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Steve Yzerman pays price, trades Martin St. Louis to New York Rangers

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Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning was traded to the New York Rangers

Pouting his way out of Tampa Bay after his Sochi snub has stained Martin St. Louis’s reputation. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Steve Yzerman demonstrated his character and integrity when he decided not to overrule the management group decision to exclude Martin St. Louis on Team Canada’s original Sochi Olympic roster. And it cost him.

The Lightning GM’s relationship with Tampa Bay’s captain turned toxic in the wake of that perceived snub, so much so that even the eventual inclusion of St. Louis as an injury replacement couldn’t soothe the raw feelings.

And so Yzerman was forced on Wednesday to do the unthinkable. Faced with a star who no longer wanted to play for him, he traded the NHL’s fifth-leading scorer to the Rangers for winger Ryan Callahan and a pair of draft picks.

DEADLINE DAY BLOG: Trade rumors and analysis | TRADE TRACKER

It’s easy to argue that Yzerman made the best deal he could under the circumstances. St. Louis wasn’t just in full pout. He only wanted to go to one team and, having a no trade clause in his back pocket, he had the power to ensure that New York was exactly where he went.

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  • Published On Mar 05, 2014
  • New York Rangers sign Dan Girardi to 6-year, $33 million extension

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    Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers

    A gamble: Defenseman Dan Girardi has been durable, but for how much longer? (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    The Rangers steamed toward next week’s NHL trade deadline with two pending free agents, but only one that they couldn’t afford not to sign.

    Today they got that deal done, inking defenseman Dan Girardi to a long-term extension. Sources are reporting the terms as six years with an average annual value of $5.5 million and a full no-movement clause for the first three seasons, plus a modified no-trade clause for the final three.

    That’s a raise of more than $2 million per year over his expiring deal, but Giradi still took a hometown discount. Expectations were that he’d have received offers topping $6 million per year in free agency, despite playing a primarily defensive game.

    In return though, the Rangers are assuming some risk. Girardi has been surprisingly resilient, missing just four games during his eight NHL seasons, but the physical sacrifice practiced by the 29-year-old will be harder to maintain as he racks up the miles.

    The signing takes the best defenseman off the market just ahead of the trade deadline, leaving Cup contenders to fight over the likes of Andrew MacDonald, Henrik Tallinder, Alex Edler and possibly Chris Phillips.

    The deal also seems to put an end to any chance that the Rangers will be able to re-sign captain Ryan Callahan. The contract demands of the pending UFA–rumored to be six years and $42 million–price him out of the team’s reach.

    More to come.

  • Published On Feb 28, 2014
  • The scene: Yankee Stadium for Rangers-Devils NHL outdoor game

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    Yankee Stadium hosts an NHL outdoor game between the Rangers and Devils.

    The historic House That Ruth Built hosted 50,105 fans for its first NHL game. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

    By John Rolfe

    The second of the NHL’s four Stadium Series outdoor games featured an installment of the Battle of the Hudson, with New York’s Broadway Blueshirts heading north to the Bronx for a little game of shinny against the Devils, their neighboring rivals from New Jersey. This event promised to be more like this year’s frozen, snowy Winter Classic in Ann Arbor than Saturday night’s tilt at balmy Dodger Stadium. The temperatures hovered around 20 degrees or below for the duration of the afternoon with the wind chill made it feel like a brisk five. Some snow flurries added to the ambience, though the start of the game was delayed by sun glare that NHL officials said jeopardized the saftety of the players. Here’s a selection of tweets, photos and other wonderment from the Rangers’ 7-3 victory. The recap and box score is here.

    BAUMGAERTNER: Gretzky’s influence felt in LA
    NEWCOMB: The making of Stadium hockey
    GALLERY: NHL’s outdoor games through the years

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  • Published On Jan 26, 2014
  • Rangers finally deal Michael Del Zotto to Predators for Kevin Klein

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    Defenseman Michael Del Zotto was traded by the New York Rangers to the Nashvillle Predators.

    A change of scenery may be just what Michael Del Zotto needs to regain his confidence. (David Hahn/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    Well, now we know why it took so long for the Rangers to move disaffected defenseman Michael Del Zotto: There was no market for him.

    It’s hard to take away anything else from today’s deal that sent the former first rounder to the Predators for nothing more than a depth defender such as rapid-fire artist Kevin Klein.

    As much of a beauty as he was in that tilt, Klein hasn’t been particularly effective this season for Nashville. The 29-year old is a limited defensive player whose stats, both standard (one goal, three points) and fancy (44 percent Corsi, -4.4 percent relative Corsi), don’t paint a very pretty picture.

    What might have made Klein appealing to New York is that he is locked down. He’s signed through 2018 at a cap hit of $2.9 million per season, which gives GM Glen Sather some cost certainty moving forward. That’s not much value here, though, and Klein is clearly a significant downgrade from what Sather originally hoped to get in return.

    As for Del Zotto, he doesn’t have ideal size, but he’s a terrific skater whose bread and butter has always been his offensive skills. He’s a lefty, too, which has been a pressing blueline need for the Predators.

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  • Published On Jan 22, 2014
  • Henrik Lundqvist agrees to 7-year, $59.5 million deal with Rangers

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    Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has agreed to a seven-year contract extension with the New York Rangers.

    Henrik Lundqvist, who has struggled this season, was the subject of speculation about his future in New York. (Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    The goalie controversy in New York is officially over.

    TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting that Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers have come to terms on a massive extension that will pay the netminder an average of $8.5 million over the next seven years.

    Lundqvist is in the final season of his current six-year, $41.25 million contract, and was due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s having a sub-par year by his standards (8-11-0, 2.51 goals-against average, .917 save percentage) and is reportedly struggling to adjust to the smaller equipment that the NHL mandated this season for all goaltenders.

