Friday, September 4, 2009

Chasing A Dream

For New York Ranger fans, Traverse City is the kickoff of the 2009-10 hockey season. For 22 young men it is one of the many crossroads they face while chasing the dream of playing in the National Hockey League.

When you look at the Ranger's Traverse City roster you see a real assortment of prospects that reflects the challenges of becoming a Ranger let alone a player in the NHL. The Rangers even before adding any of the Traverse City prospects have invited 44 to the main training camp which is a high number as it it is.

For draft picks like Michael Del Zotto and Evgeny Grachev it is almost a given that they will be heading to the main camp. Both already have their entry level contracts and the expectations of, their NHL career are more about when not whether.

Under Tom Renney, the Rangers normally brought the prospect roster to the main training camp as a reward for those who worked hard. Tysen Dowzak turned Traverse City into a contract, Dale Weise used Traverse City as a springboard to Hartford instead of returning to Swift Current.

On the flip side Chris Doyle struggled last year and was the only draft pick not brought to training camp along with the other tryout players. Our belief is that John Tortorella will follow in Renney's tradition and reward those who work hard with an invite to the main camp and cut those who don't.

For someone like a Luke Walker of the Portland Winterhawks, the odds are stacked against him. The more bodies the Rangers have coming to either camp the harder it is going to be for Walker to stand out and earn that contract.

Yet for us, Walker is the one who we are rooting for to make it to the main training camp. Yes we have a soft spot for Portland Winterhawk players and all they have done for Prospect Park but there is more to it. Portland hockey is in it's own way steeped in history and tradition just like the Rangers so we feel at home at a Winterhawk game.

Anyone who have ever laced up a pair of skates as a kid has dreamed of getting to play in the NHL and Luke Walker is no different. NHL fans do not realize the lengths that a prospect like a Walker goes though just earn the tryout opportunity.

Walker comes to Traverse City off a 29 goal season where he led Portland in goals. 29 goals may not seem like a whole lot but here is something to factor in here as Walker was going up against the other team's best players or first line every night.

Walker may be a long shot but we root for him because hard work should have some rewards. Every night Walker was out there busting his tail, fighting for pucks, for space and against the despair of being on a losing team eliminated from playoff contention way too early.

In the games we watched Walker play last season he was the hardest worker on the ice for both teams; Walker was the one who was going into the corners and fighting for the puck. Walker was the one taking the beating in the crease creating space for his linemates and in way just like a former Winterhawk Brandon Dubinsky; if need be dropping the gloves to protect a teammates.

Yes Walker need to improve his game on the defensive side but his 6'2 frame should top out at 6'3 and with weight training close to 210. You can not teach heart and desire but if we were going to pick the long shot to earn a contract this is why we are writing about Luke Walker.

If John Tortorella is walking his talk then a Luke Walker is going to have a fair shot at earning himself a trip to the Ranger's Training Camp. Let us see if hard work is going to be the Tortorella standard.


So how come after all these years of a Ranger policy where they do not reveal terms and conditions of anyone's contract that Ranger asst. GM Cameron Hope tells Larry Brooks what the Rangers were qualifying Brandon Dubinsky at?

Yes here is my required "I am very biased due to Brandon and his family" statement but put that aside and ask how come the Rangers are willing to give Brashear 1.4 million and are putting the screws to Dubinsky?

It is yet another disgusting example of what is wrong with the Ranger mindset when you will toss money to a Kotalik who does not always show up to play or a Redden but you refuse to take care of your own.

Yes the Rangers are within their rights under the CBA to offer Dubinsky what they are but that is not the point. The point is that Dubinsky is homegrown and if you are willing to pay Ryan Callahan 2 million off one good year then why are you screwing over the player you called a "possible 1st line center"?

Dubinsky has 2 options, sit out or accept this garbage of an offer but some words of warning for Glen Sather and his staff. Just remember that Marc Staal's entry level contract is up after this season and his agents are very much watching what is happening to Dubinsky.

Staal who is the Ranger's best defenseman has watched the Rangers pay out fat contracts to even unproven prospects like Matt Gilroy has to be wonder how Sather is going to screw him come next year.

And the saying "what goes around comes around" just might cost the Rangers more than a few dollars when all is said and done

(Walker courtesy of Portland Winterhawks)


Lee said...

what're your thoughts re why Doyle isn't at TC? it seems he's the only Junior-eligible property excluded. Thanks. Hope you're recuperating nicely.

Amos said...

couldn't agree with you more jess... there's no reason that dubinsky should be getting treated this way, when they chuck money at any schmuck on the downturn of their career. i figured this would all sort out after zherdev's situation wrapped up, but man i just don't understand what's going through sather's head. all this jettisoning of homegrown talent.. prucha, dawes, korpikoski... is no sign to the impending RFAs and UFAs that the rangers do indeed take care of their own.

Jess Rubenstein said...


Doyle's doctors would not clear him for TC or the Ranger camp. He is still healing from his back injury.

Thanks for bringing this up