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Rangers’ Barclay Goodrow talks physical play, the Garden and early struggles

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Rangers’ Barclay Goodrow talks physical play, the Garden and early struggles

With the Rangers on an extended break, 28-year-old winger Barclay Goodrow, who won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Lightning, took a little Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby:

Q: Back in 2009, you said: “I don’t want to be a big guy who is soft.”

A: I still feel that way. I think in hockey, if you’re not scoring goals, if you’re not putting up a ton of points, you need to find other ways where you can be effective within the game. And I think if you’re a big guy, you have to use that to your advantage. You need to be physical, you can’t back down from anyone. That goes along with being a team player and just doing the things that you need to do, especially if you’re a bigger guy, you can’t back down.

Q: Do you consider yourself an enforcer?

A: I wouldn’t consider myself an enforcer, but if something happens, I’ll stick up for a teammate. Or if there’s a time of game where you need to get the team going, there’s certain opportunities where I have fought, and it’s part of the game. It’s one thing that makes hockey so unique (chuckle), you can drop your gloves and you can literally fight someone on the ice where in other sports that’s not allowed. Hockey, it is, and it’s a big part of the game.

Q: What is it about the physicality that you like?

A: From the age of 8 or 9, when you learned how to bodycheck, it’s kinda something I’ve always done, especially being a bigger kid, especially back then, it was something I could use to my advantage, and it’s something I’ve always done.

Barclay Goodrow loves the physical aspect of hockey — something he doesn’t see as much of it other sports.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Q: What impresses you most about Artemi Panarin?

A: You can never appreciate a guy until you see them every day and see the work they put in, see the stuff they do on a consistent basis. And for Panarin, his vision on the ice, it’s amazing, the passes he makes, the plays he sees well ahead of anyone else seeing them. His vision, his love for the game, it’s fun to watch.

Q: Chris Kreider?

A: He’s the best net-front guy in the league. For a guy that’s been around for a long time now, his speed is so effective. The chemistry him and Mika (Zibanejad) have together is very good. Kreids is a great leader, he’s a great role model for a lot of these young guys, and someone who’s very enjoyable to be around each and every day.

Q: Igor Shesterkin?

A: Unbelievable … he’s a rock back there. He’s an amazing goalie that puts in a lot of time. It’s nice having him on our team.

Q: Coach (Gerard) Gallant?

A: Old-school guy. He knows what buttons to push within a game, he knows who’s going, who’s not going on that particular night. Honest, fair coach that will reward you if you’re playing well. He’s a great guy to play for.

Q: Rangers fans?

New York Rangers right wing Barclay Goodrow #21 chases New Jersey Devils defenseman Christian Jaros
Barclay Goodrow take pride in his penalty-killing abilities.
Robert Sabo

A: They’re tough (chuckle). They’re everything I was told about before coming here, they love a winner. I think they love the blue-collar, working mentality, they’ll cheer just as loud for a hard hit, a fight, as they will a goal. They’ve been wanting a winning team here for a while now. I think we have the group that can give them what they want.

Q: How much do you like playing under the big Broadway lights?

A: I love it. Coming from two relatively smaller markets [Tampa Bay and San Jose], there’s nothing like playing at the Garden. As a visiting team, that’s one rink where your schedule comes out each year, you’re looking to see when you’re playing New York, when you’re at the Garden, so being able to play there every home game under the bright lights, Broadway, it’s what being in the NFL’s all about. It’s what you dream of.

Q: Do you like the penalty kill?

A: I love penalty kill. Obviously there’s some guys who score goals, who are on the power play and also the penalty kill, but for other guys, that’s your moment to produce even if it’s not on the score sheet, but you’re helping the team win, you’re getting dirty, you’re blocking shots, you’re winning faceoffs. It’s a pivotal aspect of any successful team, so it’s something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in and kinda being relied on in those defensive series.

Q: What drove you and what drives you now?

A: The feeling of lifting the Cup (2020 and 2021) is something that did drive me before I won it, and now I feel like it drives me even more to relive that feeling, and to see your teammates and coaches live through that feeling, a dream that everyone has had since they started playing hockey. … It’s a very rewarding feeling.