    Still, there’s no denying that he’s one of the league’s top goalies — he won the Vezina Trophy in 2011-12, and was the runner-up to Sergei Bobrovsky in last year’s Vezina polling — and it would have been astonishing if the two sides didn’t come to an agreement.

    But was this the right deal?

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  • Published On Dec 04, 2013
  • Shakeup begins for New York Rangers

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    The New York Rangers waived backup goalie Martin Biron

    Backup goalie Martin Biron paid the price as part of the Rangers’ awful start. (A.J. Phillips/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    A 1-4 start to the season practically demanded that changes be made to the New York Rangers’ roster.

    GM Glen Sather’s response? He placed veteran backup goaltender Martin Biron and enforcer Aaron Asham on waivers this morning.

    Ok, it’s something . . . but hardly the cage rattler that fans were calling for.

    Biron, who served as Henrik Lundqvist’s understudy for the past three seasons, coughed away two points against the Blues on Saturday. While his teammates played their best hockey of the season, he fought the puck through two periods, allowing four goals before being pulled in a 5-3 loss. He was also the goalie who was victimized by Tomas Hertl for a spectacular through-the-legs goal last Tuesday night. But since Lundqvist was likely to start 70 games this season anyway, Biron’s loss will be measured more in terms of chemistry than anything else.

    Asham had played in just three of New York’s games, earning two major penalties. His season highlight may have been going to the wrong penalty box after a fight with Kyle Clifford of the Kings. His value to the team is also negligible.

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  • Published On Oct 14, 2013
  • Players, not Alain Vigneault, the problem for New York Rangers

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    Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers are off to a rocky start to the 2013-14 season

    Hard road: The Rangers’ defense has been making life tough for goalie Henrik Lundqvist. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    So much for the one-bad-game theory.

    If there was some faint hope among New York Rangers fans that the 9-2 thrashing administered to their team by Tomas Hertl and the San Jose Sharks was a one-off, it took all of 20 minutes and 17 shots for the Anaheim Ducks to disabuse them of that notion on Thursday night.

    The Blueshirts bombed again, this time by a score of 6-0, leaving them with three brutal losses to show for their first four games. They’ve been outscored 20-6, have just three even-strength goals to their credit, and are being outshot by an average of 10 chances per game. They face the prospect of another lopsided match on Saturday against the very dangerous St. Louis Blues, followed by five more games on the road.

    It’s early, sure, but not too early to say the Rangers are in trouble. And it’s a good bet the team that started the season with a 4-1 loss in Phoenix won’t be the same one that finally plays its home opener on Oct. 28 against the Canadiens.

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  • Published On Oct 11, 2013
  • Six NHL teams keeping an eye on their 2013-14 Stanley Cup window

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    Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks faces off against Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins

    With young, talented cores, the Blackhawks and Penguins remain solid Cup contenders this season. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It’s a funny thing about windows. Sometimes you can’t tell if they’re open or not until you pass through . . . or run smack into them.

    That’s usually the way it plays out as teams work to establish themselves as legitimate challengers for the Stanley Cup. Those years spent carefully assembling the pieces require more than vision. They hinge on perfect timing. Because just when everything seems to be place, injuries can deplete the depth or the scoring dries up or the chemistry experiment fizzles. It doesn’t take much to derail the dream.

    Every team aspires to contention, but few teams are ever actually in the sweet spot where everything comes together and puts them directly in the hunt. The defending champion Blackhawks are there now. So are the Bruins and the Kings, and perennial contenders like the Red Wings and Penguins, too.

    Eastern Conference Power Rankings | Western Conference | Kane, Crosby on SI preview covers

    And then there are the teams for which opportunity is either just over the horizon . . . or just slipping from their grasp. For them, the window of opportunity is slowly opening or closing right in front of their eyes.

    Here’s a look at three clubs that are rounding into Cup-contending form this season, and three that may have passed their best-by date.

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  • Published On Sep 25, 2013
  • Must-See Video: Henrik Lundqvist shows supermodel how to work it

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    By Allan Muir

    He’s hockey’s best goaltender. He’s recognized as one of the best-dressed men in the world. He’s in a rock band. He owns a restaurant, runs a charity and has won acclaim for writing several of the greatest episodes of “Breaking Bad.”

    OK, maybe not that last thing, but it’s not like Henrik Lundqvist needs that feather in his stylish cap, too. Because honestly, there’s pretty much nothing that Hank can’t do.

    Case in point: in this Swedish commercial for Head & Shoulders, he shows struggling model* Sofi Fahrman just how to sell great hair to the camera. It is magnificent (and a lot less creepy than their last spot.)

    How the NHL has missed turning this guy into its biggest marketing asset is beyond me. Maybe less time working on curbing jersey tucks and more time invested in this, eh fellas?

    (* Alright, so Fahrman is actually a reporter, not a model. And yes, that’s apparently what reporters look like in Sweden.)

  • Published On Sep 23, 2013
  • First look: Henrik Lundqvist’s awesome new goalie mask

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    By Allan Muir

    One new mask isn’t enough for Henrik Lundqvist.

    Not long after he debuted headgear painted to honor Swedish sports legends Bjorn Borg, Ingemar Stenmark and Ingemar Johansson, the New York Rangers’ goalie offered up a sneak peek at a second bucket he’ll wear this season.

    The new mask, nicknamed Rangers’ Razors, was revealed this morning via Lundqvist’s Instagram account. The new look, executed by David Gunnarsson, features a dominant starburst-type pattern, along with Lady Liberty, a few team logos, and Lundqvist’s No. 30 spotlighted against a crown on the chin piece.

    Pretty sharp, eh?

  • Published On Sep 09, 2013