Mr. Smith's Neighborhood

It's a beautiful day in the Neighborhood for teachers everywhere! Anything and everything is fair game!

Rangers Continue to Roll December 31, 2007

Are All Montreal Fans Brain Damaged?

Last night (Sunday, Dec. 30) the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on a breakaway overtime goal by Brendan Shanahan. The real highlight of the game, however, was the hundreds of Montreal fans who paid two and three times the face value of a ticket and then proceeded to act like idiots in the stands. More on that later.

After taking a 2-1 first period lead on goals by Dan Girardi and Jaromir Jagr, the Rangers played a lackluster second period. It was most likely a letdown following a very emotional 6-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

The league-leading Montreal power play took advantage of the referee’s generosity to score two second period goals and lead 3-2 to start the third period. Montreal scored on three of their four power play opportunities but were a marginal offensive team at even strength. One of Montreal’s goals came after a hit on Dan Girardi that should have been called boarding but was not.

After early success against the highly-touted Canadien defense, the Rangers reverted back to their “excessive passing” game and stopped skating. While the Canadien defense looked like traffic cones on the ice, the Rangers seemed to have lost their offensive drive.



The Rangers, Fantasy Hockey and Loving Hockey Again December 4, 2007

Rangers’ Discussion Board is for the Birds

Before we begin, my thanks go to my sister-in-law Patricia for pointing me to The Enneagram Institute, a web site that offers both free and fully validated personality assessments. Under the guise of classifying me as a Reformer (well, it could happen), it proved what people have been telling me for years: I am a pain-in-the-butt, anal-retentive type-1 personality.

For now, my destiny as an idealistic reformer steps forward.

The last 10 weeks haven’t been especially pleasant ones for me, an endless monotony between doctors, hospitals and my little cavern in the basement of my home. I won’t bore you with the details but my functionality has been severely limited. As of yet, I haven’t found a plausible explanation as to why I could work on a computer in limited stretches but, when watching TV, I fell asleep in a heartbeat.

During my recovery, I listened to the Rangers’ games on television despite the brutally painful results of the first ten games. You have to understand that the worst part was reading the pathetic discussion board on the New York Rangers web site. You’d think that the world was coming to an end and people were jumping off every bridge in NYC.

To break up my daily monotony, I joined a fantasy hockey league. I never played fantasy sports before this because I just didn’t have the time. At a previous job, I watched employees spend three hours a day on an in-house league … and the department’s productivity was an illusion because the manager and two supervisors spent more time than anyone else chatting and trading players.

The best part was that the Director of MIS and his staff actually helped to set up the league and conceal it from management. As you might imagine, it left a bad taste in my mouth for fantasy sports.



A Coup by the New York Rangers July 2, 2007

The Rangers announced yesterday the signing of free agents Chris Drury (formerly of the Buffalo Sabres) and Scott Gomez (formerly of the New Jersey Devils) to long-term contracts. The signings fill a major gap in the Rangers line-up at center and brings two top NHL talents to the team, providing additional power for years to come. Forming a nucleus with youngsters like Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Fedor Tyutin, Blair Betts, Petr Prucha and Dan Girardi (along with many talented minor league players), the Ranger’s future seems bright.

There have been very few days that are truly magical as a fan of the New York Rangers since 1994. The last two seasons have been special for many of us who are season ticket holders despite the drought since we won our last Stanley Cup. While we demand perfection from Ranger management, sometimes unrealistically, we have been pleasantly surprised by some great moves in recent months.

Last season, we signed or obtained players like Brendan Shanahan, Matt Cullen, Paul Mara and Sean Avery. The level of devotion to this team is at the highest I’ve seen it in my 39 years as a fan, even superseding that great season of 1993-1994. Much in the same way that Mike Richter, Adam Graves, Mark Messier and Brian Leetch inspired many great seasons of hockey, Ranger fans will be able to feast their hockey appetite on a menu that includes Jaromir Jagr, Marty Straka, Lundqvist, Shanahan (likely), Prucha (likely), Avery (it had better be definite!), Gomez and Drury.



Devils Go Bye-Bye and the Rangers Need a Miracle May 5, 2007

I never much cared for Marty Brodeur of the Swamp Gerbils, even though he is one of the greatest goalies every to play in the NHL. I don’t like his smugness and I don’t like crybabies. To help end the Gerbil season, Marty made some really dumb comments about Ray Emery, the Ottawa goaltender. He then tried to spin it and back-peddle but, instead, wound up with filet of foot in his mouth and a 3-2 loss in Game 5 (Ottawa takes the series 4-1).

  I fear that the Debbies’ departure from the playoffs may be a bad omen for the New York Rangers. The possibility of a Rangers-Debbies series for the Eastern Conference championship (and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals) would have been incredibly awesome. It would have been a fabulous boost for the NHL and hockey. Instead, the specter of a Buffalo-Ottawa final means that hockey season will be over for me (and the NY Metro market), but I will get a huge refund from Madison Square Garden (maybe I can finally buy that fishing rowboat!). (more…)


Consistency on the Ice and in the Classroom April 22, 2007

The Classroom, Corporate Culture and The NHL

One might wonder what the connection is between ice hockey, Corporate America and the classroom, other than the fact that this teacher and his wife (also a teacher) are die-hard season ticket holders for the New York Rangers. And no, this article has nothing to do with my wife’s utter fascination with the “caboose” of Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers’ phenomenal goalie. However, today’s lesson is about a word that has been lost in this modern day of makeovers and media spin.

What is consistency? How does it apply in the NHL?

Today’s word is consistency. According to the folks at, consistency is “steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.: There is consistency in his pattern of behavior. Unfortunately, the lessons from the National Hockey League have to do with the performance of the referees. For those of you not familiar with the NHL, new rules were instituted at the beginning of the 2005 – 2006 season. The new rules required refs to call a two-minute penalty for ALL “obstruction” fouls with zero tolerance – holding, hooking, interference, illegal picks and goalie interference – whereas such fouls in the past were only called when the infraction was highly obvious or prevented a scoring chance.