Douchebag at ESPY’s (above).

With a flood of Lin stuff coming to the fore today in the wake of the New York Knicks decision not to match the Houston offer sheet to Jeremy Lin, we felt it wise to reserve our print judgment on the kid for a bit.  But we knew what that judgment was going to be, more or less, since hearing that Lin had went back to Houston, after being informed the Knicks would match on the initial offer, and contorted the offer into one of less years and more guaranteed money.  That second offer contained the dreaded poison pill, a 3rd year salary of some $15M, which would have put the Knicks in cap hell in 2014, and would have seen the Knicks responsible for nearly $58M between Lin’s salary and the luxury tax # that the salary and the 7 other Knicks under contract in 2014 would have triggered.

We loved Tommy Dee’s take on the situation on and must credit him, as has Evan Roberts of WFAN, for being on top of all NBA trade and free agent matters this offseason, beating most of the Knicks beat to Knicks related stories, and also, the Nets beat on matters relating to the um, “Brooklyn” Nets.  And we understand Dee’s vitriol toward Jim Dolan, who he feels made a petty decision, another petty decision, in deciding not to match on Jeremy Lin.

As a long tenured Knicks fan, we appreciate his passion, knowledge, and the depth of his analysis.  But we woke up one morning about 27-28 years ago to discover that the Knicks had similarly passed on an opportunity to retain Bernard King, one of the greatest scorers to ever play the game, and the greatest scorer to ever don a Knicks jersey.  As much as we love Bernard King, we root for the team, not the player.  Strictly front of the jersey, is how that works.  If Dolan and the Knicks brass perceived that Lin had been disloyal, and, that signing Lin was cost prohibitive to running their team, then they were well within their rights to let him go.  Even if doing so constituted losing an asset that they had acquired for nothing.

Were we stunned to hear that the Knicks had acquired Raymond Felton?  Indeed.  And we’d also have to credit a guy that we have discredited often who we feel is slow to news in covering the Knicks, Frank Isola of the NY Daily News, who had the Felton story down cold by not too late in the evening on Saturday.  We feel that Felton is an upgrade over Lin, we know that Felton wished to be here, and that he waited out the Lin situation on the off chance that the Knicks would turn to him.  We loved Felton’s work here last year, in averaging 17 PPG and 9 APG in his Knick career, leading to his trade to Denver for Carmelo.  An out of shape Felton, who came with a bad attitude more often than not to the arena last year for the Trailblazers still averaged close to 11 PPG and 7 APG, numbers that few Knicks guards have put up in the last 20 years.  A motivated Felton, back with Stoudemire, who had his greatest success as a Knick on the receiving end of Felton’s largesse, is going to be a boon to the team and to both Stoudemire and Felton.  Getting Stoudemire back to where he was in 2010 will be essential to getting the Knicks over the next hump, which is to win a round in the playoffs, hopefully more.

Now back to Lin and Dolan.  Say whatever you want about Dolan, and we’ve said much, but at the end of the day, we like him, because his check book makes it all happen.  That’s in two sports.  The New York Rangers, our dearly beloved, is now a model NHL franchise, the apple of thirty or so city’s eyes, and it is Dolan who footed that bill.  It is Dolan who ultimately gives Glen Sather the opportunity to cut Brad Richards a $65M contract, and who gives Sather the freedom to run the organization as he wishes, creating the phenomenal situation the Rangers are in, from coaching staff, to roster, to the draft room and farm system, which is unmatched throughout the sport right now.  And if Zach Parise wasn’t such a dick then Dolan would’ve signed off an a monumental deal for him as well, and Parise could’ve played out his career in the mecca, as opposed to Minnesota, a place where big time athletes do not want to go.

