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New York Rangers' Mailbag: Answering Your Social Media Questions – The Hockey Writers



The winding road that has been the New York Rangers’ 2020-21 season might have reached a high-note after a dominant 4-1 victory of the Washington Capitals. There has been a lot of turbulence so far regarding on, and off-ice drama and some of you have questions that you want to be answered. Without further ado, let’s get this mailbag started!

Who Has Been Your Biggest Surprise This Season?

Asked by @Muychael on Twitter

My biggest surprise has been K’Andre Miller, not because I did not expect him to be this good, but I did not expect him to develop this quickly. The way he utilizes his size to close gaps and keep forwards to the outside is instinctual, and it makes him so adept at shutting down the opposition. His transition ability is phenomenal, making plays and starting a rush seamlessly.

K'Andre Miller New York Rangers
K’Andre Miller, New York Rangers (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

His skating ability makes him a dual-threat, keeping him in plays even after getting beaten or out of position. The scary thing about him is that he is only 21-years-old, meaning he hasn’t even touched the surface of what he can become. He is a legitimate shut-down defenseman, someone I can see turning into a Victor Hedman type of blueliner who can eat minutes and contribute to both sides of the puck.

Miller has a goal and three assists this season, but his defensive ability is why he is my biggest surprise thus far. I’ve said for a while that the Rangers need that shut-down defenseman, and he is that. Lindgren is the perfect compliment for Fox, but Miller has elite size, skating ability, and instincts, making him a special defender.

How Much of a Difference Would a Different Head Coach Make for the Rangers?

Asked by Stacey on Facebook

A new head coach will always have an impact; whether that is positive or negative remains to be seen. I have been very critical of some decisions that head coach David Quinn has made, but ultimately he has made the Rangers competitive every night. The coach cannot score goals, and with players such as Zibanejad and Lafreniere struggling, the offense has lost more games than the coach has.

With that being said, I do think the Rangers should take a hard look at the head coach if they finish in the last place in the East, especially if they deem the development of the younger players is subpar. Quinn is a rookie head coach forced into a massive spotlight and given the reigns to an inexperienced and rebuilding team. At times, he manipulates the roster as if it is a college squad, but he is also learning on the fly the same way his young roster is.

David Quinn New York Rangers
David Quinn, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There is a fraternity of elite NHL coaches, all of whom could do wonders for the Rangers. The problem is, they are all employed. I have no problem with them re-evaluating at the season’s end and seeing what he can get from this group for the remaining 40 games.

What’s Going on With Julien Gauthier? Do You See a Future With Him in the Rangers Organization?

Asked by @NaftaliClinton on Twitter

Gauthier is a mystery. There are games where he shows glimpses of the speed and shot that made him such a valued prospect in the Hurricanes organization. But there is no consistency with his game and he continuously makes questionable decisions with the puck when he is on the ice.

He undoubtedly has a skill-set that could translate to the NHL-level, but his drive and hockey-IQ level seem to be lagging behind his raw talent. With Colin Blackwell’s emergence and the Rangers’ admiration for Brett Howden, it appears as though Gauthier will be made available to the Seattle Kraken this summer. Based on the rest of the Rangers’ roster, he may be the Kraken’s selection, in which case no, he does not have a future with the Rangers.

I do not think the Rangers have seen what they have wanted from Gauthier to pencil him in nightly and to count on him as being a piece of the future. There is currently a glut of wingers on this roster, with more coming in Vitali Kravtsov and Lauri Pajuniemi, leaving little room for the underperforming Gauthier.

The Injuries to Chytil and Trouba Seem Like the Perfect Opportunity to Call Up Barron and Reunanen. Why Haven’t They Gotten the Call?

Asked by @Jackl220 on Twitter

I know there are complex reasons for salary, service time retention, and current roster players’ games required for the upcoming expansion draft. All of those have definitely played a role in who the Rangers have carried on their roster and played this season.

