Rangers Rumble: Back for More

By Brandon LeBourveau

Carrying The Load

It’s been a fairly successful ride thus far as starter of the New York Rangers for Dan Blackburn, especially considering the rarity of a 19-year-old goaltender playing — let alone making an impact — in the NHL. Blackburn has posted a 4-3-1 record as starter, including his first NHL shutout in a 1-0 win over the Calgary Flames on November 7. With Mike Richter still sidelined with a concussion for perhaps another month, Blackburn will almost certainly continue to carry the goaltending load until the team’s all-time wins leader recovers from his second concussion in less than a year. Since Richter went down November 5 against Edmonton, Blackburn has started all eight games. Johan Holmqvist and Jason Labarbera have been taking turns playing the role of back-up, but it is unclear when one of them will find themselves in a game.

Labarbera was returned to Hartford on Saturday, while Holmqvist was recalled to back up Blackburn Saturday afternoon against the New York Islanders. The opportunity to give him a rest may come next Thursday in Atlanta, the first of a back-to-back. The Rangers’ next game is against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday at the Garden. Although it would be his 9th consecutive game, Blackburn will likely get the nod. That would give him three full days of rest, provided that he sits against Atlanta on Thursday, before getting back into action Friday night in Dallas.

Whether Labarbera or Holmqvist starts in goal remains to be seen. Labarbera has had limited NHL exposure, playing ten minutes against the Pittsburgh Penguins in October of 2000-01 in relief of Kirk McLean. On the other hand, Holmqvist has started two games, both losses and both coming in 2000-01. Holmqvist lost 4-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in his first NHL start, which was at home and was nationally televised, and then followed that up with a 6-5 loss to the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa. Johan is the one who is currently up with the team, but Labarbera will likely get the nod. He has played well for the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL this season, posting a 7-4-2 record in 13 games, including a 2.64 GAA and a .918 Save percentage. What better way to start your first NHL game on the road against a team that is tied for the worst record in the league?

Although the Thrashers do feature quite a few offensive threats — Ilya Kovalchuk, Dany Heatley and Slava Kozlov, among others — and should have the newly signed Byron Dafoe between the pipes by then, there would be less pressure put on a rookie’s shoulders to play against this team. The Rangers’ coaching staff will closely monitor this situation and will have to rest Blackburn sooner rather than later.


A weekly trivia question will now be added to all future columns of Rangers Rumble. These trivia questions will always involve the Rangers in some way, shape or form. The answer will be provided at the bottom of each article. Without further ado, here is this week’s question…

True or False: Simon Gagne was originally drafted by the New York Rangers.

Show Me The Money!

After failing to come to terms on a contract with the organization, defenseman Bryce Lampman left the team in training camp to join the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League. Following in the footsteps of Mike Van Ryn, Barrett Heisten and others of years past, Lampman left the University of Nebraska-Omaha this summer for Canadian junior hockey in order to gain unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2002-03 season. In 23 games with the Blazers this year, Lampman has compiled one goal, 15 assists, 16 points, 28 penalty minutes and is a -3. His lone goal came shorthanded.

Although Lampman’s exact motives for spurning the Rangers’ aren’t certain, it likely all came down to money. Isn’t money always the biggest factor these days with players? What happened to being loyal to your organization and playing with pride? Since what has become known as the Mike Van Ryn rule, collegiate players can leave college early, play a season of junior hockey, and then if they’re not signed by the June 1st two years after being drafted, they are granted unrestricted free agency. This has been starting to become a problem around the league over the past few seasons, and it is something that will definitely be patched up when the new Central Bargaining Agreement is established, whenever that may be. Collegiate players now have leverage over their organizations since they can threaten to go play in junior and then leave as a UFA. Mike Comrie left the University of Michigan and played a half-season with the Kootenay Ice of the WHL before the Oilers finally gave in and signed him to a deal, clearly not wanting to risk losing him for nothing. Mike Cammalleri, another University of Michigan product, used his leverage in negotiations this summer with the Los Angeles Kings by threatening to go play in junior. The Kings caved in and Cammalleri received a contract to his liking.

As for the 20-year-old Lampman, it’s not necessarily set in stone that he will become an UFA on June 1, 2003. The Rangers have six months left to either sign him to a contract or trade his rights to a team that thinks they can sign him. Lampman is a player that New York definitely needs more of in their organization. Big, strong and physical, Bryce is a stay-at-home defenseman who plays a sound all-around game. In 2000-01, he led the Omaha Lancers as captain to the United States Hockey League championship. He moved on to the University of Nebraska-Omaha that fall and played fairly well all season long as a freshman. In 26 games as a freshman, he tallied no goals, four assists, four points, twenty-eight penalty minutes and finished as a -2. Bryce also played for team USA at the 2002 World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic, recording no points and eight penalty minutes in seven games and was a +1. He has the potential to be a number four, stay-at-home defenseman.

