November 25, 2011
The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers announced their Winter Classic alumni rosters Friday afternoon, promising that always-enjoyable mix of nostalgia and backchecking-free hockey we've come to expect from the Winter Classic alumni games of the past.
From the Rangers' press release, their roster looks like this:
The game will feature the return to the ice of Rangers greats Brian Leetch and Adam Graves. Joining Leetch and Graves are Hockey Hall of Famers Glenn Anderson and Mike Gartner, in addition to goaltenders John Vanbiesbrouck and Dan Blackburn, defensemen Dave Maloney, Ron Greschner, Tom Laidlaw, Dale Purinton, Darius Kasparaitis and Mathieu Schneider(notes), and forwards Darren Langdon, Stephane Matteau, Nick Kypreos, Darren Turcotte, Kris King, Brian Mullen, Paul Broten, Ron Duguay, Nick Fotiu and Pat Hickey. Coaches will be Mike Keenan, Emile Francis and Colin Campbell. The Rangers Off-Ice Ambassadors will include Rod Gilbert, Ed Giacomin and Harry Howell.
Keep in mind that Mark Messier and Mike Richter may still play, pending clearance from their doctors. Messier is banking on a swift recovery from shoulder surgery in early December. Still, it seems like, once retired, rushing a rehab might be foolish, so any minor setback could turn a 'maybe' to a 'no'.
The Flyers, too, will feature a vast array of familiar faces. Pat Quinn will coach, with Keith Primeau and Mike Nykoluk acting as his assistants. According to their press release, the roster is as follows:
Goalies: Neil Little, Mark LaForest. Defense: Chris Therien, Derian Hatcher(notes), Kjell Samuelsson, Larry Goodenough, Eric Desjardins, Terry Carkner, Joe Watson, Brad Marsh, Mark Howe. Forwards: John LeClair, Jeremy Roenick(notes), Eric Lindros, Mark Recchi(notes), Bobby Clarke, Shjon Podein, Jim Dowd(notes), Orest Kindrachuk, Bob Kelly, Reggie Leach, Bill Barber, Ken Linseman, Brian Propp, Al Hill.
Seriously? Mark Recchi? There should be some sort of eligibility clause that excludes guys that won the Stanley Cup as a player in the past year. Lame.
That said, it's hard to quibble about Recchi's inclusion when there are so many other lame elements to these rosters. Let's take a look at the five that jump out to me.
1. 1994 seems somewhat under-represented.
Only seven members of New York's 1994 Stanley Cup winning team will suit up: Brian Leetch, Glenn Anderson, Mike Gartner, Adam Graves, Nick Kypreos, Stephane Matteau, and Darren Turcotte. Were all the others busy?
2. No Legion of Doom reunion, because Mikael Renberg can't get the day off.
We've already discussed this, and Lord knows that when it comes to missing a special event because you have to work, we've all been there. But, with Eric Lindros and John Leclair in the lineup for the Flyers, the fact that Mikael Renberg couldn't make it to reunite the trio is flat out lame.
I'd suggest Renberg call in sick, but with the HD television coverage, he'd probably be caught. Probably.
3. This was an opportunity for helmetless Craig MacTavish. A missed opportunity.
Speaking of omitted members of the Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup... here's video of the final faceoff. That's Craig MacTavish, the last helmetless player in the NHL, lined up for New York.
How incredibly badass would it have been for MacTavish to play in the alumni game without a helmet? Granted, in this age of concussions, headshots and increased protection to player's heads aimed at preventing such, it would have been perhaps the most irresponsible thing imaginable, but still, it would have been sweet.
Unfortunately, MacTavish is the coach of the AHL's Chicago Wolves, whose date with the Charlotte Checkers begins an hour before the alumni game. Lame. He should call in sick too.
4. Really? Jim Dowd? Really?
Jim Dowd played one 73-game season for the Flyers at the very end of a 17-year NHL career, over which time he played for 10 teams.
73 games. That's 3 more than Dowd played with the Edmonton Oilers. Raise your hand if you remember Jim Dowd was an Edmonton Oiler.
5. Philadelphia's goalie tandem adequately represents the mediocrity of most of their goaltending history.
No Ron Hextall? Weak.
Instead, the Philly goal will be kept by the tandem of Neil Little and Mark LaForest, once again reminding Flyers' fans of their shameful, shameful goaltending history. Both of these guys played most of their careers in the AHL, with only brief cups of coffee and backup work in the bigs.
They played a combined 40 games for the Flyers. LaForest played 38 games in a Flyers' uniform. Little played 2, although in fairness to him, he was a member of the Flyers' organization for eight years. The majority of his time in Pennsylvania, however, was spent with the Philadelphia Phantoms.
All that said, this game still holds plenty of promise. Fingers crossed that Eric Lindros and Darius Kasparaitis remember that they're not overly fond of one another.