Former Rangers GM regrets 1994-95 lockout

While the 1994-95 lockout didn’t cancel a season altogether, former New York Rangers GM Neil Smith told The New York Post that it represented a significant missed opportunity.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the air got let out of the balloon by the lockout,” Smith said. “It’s undeniable that the lockout of ’94 lessened hockey’s chance of climbing the ladder.”

The Rangers were on the heels of breaking their Stanley Cup drought, prompting Sports Illustrated to wonder if the NHL might leapfrog the NBA in relevance.

Smith admits that he didn’t defy Gary Bettman on any noteworthy subjects during that lockout, but wistfully wonders what could have been if there was a typical 82-game season.

“We would have had a better season,” Smith said. “We were waiting to raise the banner, which didn’t get raised until around Jan. 21. You win on June 14 and wait until Jan. 21 to put the banner up?”

“It’s harder to get everybody serious about a 48-game schedule with ‘Hey, we have to defend our Stanley Cup’ that long afterward.”

(One cannot blame Los Angeles Kings fans for cringing after reading that last line.)

An abbreviated season would be better than no season at all, but Smith has firsthand knowledge about the damage dealt by a shortened campaign.

(Photo via Getty Images from

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    Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

    Alex Ovechkin
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    Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

    He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

    Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

    That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

    This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

    No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

    Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

    Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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    Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

    With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

    Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

    Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

    Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

    The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?