The 2019 Draft is long over, Kevin Shattenkirk has been bought out, and we have officially reached the bottom of the barrel in free agency. As further evidenced by the ceaseless anodyne hum of air conditioning, we have officially reached the dog days of the NHL offseason. That’s right my friends, it’s time for another installment of Digger’s Summer Survival Guide.
This summer you can...
Let Go of the Past
Mats Zuccarello plays for the Minnesota Wild.
Man, that still feels dirty to write. We all knew that there would be a lot of growing pains with this rebuild, but I’m not sure how many of us were truly prepared for this one. It hurts the soul. It hurts like fire.
When Gorton traded Zuccarello to the Dallas Stars, it felt like Mola Ram from the Temple of Doom had ripped my still-beating heart out of my chest. When Zucc chose to sign with the Wild, thus depriving the Rangers of the Stars’ 2020 first round pick, it was as if Mola Ram fumbled my heart and then kicked it when he reached down to pick it up like a culturally insensitive Charlie Chaplin. I swear I can hear Yakety Sax in my head as I picture this.
Things could be worse. Paul Fenton, whose reptilian name is probably the Lizard King, could still be the general manager of the Wild. Can you imagine Zuccarello’s sweet face when Fenton was offering him that big bag of money while telling him he reminds him of small reptile? It’s just like Frodo trying to resist the ring.
Now that I’ve had some time to process it, I’m choosing to look at Zuccarello’s departure as the equivalent of Frodo Baggins renting a kayak to go to the Undying Lands — or whatever the hell that was all about. In other words, the Norwegian winger is now far away but still with us in our hearts. I guess that would make Rangers fans the equivalent of blubbering Samwise Gamgee, pleading for Master Frodo not to go where we can’t follow. So, who would be our Rosie Cotton? Kaapo Kakko? You’re right, that doesn’t seem entirely appropriate, but how dare you judge me in this delicate time.
Also, if you didn’t know who Rosie Cotton is, you should probably just pull your ‘chute now.
Let There be Bread
Unless you have celiac disease and/or you are adhering to a gluten-free diet, you have to admit that bread is pretty great. Let’s break it down.
- Human beings have been making bread for at least 14,000 years.
- Bread is so special that it carries significance in many religions and cultures.
- Bread is so good that we have come to expect it, free of charge, at Italian restaurants.
- Bread is so important that it has become a pseudonym for money.
Do you think rutabagas or celery can contend with that? Give me a fucking break.
Of course, I’m talking about bread because the Rangers signed Artemi Panarin aka “The Breadman” as a free agent this offseason moments before signing Gregory McKegg. It was a pretty big deal.
The Rangers are paying Panarin $14 million to play ice hockey next year. That’s roughly the price of a Season 8 Game of Thrones episode, but y’know, it’s for something that is actually going to be really good. His contract will take up $11,642,857 of the cap for the next seven years — that, my friends, is a substantial amount of bread.
Regardless of how you feel about the Panarin contract — or the Jacob Trouba contract, for that matter — you need to come to terms with the fact that this marks the beginning of a new era in Rangers history. One way or another, the fate of the franchise is directly tied to the Breadman. You know how a tiny male anglerfish will latch-on to female anglerfish and then the female just kinda absorbs the male fish over time, reducing it to a newfound sex organ? Well, this Panarin thing is just like that. Y’know, because the team and the player are stuck together now, just without the parabiotic reproduction part.
That also means we have to come to terms with the possibility that in five or six years the Rangers could look like a kid who is stuck playing a Sega Dreamcast in 2010 because they invested too much money into games. Only, it won’t have that fun nostalgia that we all love to experience when we watch Stranger Things. Instead, it will be disappointing and awkward — kinda like how Barb got killed because Nancy wanted to jump Steve Harrington’s bones.
Way to go, Nancy. In all likelihood, things will probably work out fine. Probably.
Learn Some Patience
If you have a lot of free time this summer, you might want to consider babysitting or volunteering at a summer camp. Why? Because, much like building a tiny ships in a bottle whilst sitting on an old-timey rumbly-bumbly tractor, it will teach you something about patience. Also, babysitting and camp counseling are great excuses to hammer an absurd amount of marshmallows and wonder how you can suddenly feel so down and filled with self-loathing while your veins have been crystallized by sugar.
Patience is going to be a key virtue for Rangers fans in the coming years. Did you know that 19 of the 43 players that are currently under contract were either infants or not yet born when GoldenEye 007 was released for the Nintendo 64? Well, now you do. Oh, and don’t bother finding an emulator for it, it’s aged about as well as Clive Owen. Have you seen those commercials? What the hell happened?
It’s going to be fun watching all of the Rangers babies develop, but it’s important to understand that there will be some growing pains. Regardless of how much Palpatinian whispering Glen Sather seductively pours into the ears of John Davidson and Jeff Gorton, the team can’t commit $20 million in cap space to unrestricted free agents every year. The children are our future, and we need to give them some time to figure it out. It seems like a lot of Rangers fans forgot that when they rushed to label Lias Andersson a bust before he was old enough to buy a mango-flavored hard seltzer.
Do you know why a baby giraffe is able to walk within an hour after falling six feet from their mother’s crotch? Because they are still covered in afterbirth when they enter into a world filled with things that murder everything they eat with their mouths. Lions and leopards love to eat babies, which means they probably find afterbirth to be delicious. It’s probably like Lawry’s Seasoned Salt to them. I would rub that shit into my gums if people weren’t so goddamn judgmental.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that NHL prospects are not goo-covered infant giraffes who can simply adjust to the possibility of being eaten face-first by a hyena within 60 minutes of suffering a minor concussion. They’re kids who need time to acclimate and catch up to a league that has ents like Zdeno Chara, Uruk-hai like Tom Wilson, and Alex Ovechkin the One-Punch Man in it.
It’s going to take some time.
Listen to Bantering the Blueshirts
Podcasts are great. Most of the time our podcast, Bantering the Blueshirts, is both fun and informative. Other times, it’s derailed by strange, surreal moments. For example, a few weeks ago Joe attempted to rap some of Eminem’s opus “Lose Yourself”. That happened. Joe, who is now a father of two tiny humans, rapped the hit song from the film 8 Mile over 16 years after its release in theaters. And yet, I still love the man.
Hopefully, our podcast shenanigans will help you pass the time this summer. Lately, I’ve been listening to horrifying true crime podcasts while I exercise and just before I go to sleep. Now I can’t look at something without imagining what it could do to the human head. The last time I had a world-shifting realization like that was when someone told me that Jeremy Renner kinda looks like a turtle. Once you see it, it changes you forever.
Thanks for reading this madness and more importantly for all of your support for the site this year.
I hope your summer is filled with good health, good food, good company, and a dope-ass new fanny pack. Remember to take care of yourself and to be excellent to each other, always. Until next time.
Note: Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and McCormick & Company are not sponsors of Blueshirt Banter. But that shit is delicious.