Cherneski calls it quits

By Michael Theodore

Cherneski calls it quits

A promising young career came crashing to an end as the year 2001 hit when Rangers prospect Stefan Cherneski called it quits after trying to battle back from a serious knee injury. Simply put it was a career ended before it could fully get started and an example of just how hard it truly is to make it to the big show.

A first round pick back in 1997, Stefan had all the makings of a solid, if not star winger for the Rangers. A physical force with skills he was projected as a player part John LeClair and part Adam Graves, he would become neither. A devastating knee injury two years ago put Stefan’s career on hold and though for a while it seemed hopeful he would make it, in the end there was no happy ending. Missing two whole seasons would throw anyone’s career off a cliff but it was Stefan’s heart and soul that lead many to believe that maybe, just maybe he could make it.

Though he trained hard, the lost development time proved too much to overcome and Stefan decided he should take a 2 million dollar insurance option and move on. Though his playing days are done, Stefan’s legacy may just be the work ethic he instilled in blue chipper Pavel Brendl who worked harder then ever before in his life this past summer with Cherneski and winger Adam Graves. So though there will be no 35 goal, 140 pim seasons from Stefan we might want to send him a thanks if Brendl ever becomes the 40 or 50 goal sniper scouts believe he can be.

Lundmark: Destination the Show

If last year was a train wreck for Center Jamie Lundmark, this year must be the Express to Midtown Manhattan. After daringly demanding a trade from Moose Jaw and raising the eyebrows of some members of Rangers management, Jamie Lundmark has shown why just a little over a year ago he was considered the Rangers main pivot of the not so distant future.

A bit bulkier from last season, he has rebounded from an ugly trade situation and last seasons wrist injury that cost him a spot with the Rangers. Much like his draft year in Moose Jaw he has turned the entire program around for a team and made everyone around him a level better. If he continues to shine and shows his game in the preseason he’ll force his way onto the roster.

Though he is never going to be a huge power forward he has probably another 5 to 10 pounds before he is fully developed. Talks of him being too small are nonsense considering the fact that his playing size would be around 6’0, 195 -200 pounds which is bigger then Doug Weight, and about even with Jeremy Roenick amongst others. So far Glen Sather has resisted trading him and with any luck the Rangers might just be able to watch the fruits of their non playoff labor within the next season or two.

Questions From Readers

Question: Whatever happened to Burke Henry, wasn’t he supposed to be the next Ranger blue liner?

Answer: Burke is like any other young defensive prospect of his age, learning the ropes in the minors. Though he will never be the offensive catalyst he was with Brandon (WHL), he should be a solid top 6 guy in the near future. He is having a good season for Hartford which is his second professional one. He might even get a call sometime this year.

Question: How does the retirement of Stefan Cherneski change the Rangers future?

Answer: Well it certainly robs them of a power forward and a possible top 6 forward. It’s a real shame because Stefan nearly made the team back in 98 but was the last cut so Brent Fedyk could play. Yet another wonderful choice to thank John Muckler for. We’ll never really know what Stefan would or could have done, but now one can’t help but look back and wonder what if the Rangers had went with their other power forward option and drafted Brenden Morrow.

Question: What do you project Manny Malhotra as in the NHL?

Answer: Well Manny doesn’t have the greatest offensive instincts but that won’t hinder him from becoming a solid NHL’er. Smith was a little off in projecting Manny as a 35 goal scorer but 20 isn’t out of the question for the future. At the very least he is a bigger, stronger, faster Tim Taylor with the chance to develop into an Ethan Moreau, Todd Marchant type hybrid.