Over the last two weeks Rangers fans from around the globe have emailed newyorkrangers.com with their outlook on the upcoming 2003-04 season. We asked for your thoughts on how the Blueshirts will fare in the East? Which games you are looking forward to the most? Which Rangers players will put up the best numbers? Who will be the team's biggest surprises? What should the offensive and defensive line combinations be?
After receiving hundreds of emails, we have randomly selected a few to post online. Here is what some of you had to say ...
Let's see Glen Sather give Eric Lindros the top line center position with Kovalev on his right wing from day one of training camp. If he works his way out of it so be it. Let's see a third line (crash line) of Holik, Barnaby and Simon. Go Rangers!
- BigSwede89@cs.com _____________________________
Let's see, where do I begin? I look forward to making the playoffs (we will). I look forward to our Captain's 25th Season (you WILL get him signed!). I look forward to watching Dan Blackburn develop (brilliant drafting, by the way). I look forward to watching Jamie Lundmark shine; he's ready. We will place second in the division, and surprise our first round opponent with a very decisive series win (My faith remains undaunted). Alex Kovalev will have an all-star year ... Dunham will be solid ... and Messier will be Messier. The coaching moves were the right moves. I expect to see the team overcome the bug-a-boos of the last couple of years. Lindros will regain his confidence; Kasparitis will be his lovably annoying self. Hlavac will fare better this time around. We do have to adopt a 'take no prisoners' attitude; laughingstock is not a fun status!!!! Depending on who we meet in the conference final, I believe we have a good shot to finish well this year. You absolutely must retire Richter's number in the home opener and let the team dedicate the season to him. Counting the days until opening night.
- Susan L. Couture _____________________________
I think the Rangers are looking pretty good this year, although I say that in the beginning of every season! I think I am looking forward to one person this year in particular, and that is Glen Sather! He will be coaching right from the get go and I am hoping to see him bring out a more passionate hockey club! Let's see if they can improve on their power play and tighten up their defense and not give up so many close one goal games! If he brings the Blueshirts to the playoffs, he will not only be responsible for bringing over great players, but putting together a group of players as a winning team! Those two ingredients are in desperate need of each other if they are going to succeed in 2003-2004!
- Mike - Molo74 _____________________________
Since I don't get much web or TV access here in Kuwait, I don't have much of a grasp on the off- season moves. However, I do believe that Anson Carter has been one of the best moves made in quite sometime. Chris Simon and Matt Barnaby will probably be the two most penalized players on the team, which is great since they're known enforcers. My biggest concern, however, isn't line combinations, penalty minutes, goaltending, or coaching changes. On ice and locker room leadership is where my concerns lie with where the team is going as far as the post-season is concerned. I feel that the most capable on ice leader, albeit his age and years of service to the NHL, still remains unsigned. Kovalev, Bure, Carter, and Lindros will score a lot of goals. Leetch will play both ends well. Blackburn, and hopefully Richter, will keep the nets empty. Kasparaitis, Barnaby, and Simon will intimidate. Messier is still the man to hold this team together and bring another Cup to Broadway. Lets bring the team together and bring Lord Stanley home in 2004.
- SGT Matt Tallon - Camp Arifjan, Kuwait _____________________________
This year's team is gonna be amazing. We have Brian Leetch back on defense with Tom Poti and our newest defenseman Greg de Vries. My thought is that Matthew Barnaby will be the second biggest surprise. He seems to be very confident about 03-04 season. He had an awesome season last year and I have a feeling if he is put on a good line, he will perform. In the East the Rangers are going to start off well and finish in the third or fourth spot. The team has great offense coming from Alex Kovalev, who is going to explode and have a 50-goal season. This team can compete with others like the Devils, and some other top clubs but the biggest problem the Rangers have will be to beat the 'easier teams.' If they beat these teams and have consistent two-to-five game winning streaks with a loss here and there, they will show the world that they are not just some overpaid players who never win. The game I'm looking most forward to the most are the Islanders games. I hate them and the feud is going to be astounding this year. But the biggest surprise this year will without a doubt be Eric Lindros. He has been quiet this off-season and I'm hoping he will explode with at least 30-35 goals. Thank you for listening and GO RANGERS!
- IsoNicI8x _____________________________
I'm really looking forward this season to the progress of some of the Rangers younger players. I think players like Dale Purinton, Jamie Lundmark, Ales Pisa and Dan Blackburn showed a lot of promise last year when it really counted. I'm also looking forward to further contributions made by Matt Barnaby, Mike Dunham and Petr Nedved, who all had excellent seasons for us in 2002-03. I think Dunham showed the league that he's probably one of the most underrated goaltenders out there. I also think the recent additions of Rucinsky and Hlavac were good signings to bolster the left wing position. Both of these players played well for us in the past, and I think they can contribute right off the bat. I'm really looking forward to the 2003-04 season - Let's Go Rangers!!!
