by Patrick Hoffman on 09/29/11 at 09:00 AM ET
Since the season is just several days away, I decided to see why Mr. Thistel has such high hopes for the Blueshirts.
PH: Back in your season preview for the Rangers on NHL Home Ice, it sounded like you have high hopes for the Rangers this season. Why is that?
JT: What’s not to be optimistic about? One of the game’s top goalies, a Stanley Cup winner behind the bench, a young and talented batch of home grown talent that’s prepared to blossom as players and leaders, and the top free agent of the off-season in Brad Richards…someone who will fit perfectly into the fabric of this team without any disruption or change in team philosophy. So, yes…I like the team very much this season.
PH: How much of a difference do you think Brad Richards will make to this year’s Rangers’ team?
JT: He will make a big difference, although subtle. He’s not a free agent that will bust open your lineup like Kovalchuk could have done and he’s not going to carry a team on his back any time soon. But he’ll be an asset in every situation and bring quiet confidence to a very talented group. Plus, he’s the type of guy that can pay double dividends if he can get Gaborik ignited – which is a real possibility.
PH: If you had a crystal ball, where in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference do you see the Rangers finishing this upcoming season?
JT: Well, don’t break my crystal balls if it doesn’t work out, but I have the Rangers hosting a playoff series in the first round – which means a top four finish in the Conference.
PH: Do you have any other positive vibes about this year’s Blueshirt team? If so, what are they?
JT: The one thing that nags at me as always is the Sean Avery factor and just how much nonsense the team will put up with – the negative is far outweighing anything positive that he could have ever brought to the table. But I think that is rectified early and Torts doesn’t put up with it. Reuniting the coach with a positive influence like Richards – a guy that won a Conn Smythe Trophy in their previous life together – is definitely something to put on the plus side of the ledger.
PH: Anything else you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
JT: Well, the obligatory plug. NHL HOME ICE is back for our 7th season on SiriusXM. If I was running an NHL team instead of a hockey channel, I’d have one of the longest tenures in the league. Thanks to our listeners for the positive energy I receive every day, and as always, we couldn’t do it without you.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.