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Sports: Fischler Report: Why the New York Rangers Need a Captain

Rangers sit atop NHL after Kreider, Strome help beat Oilers

  Rangers sit atop NHL after Kreider, Strome help beat Oilers NEW YORK (AP) — New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant was looking for a strong group effort against the Edmonton Oilers. He got that on Monday night, and now his team is sitting atop the NHL standings. Chris Kreider scored his 20th goal, Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists, and the Rangers beat the slumping Oilers 4-1 for their third straight win. “When we talked before the game, we talked about 20 guys playing, and 20 guys showed up to play hard so that was huge for our group,” Gallant said. “We got the lead again and just kept going.

The Rangers have all the ingredients for a Stanley Cup team, except one key piece. Stan Fischler looks at that, continues his chat with Doc Emrick, shares more thoughts on the NHL on TV and more.

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports © Provided by The Hockey News Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers have all the ingredients for a Stanley Cup team.

Except the most important one.

The well-balanced Blueshirts are lacking a true leader. They need a captain. Now!

Granted that some savvy Rangers-watchers -- the New York Post's Larry Brooks, or one – think otherwise. They figure a collection of quasi-captains – guys with "A" on their jersey, not "C" – is sufficient.

From the Archives: A Clamor for Three Referees in the NHL

  From the Archives: A Clamor for Three Referees in the NHL The NHL moved to a double-referee system for 1998-99, but it wasn't the first time such a change was considered. Stan Fischler looks back at an idea thrown around back in 1952. © Provided by The Hockey News The National Hockey League advanced from a one-referee system to double-zebras at the start of the 1998-99 season for a very logical reason: four eyes to detect infractions were better than two. After all, the fastest game on earth had become too speedy for one on-ice official to accurately handle.However, this was not the first time such a change was considered.

Not.

They won't win a Cup without a captain because nobody does anymore. Matter of fact, my Chief Figure Filbert, Al Greenberg, tells me that the last no-captain Cup-winner was the 1972 Bruins, led by Bobby Orr.

The Mave and Greener have this bit of advice to g.m. Chris Drury: Get a captain or forget about Stanley for the 28th straight year.

"Here's one reason why the Rangers need one," Greenberg notes, reaching back to ancient history from another century. "When they last did the trick, Mark Messier was captain and instrumental -- on and off the ice.

"Same for Denis Potvin and the Islanders four-straight run and Stevie Yzerman in Detroit. The last Rangers captain, Ryan McDonagh, did one fine job. So, don't tell me there's no one worthy on the current roster to duplicate McDonagh's experience."

All-Stars Kreider, Fox lead Rangers past Flyers 3-2

  All-Stars Kreider, Fox lead Rangers past Flyers 3-2 PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Chris Kreider scored with 6:30 left, fellow All-Star Adam Fox had two assists and the New York Rangers beat the slumping Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 Saturday night. Mika Zibanejad and Filip Chytil also scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers, who have won six of eight. “I was really proud of our group tonight,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “We competed, we played well and everybody chipped in.” Oskar Lindblom and Cam York scored for the Flyers, who dropped their seventh straight. Carter Hart made 24 saves.

A captain need not be a grizzled veteran. Yzerman was just out of knickers when Wings g.m. Jim Devellano awarded him the captaincy.

"Age was not the issue," Jimmy D explained. "Stevie was the best player on the team and we figured he could handle the leadership. And he sure did."

It's happening now. Connor McDavid and Gabe Landeskog were 19 when named captain of the Oilers and Avalanche, respectively. At age 21 Yzerman began his 20-year run leading the Wings at age 21.

The Rangers are conspicuous by the absence of a captain. Former coach David Quinn never considered it a priority but it should be.

Greenberg: "The captain must put the lid on internal squabbles or player-coach issues and make sure it stays in the room. The Rangers room in 1994 under coach Mike Keenan never would be described as a love-den.

"As for the current Blueshirts, it should be noted that many of the captain's functions are not designated to be done by committee. I cite private discussions with youngsters as an example."

Former Canada captain Scott Arfield announces retirement from international soccer

  Former Canada captain Scott Arfield announces retirement from international soccer Former Canada captain Scott Arfield has announced his retirement from international soccer. The 33-year-old Glasgow Rangers midfielder said he was making the decision "with a heavy heart." "I have loved every minute representing Canada. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities and experiences I have been given both on and off the pitch." Arfield said on his verified Instagram account. "From Day 1 in the program, I have stated that this team under the right guidance will fully reach their potential and I’m proud to see it coming to fruition.

The Maven would select Adam Fox for the captaincy for the same reason that Devellano picked Yzerman and Bill Torrey designated Denis Potvin.

