On Thursday afternoon, Illegal Curve was lucky enough to interview Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Zipay who covers the New York Rangers for Newsday. Among other things, Zipay touches on the Brendan Shananhan situation, the pressures Tom Renney will face this season, and who he sees as the Atlantic Division favorite.
Here is the interview:
Richard: Thanks for doing this Steve. Having covered so many different types of news stories over the years, how do you enjoy covering the Rangers? Is it what you expected?
Steve: In a dotcom world, there’s more writing than ever before; the requirements of most pro sportswriting jobs have expanded. It’s busy year-round. Having covered crime, courts, music and business as well as Super Bowls and World Series, the Rangers and the NHL are a satisfying change: the coaches and players are approachable, the writers and broadcasters who cover the team are quite enjoyable, the travel ranges from interesting to bearable to dogged. As a New Yorker, I grew up following the Yankees, Giants, Rangers and Knicks, so I have some perspective—and realism. NHL fans are rabid and I like the sport (fast-moving, no rain delays!), so in general, it’s a pretty cool gig.
Richard: If there was one move the Rangers completed this summer that you never would have okay’d, which move would that be?
Steve: Unless the front-office execs know more than I do about Patrick Rismiller and Dmitri Kalinin, I would’ve gone in another direction. Of course, the roster is always a moving target and they have one-year deals, so this isn’t a long-term issue.
Richard: Is there any chance that Brendan Shanahan starts the season as a Blueshirt?
Steve: If Sundin decides to retire or play elsewhere, I think Shanny is in the picture, if he’ll accept far less money, fewer minutes and a role on special teams. He’s a worrisome skater, but can still shoot. He’s valuable in shootouts for sure.
Richard: While he doesn’t generate as much press as he should, do you think Marc Staal will become a top-pair defenseman this season?
Steve: Staal can be a top-pair d if he stays healthy. Not sure he’ll ever be a major offensive force, but that’s OK. He matured a lot last season, he’s rugged and more confident.
Richard: With two 2nd round losses in a row, do you believe this season is make-or-break for Tom Renney?
Steve: Without the issues surrounding Jagr and Avery, there will be a different chemistry in the room and on the ice. How Renney—a smart, prepared guy— guides and shapes the group is the question. If they stay healthy and don’t get past the second round, there certainly will be calls for him to move to another job in the organization.
Richard: Finally, who is your current favorite to win the Atlanta Division (The Flyers, Penguins, Rangers or Devils) and why?
Steve: There will be other moves before October, but right now, I’d say the Penguins are the team to beat, even without Hossa and Malone. Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fleury, Gonchar, Orpik are a very good core. The Flyers have a formidable offense, but no real trusty goaltender. The Rangers need to find more scoring, either from Naslund and Zherdev or the younger guys. The Rangers should be in the hunt though.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.