Q: Describe that feeling of skating around the ice holding the Cup over your head.

A: It’s crazy. … You feel like there’s not many times where you dream of something your whole life and then it kind of becomes a reality. It’s a lot of feelings going through your brain, it’s tough to put it into one, but it’s kinda everything you thought it would be and more.

Q: How did the second time (with the Lightning) compare with the first time?

Barclay Goodrow #19 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates with the Stanley Cup
Two seasons in a row, Barclay Goodrow celebrated with Lord Stanley’s Cup in Tampa Bay.
Getty Images

A: Very different, very different. The first time, there were no fans in the building, so the celebration was more just amongst the team and the guys who we had been around for that whole bubble experience. It was great, and then the second time to be able to lift and share with all the fans and family and friends that are also there. It’s two very awesome experiences, and both were amazing.

Q: What did you learn about what it takes as a team to become Stanley Cup champions?

A: That everyone needs to be on the same page. I think everyone needs to be pulling the rope in the same direction. If there’s guys that are concerned about their individual success or just not putting the team first, it affects everyone.

Q: Bringing the Cup back to your hometown of Aurora (Ontario)?

A: It was great. It was something that we weren’t able to do the first time around. It’s almost like we had to make the one day … The two years had the impact on the one day. It was a lot of fun seeing kids, seeing kids from the minor hockey association that I played, the joy on their face … it’s something special. The best part of the day was being able to bring it to the hospital, see some kids who are kinda fighting for their lives, and just being able to provide joy for them for 10, 20 minutes.

Q: What do you like best about this Rangers team?

A: I feel like there’s many things to love. … Going through the process when I knew I wasn’t returning to Tampa, looking at some of the teams that were interested, looking at the lineups, the city, the ability to win maybe not just now, but for years to come, I think New York just checked all those boxes. It’s such a young group with a few veterans sprinkled amongst the lineup, but I think just the camaraderie and how close the team is, everyone wants success for the other person, everyone wants to win. … I think you can see that on the ice with how we’ve performed this year. We’re doing a lot better than maybe what people would have thought heading into the season. I still think we have a lot better hockey that we can play.

Q: Does the collective mindset of the group remind you of your champion Lightning teams?

A: I think so. Obviously the team’s different, there’s a lot of guys in Tampa who have played a ton of games, been around the league a long time. … But I think the desire to get there is evident amongst everyone.

Q: Describe your journey to this point after going undrafted three times.

A: There’s been a lot of ups and downs I would say. … Coming into the OHL, I was a first-round pick … was one of the better players throughout minor hockey. My junior career I got better every year. There’s a lot of things in my game that I had to work on in order to get better — I think my skating was the biggest aspect of that. … I grind every summer to get that to the point where I was able to keep up, and at one point I was able to use speed to my advantage. Then not getting drafted, it was togugh, but I like to think that everything happens for a reason. It was pretty tough sitting there in the building throughout the whole thing, then not hearing your name called. But I think [that] kinda motivated me to keep working on my game every summer. Maybe if I had gotten picked in one of the later rounds, I maybe wouldn’t have been as hungry to keep on getting better and prove myself each and every year.

Q: There was a point when your confidence had been shaken?

A: There’s been a few times where I’ve had to kinda look myself in the mirror, and it was either I kinda just lay down or find a way to get better and grind to get to the point where I could prove a lot of people wrong.

Q: Your demotion to the fourth line with the Barracuda (San Jose’s AHL affliate)?

A: After my last year of junior, went to the Sharks and end up making the team my first-year pro. … Maybe at that point, got a little too comfortable heading into my second year kinda just thinking that, “OK, I’ve already been here a year, maybe I don’t need to prove myself as much” or got complacent with where I was at … end up playing 12ish games to start the season, got sent down to the Barracuda, and at that point I had no confidence — my game was just in shambles, I couldn’t make a play. … I was kinda lost on the ice.