But despite all that, I seriously believe that Morgan Barron and Tarmo Reunanen are in Hartford for development purposes. There is no need to rush the two of them up to the big club and pin them on the fourth-line or bottom pairing. Let the two get purposeful minutes in Hartford and adapt their games to North American hockey’s professional level.

Tarmo Reunanen New York Rangers
Tarmo Reunanen, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In Hartford’s first three games, Barron has two points, and Reunanen has four points, with both showing glimpses of their potential. I think Reunanen is closer than Barron, and he likely can increase the Rangers’ offensive production from the backend. But I agree with how they’ve handled the situation and let the two familiarize themselves with Hartford before getting a crack at the Rangers’ roster next season.

Have Rangers questions you want to see answered in an article? Make sure to follow me on Twitter and look for our bi-weekly mailbags!

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Britney Spears calls recent documentaries about her ‘hypocritical’



LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Pop singer Britney Spears spoke out on Tuesday about recent documentaries about her life and career, calling them “hypocritical” because they rehash her personal problems while criticizing the media for reporting them the first time.

Walt Disney Co’s FX network and The New York Times released “Framing Britney Spears” in February. The documentary examined the singer’s meteoric rise to fame as a teenager, the ensuing media scrutiny and her widely publicized breakdown.And this month, the BBC released “The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship” in Britain. It will debut in the United States and Canada starting May 11 via the BBC Select streaming service.

In an Instagram post, Spears did not name either documentary but said “so many documentaries about me this year with other people’s takes on my life.”

“These documentaries are so hypocritical … they criticize the media and then do the same thing,” she added.

In March, Spears said she cried for two weeks after watching part of “Framing Britney Spears”.

The BBC said in a statement on Tuesday that its documentary “explores the complexities surrounding conservatorship with care and sensitivity.”

“It does not take sides and features a wide range of contributors,” the statement added.

A New York Times spokesperson declined to comment.

Spears, who shot to fame in 1998 with the hit “Baby One More Time,” is in a court battle seeking to replace her father as her conservator. He was appointed to the role in 2008 after she was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment.

Her fans have shown their support on social media under the hashtags #We’reSorryBritney and #FreeBritney. Spears is scheduled to speak to a Los Angeles court in June.

In her Instagram post, which included a video of herself dancing, Spears said that “although I’ve had some pretty tough times in my life … I’ve had waaaayyyy more amazing times in my life and unfortunately my friends … I think the world is more interested in the negative.”

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Grammy organizers change rules after allegations of corruption



LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The organizers of music’s Grammy Awards on Friday announced an end to the so-called “secret” committees that have led to allegations that the highest honors in the industry are open to rigging.

The Recording Academy said that nominations for the next Grammy Awards in January 2022 will be selected by all of its more than 11,000 voting members, instead of by committees of 15-30 industry experts whose names were not revealed.

The Academy was slammed last year when Canadian artist The Weeknd got zero Grammy nominations, even though his critically acclaimed album “After Hours” was one of the biggest sellers of 2020.

The Weeknd, in a Twitter post last November, said “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”

The Recording Academy said in a statement on Friday that the changes were significant and were made “to ensure that the Grammy Awards rules and guidelines are transparent and equitable.”

Allegations that the Grammy nominations process is tainted were made in a legal complaint filed in early 2019 by the former chief executive of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan.

At the time, the Academy dismissed as “categorically false, misleading and wrong” Dugan’s claims that its members pushed artists they have relationships with. Dugan was later fired.

American pop star Halsey, also shut out of the 2021 Grammys, last year called the nominations process “elusive” and said she was “hoping for more transparency or reform.”

Former One Direction singer Zayn Malik called in March for an end to “secret committees.”

“I’m keeping the pressure on & fighting for transparency & inclusion. We need to make sure we are honoring and celebrating ‘creative excellence’ of ALL,” Malik tweeted hours ahead of the 2021 Grammy Awards ceremony.

