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01-24-2004, 11:07 PM
Son of Steinbrenner
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read this ny times article

Jagr's Debut Is a Defensive Disaster for the Rangers

Jaromir Jagr always wanted to play for the Rangers. Perhaps he should have been more careful about what he wished for.

One day after Glen Sather obtained Jagr, a 31-year-old All-Star right wing, from the Washington Capitals for Anson Carter and significant financial considerations, Jagr's debut in a Rangers sweater turned into an embarrassing event.

The manner in which they were not just dismantled but also humiliated, by the Ottawa Senators, 9-1, caused defenseman Brian Leetch, who made his debut with the Rangers in 1988, to say, "I don't think it's been any worse than this."
The Rangers are in a stretch reminiscent of the three consecutive defeats they endured in late January last season, by a combined score of 16-5. That motivated Sather, the team's president and general manager, to dismiss Bryan Trottier as coach and take the job himself.

When asked this season whether he would consider stepping down as coach, Sather has said he would not. But when asked again Saturday night, he was more equivocal, saying, "I'm certainly not going to make any announcements, if that's what you're getting at."
Meanwhile, center Bobby Holik was unequivocal when asked to give his assessment of the Rangers.

"I believe fundamentally we are the worst team in the National Hockey League," he said.

The rout Saturday night was the Rangers' worst since a 10-2 drubbing at Quebec on March 6, 1993.

The Rangers (18-20-7-4) have lost four games in a row and trail the Islanders by 6 points for the eighth and final playoff berth in the East. They have not won in their last six games, going 0-4-2-0, and have won twice in their last 11 games. Over their four-game losing streak, the Rangers have been outscored by 22-6.

The Rangers trailed by 2-0 just 10 minutes 6 seconds into Jagr's debut and by 4-0 after one period. The score was 7-0 after two periods, and the Rangers did not score until 4:45 of the third, on a goal by Matthew Barnaby. Eight Senators scored, with Bryan Smolinski leading the way with two goals.

Ottawa (27-12-7-3) scored three power-play goals, and Patrick Lalime made 28 saves.

Jagr attempted only one shot in 19:50 of playing time.

About the only positive for Sather at the Corel Center was that he did not have to endure the chants of "Fire Sather!" that rang through Madison Square Garden during the Rangers' two previous defeats.

It's possible that Sather could hear the chants again at the Garden on Sunday afternoon, when the Rangers conduct their annual Super Skate celebrity charity event. The Rangers' next game is Monday night at the Garden against the Florida Panthers.

Other than changing his goalie twice replacing Jussi Markkanen with Jason LaBarbera to start the second period, then reinserting Markkanen to start the third Sather could do little more than watch the Rangers surrender.

"We have no excuses," center Eric Lindros said. "We've been talking about excuses around here for a long time. We're just not coming to play."

Lindros made what sounded like a plea for Sather to start benching players.

"When you're making mistakes," Lindros said, "the worst thing that can happen to a player is to have his ice time taken away."

At the morning skate, Jagr had a glazed look when he spoke about how glad he was to be a member of the Rangers. By evening's end, he could have been forgiven for changing his mind.

"I didn't know what to expect," Jagr said after the 9-1 beating, the glazed look still very much in his eyes.


Defenseman VLADIMIR MALAKHOV sprained his right wrist late in the first period, adding to the Rangers' litany of injuries. Malakhov, who skated one shift in the second period, will have X-rays in New York on Sunday. Defenseman TOM POTI returned Saturday night after missing two games with a bad back. Defensemen GREG de VRIES, DARIUS KASPARAITIS and the prospect FEDOR TJUTIN are out with knee injuries. . . . MIKE DUNHAM, the Rangers' No. 1 goaltender, did not make the trip because of a minor concussion.

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