Grabner Deserved to be an All-Star

  1. A GRABNER SNUB: What gives with the NHL not awarding Michael Grabner an invitation to the All-Star Game? Hey, he’s only the Rangers half-season MVP. And, if you don’t believe me, see below. Or, ask Alain Vigneault.
  1. WANT MORE: What else is Grabby supposed to do? He scores shorthanded goals. He scores game-winning goals. He kills penalties with rare expertise and speed. The only thing he doesn’t do well is play goal; because nobody asked him.
  1. NO FLUKES HERE: A year ago the talk was that J.T. Miller‘s ascent might be caused by astigmatism or some other fan disorder. Ditto, Kevin Hayes. The first half-season results indicate that each is the real deal and the best is yet to come.
  1. ZEBRA FACT: When your team wins, the officiating is fine. When your club loses there’s something to be desired from the refs.
  1. CONSISTENT JOHN: Virtually every month, on the month, another hockey journalist does his job and confronts John Tavares. The question always is the same; about his commitment to remain with the organization.

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  1. MARCUS FROM NEWSDAY: Interviewed by Newsday’s Steven Marcus, the Isles captain reaffirmed his desire to remain an Islander. “I think for myself,” Tavares asserted. “I’ve always shown and talked about my commitment here. Wanting to have success here and keep building on the good things we’ve done.”
  1. THE NEW NEWARK GRABNER: If there’s someone that looks like he can play a total forward speed game like Grabner, it has to be the Devils Miles Wood. In case I haven’t mentioned it, I’ve nicknamed ever-so-fleet Woody as follows: “Miles Per Hour.”
  1. WOE FOR WOE’S SAKE: No matter how well the Rangers fare, there’s inevitably going to be a negative twist. The latest is whether or not the Blueshirts will protect Grabner in the Expansion Draft.
  1. TOO SOON TO TELL: While the “Whither Michael?” question is a good one, long-range, there’s half a season left to evaluate Grabby. And if he continues to vaporize enemy goalies, he should be protected.
  1. TAYLOR-ED TO THE TRUTH: Before leaving on the Devils’ Western swing, Taylor Hall bluntly told me that the current road trip will be a “make or break” trek in terms of the club’s playoff chances. He’s right.

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  1. THE BEST SHOULD PRODUCE THE BEST: Starting tonight in Edmonton, the Devs then play Calgary on Friday, Vancouver on Sunday and complete the expedition next Tuesday against the Wild. These all are tough challenges which just might bring out the best in John Hynes sextet.
  1. A FIRST-CLASS EVENT: The Devils did a first-class job honoring Dr. John McMullen last week at The Rock. Good to see alumni pals such as Randy McKay, Stephane Richer, Claude Lemieux, Bruce Driver and Chico Resch, among others.
  1. CHICO CHORTLE: Discussing Dr. McMullen as his boss, Resch asserted, “Back in the days when you needed tough guys on the ownership level, Doc Mac was our tough guy — and that was good.”
  1. LEMIEUX LAUGHS: Claude recalled Doc Mac’s love of dogs. “The Doc was always at our practice bringing his dogs along. He loved us. From the beginning, Doc would invite all the players on golf trips. In the middle of the Summer, he’d fly us down to Florida for golf. (Smiles). He sure took care of the boys.”
  1. THE SURVIVING RANGER: The recent passing of Boston Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt at the age of 98 means that the oldest surviving NHL player is John (Chick) Webster.  A forward, Webster, 96, briefly was a member of the 1949-50 edition of the Blueshirts. That’s the club that made it to the seventh game of the Cup Final before losing in double-overtime.
  1. FAREWELL TO A HERO: Detective Steven McDonald, who died on Tuesday, was a hero’s hero who regularly appeared at Rangers home games. Confined to a wheelchair and using a respirator, the hero cop always was in good humor. If ever there was a perfect role model, Detective McDonald was it.
  1. THE AWARD: Wisely, the Rangers produced a Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award with Jan Erixon winner of the first award in 1988. Other familiar winners include Adam Graves (five times), and Ryan Callahan (four times). Last year’s winner was Mats Zuccarello. This year: perhaps Antti Raanta or Hayes.
  1. JAROMIR’S KUDO: Visiting first the Devils and then the Islanders inside of a week, the evergreen Jaromir Jagr reiterated his love for playing in New Jersey, but also pointed out his dismay when coach Peter DeBoer got fired. Not surprisingly, once DeBoer went bye-bye so did Jagr’s effectiveness as a Devil.
  1. LARRAPIN LOU RETURNS: Dapper Lou Lamoriello brings his Maple Leafs to The Garden on Friday night. Everyone I know who knows Lou insists that his job as Toronto hockey boss has given him a new life. And he remains one of the best-dressed executives in The Game. Arguably, THE best.
  1. MORE LEMIEUX: Claude Lemieux tells another good McMullen story: “Mac wanted me to improve my training and found one of the best mountain bikers in Vail, Colorado and I was going to train with him Doc didn’t know that biking was my specialty.’ That day I biked so good I lost this guy halfway up the mountain, and I never saw him again — well, almost never.”
  1. STILL MORE LEMIEUX: Claude added a postscript to that story.  “About 10 years ago I ran into that bike-training guy in a brewery in Colorado, and he served me and my family. He said, ‘You don’t remember me, but I’ll never forget you. Doctor McMullen had hired me to ride up the mountain and I lost you halfway up. Never been killed like that on the bike.’” The moral; nobody beats Lemieux!

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  1. MET MVPS: A half-season Met Area MVP selection: Rangers: Mike Grabner; Islanders: Josh Bailey; Devils, P.A. Parenteau.
  1. BEST MET D-MEN: Rangers, Ryan McDonagh; Islanders: Thomas Hickey: Devils: Andy Greene, even though he’s out now.
  1. BEST MET FORWARD: Rangers, Chris Kreider; Islanders, Anders Lee; Devils, Travis Zajac.
  1. BEST MET OVERACHIEVER: Rangers: Nick Holden; Islanders: Dennis Seidenberg; Devils: Miles Wood.
  1. BEST SURPRISES: Rangers: Jimmy Vesey; Islanders: Johnny Boychuk; Devils: Keith Kinkaid.
  1. RANGERS GRADES: via Readers Noam Kogen (1) and Rob Taub (2): Kevin Hayes (Same), Derek Stepan (Same), Chris Kreider 1. (A-), 2. (B+), J.T. Miller 1. (A-), 2. (A), Matts Zuccarello 1. (B+), 2. (B-), Michael Grabner 1. (A), 2. (A+), Ryan McDonagh (Same), Nick Holden (Same), Rick Nash 1. (B), 2. (B-), Jimmy Vesey 1. (B), 2. (B+), Brady Skjei (Same), Mika Zibanejad 1. (B+), 2. (B-), Jesper Fast 1. (B+), 2. (B-), Brandon Pirri 1. (B-), 2. (C), Kevin Klein 1. (B), 2. (C+), Dan Girardi 1. (B-), 2. (C-), Oscar Lindberg 1. (B-), 2. (C), Matt Puempel (Same), Marc Staal 1. (B), 2. (B+), Adam Clendening (Same), Matt Hrivik 1. (B-), 2. (C-), Antti Raanta 1. (A), 2. (A+), Henrik Lundqvist 1. (B+), 2. (B-).
  1. Even though he’s not on a Met Area team I’m sure local fans agree with the following: Congratulations to Alex Ovechkin on surpassing the 1,000-point plateau. As one of The Game’s most exciting players, there should be more milestones ahead. Ask Jaromir Jagr.