San Jose Sharks right wing Barclay Goodrow (23) skates
After going undrafted, Barclay Goodrow found motivation to make it to the NHL — and back again once early career struggles saw him demoted to the AHL.
Getty Images

Q: How did you get out of that hole?

A: It was kinda the same thing as not getting drafted. It’s a look-in-the-mirror moment, and you can either go one or two ways — you can just accept that, and keep on going the same way I had been going, which wasn’t a route that I wanted to go, I wanted to be back in the NHL. I wanted to at least be a productive player in the American League and help my team. That was a big turning point, I would say the second-biggest turning point of my career. I went on a tear after that … Those two years were crucial in my development. The ability to figure out how to play at the pro level, even though I’d been in the NHL my first year, I think at that point I was just trying to survive and trying to not screw up on the ice rather than thinking to make the right play. My whole mindset i don’t think was where it needed to be.

Q: What are you most proud of about what you’ve accomplished in spite of all the adversity?

A: I would say just never giving up. There were many points even throughout my last year in junior, if you don’t make it pro, there’s a scholarship package that the Ontario Hockey League offers, and so come December, January, I was getting these packages for university, I was, “OK, I guess the dream’s kinda over, I guess I’ll go to school, get a degree and play hockey there” and go on from there.” I’d say probably not giving up through those times … just finding a way to improve myself, or finding little areas within the game that I could be effective and prove my worth to a team.

Q: The overtime goal you scored against Vegas (in 2019) to win a playoff series.

A: It was unbelievable (chuckle). That was for me personally a rollercoaster of a game. I think I was minus 3 going into overtime. … I didn’t play for the first maybe 15 minutes of overtime. Guys are getting exhausted, the pace is still very high. (Sharks coach) Peter DeBoer threw me out for a shift, I think it was my second shift of overtime where we end up scoring. It was absolutely electric. You kinda dream of scoring a Game 7 overtime winner in the playoffs. My dad had flown in for that game so he was able to witness it.

Q: Your on-ice mentality?

A: Do whatever it takes for the team to win. I’ve always been a team-first kinda guy. I love winning, so whatever needs to be done personally for myself to contribute to that, I’m all for it.

Q: You’re on a breakaway against any goaltender in NHL history?

A: Probably Dominik Hasek.

Q: You can pick the brain of any player in NHL history?

A: Wayne Gretzky.

Q: What would you ask him?

A: Just how he was able to see plays develop so far before they happened or what his mindset was going to games or his preparation or just how he became so dominant.

Q: Boyhood idol?

A: Mats Sundin.

Q: Three dinner guests?

A: Jay-Z; Elon Musk; Wayne Gretzky.

Q: If Elon Musk asked you to go into space, what would you tell him?

A: I would need to see some more trials first before I’m hopping on that plane.

Q: Why him as a dinner guest?

A: I think just the innovation, desire to think outside the box and to create a new normal kind of, I find very interesting. He’s someone that doesn’t really care what other people think, and will just do what he can to kinda make the world a better place.

Q: Favorite movie?

A: “Wolf of Wall Street.”

Q: Favorite actor?

A: Leonardo DiCaprio.

Q: Favorite actress?

A: Sandra Bullock.

Q: Favorite singer/entertainer?

A: Drake.

Q: Favorite meal?

A: Steak and potatoes.

Q: You were married in September?

A: With our schedule, with our constantly on the move, you need to have a rock at home that’s gonna pretty much manage all aspects of your life when you’re not around. She’s very supportive of me … she’s amazing.

Q: Has your confidence as a player ever been higher than it is now?

A: I don’t think so. I would say when I first got traded to Tampa, when they made the investment in trading a first-round pick for me, that was a pretty cool feeling. And then when a team then comes and gives you a six-year contract, it for sure helps your confidence a lot in solidifying that you’re an effective player who deserves to be here, who they count on you to be a leader. I would say my confidence is in a good spot. I don’t think you can stop working on your game or stop getting better. That’s something I’ve never taken for granted just because I know throughout my journey that it can always be taken away from you. 

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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