- Keith Kurczewski _____________________________
I love the Rangers! I have been a fan all my life, and I am looking forward to the upcoming season. I like the recent signings, and I think the Rangers will be back in the playoffs this season. Dunham is a solid netminder and having the skills Alex Kovalev for a whole season is going to be a great benefit. I am very excited about the season. Let's go Rangers!!!
- ClarkJets _____________________________
I am very optimistic about the season the Rangers are going to have this year. Last year was very disappointing, but this year is going to be much different. The Rangers may not win the Stanley Cup but when they make the playoffs, the other teams in the East better watch out. The Rangers have too many great players to not make the playoffs this year. I think Lindros will have one of his best years as a Ranger, putting up the numbers the Rangers are paying him for. If Bure stays healthy he could put up another 50-goal seasons. With Rucinsky and Hlavac in the mix, now the # 2 and 3 lines are much deeper. The biggest surprises of the team will be Anson Carter and Petr Nedved. They both will surprise Ranger fans and establish themselves as some of the better players in the NHL. With the season coming up, the Rangers have a lot to look forward to. Hopefully this season will work out like the way I hope it will.
- Andrew - New York, N.Y. _____________________________
The Rangers will finish in a very comfortable position in the Eastern Conference ... they should finish no worse than the fifth spot. I am looking forward to the first game of the season on October 10th against the Wild in Minnesota. I am also looking forward for their home opener. A team like the Rangers has many different players that can post all-star numbers. Players like Lindros, Kovalev, Carter, Holik, Nedved, and if healthy, Bure. Others such as Rucinsky, Hlavac, Simon and Lundmark can put solid numbers too. But the player that i feel is going to be the team leader in points is Alex Kovalev. I feel the teams biggest surprises will be Jamie Lundmark and Mike Dunham. Jamie is a player who has excellent potential. This is the year where he has to prove himself, which I think he will. Mike is a solid goaltender and I feel he is one of the elite goalies in the league. This year I predict big numbers coming from Dunham. The offensive line combinations should be: Kovalev, Lindros, Rucinsky ... Simon, Holik, Carter ... Hlavac, Nedved, Lundmark ... LaCouture, Barnaby, Petrovicky. If Bure is healthy, put him on the top line with Alex and the big "E". The defensive line combinations should be: Leetch and de Vries ... Poti and Malakhov ... Kasparaitis, Purinton. The goaltending tandem should be: Dunham as the #1 and Markkanen as the #2. Send Blackburn down to the "A" to gain some experience.
- BUCCIBMWZ3 _____________________________
We approach another Ranger season with only reasonable expectations. With a roster of seasoned veterans, mixed with some younger faces, one would hope for a post-season playoff berth, even if it only lasts one round. Yet, with pretty much the same roster as last year, and consecutive years of missing the playoffs, we cannot become too enthusiastic, either. It's a long season, and a demanding one, where strong leadership, team spirit and unity, and consistent team play are fundamental baselines for making the post-season. Let's all hope this year's team finds these attributes and embraces them. If the Rangers can, then it is not unreasonable to expect a playoff appearance ... something we have all longed for, for a very long, long time. As training camp approaches, we wish the team the best from all of us here in Vermont!
- Chris Webber _____________________________
The 2003-04 Rangers are sporting a different look then the last few years with a combination of scorers, balanced with dependable two-way players ... which should amount to a lower goals against, and a playoff spot for the first time in seven years. Look for Jussi Markkanen to battle Dunham for the #1 spot, and yes, Richter will be announcing his retirement. After having a relatively injury free year , Eric Lindros should bounce back and prove that he is not a shell of his former self, and dominate in the NHL as in the past. The bulk of the scoring will come from Lindros, Kovalev and Carter. Look for Holik and Nedved to contribute 20+ goals. My prediction is that the Rangers will finish fifth in the Conference and have a legitimate chance to go to the dance if the adjustments made this year adequately solidify their defensive side of the game. The games to see will be the usual rivals in the East ... Flyers, Devils and Islanders. Here is what the lineup (plus Mess) would look like on opening night if the roster is as today: Rucinsky, Lindros, Kovalev with Leetch and Poti ... Simon, Holik, Carter with Malakhov and Kasparaitis ... Hlavac, Nedved, Petrovicky with Purinton and de Vries ... LaCouture, Messier, Barnaby ... in goal - Dunham and Markkanen. Looking forward to a great season!
