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Jim Cerny's Rink Rap


September 14, 2009 7:48 PM

Isles Captaincy, Rangers Camp, 'Yotes Woes

Many topics on the hockey front, what with training camps now in full swing, and I've got a few thoughts to share. If there are topics/questions you want addressed in the days and weeks and months to come, leave them in the Comments section and I promise to blog about them.



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Katie Strang of Newsday is the only reporter from New York covering the Islanders training camp out in the metropolis of Saskatoon, and she is doing an excellent job already. It's a shame for the Islanders organization---as well as it's fan base---that the excitement of John Tavares' first pro camp is an afterthought in the local media since camp is being held thousands of miles away from the team's base on Long Island.



Nonetheless, Katie chatted with veteran Doug Weight today about him possibly being named captain. Not surprisingly, Weight---a former captain of the Edmonton Oilers, and a well-respected man, both on and off the ice---would love that opportunity.



Weight told Katie, "I'd take it in a heartbeat and run with it," if given the chance.



While it makes almost too much sense not to name Weight as Bill Guerin's successor as Isles captain---especially with him already forging a strong relationship with Tavares---I'd reason that a better long-term choice for captain is defenseman Mark Streit.



Weight may only be on the Island for another season---if he doesn't get dealt at the trading deadline---while Streit is going to be a vital cog on this team for years to come. Streit also is coming off an All Star season, is well respected in his own dressing room, and has a strong relationship with the media, all pre-requisites for the position.



This is coming from the outside looking in, but why not name Streit captain, hand an "A" to Weight so that he could help mentor the talented Swiss defenseman, and finally stabilize the captaincy?



By the way---and totally off topic---Isles and Canucks in Hockeyville Game tonight on NHL Network. Let the games begin!



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In a posting here on Rink Rap  a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the difficult position Don Maloney is in as GM of the Phoenix Coyotes. Of course, things only got worse on the hockey front when training camp started and head coach Wayne Gretzky was a no-show.



I saw Don's brother Dave---the Rangers former captain and current radio analyst---at Rangers camp the other day and asked him how his younger brother is holding up. Dave told me that that Don is doing his best, but that the situation "is just brutal".



And that is just on the hockey operations side of the business. As for selling tickets, forget about it. Not shockingly, it has been nearly impossible to sell any form of season tickets this season in Phoenix, since the fans have no confidence in the future viability of their team.



No matter the outcome of the bankruptcy court ruling, the business is dead in Phoenix. It was dying already---hence the bankruptcy in the first place. But this whole dance between the league and Jim Balsillie, and perhaps the club moving to Hamilton during the season, or being sold and moved next year, has driven a final stake into the Coyotes' surivival in Phoenix---er, Glendale.



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Am up at the Rangers practice facility for training camp, and have just about Tweeted my thumbs off the first three days for all of you hard-core Blueshirt fanatics out there! But here are a few more tidbits following today's first two scrimmages of camp.

  • 25 year-old defenseman Matt Gilroy might be a self-professed "late bloomer", but the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner is in peak physical condition, and he really impressed me in the morning scrimmage. Clearly heeding John Tortorella's call for defensemen to jump into the play, Gilroy confidently led the rush over and over again. Though he didn't score a goal---he did ring a shot off of the crossbar---Gilroy created several good scoring opportunities for his team. Good start for the rookie. John Tortorella agreed, saying after practice today, "He's one of the better fit athletes out here...he did some things we wanted him to do...he was up the ice...we'll see as the grind of camp goes on where he sits."

  • Marian Gaborik, bothered by a sore groin, not related to his surgically-repaired hip, did not take part in either scrimmage, but he did skate in the afternoon practice. Afterwards he said, "The first few days, I did not want to overdo things, so (today) I went out there to do some skating and felt pretty good." Tortorella, who called Gaborik a "helluva player", said, "He's out practicing, which is good news....we just need to get him healthy, and this is just a little bump."

  • Say what you want about Sean Avery, but this guy is a physical speciman. He is in outstanding shape, and really stood out to me during the team's conditioning testing the first two days. Avery showed a lot of jump and spark in the scrimmage, as well. Crazy thought maybe, but does Tortorella consider giving Avery a letter this season? Just a thought...

  • Among the newcomers, Vinny Prospal and Donald Brashear had strong scrimmages in the afternoon session. Torts has said that Brash is here instead of Colton Orr because he is a better skater and could play off of the fourth line at times this year, too. Brashear showed that in the scrimmage, for sure.

  • Defenseman Nigel Williams, who was picked up in a summer trade with Colorado, threw some big hits during the afternoon scrimmage. A long-shot to make the varsity, the 21 year-old at least tried to make a solid first impression.

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Finally, I will be the guest on the Blueshirt Banter talk show tonight, beginning at 7:30 pm, on BlogTalk Radio. Here is the link to listen. I will also take phone calls from the fans. The phone in number to participate is 646-479-4692.



Hope to chat with you tonight!

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