1. Jeff Beukeboom and Scott Arniel are the Rangers’ assistant coaches. But — with Ken Gernander out in Hartford — the Wolf Pack needs a new bench boss. I wonder if Jeff or Scott has a shot at the Connecticut opening.
2. With Luke Richardson officially in the Islanders‘ fold as Doug Weight‘s understudy on the bench, the Brooklynites will continue re-bolstering their organization in The Weight Mode. You can bet that what Doug wants in the way of help, Weight will get.
3. You have to admire how Chris Drury has speedily climbed the Rangers’ executive ladder to become one of the most influential members of the Blueshirts’ high command. Those of us who remember Chris as a player always admired his smarts and tenacity.
4. One reason I can see Washington Capitals aide-to-Barry-Trotz, Todd Reirden, getting the Sabres‘ head coaching gig is that Todd and new Buffalo GM Jason Botterill have a history dating back to their days in Pittsburgh.
5. Reirden spent six years with the Penguins and had worked his way up to an assistant under Dan Bylsma. The fact is Botterill has a vast coaching field from which to choose and may take it slow rather than rush for a quick headline.
6. Ilya Kovalchuk continues to be a fascinating subject for conjecture, especially since he’s so keen to return to a Met Area team — or one of the two Florida franchises.
8. For that to happen, there’s a not-too-little matter of Captain John putting his John Hancock on a new Islanders deal this summer.
9. One of the major decisions confronting Botterill now that he’s behind the Buffalo GM desk is picking a goaltender. So far, Botterill is leaning strongly on retaining Robin Lehner as his main man in the crease.
10. Having remembered the manner in which Lehner responded to Kurt Kleinendorst’s coaching in once bringing a Calder Cup to Binghamton, I’d keep Robin in the Sabres crease as well.
11. My buddy — and ex-Devils-Crash-Line-Center — Bobby Holik will be conducting a two-week hockey clinic this summer in Israel.
12. While most hockey fans find it hard to believe ice hockey is played in The Holy Land, there’s an Olympic-sized ice rink in the town of Metula on the Lebanon-Israel border. Another will be available this summer in Jerusalem where the Maccabiah hockey games will be played.
13. Ever since the late, great Roger Neilsen made it a summer ritual to teach hockey to Israelis decades ago, the Canada Centre in Metula has been a haven for young stickhandlers.
14. Marcel Pelletier, who recently died, was one of the most colorful goalies in North American hockey history although he played most of his hockey in the minors.
15. Pelletier played two games for the Rangers in the 1962-63 season but mostly starred for the New Yorkers’ farm team in Baltimore and assorted other AHL cities.
16. My favorite Pelletier story — apart from his constantly advising hockey people how to get rich — took place in Hershey when Marcel beat a mighty Bears team, 1-0 at the old Hershey Arena. It was one of the best goaltending performances I’ve ever seen, anywhere.
17. Getting back to name hockey people who might move behind the Buffalo bench, I can’t overlook one-time Sabres icon, Phil Housley, doing very well on the Predators’ support staff under Peter Laviolette.
18. With the Penguins trying to stay alive against Ottawa, there are some of us who remember that this Pitt sextet was at least partly put together by Ray Shero, now in the process of reviving the Devils.
19. Blessed with a Lottery win and the first pick in the Entry Draft, Shero is in the enviable position of having to choose between Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier, the duet rated highest by just about every bird-dog in the biz.
20. The newest edition of The Hockey News picks Patrick over Hischier despite the former’s injury history. A minority of experts figure Gabe Vilardi, third on THN’s list, could surprise.
21. Martin Brodeur is getting a big play on TV pitching for the Enterprise car rental group. What The Maven finds interesting is that Marty wears Devils garb although he’s now a biggie on the Blues’ general staff.
22. A Rangers note for the mathematic-oriented: Since the NHL resumed after the 2004-05 work stoppage, the Blueshirts have won 11 playoff rounds.
23. In other words, members of the core group may have been suffering from attrition; an affliction affecting winners because they play so much.
24. This from my pal, Leo Scaglione, Jr., who X-Rays the Devils and their prospects as keenly as anyone: “Youngsters Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian came close to claiming the OHL title with Mississauga, but the Erie Otters defeated them in the Final.”
25. Each of the New Jersey prospects will get a long look at training camp. McLeod finished with 27 points (11-16-27) in 20 playoff games while his pal, Bastian totaled 14 points (7-7-14) in 20 contests as well.
26. Among the Rangers underrated, the one skater I’d hate to see leave Seventh Avenue is Oscar Lindberg. That man does so many things quietly and well.
27. For me — and others — the Ranger most difficult to figure is J.T. Miller. As my buddy Gus Vic puts it, “He had a long stretch where he clearly was the Rangers’ most dynamic forward. Miller was a smart shooter, outstanding passer and played with an edge. Then came a stunning disappearance.” Beats me, too, Gus.
28. Remember when Mathew Barzal had a cup of coffee with the Islanders last fall, but couldn’t make the big club? Barzal sure has enjoyed a big year in the Western Hockey League.
29. Among other accolades, Barzal was named playoff MVP skating for the Seattle Thunderbirds who won their first league title. He totaled 25 points in 16 playoff games.
30. Betcha Barzal makes the Isles varsity this time around — and stars!