Houston happens to be another place like that.  And when Jeremy Lin had that assurance from Dolan that the Knicks were going to match his 28M offer, he went back to Houston for better terms, terms Lin knew would hamper the Knicks ability to retain him.  Is Lin disloyal?  Absolutely.  Should he have pursued the best offer at all costs, as he did?  No.  If you want to be a Knick and the Knicks tell you they are keeping you, then you let it end right there, with a fat AAS of $7M per.  JR Smith could’ve pretended he was a good, loyal Knick and then went out and taken a big offer.  He didn’t.  Why?  Because he wanted to be here.  Because he isn’t that guy.  For all the things he is, for any dumb shit he’s done, he’s not a dishonest, money hungry amateurish NBA Chinese American Harvard hayseed.  Steve Novak also showed he wanted to be here when he could’ve pushed the envelope for a fatter payday.

What do we mean by that string of Lin insults?  Well, let’s be honest.  Jeremy Lin handled this situation terribly, right down to his crocodile tears today about wanting to be here, and his stupid fucking Twitter thank you to New York.  Jeremy Lin thought the Knicks had no option but him at point guard, and therefore, he thought, let’s try to extort NY.  Jim Dolan has every right to be upset and hurt by that.  Jeremy Lin, his team, his agent, whomever, underestimated the Knicks ability to find another guard within 72 hours.  Today, he said as much.  He had no idea that they had Felton on the back burner, and he says, had he known that, he wouldn’t have pressed for the poison pill contract with Houston.

Lin also said a lot of other things that expose him for the amateurish backstabber he is.  Like how he wanted to play in game 5 against Miami but that Knicks players in the league “5 years or more” talked him out of it, causing him to change his tune from “85% healthy” to “15% from the minimum threshold” of NBA game readiness.  We also have to hand it to Isola for pointing out these ridiculous statements in slapping Lin around all day.

Does Lin have some kind of special computer that only he owns that measures minimum threshold for NBA game readiness?  If so, was it engineered at Harvard?  Or by the Chinese?  If so, were they the same friends of Yao Ming who apparently orchestrated this whole Houston nonsense as a favor to Yao?  Because these Chinese roll so thick and all?  And what about the Knick vets with 5 years or more?

Did actuarial science really rob the Knicks of an 85% healthy but really 15% of minimum NBA readiness game 5 Jeremy Lin?  Did Lin really feel it was necessary to leak through his team that he was going to play, only to rescind, through his team, that he would, when playing or not playing against the Miami Heat was academic to the eventual result anyway?  And why was his team to be believed then, but last week, was not to be believed when Lin made his famous proclamation that ‘if it isn’t a direct quote’ from him then don’t believe it?  These are not the actions of a forthright, trustworthy individual.

Did the Knicks fuck Lin over initially by openly coveting Steve Nash?  No.  Does Lin suggest that the pursuit of Nash inclined Lin to backstab the NYK?

He does, but he is a dumb dick.  Coveting the best player at a given position is something that every team in the league should do.  If he thinks Houston didn’t covet Nash, then he’s a fool.  Only thing is, Nash isn’t stupid enough to do business with the Rockets or go live in that God awful place.

This is how great the Knicks were to Lin, in fact:  After giving him his big break, they were not even convinced of his ability to be a starter in the league considering that he only played a handful of games, and yet they were still willing to pay him 7M per, as a fucking backup.

Because the Knicks want to win, and so, they were willing to pay out over 20M to that one position, point guard, between Nash (10-12 M), Lin (7M AAS), Prignioni ($900,000), and Kidd (3M).  That’s what is so great about being a Knick fan, despite any folly perpetrated by their owners and management.  They’ll pay anything.

But they won’t be extorted.  Not even by some Asian Johnny Come Lately, not even when it devalues the company stock or when the guy they are letting go sells the most jerseys in the world.  So bravo to Dolan, Grunwald, Woodson, the Knickerbockers, the Rangers and the Garden.  And fuck you to Jeremy Lin.  Have fun in Houston, kid.  If you do, you’ll be the first.

Crack (

Recently deceased Rangers’ forward Derek Boogard (above).