The Recording Academy on Friday also said it was adding two new Grammy categories – for best global music performance, and best Latin urban music album – bringing to 86 the total number of Grammy Awards each year.


(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Movie theaters face uncertain future



By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Maryo Mogannam snuck into the Empire theater in San Francisco with his older cousins to watch “Animal House” when he was 14. He watched most of the James Bond movies at the historic art house and took his wife there on some of their first dates.

The cinema, which had been showing movies since the silent film era, served notice in February that it was permanently closing because of the impact of COVID-19. The marquee is now blank, and cardboard and paper cover the box office window.

“It’s kind of like losing a friend,” said Mogannam, now 57, who owns a retail shipping outlet near the theater, which had been renamed the CineArts at the Empire.

As vaccinated Americans emerge from their homes, they also may find their neighborhood theater is not there to greet them.

An eight-cinema chain in New England said it will not reopen. The same fate hit a Houston art house beloved by director Richard Linklater and, in a shock to Hollywood, more than 300 screens run by Los Angeles-based Pacific Theatres. That includes the Cinerama Dome, a landmark that hosted several red-carpet movie premieres.

Following a year of closures, theaters face deferred rent bills plus media companies’ focus on drawing customers to streaming services. Up to one-fourth of the roughly 40,000 screens in the United States could disappear in the next few years, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

The National Association of Theatre Owners rejects that estimate, spokesman Patrick Corcoran said, noting that similar dire warnings accompanying the advent of television and the switch to digital screens never came to pass.

Hollywood filmmakers want cinemas to thrive.

“It’s the only place where the art dominates,” said “Avatar” director James Cameron. “When you watch something on streaming, the other people in the room with you are welcome to interject, to pause to go to the bathroom, to text.”

At theaters, “we literally make a pact with ourselves to go and spend two to three hours in a focused enjoyment of the art.”

“For 300 people to laugh and cry at the same time, strangers, not just your family in your house, that’s a very powerful thing,” said Chloe Zhao, Oscar-nominated director of best picture nominee “Nomadland.”

At the Academy Awards on Sunday, the movie industry will “make a case for why cinema matters,” producer Stacey Sher said. While acknowledging the hardship of the pandemic, “we also have to fight for cinema and our love of it and the way it has gotten us through things,” she said.

About 58% of theaters have reopened in the United States and Canada, most restricted to 50% capacity or less. The biggest operators – AMC, Cinemark and Cineworld – make up roughly half the overall market.

Industry leaders project optimism, forecasting a big rebound after restrictions ease and studios unleash new blockbusters.

Coming attractions include a new Bond adventure, the ninth “Fast & Furious” film, a “Top Gun” sequel and several Marvel superhero movies.

“Avatar 2,” Cameron’s follow-up to the highest-grossing film of all time, is set to debut in December 2022. Some box office analysts predict 2022 ticket sales will hit a record.

Supporters point to late March release “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which brought in roughly $48.5 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices over its first five days, even though audiences could stream it on HBO Max.

“That was a big win for the entire industry,” said Rich Daughtridge, president and chief executive of Warehouse Cinemas in Frederick, Maryland.

But near- and long-term challenges loom, particularly for smaller cinemas.

Theaters are negotiating with landlords over back rent. A federal aid program was delayed due to technical problems.

Plus, media companies are bringing movies to homes sooner. Executives say streaming is their priority, pouring billions into programming made to watch in living rooms as they compete with Netflix Inc.

Most at risk are theaters with one or two screens, Wedbush Securities’ Pachter said. He said his best guess is between 5,000 and 10,000 screens could go permanently dark in coming years.

“I think we’ll see a gradual decline in the number of screens,” Pachter said, “just like we’ve seen a gradual decline in the number of mom-and-pop grocery stores and bookstores.”


(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Additional reporting by Rollo Ross in Los Angeles, Alicia Powell in New York and Nathan Frandino in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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