Found August 31, 2012 on The Rangers Tribune:
Phoenix_coyotes_v_5729

Barclays Center

The Shane Doan Saga

What’s the old adage about getting off the pot? Free agent winger Shane Doan’s camp says they will decide on a team before the September 15th CBA expiration date. This saga (and it is now officially a saga) has worn me out to the point where I couldn't care less where he ends up. I’ve come full circle with how I feel about him joining the Rangers; I started out thinking he was too old and would take up a spot of a younger player currently developing or even looking to make the team. Then thought, well if it’s only for two years and $4.3 million (remember that?) “okay”, the signing will allow for the younger forwards to work towards increased playing time, plus Doan will be a great example for a Chris Kreider or a Derek Stepan. And, not to mention, when his two years are up (and the Rangers have won back-to-back Stanley Cups) he will go his merry way.

As the first few media-reported deadlines passed for his decision, I followed the story intently, waiting for Sather to open up the checkbook and lure this self-confessed country boy to the big city. As this never ending tale continued, no decision was made and it started to wear, I was left to think that he would probably end up staying in Phoenix, and as long as he doesn’t sign with Pittsburgh, then that is perfectly fine.

But as it stands right now, I honestly don’t want to hear Doan’s name or read the latest tweet from some so-called insider telling us where he is going and that it is a “done deal”. I’m pretty certain he is waiting for the new Coyotes ownership to assure him they will have the cash to keep the franchise running, and he seems to be willing to give them all of the time they need to do just that. Hasn’t he said as much? But I don’t believe any of the interested franchises will walk away from the chance to sign him if, at some future date, things with the Yotes fall through, regardless of when that date is.

Time for the Isles to Move Up North

I’ve always hated the Islanders due to where I grew up and when I grew up, but they were a necessary evil that only a hated rival can add to one’s love of sports. Unfortunately I think they’ve been in utter obscurity for so long, and after years of poor personnel and coaching decisions, the franchise is beyond repair. The rivalry between the Rangers and Islanders in the 70’s and 80’s was as intense as Yankees-Red Sox of the last fifteen years, and it would be a real shame for that to disappear. I also realize winning would solve a lot of things and the building they are playing in is more of a mausoleum than a coliseum, but I also believe that it would be in the best interest of the League to relocate them north of the border. A new Nassau Coliseum was needed about 10 years ago, and without any plans in place or funding available, there comes talk about moving the team to Brooklyn. I hate to be a naysayer but I just don’t see how that could work out.

Yes, you can take the train from Long Island, change at Jamaica and go right to the arena. But I see similarities to the Devils relocating to a beautiful arena in Newark. Great place to see a hockey game as the sight-lines are fantastic and the seats are close to the ice, but it’s not such a great area to be before or after the game. Sure, it’s easy to take the train to Secaucus and transfer to Newark from almost anywhere in New Jersey, but still, the organization struggles to sell enough tickets. Just like the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, the Rock is not a place you want to linger. The reality is, and politicians and owners may want to spin optimistic tales about urban renewal, families will not travel to these locations on a nightly basis as season ticket holders.

Winning on a regular basis has not helped the Devils, while losing on a regular basis has made the Islander situation untenable and leads me to feel it is time to make tough decisions. A shrunken economy with less people having disposable income leads to decisions about where and when to spend their smaller entertainment budget. A perpetual losing team in the fourth most popular sport cannot survive. Let them move to Hamilton or the suburbs of Toronto where the fan base will revitalize this franchise like we saw Winnipeg do this past season with the former Atlanta Thrashers. It would strengthen the League and add to the revenue pot that is currently under dispute.

Hockey Withdrawals

The argument for the Rangers benefiting from the lockout has been well documented and the logic behind it is solid. The team not having to play the first month on the road and being without their leading scorer from last season would clearly take some of the sting out of having no hockey come October. I was decidedly in that camp of rationalization until this past weekend. The NHL Network replayed the Rangers-Capitals Game 5 on Saturday, late afternoon. The anxiety and gut-wrenching highs and lows of every rush, every blocked shot, and every save was missing, but watching that game again as we prepared dinner was all it took to get the juices flowing. These idiots really need to figure this thing out. 

Is there a more hated commissioner in all of sports than Gary Bettman? The real question I have is…does he even care? We can list all of the things about him here and it would create a very, very long blog with every reader nodding their heads with each disparaging point, but still he can surprise. “We recovered last time because we have the world’s greatest fans.” Thanks for the optimism Gary. 

I wrote an article last weekend comparing the NHL situation to the NFL’s CBA dispute of 2011 (read here). I spoke of the beer shared between Roger Goodell and Jeff Saturday. I tried to think of which player in the NHL could help to bring the two sides together by having a cold one with Bettman. The idea, though, to be quite honest, was a moot point because I don’t think any of you out there believe Gary Bettman ever drinks beer. That cultural difference signifies what is probably one of the biggest obstacles in these negotiations.

Sorry to end on such a downer...

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