The New York Rangers’ decision to buy out the remainder of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s contract did not get the attention it deserved. Most observers felt the Rangers were determined to go in a younger direction and continuing to employ the 38-year-old Lundqvist (affectionately known to Blueshirts fans as “King Henrik”) did not fit that goal.
The NHL just completed its season, which like everything else, was affected by the pandemic. The Yankees’ being in the playoffs, along with the awful state of the New York Jets and Giants, have taken up most sports attention locally. So it wasn’t surprising the Lundqvist era came to an end with a whimper instead of a bang, maybe the goal of Rangers’ management.
The handsome and debonair Lundqvist was understandably the face of the Rangers for 15 seasons. He never got them the hallowed Stanley Cup, though he did help get them to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings. Like the Mets’ David Wright, Lundqvist was the go-to guy for reporters after a game and was respectful to those whose knowledge of hockey was limited, such as yours truly.
Veteran NHL reporter and Bayside High School alum Ashley Scharge does not expect Lundqvist to retire, telling me, “He wants to be on a Stanley Cup winner. He could be willing to be a backup goaltender for either the Philadelphia Flyers or Washington Capitals,” while other teams would be interested in him as a starter.
HBO Sports’ latest documentary, “Wild Card: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth,” which debuted Tuesday, is a harrowing recap of the life of Craig Carton who, along with his partner, Boomer Esiason, had the top-rated morning radio show in the New York market from 2007 through 2017. Things came to a crashing halt when the FBI arrested him three years ago for defrauding business investors so he could repay gambling debts.
Carton was very involved with all aspects of “Wild Card” and doesn’t sugarcoat the seedy things he did to cover for his gambling habit. There is plenty of commentary from his former WFAN morning show cohorts, Jerry Recco, Eddie Scozzare and, of course, Esiason. The show re-enacts his time at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary and his late nights playing blackjack at the Borgata in Atlantic City.
“Wild Card” admits Carton’s manic persona is just on-air shtick and he is surprisingly subdued away from the microphone. Having met him a few times I can attest that’s true.
Rumors are swirling Carton may return to WFAN in the afternoon slot. With WFAN struggling in the ratings, a reunion makes sense.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
As if Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen did not have enough to worry about regarding his future, he couldn’t have been very happy learning the Philadelphia Phillies fired their GM, Matt Klentak, following yet another disappointing season in which they failed to make the playoffs.
Just as imminent Mets owner Steve Cohen grew up a big fan of the Amazin’s, Phillies managing partner John Middleton spent many days of his childhood watching the Phils aggravate him in the cheap seats of old Connie Mack Stadium. While he wants the Phillies to be profitable, he is far more interested in this stage of his life to see them win, and he made it clear on Saturday his patience has worn thin. Cohen undoubtedly feels the same way.
The news of the passing of one of the greatest pitchers of my lifetime, Bob Gibson, coming roughly a month after the death of Tom Seaver, was sad, though not surprising, news. Tim McCarver, who caught Gibson’s flame-throwing fastballs more than any other catcher, told me last October when he was being honored with a lifetime achievement award from Fordham University’s radio station, WFUV, that Gibson was very ill, though he did not reveal it was pancreatic cancer.
I met Gibson once. I was aware of his curmudgeonly reputation as someone who didn’t enjoy small talk or reminiscing about his baseball career. I quickly recalled Gibson had spent his entire life in Omaha, Neb., and told him I was in his town in 1998 for a travel article.
He was quite engaging and was curious about my impressions of his hometown. He was glad I liked many aspects of his city, as he prided himself on being an ambassador for Omaha. He was perturbed when I told him the one drawback was my experience trying to work with the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau. He didn’t seem surprised and appreciated my candor.
Incidentally, Gibson spent 1981 as a coach on then-Mets manager Joe Torre’s staff.
Mac Davis, who died last week at the age of 78 following cardiac surgery, will be remembered as a terrific singer and an even better songwriter. He also dabbled in acting and many will recall his portrayal of egotistical and omniscient fictional quarterback Seth Maxwell in the 1979 movie, “North Dallas Forty.” The film was a thinly veiled swipe at the Dallas Cowboys. It was based on the novel “North Dallas Forty” which was written by former Cowboys player Pete Gent.
“North Dallas Forty” remains one of the best sports-themed movies ever made thanks in large part to the chemistry between Davis and his co-star, Nick Nolte, who was at his career apex.