lucky: Well, the Rangers might have actually cost themselves a chance to

Well, the Rangers might have actually cost themselves a chance to

29 Sep 2017 at 11:30pm
Joel Ward is not going to kneel for the national Authentic Justin Williams Womens Jersey anthem. The San Jose Sharks forward posted a lengthy statement to Twitter on Thursday afternoon to explain his decision. Ward, one of about 30 black players in the NHL, previously told reporters he "wouldn't cross out" joining a movement that has swept the NFL. "I hold an immense amount of respect for the many players -- across the sporting world -- that have chosen to peacefully bring attention to a couple of big issues in today's society, which are inequality and the use of excessive force against people of color in the United /a> States of America," Ward wrote in his statement. "Make no mistake that racism exists and that people of color are treated differently on a day-to-day basis." Ward wrote he felt "the original message that was trying to be communicated had been lost," as many have confused kneeling during the anthem as a protest of the flag or military. Ward, 38, was born in Canada; his parents are immigrants from Barbados. Earlier this week, Ward told The Mercury News that he had long conversations with his GM, Doug Wilson, who was open to listening and offered support in whatever the forward decided to do. Sharks coach Pete DeBoer reiterated his support for Ward, telling the newspaper: "I'm a big freedom of speech guy. Everyone Authentic Rex Burkhead Womens Jersey has the right to message how they want to." The NHL has nothing in its rulebook addressing anthem protocol, what players must do or even where they need to be while it is performed. "All that is mandated in our bylaws is that the national anthem(s) be played before our games - U.S. if it's a game here between two U.S.-based teams, Canadian if it's in Canada between two Canadian-based teams and both anthems if it is a game in either country between one from each," a league spokesperson wrote in an email to ESPN. Ward ended his statement with a call to action. "But now that I have the world's attention, let's meet at the kitchen table, the locker room or in the stands and continue the healing process," he wrote. "Let our collective focus be on bridging the gap between communities -- on working to heal generations of unequal treatment of people of color in the United States of America -- and not turning our backs on that which is hard to face head on." When Henrik Lundqvist was injured toward the end of the 2014-15 season, Cam Talbot stepped in and /a> performed so well that many fans argued that he should start in the playoffs over the heralded No. 1 goalie. That was ridiculous from the start, and sure enough, doubters were shushed once the playoffs began. Lundqvist returned and posted a .928 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average while bringing his team to Game 7 of the conference finals. He was a big part of the Rangers' deep playoff run. Nevertheless, the offseason brought about the "What to do with Talbot?" question. On July 26, 2015, the Rangers sent Talbot and a seventh-round pick (No. 209 overall, used on Ziyat Paigin) to the Edmonton Oilers for a second-round pick (No. 57, subsequently traded to Washington and used on Jonas Siegenthaler), a third-round pick (No. 79, Sergey Zborovskiy) and a seventh-round pick (No. 184, Adam Huska). Talbot was coming off an impressive performance in the season's second half and was entering the final year of his contract, set to become an unrestricted free agent the following summer. It made sense at the time. The out-of-nowhere goalie was at peak value and Paul Richardson Womens Jersey would likely be lost to free agency in a year's time. After all, it was the Henrik Lundqvist to whom Talbot was playing second fiddle, so the opportunity for him in New York was limited. As the Rangers have consistently done over the past 10 years, they went all-in on the now. They had one of the best goaltenders in the world, and they managed to land some picks in exchange for a goalie with potential before he exited on his own. And they would challenge for a Stanley Cup for the final few years of the team's contending window. All was well. It sounds crazy, and maybe it would have been crazy two years ago, but today, it's impossible to ignore the what-if scenario. In the two seasons since Talbot left, the Rangers were embarrassed in the opening round of the 2016 playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins -- a series in which Lundqvist was exposed, to the tune of an .867 save percentage and 4.39 goals-against average -- and then disposed of by the Ottawa Senators in the second round of the 2017 playoffs. A team with an average age of nearly 28 years old and a roster /a> built around their goaltender's prime (Lundqvist turned 35 in March) burned the final years of the Cup window, recording just seven playoff victories these past two springs. So now, the Rangers have nothing to show for sticking with Lundqvist and the win-now mentality, but still must maneuver around his massive contract, anchored to the floor with an $8.5 million average annual cap hit through the conclusion of the 2020-21 NHL season -- at which point King Henrik will be 39 years old and quite possibly in some form of equal time-share or full-on secondary role. His contract comes with a no-move clause, so trading the veteran would have been difficult, but it wasn't out of the question. Talbot, meanwhile, just turned 30 years old and makes $4,166,667 annually through the end of next season. And what's worse? He's arguably been better than Lundqvist the past two seasons.

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