1. When Mike Sullivan makes it to Manhattan to champagne-celebrate his second straight Stanley Cup win, I will, of course, pump his hand and remind him how I used to tell him one joke per month before Rangers games. He was a better audience than John Tortorella!
2. Next, I’ll ask Sully how much he learned from Torts and other Blueshirts behind the Rangers bench that have helped him now in Pittsburgh. I’ll bet he answers, “Plenty!”
3. The Maven’s informal — yet authoritative — fan poll reveals the following: Rangers-Isles-Devs-Buff fans rooted for the Preds, 80-20. Also, they voted 85-15 for neither Sidney Crosby nor Evgeni Malkin to sip Cup-champagne again.
4. On the other hand, impartial fans — I think there are some — acknowledge that Sir Sid is the kind of player any team would love to have.
5. Here’s something for Devils fans to ponder: Some experts say Ray Shero should go for a gifted defenseman with his No. 1 pick, and I can see the point. The defenseman who intrigues me is a Finn. That would be Miro Heiskanen.
6. International Scouting Services rates Heiskanen in the fifth position. He stands at 6-feet and weighs 174 pounds. Skating against fellow Finns, Miro impressed, playing well with more experienced men in his country’s top league.
7. One scout exults over Heiskanen’s smooth style: “He’s got ability as a two-way defender and he can play under duress. He has everything.” the bird dog insists.
8. While the Islanders are indubitably expected to add one more coaching staffer, I wonder if Jeff Gorton will do likewise. A couple of well-known names are being bruited about as potential Rangers adds as aides.
9. Speaking of the Devils beefing up their blue line corps, one who might command interest is Sami Vatanen of Anaheim.
10. My buddy from Wayne, NJ has carefully studied Vatanen as a Duck. Matt Di Giacomo enthuses, “Vatanen is an ideal top-four defenseman capable of slotting in on the top pairing if need be some nights. He’d fit right in with former teammate Kyle Palmieri.”
12. The more I hear New Rochelle’s Kevin Shattenkirk’s name mentioned as potentially Met-Area bound, the less enthusiastic are his scouting reports.
13. The more I think about Brendan Smith‘s game from the moment he came to Manhattan and through the playoffs, the more I cannot imagine him signing with any team other than the Rangers.
14. This is the time of year when old pal Dominic Moore goes looking for a job, and every time the autumn leaves start falling, the ex-Ranger winds up as an asset to his new team.
15. Moore did it again this past season with the Bruins, and how smart they were to have him winning face-offs as he does so well.
16. The Champ who most reminds me of Moore must still be celebrating in Pittsburgh. That’s none other than 40-year-old Matt Cullen. That’s about as high a compliment as I can pay to my man Moore.
17. When Bob Boughner worked Buffalo’s blueline, you never had to worry about him providing his money’s worth. Ditto to the Panthers ownership for going out of the box and coming up with a fresh name to run the bench.
18. Frankly, earlier I had figured that Jason Botterill might have plucked BB for his Sabres.
19. How Soon They Forget Department: Doesn’t seem that long ago that Kevin Klein was a shining light on the Rangers’ blueline. Whether it was injuries or what just about everybody figures, KK has played his last game for the Blueshirts.
20. I wonder if any of our local GM’s are interested in Ottawa’s tough Dion Phaneuf. While the ex-Leaf captain has a no-trade clause, Dion may waive it and — you tell me — how would he look with one of our Met Area teams?
21. Old pal and ex-Islander, ex-Ranger Glenn Healy did some nifty analysis for MSG Networks this past season. A bagpiper of renown, Healy has always nurtured an interest in hockey politics. Now it’s being hinted that Glenn could wind up working with the NHL Alumni Association.
22. With the Sabres having taken more than half of their previous draft selections from the Major Junior level, here’s how the other Met Area teams have done: Devils 42.6 percent, Rangers 41.1 percent, and Islanders 39.7 percent.
23. Reader Sydney Grant of Mamaroneck, NY tells me she would have deleted Sidney Crosby as Conn Smythe Trophy-winner. “Evgeni Malkin deserved it. He was the playoffs’ leading point-getter. I even would have taken Jake Guentzel over Sid. Jake had five game-winning goals and led everyone with postseason tallies, 13.” Voters are less interested in the math and more interested in Captain Sid.
24. Sweet Sydney Grant obviously overlooks the fact that Captain Crosby emerged from Concussion City as if he was getting only love taps on his cranium and not a thorough hammering.
25. Another old buddy of ours, George McPhee, wishes he had five heads to think through all the deals he’s being offered at his Las Vegas compound.
26. I remember when all Georgie had to worry about was getting customers for his wonderful restaurant, Blue Moon on Manhattan’s Ninth Avenue. Didn’t take long to fill the joint; that’s how good it was. Even Kenny Daneyko liked it.
27. The most heart-warming fan reaction I’ve heard to Dan Girardi‘s exit from the Rangers comes from David Perlmutter of New Rochelle. David mentions, “I wish I could find Dan and give him a hug and kiss for all the good things he did for the Blueshirts.”
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) June 14, 2017
28. Speaking of “heart-warming,” it will be tough for any writer to top Girardi’s farewell to New York comment including a nice nod such as this: “We’ve been fortunate to meet so many great people and our kids have made so many friends.”
29. From a journalist’s viewpoint, I have to say that Dan always provided genuine, incisive answers when interviewed, whether post-game, win or lose.
30. Raised in The Garden, Howard Dolgon has emerged as one of the most respected owners in pro hockey. His Syracuse Crunch made it to the Calder Cup Final before being defeated by Grand Rapids in six games. If you haven’t been to Syracuse to see hockey, you are missing one of the legendary arenas on this continent.
31. Before going too nuts raving about the Penguins two straight Cups, bear in mind that Pittsburgh now has won eight playoff series in a row. Not too bad, but let’s not forget that the Islanders dynasty won 19 consecutive playoff series between 1980 and 1984.
32. That said, a huge CONGRATULATIONS to everyone in the Penguins organization for a super-remarkable job well done!