The Rangers have gotten off to pretty decent start this season. They've picked up 13 points through nine games and, in Henrik Lundqvist, have one of the best goalies in all of hockey. What they don't have, however, is anything that resembles buzz around the team.
Empty seats abound, even when watching the game on television, and media coverage has been scarce for the most part. Last night, however, Sean Avery returned to face the Rangers for the first time since signing with Dallas. For the first time this season a Ranger game reached event status. How the world's most annoying and infuriating player and his former teammates reacted to each other was worth watching, even if Avery didn't do much of consequence during the Stars' 2-1 win.
Before and after the game, however, Avery was the center of attention. He yapped at Lundqvist and Brandon Dubinsky during warmups and, following the game, stiffed the clutch of reporters trying to get some quotes for this morning's papers. Not the best behavior, perhaps, but it got mentioned in all those papers and, thus, so did the game. The Rangers may not miss Avery's play on a nightly basis, they need scoring punch more than irritants, but they miss the star quality he brings to the team.
Chris Drury and Scott Gomez are fine players but they don't capture eyeballs. Lundqvist could win the Vezina Trophy and might still rank behind Martin Brodeur on the list of media darling goalies. Brodeur, it should be noted, appears on the back pages about as often as members of the Red Bulls. Avery, on the other hand, was a celebrity and that meant people paid attention to the Rangers. Unless they shake up their roster, they'll be doomed to a season in the shadows.