Mets in 2019. Familia and Diaz could be a difference maker, along with Justin Wilson in the mix.

Giants: Yours truly will be the first to admit this is not an area of expertise. However, it is easy to comprehend that stability on the coaching end is important, why it is important to give another year to Pat Shurmur.

There are signs of progress. No more Eli Manning. Daniel Jones is improving, five touchdown passes Sunday against the Redskins.  The gift is acquiring a top draft choice, improve the defense. We haven’t seen Saquon Barkley at his best and healthy. 

Jets: Same situation with the Giants and that’s coaching stability.  Adam Gase? He needs another year. Disagree, of course Jets fans would. You see the continued development of a quarterback, Sam Darnold, and how he can control the ball out of the pocket. 

Again, a gift here for the Jets is patience. They are close. And the draft picks will be significant as the long and championship reign of the Patriots is on a decline, which makes the Jets a team to be enthused about in the AFC East.

Knicks: Sell the team. This is not a coaching situation. The answer is get rid of Dolan. A gift of joy for every Knicks’ fan is becoming that franchise champion again that takes the court in the “Mecca” of Madison Square Garden, and having the appropriate basketball personnel to run the show. 

NETS:  Did you say, can’t wait for Kevin Durant?  That 26.0 points per game is a void and a difference maker.

Rangers:   Sunday, Henrik Lundqvist made his first start in a week and stopped 19 of 20 shots that prevented the Rangers from losing their fourth straight. And that is the difference, because the veteran in goal can lead this team in his final years. 

You want to see a good old NY rivalry on ice with the Rangers and Islanders. It can get there again, of course it begins with the consistent play in goal from the veteran.

Islanders: All good in Nassau County and Brooklyn. The Islanders are leaving a gift this season and striving to become another dynasty before moving to their new digs in a few years over at Belmont Park.

NYRA:  Can we get another Triple Crown winner at Belmont Park?

NYCFC: Two years of semifinal and final conference elimination for an MLS CUP. The gift is go another step. The added gift is securing a stadium they can call home as the Yankees kick them out of the ballpark to avoid disrupting their sacred field during playoff time. 

Boxing: The sports deserves more championship fights in New York. Barclays Center in Brooklyn is in survival mode as a host for major fights and Madison Square Garden, well the “Mecca” always finds a place for the big fight.  Then again, the sport is healthy but no longer in that category of mainstream.and deserves a gift of returning to the heyday of Ali, Frazier, Holmes, Hagler, Hearns, and Leonard.

There you have it. Just some thoughts. From all of us at a healthy and happy holiday season with the gift of joy and a championship. 

Comment:  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

Puck the NBA: NHL Playoffs More Exciting The Robbins Nest By Lenn Robbins

Robbins Next

By Lenn Robbins

The NHL Playoffs are over, wiIMG_1190th the St. Louis Blues beating the Boston Bruins in a fierce and physical seven games. Any team that beats a Boston team is a good team but that’s another story.

The NBA Playoffs were headed back to Oakland where the Kevin Durant-less Warriors are trying to rally from a 3-1 deficit against Kawhi and Co.

Knicks fans, they were fantasizing about the team signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Durant, of course tore his Achilles tendon. It’s not easy being a Knicks fan. Rangers fans were gazing at the two NHL finalists, stocked with young talent – and hoping the Blueshirts rebuild leads to the first Cup since 1994.

Friends and I have been watching both playoffs – often at Molly’s Pub on 3rd Ave where there’s sawdust is on the floor and cold beer on tap (See Smithwick’s). We don’t have rooting interests in any of the teams but we’re sports fans and watching live sports beats ‘Desperate Housewives of Any City’ any day.

We found ourselves gravitating to the NHL Playoffs, even the Dallas-St. Louis series which was as lacking in sex appeal as a hirsute man wearing a Speedo. My friend posed the question, “Why are the NHL Playoffs so much better than the NBA Playoffs?”IMG_0940

Here’s a Baker’s Dozen reasons why:

1. Beards. James Harden has a legendary beard. So, does every other NHL player in the playoffs. We humbly offer for your consideration San Jose Sharks veteran Joe Thornton, who has been growing his beard for 22 seasons. No stats available on how often it’s been washed.

