With the relationship already strained between the New York Rangers and the NHL head office over a silly lawsuit that is ballooning out of proportion, Gary Bettman must be feeling extra pissed at MSG lately.
The NHL released their schedule today and confirmed that the New York Rangers would be taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Prague, Czech Republic opening day. The only problem is, Glen Sather let Jaromir Jagr sign in Russia instead of Manhattan.
There can be no doubt that Bettman chose the Rangers to play in Prague because Jaromir Jagr, the best player in Czech history, would create a buzz in his home country. It also helped that the locally popular Martin Straka was riding shotgun beside him. Now they're both gone and the only Czech's the Rangers currently employ are Petr Prucha and Michal Rozsival.
Not exactly must-see players.
With foresight, the NHL would have booked the Rangers to play the Senators in Sweden instead of the Penguins because the Rangers have two Swedish superstars in Henrik Lundqvist and Markus Naslund who would have rivalled the impact of Daniel Alfredsson in Stockholm on opening day.
The Prague fans may want to cheer for the marginally more Czech-like Tampa Bay Lightning who only got that way by accident because they signed half of the available free-agents this summer. The Bolts sport Filip Kuba, Radim Vrbata and Vaclav Prospal.
Jaromir Jagr they are not.
Maybe Sather and the suits at MSG like James L. Dolan didn't want to miss an opportunity to stick it to Bettman, even if it cost them the best player in the league over the past 15 years.
If this is even remotely true, that's dedication to screwing somebody over that even George Costanza could admire.