- Dom S. - Section 304 (since 1998-99) _____________________________
I think the Rangers will begin to become more cohesive as a team, and will finish in the middle of the pack come playoff time. There is too much talent on the team, and since they will be more familiar w/ each other's tendencies, I'd have to say they'll be the fifth seed in the East at the end of the regular season. Of course, that could change if Messier and Bure come back, which could even bump them up higher. The players that I think will put up the best numbers are Kovalev and Leetch. Alex had to become familiar with New York again last year and being in training camp with his new teammates will really help. As far as the line combinations go, there are so many that would be interesting. I think the biggest "potential" scoring line could be a line of Hlavac, Nedved and Kovalev. I'd love to see Petr and Alex become familiar again the way they were in Pittsburgh ... and Jan is already is familiar with Petr from years ago. I think it will be a fast and exciting line if it's put together. I think the biggest surprise will be Pisa, if he gets some playing time. I think that he could do for the Rangers what Zubov did for them. Also, Fedor Tjutin could surprise some people if he makes the roster and gets playing time as well. LET'S GO RANGERSS! I can't wait!
- Jim - Swiftman71 _____________________________
Being one of the few "die-hard" Rangers fans in Newfoundland, Canada and being surrounded by those annoying Maple Leaf and Montreal Canadians fans has made it extremely difficult to stay loyal to my Blueshirts. I have patiently waited for my boys to make the playoffs but to no avail. Finally, we get Glen Sather to clean up the mess left over by previous management and I am very confident that within the next two years, we will have a very legitimate Cup contender. The few signings that Mr. Sather has made over the past couple of years have shown steady improvement in a lackluster team laden with overpriced and undertalented players. Sorry, that's just the way it is. I will always remain a Blueshirt fan, no matter what happens, but now, finally, I can tell my four-year old son that I am a fan of the greatest hockey team in the world. Hopefully, with enough common sense, he will follow in his daddy's footsteps! Looking forward to this season.
- Winston Bull _____________________________
I think this is the year that the Rangers will finally make the playoffs. We might be biting our nails during the season, as well as towards the end of the season, but I think they will finally get over the hump this time around. Re-signing Brian Leetch this off-season was huge for the Rangers. At the end of last season, he carried the team on his shoulders, doing whatever it took for the team to try to win. Hopefully, he'll stay healthy for the entire season. Just like most other Rangers fans, we look forward to our rivalry games against the Islanders, Devils and Flyers. I think Alex Kovalev will put up decent numbers this year. He'll be with the Rangers for the entire season and should contribute well. Jamie Lundmark will continue to build on what he accomplished last season. He's a solid player who will develop further as he plays more games. If the Rangers can find a way to click together, work as a team and get the right lines together, then they can make this a great season and go to where they haven't been since 1997. Let's Go Rangers!
- John Dwyer - Valley Cottage, NY _____________________________
How will the Blueshirts fare in the East? I Believe the New York Rangers will finish sixth in the East. After re-signing Kovalev, Leetch, Carter and Poti, the Rangers look like they can challenge any team in the league ... Which games are you looking forward to the most? Of all the games in the schedule I am looking forward to seeing the New York Rangers play the Islanders, Devils, Flyers and Oilers ... Which Rangers players will put up the best numbers? I believe Alex Kovalev and Eric Lindros will put up fantastic numbers this season. Kovalev is one of the best players in the NHL and Lindros has the talent. If both are utilized correctly, the 2003-04 season could big huge for the Rangers ... Who will be the team's biggest surprises? Newly re-acquired left winger Martin Rucinsky could do very well along side Eric Lindros. Maybe reuniting them could create a scoring spark ... What should the offensive and defensive line combinations be? First Line - Ruchinsky, Lindros, Carter ... Second Line - Havlac, Nedved, Kovalev ... Third Line - Simon, Holik, Barnaby ... Fourth Line - Lundmark, Messier, LaCouture ... Defensive Pairings: Poti, Leetch ... Kasparitis, de Vries ... Purinton, Malakhov.
- fspenrath _____________________________
After solving your left wing problems, this season is looking very bright indeed! I'd like to see the line of Simon, Holik, Barnaby kick some major Eastern Conference butt! You don't need to sign anyone else. You can roll four lines with the guys you have now. I consider both these lines as number one or two: Hlavac, Nedved, Kovalev ... Ruchinsky, Lindros, Carter ... A good third line would be Simon, Holik, Barnaby ... for a fourth line: Petrovicky, Lundmark, LaCouture. The Defense is pretty solid. Dunham is going to be great. To keep the fans happy, just make the playoffs! If you do, you'll go deep.
- Margaret Hurley - Brentwood N.Y. _____________________________
This season I am looking forward to a very good Rangers team. With The additions of Simon and Healy, the team got better. Hlavac and Rucinsky make for a good combo with Nedved. If Lindros can get his act together and Holik can start making screens, they will have a much better power play. With The addition of Markkanen, Blackburn finally gets a chance to develop. The signings of Leetch and de Vries improve a very poor defense. If the Rangers can improve defensively and the big names can start to play up to their reputation, the Rangers will have a great chance at the playoffs.