As you all know, last night on Blueshirt Banter Radio we had the pleasure of talking to former Ranger and current radio analyst Dave Maloney. Here is a transcript of the interview, hope you enjoy it.
Q: Ranger fans are concerned about Sean Avery's injury; can you give us a little insight on what is going on with him?
A: I haven't heard anything else than what they are putting out there, that it's day to day thing, it was a collision with Ryan Callahan in the morning skate, it's "day to day" so we'll take it day to day.
Sean's had a pretty good camp actually. He came in early, has done everything that he's been asked, he was around a lot before camp was open, and he seems to be enjoying life back in New York. He is a guy that has been a personality for this club, and there are many hoping that Sean will get back in the lineup sooner than later.
Q: It seems like Sean is very comfortable with John Tortorella, and it looks like he is ready to take on more of a leadership role with this team. Do you see that in Avery?
A: I think that is certainly what you hope, as a young player matures, both on and off the ice. He's been around a little bit, and there's been such a dramatic makeover of this hockey club, and despite the fact that he spent half of last season in Dallas, and with all that stuff that went on, he has some seniority now as a member of this franchise. Sean has a big opportunity here, he's a bright guy, always has been, he's not a guy that doesn't get it, it takes him a while to get it, but he eventually he does get it. I think his maturation will be an important part of a Ranger locker room that really needs the personality of Sean Avery. He just has to be aware, and he has a strong coaching staff around him, he's got to be aware that the club does come first, and he has to co-exist with people in the room. I get a sense that he is a different character than he was, and he should be, he's a little bit older. I've always been impressed with Sean, he has gotten himself in trouble at times by doing some stupid things, but he is by no means a stupid person.
Q: A lot of people are talking about Evgeny Grachev, who has had a strong preseason. Do you think he needs to go back to the AHL to further develop, or is he ready to play in the NHL?
A: That's an interesting question, and it's a good dilemma to be in. This is a kid who was a 3rd round pick two years ago, and has developed in the course of 12 months, actually not even 12 months, its 8 months to be a real factor. Could he play? Yes I think he could play. Is it the right thing for him at this stage of development? All the good teams have patience with the young people. From a Rangers standpoint, in recent history, a lot of bodies get moved in and out, in an attempt to win now. I really think Evgeny Grachev and the franchise will be better off if he goes to Hartford and learns to play as a pro, and how to live as a pro. For Evgeny Grachev, going to Hartford would not be the worst thing.
We had an opportunity to talk to Ken Holland, the GM of the Detroit Red Wings, and they are in no hurry to bring anybody up, and you really can't argue with the success of the Red Wings.
So has he played well enough in camp to earn a spot? Certainly, but I think what you have to keep in mind is, what kind of player is he going to be in February or March, when the season really matters.
Q: Brandon Dubinsky's holdout brought out some tough remarks from Head Coach John Tortorella. Is this a "forgive and forget" situation or might Dubi spend a little time in as John Davidson used to call it, "The Chateau Bow-Wow"?
A: No, not at all. John Tortorella knows this team is better with Dubinsky in the lineup. His comments were just that. It was his way of expressing how important Brandon Dubinsky is to this team, and he better get his butt back here. If the Rangers are a better team with Brandon Dubinsky in the lineup, then John Tortorella is a better coach with Brandon Dubinsky in the lineup. So I would be shocked if there was any lingering effect. Brandon Dubinsky had a plan, he and his people thought he was worth, and how he was going to go about doing it. One on hand, you give the kid credit for having a set of "cojones" to take the stance that he did, because at the end of the day, he got himself two years at $1.85, and that's not such a bad deal for a kid coming off an entry level contract, who has had the fortune to play with Jaromir Jagr, and will probably get the opportunity to play with Marian Gaborik. It's good to have him back
Q: Dave, do you think Dubinsky has the skills to be on that first line, and be the center for Marian Gaborik?
A: Actually I do. I think his skills are pretty straightforward, he is going to create some space, he will get him the puck. The key to Dubinsky in his evolution is going to be his ability to recognize the moment, the fleeting moment he needs to make something happen. He still gets a little locked in, and the moment passes before he realizes that he should have passed or should have shot. If he can recognize the moment, then he will be a 60 or 70 point scorer. We forget, he is still a young player. You could make a case that down the middle, the Rangers may not be as strong as you would like to be, but Brandon Dubinsky might just be the guy that at some point will wind up playing with Gaborik.
Q: Dave this is a two part question about training camp: We've all heard the horror stories about a John Tortorella training camp, from what you saw in training camp, was there anything that surprised you about it, and the second part of my question is, did you ever go through a camp like that?
A: Well first of all, our first training camp with Herb Brooks was in Europe in 1981 and that camp was tough from a standpoint that it was all aerobic skating. Like these guys, if you prepared going in, the pain is pain, but it's bearable, you know you could get through it. The thing is, as tough of a skate as it was, except for guys like Semenov and Henley, who got the call to come to camp the day before, most guys knew what was expected and trained appropriately. John Tortorella lays it out there to make you a better player, and it's up to the player to accept the responsibility that's being asked of them. I can tell you that there was not a guy there that wasn't up to the challenge.
Q: One last question Dave, how good do you think this Ranger team is?
A: I think there are a couple of things. You have to be impressed with a lot of the things that have happened in this camp with the skill development. At the end of the day, you've got to be able to match up skill-wise with the best teams. I think you can make the case that Henrik Lundqvist is a very capable representative at that position, relative to the elite teams in the league. With the addition of Gaborik, and of course the big question with him is his health, but with Gaborik as a catalyst, the gap between the elite forwards in the league, the Crosbys, the Malkins, or Richards or Carter in Philly, or Zach Parise in NJ, that gap has been narrowed substantially. The big question when you look at the elite teams around the league is: how does the blue line match up? I don't think the Rangers are there yet. With the addition of guys like Gilroy and Del Zotto, they are making strides in the right direction, but I don't think the blue line has closed the gap yet. Philly's blue line is better, Washington's blue line is deeper, Boston blue line has a catalyst with Chara, so there are teams ahead of them. I'm certainly not here to dampen the enthusiasm, because I think that's why you play. But realistically, I think there are some holes, I think that Tortorella and his style will be a lot of fun to watch, but I think the blue line is the big question to make that positive statement that they are a true Stanley Cup contender.