"Chris Kreider would be a good candidate," says Greenberg, "as would be Jacob Trouba."

Coach Gerard Gallant's committee approach is the same as the one he used with the Stanley Cup finalist Golden Knights. Gallant is a respected players coach.

Here's where I echo Pal Al's theme: "Gallant's players need a captain!"

I'M JUST SAYIN':

* JACK IN THE BOX: The re-joining of Jack Eichel with his new mates in Vegas has to be a take-your-time kind of thing. Eichel's return as a full time player is not a snap-your-finger kind of thing. Plus, the Knights don't need him. They're that good.

* TUUKKA CHANCE: Talk about a clever job of blueprinting his future. Boston's all-time winningest goalie, Tuukka Rask, took good care of his medical business and figured he'd be ready for a January comeback. Right on time! (And for chump change: $545,000!

* A HOT TIPPETT: Let's all forget about Dave Tippett getting the gate. He'll finish the season or I'll become a New York Americans fan again!

Reaves, Fox score 2 each as Rangers beat Maple Leafs 6-3

  Reaves, Fox score 2 each as Rangers beat Maple Leafs 6-3 NEW YORK (AP) — Ryan Reaves is used to long scoring droughts during his 12-year career. He came through in a big way to end his latest one. Reaves scored his first two goals since joining the Rangers in the offseason, Adam Fox had two goals and an assist, and New York scored three times in the third period to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 on Wednesday night for its seventh win in nine games. “I never want to go three months without scoring,” said Reaves, who has 51 goals in 719 career games. “I tend to do that a lot in my career. Feels good to get them out of the way, especially in this barn. Hopefully they keep coming.

* THE CHYCHRUN DILEMMA: I enjoyed colleague Matt Larkin's recent THN piece about the teams interested in dealing for gifted Coyotes defenseman Jacob Chychrun. What caught my eye was one of Matt's points: "The idea of him being available seemed ludicrous even in September 2021."

My point is this: If Jumpin' Jake is the cornerstone of Arizona's franchise, why in the world would the club want to unload him? At this point in his career, Chychrun reminds me of Denis Potvin in 1974-75, the third year of the defender's career.

GM Bill Torrey was building his eventual dynastic franchise around Potvin and never, ever would have dealt Denis. I see the same parallel with the Coyotes.

Or, to paraphrase Larkin's line, the idea of Jake being dealt seems ludicrous to me.

Today, tomorrow and next year.

* A VOTE FOR A WINNER: In case you need another reason why about 30 teams would love to have Tom Wilson on their roster: The right wing's Saturday goal against the Isles was the 2-0 game-winner; plus someone else's open-netter.

* DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE OIL SPILL – YET: While I may be in the minority, I remain convinced that Edmonton will make the playoffs. February would be a more realistic time to press the ubiquitous P Button.

* SORRY MC'D AND D CARTEL: At this moment, forget about the Oilers captain and his trusty sidekick, The Lion Draisaitl, when it comes to Hart Trophy talk.

Reaves, Fox score 2 each as Rangers beat Maple Leafs 6-3

  Reaves, Fox score 2 each as Rangers beat Maple Leafs 6-3 NEW YORK (AP) — Ryan Reaves is used to long scoring droughts during his 12-year career. He came through in a big way to end his latest one. Reaves scored his first two goals since joining the Rangers in the offseason, Adam Fox had two goals and an assist, and New York scored three times in the third period to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 on Wednesday night for its seventh win in nine games. “I never want to go three months without scoring,” said Reaves, who has 51 goals in 719 career games. “I tend to do that a lot in my career. Feels good to get them out of the way, especially in this barn. Hopefully they keep coming.

* NOTHING TO KREI ABOUT: I'm listening: You tell me – Is there a better left wing in the NHL today than Chris Kreider? Please, don't say Gabe Landeskog.

* A GOOD PAIR OF SPECS: Sportsnet's Mark Spector is one of my favorite journalists. His latest double-dip broke me up: "The Oilers aren't just awful. Something South of that!"

* OPPOSITES ATTRACT: As opposed to the clever Mark Spector, the Oilers' insightful Zack Kassian's post-game loss to Ottawa comment was "I'm running out of things to say." (That's a frank admission, and I don't mean maybe either.)

* EVANDER – A KANE IN THE NECK: Before debating whether the controversial Kane deserves another – how many? – chance, better we should wonder which team really wants the lonesome left wing.

* DEPARTMENT OF MINOR CONCERNS: Seriously, do you, or you or you, worry about whether the Salary Cap goes up or down? (Shhh: I'll let you in on a personal secret: My aspirin bottle is not on the table because of that issue.)

* GENO'S GENIUS: In all fairness, how about a standing ovation for Evgeni Malkin's enthusiastic comeback.

