The Rangers postpone their fan fest as Hurricane Irene approaches…A look at what we can expect from the Maple Leafs…The Blues new slogan bears an eerie resemblance to a popular song used by another Western Conference club…A summary of this summer’s NHL free agency… Wondering if Michael Grabner can build on his rookie performance…Possible breakout players for the Penguins…New Senator Nikita Filatov will face considerable scrutiny.

BLUESHIRT BANTER: Bryan Winters reports the NY Rangers, in the face of the approaching Hurricane Iren, have postponed their fan fest, slated for August 27th, to September 10, 2011.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Be safe, New York, and every other Eastern seaboard city in the path of this storm.

THE HOCKEY GUYS: Lukas Hardonk speculates on what fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs can expect of their team this season, predicting an improved roster could point to a strong run for the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule it out, but the Leafs still seem a year away from playoff contention, plus they’ll be trying to move up against the Bruins, Sabres and Canadiens, who are very tough competition.

WINGING IT IN MOTOWN: “J.J. from Kansas” reports the St. Louis Blues new slogan, “Don’t stop believing”, borrows from a popular song played at the Detroit Red Wings home arena, and isn’t going down well with some fans from both teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues aren’t taking the song itself, just the title, and neither Journey or the Wings have a monopoly on that slogan. 

 TOO MANY MEN ON THE SITE: offers up a summary of this summer’s notable free agent signings and other key team activity.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Still hard to believe Christian Ehrhoff got ten years, $40 million, James Wisniewski got 6 years, $33 million, Ilya Bryzgalov 9 years, $51 million and Ville Leino six years, $27 million. Hey, I don’t fault those guys, their new teams wanted them so badly, they were willing to open the vault. It just never fails to amaze me how general managers can still overspend under the salary cap.

PENSBURGH: “Hooks Orpik” examines which young Penguins could be “breakout players” this season, listing Eric Tangradi, Dustin Jeffrey and Simon Despres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My money’s on Tangradi.

THE 6TH SENS: suggests new Senator Nikita Filatov will face the most scrutiny of all their young players this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: IMO this is Filatov’s “make or break” season.

HOUSES OF THE HOCKEY: Jonathan Willis examines the prospects of NY Islanders forward Michael Grabner building on his phenomenal rookie season, which saw him 34 goals and 52 points. Describing Grabner as “a high volume shooter, but not a lethal one”, Willis expects an inevitable decline, but suggests Grabner will see considerably more power-play time this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Provided his numbers don’t decline too much, Isles fans are likely to be forgiving. 

 

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