The local papers brought more to light regarding this tragic incident today.  Larry Brooks of the New York Post was the first from our local media to report that Boogard had been involved in the league and player’s association recovery program.  Brooks did not break that story nationally, as it was first reported in the Minneapolis Tribune, but he did mention that Boogard had returned to the team in April and then sought permission from Rangers’ President Glen Sather to leave the team in order to further pursue recovery.  Rangers Daily News beat reporter Jesse Spector also reported this, as well as the family’s decision to donate Boogard’s remains to the important scientific research on CTE being done by Boston University.  More from Spector:

It also was a day of very sad and uncomfortable questions, both about the reactions of the people close to Boogaard and the situation that now will unfold in the aftermath of his death. Perhaps the most awkward query of the day was the last one, as I just learned that, as you might expect, the remaining three years on Boogaard’s contract do not count against the salary cap. It turns out that under the CBA, death is the same as retirement from a salary cap standpoint – according to the NHLPA, had Boogaard been over 35 years old when he signed his contract, the rest of the contract would have remained in effect against the cap.

The major developments of the day were that a source said Boogaard was involved in the NHLPA/NHL Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program, which could have been for any number of off-ice issues, and that, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune first reported, Boogaard’s family has agreed to donate his brain to scientific research with the Boston University program that has made so many recent breakthroughs with posthumous examinations of NHL enforcer Bob Probert and dozens of NFL players.

Whatever substance issues Boogard struggled with, we are confident that proper scientific testing will reveal were linked to the fatal disease CTE, and that Boogard will be the youngest hockey player diagnosed.  Yesterday, we called for the league to do more to protect the players.  Today, we will ask the New York Rangers to also do something, considering this tragedy and the missed diagnosis of a concussion on Rangers star Marian Gaborik by team doctors this winter.

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New York Rangers’ defenseman Ryan McDonagh (above).

In deals that have gone a long away in re-shaping the roster of the New York Rangers into a formidable bunch of large, angry hockey players, team President and General Manager Glen Sather jettisoned the impish Scott Gomez to Montreal in June of 2009 and sent a 3rd pick to Los Angeles in exchange for behemoth center iceman Bryan Boyle, just 3 days apart.  Somehow Sather got someone to not only take back Gomez’ salary, close to $ 8M per, and to throw in two blue chip prospects–Russian defenseman Pavel Valentenko, a 6’2, 220 lbs. bruiser, and American collegiate and Junior Team USA star Ryan McDonagh, who was the 12th pick in the first round of the 2007 NHL draft.

McDonagh was the University of Wisconsin player on everyone’s lips this summer when he signed an entry level contract with the New York Rangers, and not so much  Derek Stepan, who has quickly caught on to the NHL game and is second on the big club in scoring.  But McDonagh has gotten the call from the Connecticut Whale, and could soon be getting his chance to make an impression with New York, considered a jewel of the organization and the best defensive prospect the Rangers have in their system, with the possible exception of 2010 1st round pick Dylan McIlraith, called by many the toughest player in the draft class.

McDonagh’s call comes at the expense of 2008 1st round pick (20th overall), Michael Del Zotto, who made the club as a teenager and who before his recent demotion, had yet to spend a moment in the minors.  Del Zotto, impressive at times last year as a puck rushing defenseman, had 9 goals and 28 assists in 80 games last year for the big club, and coach John Tortorella’s decision to only carry 6 defensemen meant that MDZ was going to play, regardless of how he played.  This year, the kid has struggled mightily, and with the depth to carry a 7th defenseman, it has become clear of late that the other 6 play much more responsibly than Del Zotto does.  Del Zotto, who should be an asset at least on the power play, is so unsteady on the backline that the team has opted to use a forward, usually Stepan, in MDZ’s place on the point.

At the season’s start, Del Zotto got a bulk of the playing time in the 5/6 pairing, but coach Tortorella insisted that the team’s bottom 3 defenders, MDZ, Matt Gilroy, and Steve Emminger would rotate.  Of late, MDZ’s errors have mounted, and frankly, has been responsible for several obvious goals against.  Emminger has proved invaluable in his minutes, and after a few weeks watching from the press box, Gilroy, a highly touted college player himself from Boston U. who the Rangers signed to a big 2 year free agent contract in 2009, has returned to the lineup a much more settled and confident player, who chipped in with 2 big goals in the Rangers’ epic 7-2 route of the despised Islanders during the snow storm.