* PRESCRIPTION FOR OILERS: If any left wing can spur an Edmonton revival, his name isn't Ryan Nugent-Hopkins but it is Zach Hyman!

MORE ON ESPN PERFORMERS: Our tv critic Jack Eyeon adds a few more comments on ESPN's bulging roster of hockey broadcasters. See what you think of these:

A.J. Mleczko and Cassie Campbell-Pascall: "They've been good fits from Day One. Their commentary is strong and confident. The fact that they've both been in situations as players give them credibility analyzing the men's game."

Revisiting last NHL offseason's more questionable decisions

  Revisiting last NHL offseason's more questionable decisions Where NHL teams left off at the end of last season would be enough to turn more than a few brains into mush. It was a season in which only a fortunate few were able to test their skills against anyone outside their division. It was a season where many variables — including atmosphere and travel — remained in check. It was a season where the NHL's 18th-best team by record went to the Stanley Cup Final, only to have its run cut short by the only thing that made complete sense all along, the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Still, the irregular events of last season in no way excuse some of the decisions made by teams and executives around the league last summer.

Emily Kaplan: "It didn't take her long to adapt to an increased on-camera role. She helped move the conversation along in early appearance on The Point and continues to evolve in her work between the benches."

Steve Levy: "He has good pipes with a solid call. He's exceptional as a table-setter for his analysts."

Brian Boucher: "I like his work plenty. He's not flashy but consistently on target. He knows the league well and is getting more recognition than ever before."

THE EMRICK LETTERS: Each week we're honored to run Doc Emrick thoughts on assorted hockey subjects. In this third installment the legendary NBC Hall of Fame broadcaster details some changes in the ice game over the past half-century.

"A good 50 or so years ago there were about six American-born players in the NHL and hardly any other nationality. Now we have something like 20 different countries represented in the NHL.

"When I began broadcasting, the average-sized player was 5-10, 185 pounds. Now it's 6-1, almost 6-2 and over 200 pounds. And they are faster now than ever. And that's not to disparage the game then compared to the game now. It's just different.

"It took a tremendous amount of courage to play the old game. As Islanders coach Barry Trotz told me, the courage to play now is in blocking shots, in driving to the net, in taking sticks and continuing to go back to the tough areas.

"Before, the courage needed was just to survive the night. Discussing the different NHL eras reminds me of a Country Music star who once said, 'You can't put your foot in the same river twice.' It's the same way in hockey; it's always changing.

"I admire the athletes of today just as much as I did in the earliest years. I remember lines such as the Flyers and their famed LCB Line (Reg Leach, Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber) and seeing how much effort those guys and their teammates put into the games.

"It was a harder game then in that there wasn't nearly the protection the players have now. There was a lot of physical sacrifice and permanent scars since there were no face shields and helmets were not mandatory as they are now.

"But the jerseys were just as soaked with perspiration at the end of the night as they are today."

(Editor's Note: In the next installment, Doc Emrick will tell you what it was like for him in the play-by-play booth.)

WHO SAID IT? "Six feet behind the Moose's behind." (Answer below.)

WHAT MAKES COUSIN BRUCIE TICK?

The Canucks surge since Bruce Boudreau moved behind the Canucks bench has folks wondering what sort of magic Double B conjures up to produce a winner.

Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette knows Cousin Brucie well and offers some answers via my guy in Sunrise, Alan (Himself) Greenberg. Check it out:

"Bruce is one of a kind," says Brunette. "He's a throwback to old-school hockey. Call him a 'fun guy' and his enthusiasm – positive-ness – rubs off on his group. He loves offensive hockey and guys love playing that style.

"Also, he communicates with his players every day. He thinks every player should be talked to or at least tapped on the shoulder with a 'Good game' or whatever. He shows a lot of love to his players.

"His motto is 'You're gonna play hockey; have fun, but we're gonna work hard. Plus, his teams are well-conditioned and probably skate harder than anyu in the league a lot of the time. He's just fun to be around."

ANSWER TO WHO SAID IT: Islanders left wing Clark Gillies, asked the location of his hometown of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Fox lifts Rangers over Kings 3-2 in shootout .
NEW YORK (AP) — Adam Fox admitted he doesn't spend any time in practice working on his shootout attempts. The first try of his career was good enough to give the New York Rangers a big victory. Fox scored the deciding goal in the sixth round of a shootout and the Rangers beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Monday night for their ninth win in 12 games. “Haven’t been in a shootout since maybe my junior days,” the 23-year-old All-Star defenseman said. “I don’t expect to go too often so I work on other things.” Chris Kreider got his NHL-leading 30th goal, Barclay Goodrow also scored and Artemi Panarin had two assists as New York won its fifth straight at home.

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