Canadian Juniors

Ryan HollwegMedicine Hat TigersWHLCenter41128-5
Bryce LampmanKamloops BlazersWHLDefense231151628-3
Rory RawlykPrince Albert RaidersWHLDefense2254920-6
Vancouver GiantsWHLDefense401110
Leonid ZvachkinGuelph StormOHLDefense1902228Even
Shawn CollymoreQuebec RempartsQMJHLCenter24139229+1
Petr PreucilDrummondville VoltigeursQMJHLCenter207111834-6

U.S College

Lee FalardeauMichigan StateCCHACenter111238-6
Nate GueninOhio StateCCHADefense1301120+5
Mike WalshNotre DameCCHALeft Wing10002+2
Dominic MooreHarvardECACCenter755100
Rob FlynnHarvardECACRight Wing50004
Danny EberlyRPIECACDefense1352716
Joey CrabbColorado CollegeWCHARight Wing60114
Nathan MartzNew HampshireHockeyEastCenter114260+1

U.S. Juniors

Jake TaylorGreen Bay GamblersUSHLDefense1632545-4


Jamie LundmarkHartford Wolf PackAHLForward84484
New York RangersNHLForward140114-6
Garth MurrayHartford Wolf PackAHLLeft Wing14371027
John TrippHartford Wolf PackAHLRight Wing181141513
Mike MottauHartford Wolf PackAHLDefense181101110
Tomas KloucekHartford Wolf PackAHLDefense1734781
Matt KinchHartford Wolf PackAHLDefense40332
Jeff StateHartford Wolf PackAHLDefense1101150
Charlotte CheckersECHLDefense500019+1
Benoit DusablonHartford Wolf PackAHLCenter17461018
David InmanHartford Wolf PackAHLCenter121676
Layne UlmerHartford Wolf PackAHLCenter142462
Nils EkmanHartford Wolf PackAHLLeft Wing41348+1
Bobby AndrewsHartford Wolf PackAHLCenter1102212
Patrick AufieroHartford Wolf PackAHLDefense51122
Charlotte CheckersECHLDefense82466
Dusty JamiesonCharlotte CheckersECHLLeft Wing1275129
Craig WellerCharlotte CheckersECHLDefense1012324
Hartford Wolf PackAHLDefense50004+2
Brandon CullenCharlotte CheckersECHLCenter1515683
Jason LabarberaHartford Wolf PackAHLGoalie137422.64.9181
Johan HolmqvistHartford Wolf PackAHLGoalie20112.34.9000
Charlotte CheckersECHLGoalie11002.00.9560
Scott MeyerHartford Wolf PackAHLGoalie51204.83.8370
Bryce WandlerCharlotte CheckersECHLGoalie50215.37.7960
Niklas SundbergCharlotte CheckersECHLGoalie7402.97.8920
Brandon SneeMuskegon FuryUHLGoalie52303.43.8880


Marcus JonasenHammarby IFSweden Jrs.Right Wing12971616+10
Pontus PetterströmSkellefteå AIKSwe. AllsvNorraRight Wing187296+9
Stefan LundqvistVästerås IK Ungdom Swe. AllsvSödraRight Wing19152176-11
Petter HenningTingsrydSweden 3rd TierCenter137714
Arto LaatikainenEspoo BluesSM-Liiga (Finland)Defense2314512Even
Marek ZidlickyHIFKSM-Liiga (Finland)Defense242151732+3
Kim HirschovitsHIFKSM-Liiga (Finland)Center2320212-1
Tomi KallarsonIlves TampereSM-Liiga (Finland)Defense10000-2
Juri StalsWasaFinlandLeft Wing82248
Petr PruchaPardubiceCzech RepublicCenter91232
Martin RichterSparta PrahaCzech RepublicDefense1915643+6
Premsyl DubenDukla JihlavaCzech 2nd TierDefense3022-4
Sven HelfensteinEHC Biel/BienneSwiss Nationaliga BCenter30000
SC BernSwitzerlandCenter2001112
Ilja GorokhovYaroslavl TorpedoRussiaDefense110112
Henrik LundqvistVästra Frölunda HCSELGoalie111.62.912.3
Johan AsplundBrynäs IFSELGoalie27.33.714.0


Rico FataNew York RangersNHLCenter100110-1
Hartford Wolf PackAHLCenter986146+4

Trivia Answer

If you said true, you were correct. Simon Gagne was originally drafted by the New York Rangers, although not the one that is currently a budding superstar with the Philadelphia Flyers. Although it could’ve been conceivable, considering most of the prospects the Rangers trade turn into pretty good players elsewhere (see Tony Amonte, Doug Weight and Alexei Kovalev for proof.) The Rangers drafted a Simon Gagne of their own in the 3rd round (46th overall) back in 1987. Gagne played four seasons in the QMJHL, followed by stints in the AHL, IHL and ECHL over the next two years. He never played a game in the NHL, and stopped playing after 1990. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s safe to call him a bust. This was a trick question, I know. However, you learn something new every day.