BY JUSTIN DEMARCO
If there’s one player I want on my team during a rivalry game it’s Micheal Haley. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see that the New York Rangers recalled the tough guy for the team’s matchup versus the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at Madison Square Garden.
It didn’t take long for Haley to become a fan favorite on Long Island after he exacted revenge against pretty much the entire Pittsburgh Penguins team on February 11, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum. About a week earlier, the Penguins shutout the Islanders in Pittsburgh and the game ended with Penguins goalie Brent Johnson challenging Isles goalie Rick DiPietro to a fight. Johnson got the better of DP and knocked him out with one punch, breaking bones in DP’s face. Max Talbot also concussed forward Blake Comeau with a hit earlier in that game.
So, when Haley was called up on February 11th, he knew his role. He found himself in the middle of three fights, including one with Talbot and then another with Johnson – both on the same shift. Simply put, Haley was on a search and destroy mission and found all of his intended targets. He even scored a goal against Johnson to put the Islanders up 6-0 prior to the fight. The Isles went on to win the game 9-3. Talk about adding insult to injury.
However, Haley cemented himself as a New York Islanders Hockey God when he stood up for young Isles defenseman Travis Hamonic and bloodied Rangers forward Sean Avery in a fight on March 31, 2011.
The Islanders organization let Haley walk in the offseason and the tough guy ended up with the Isles rivals, the Rangers. And that brings us to tonight’s game against the Flyers.
All I can say is if Haley is given the opportunity to play, it’d be in your best interest to tune in tonight. For a Rangers team that can desperately use a spark in this shortened season, Micheal Haley may be exactly what the Blueshirts need.