2002-12-21 / Sports

Net Change At The Garden: A Metro Hockey Update

Hockey Columnist
By Andrei Petrovitch

Hockey Columnist

Like many of you, I routinely fell asleep in my high school physics class. After all, I wasn’t a physicist and didn’t plan on becoming one…why did I have to bother staying awake? I had other things on my mind, like the hot chick in the second row or the new Metallica album. One thing I do recall being awake for was the lecture on the second law of thermodynamics, which more or less has to do with how everything eventually breaks down…or something like that.

I was reminded of my old physics class when I first heard about the trade that sent Nashville Predators goalie Mike Dunham to the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Tomas Kloucek, Rem Murray, and prospect Merek Zedliky.

With Mike Richter’s career breaking down after an inadvertent concussion courtesy of the left knee of Todd Marchant (!), and with Dan Blackburn being, well, 19 years old, the Rangers desperately needed to bolster their most important position. Dunham is a fundamentally solid goalie who coincidentally, happened to be Richter’s understudy at last year’s Olympic games. Two years ago, he posted a respectable 2.28 goals against average with the expansion Predators.

At 29 years of age, Dunham serves as an ideal bridge between the aging and injury-prone Richter and the young and inexperienced Blackburn. In his first game between the pipes (against the San Jose Sharks on Monday), Dunham let in the first shot but soon settled down and made saves on the subsequent 25.

But like the any physics professor or high school cafeteria attendant will tell you, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Kloucek was the type of big, physical defenseman the injury ravaged Rangers could use right about now, and Murray was a competent, versatile left-winger who played well with Eric Lindros. However, neither player was irreplaceable; General Manager Glen Sather did address the loss of the latter by obtaining 6’4" 212 lb. left-winger Josh Green from the Edmonton Oilers for a 3rd-round draft choice.

The team is by no means perfect – sniper Pavel Bure is out for four weeks with injured knees, and defensemen Tom Poti, Dale Purinton, Sylvain Lefevbre, and Brian Leetch are out with all kinds of maladies. Coach Bryan Trottier also has to convince the team to adhere to a stable defensive system for sixty minutes at a time. Even still, the addition of Dunham will certainly help to keep the Rangers out of the Atlantic Division cellar.

Coming in Two Weeks: Brad Isbister and the "Bertuzzi/Kovalev/Guerin" syndrome. Stay Tuned!!!!

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