2. Injuries. In the NBA, players suffer a sprained ankle and are out for weeks. In the NHL, players suffer a lower or upper body injury and, unless admitted to a hospital in critical condition, play the next game. Basketball players go for treatment. Hockey players go for repairs (See Zdeno Chara).

3. Pulling the goalie. Consider this scenario: A hockey team is down one goal with less two minutes to play. It pulls the goalie and voila! man advantage. Suddenly it’s 6-on-5, making those last two minutes frantic, physical, riveting, especially if it’s the home team trailing. No such luck in the NBA.IMG_0941

4. Doc Emrick. The NBA has some outstanding play-by-play announcers. Ask them to name best in the business and they’ll say, “Emrick!” Emrick got his PHD in communications at Bowling Green, thus, the ‘Doc,’ nickname. He uses words such as ‘floats, knifes and ladles’ the puck into the zone. Who doesn’t like a good ladle?

5. Sudden Death. I know. We had you at ‘Sudden Death.’

Want to hear 20,000 screaming maniacs silenced in a nanosecond? Listen to what happens in an arena when the visiting team scores the game winner in overtime. Sudden death. Instance silence.IMG_0944

Want to hear the sound of a Navy fighter jet taking off from an aircraft carrier? Listen to what happens when the home team wins in sudden death. Sudden insanity. Sudden combustible explosion of hot air.

6. Goals. Almost every goal can determine the outcome of a NHL playoff game. Can you say that about every basket in an NBA playoff game? No. Even non-goals – the sound of the puck hitting the post is as delightful to a goalie’s ears as asking the family dog, ‘Do you want to go out?’’

7. Small markets. The NHL has playoff teams in small markets such as Columbus, Calgary, Winnipeg and St. Louis, where pro hockey is the only show in town. It generates a nuclear fanaticism. How every home in those small markets isn’t burglarized on game nights is bafling. Most residents are at the game, gathered outside the arena, at a bar, or a viewing party. Was anyone home in St. Louis Wednesday night?

Not so in the NBA. You can have a playoff game in New York (hey, we live in a world of hope!) and 8 million residents couldn’t care less.

8. Time outs. Teams get one per game in the NHL, making the TO as precious as the amount of storage on a teenager’s smartphone. NBA teams get six timeouts per game.

When an NBA team calls a timeout, the head coach does the talking and draws up the play. When an NHL team calls a timeout, an assistant coach does the talking and draws up the play. Why isn’t he the head coach?

9. Power plays. If a player fouls out in an NBA game, another player subs in. Get called for a penalty in the NHL and one team is playing 6-on-5. The penalized player must sit in the penalty box and feel much shame, like a schoolkid that is told to sit in the corner. The video boards always show the offender sitting forlornly, wiping his helmet and glancing at the video board to see a replay of his own offense.

10. Speed. Steph Curry should be ticketed for how quickly he can up the court. The slowest player in the NHL can go end to end, twice, faster. Pucks streak across the ice. Players, hair flowing (Flow!), whiz by on skates. The Kentucky Derby can claim the fastest two minutes in sports. NHL games can go end-to-end in less time than you can say, Alex Ovechkin.

11. Handshakes. It doesn’t happen in the NFL, NBA or MLB. And none of those sports come close to the man-on-man brutal battles that is the NHL playoffs.

Yet when the series ends, when the winning team is too drained to fully fathom its triumph and the losing team is too demoralized to comprehend its defeat, the combatants meet at center ice for the handshake line. One second a player is trying to remove an opponent’s spleen, the next second those same two players are congratulating each other on a series well fought. Go figure.

12. Fights. OK. Let’s get to it. Some NBA teams develop real animosity towards one another in a playoff series – see Rockets vs Warriors. Occasionally that leads to a Flagrant 1 technical foul, the parking ticket of offenses.

In the NHL, many players develop white-hot, blood-red disdain for one another. And they have sticks in their hands! A slash (see Rat Marchand) or crosscheck (see Rat Marchand) leads to a shove which leads to a punch, which leads to the gloves dropped.

PLUS ONE: National anthems. The Star-Spangled Banner is a nice anthem. God Bless America would be better, especially Ray Charles’ rendition. But neither can match ‘Oh Canada!’

At some arenas, the singer begins the anthem and holds out the mic to allow some 20,000 fans to serenade each other. It’s like a Springsteen concert when he plays Waiting on A Sunny Day. Thank goodness for the Toronto Raptors, the only Canadian team left in the playoffs.