McDonagh comes aboard now as the 7th defensemen with no guarantees on when he will debut (probably not tomorrow against Carolina), but his call up definitely sparks more optimism in the Rangers outstanding youth movement.  As for the rest of the club, still excited over the so far so good integration of Norwegian star little man Mats Zucarello, a 23 year old elite scorer in international competiton, the Rangers have lost yet another player to a hand injury–Ruslan Fedotenko.  Fedotenko, who earned his spot on a tryout this summer, and who has chipped in nicely with 7 goals and 10 assists, as well as by being a presence in the corners and in front of the net, is the 3rd Ranager this year to go down with a hand injury from a blocked shot.  On the tough luck in now losing Chris Drury on a block to a broken finger (now returned), extra effort and team engine Ryan Callahan (still out perhaps another 5 weeks), and now Fedotenko, coach Tortorella scoffed at the notion that the team would move away from its gritty, sacrafice the body identity.

 “The other guys broke their hands, and this guy didn’t…I know there’s a lot of talk about blocking shots, we’re blocking shots, and we’re going to continue blocking shots.”

Tortorella has done an excellent job this year, and now inspires much confidence in us, and you’d have to love his attitude.

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Marc Staal (above).

The New York Rangers made the most significant move of their off-season recently, announcing that a long rumored deal with the club’s top defenseman, Marc Staal, had been agreed to by both sides.  The 23 year-old defenseman who anchored the unit last year, averaging 23 minutes of ice per game, will receive $ 19.875 M over 5 years, under the terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement.

The deal should be viewed as a win for the Rangers, not only because they were able to get cost certainty with regard to one of their best young players, but also because the deal takes Staal one year past his earliest eligibility to become an unrestricted free agent.  The Rangers effectively bought Staal out of one year of free agency–a major coup in today’s NHL landscape, at a very affordable cap charge of approximately $ 3.9 M per year.

Rangers’ fans griped at the NHL draft when President and General Manager Glen Sather termed the negotiating gap between Staal and the team as a “chasm.”  Especially after last year’s acrimonious holdout between Brandon Dubinsky and the Rangers which caused the young forward to miss 8 days of training camp. 

Here are Staal’s career stats:

 Recent Career
 Year Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM Hits BkS PPG PPA SHG SHA GW SOG Pct  
 2007-08 NYR 80 2 8 10 2 42 N/A N/A 0 0 0 1 0 78 .026  
 2008-09 NYR 82 3 12 15 -7 64 N/A N/A 0 1 0 1 1 96 .031  
 2009-10 NYR 82 8 19 27 11 44 178 97 0 0 0 0 2 78 .103  
 Career Totals (Full) 244 13 39 52 6 150 178 97 0 1 0 2 3 252 .052

Staal, who at times has been disappointing, for the most part has impressed.  It must be kept in mind that he is a young player who broke into the NHL at the age of 19.  Usually the Rangers display a talent for ruining their young guys, but Staal, who has strong NHL bloodlines (brothers Eric and Jordan have already won Stanley Cups), is probably the most sound first round pick the Rangers have made since Sather left Edmonton to preside over the Rangers.  Though the selection of Staal was bittersweet for the Rangers, who lost valuable draft positioning and a spot in the NHL’s lottery because of a lockout which cost them a crack at megastars Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.  Despite New York being one of the worst teams in the league prior to the lockout, since the lockout was so protracted, the draft was not conducted in reverse order of record, as it should have been, and instead, the draft order was selected randomly.  The Rangers were awarded the 15th pick overall, and then traded up 3 spots to select the 6’4 defenseman.

Staal has only missed two games in his NHL career, and has participated in every game over the last two seasons.  The signing puts the Rangers about $ 4 M over the NHL’s salary cap, but the Rangers are expected to clear $ 6.5 M in cap space when the players report to camp.  At that time, total bust Wade Redden is eligible to be waived–a move greatly anticapted by Rangers’ fans everywhere who are completely disgusted with the veteran Redden’s disinterested play, as well as the 6 yr/$ 39 M contract Redden signed in July of 2008.

The Rangers finished one point out of the playoffs last year, and watched the 8th seed Philadelphia Flyers advance to the Stanley Cup finals.

–Crack (,