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The handling of Chris Kreider has been the biggest disappointment of the season

Kreider's development into an offensive threat is needed... now

This is not how the Rangers have successfully developed prospects in recent years

The Rangers’ recent success has made Chris Kreider a forgotten man, but the handling of Kreider has been the most disappointing aspect of the 2013 season.

You can’t blame the 21-year-old for hitting a bump in the road, but the organization’s treatment of its prized winger has been a mess since the season-opener.  Kreider got off to a miserable start with the Connecticut Whale Hartford Wolf Pack, where Kreider was asked to begin learning the Rangers’ system at the sacrifice of his offense.  He posted just five goals and seven assists in 34 games and was struggling on both ends of the ice.

But Kreider was still handed a job out of training camp because the Rangers were very short on forwards and because, in case you forgot, he scored five goals right out of college for the Blueshirts in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This raised so many eyebrows that Chad Kolarik was rumored to have requested a trade due to this decision.

Keeping Kreider with the big club was understandable, but the constant cycle of demotion/recall throughout the season has not been.  It was very clear after just a few games that Kreider wasn’t ready for New York this spring.  He wasn’t a confident guy after a difficult first half in the AHL and he was playing through painful bone spurs in his ankle.  So, when the Rangers finally demoted Kreider on February 15th, that should have been the end of it.  He should have spent the duration of the season getting big minutes with the Whale and learning what it takes to be successful at the next level before securing a full-time spot on Broadway in the fall.  Instead, Kreider was shuttled back and forth to Connecticut seemingly every few days.

So whose fault was this mess?

Coach John Tortorella made it very clear that he didn’t trust the rookie and didn’t want Kreider up with the big club.  That’s the coach’s prerogative and all of the statistical and on-ice evidence points to Tortorella being right.  The Florida Panthers can afford to endure the mistakes of raw players at the NHL level because they have nothing to lose, but a team that was expected to compete for the Stanley Cup does not have that luxury.  Don’t forget, Tortorella has shown a ton of trust in other young players in recent years (J.T. Miller, Carl Hagelin, Michael Del Zotto, etc.), but only once they proved that were ready for big minutes.  Kreider never did.

The majority of the blame lies with the front office.

Part of the problem was due to the early-season lack of depth.  Up until the trade deadline, the Rangers were struggling mightily to score – an issue that everyone thought Kreider could help with – and just didn’t have other viable options.  To its credit, Glen Sather and company did attempt to rectify the team’s forward depth issue several times until they seemingly solved the problem for good at the deadline.

Despite that valid excuse, it’s a major mistake to mishandle a prospect as badly as the Rangers have.  It would have served Kreider’s development far better this season if he was the a go-to guy with the Whale rather than playing fewer than 10 minutes a night with the Blueshirts.  And don’t underestimate how badly Kreider’s confidence has been damaged; everything we know suggests that Kreider has the mental makeup to handle all of this, but many other prospects have been ruined this way.

For all the brilliance of Sather at retooling this team on the fly, the front office’s continued mistreating Kreider has been a black mark on the season.  Let’s hope Kreider is able to put this all behind him and get back on the track to stardom next season.

30 Responses to “The handling of Chris Kreider has been the biggest disappointment of the season”

  1. Zen says:

    Amen!

  2. Bill says:

    It’s obvious that this system is not made for talent with offensive skills, I am all for defense and it is needed to win
    But our power play has been awful under it this coach and players who are skilled offensively have a hard time here.
    Something has got to change!

    • VinceR says:

      Nash has 19 goals, 20 would be a pace for 35 goals in a season. He had 30, 32, 33 in the past 3 seasons before playing this system.

      Stepan has 16, on pace for 27-28 in a regular season, a career high pace, showing he is a young player that could develop into elite status. His

      Gaborik scored over 40 goals with this system last year, Callahan 29, which was not very expected.

      Callahan currently has 14, which would be on pace for 24 in a full season, slightly off last year but still near his career high pace last year.

      I don’t how the system limits offensive talent just because it is careful to limit reckless exposure.

      The power play has been straightened out for the past month (they went from near last in the league to 17th in a matter of weeks which says it is now clicking at a pretty high rate over that period of time…of course there is plenty room for improvement).

      • Dave says:

        Stats don’t lie, they just don’t agree with the blind.

      • bryan says:

        You are crazy if you think this team is clicking.
        16 teams make the playoffs. The rangers are ranked 22nd on power play, 17th on penlty kill, and 17 on goals for. 16 teams make the playoffs. so at best the are on the bottom of the bubble. I watch every ranger game and the handleing of the lines is a joke. Line 4 played 3 minutes last night. What did they do wrong? Ashm had a fight then they didn’t play anymore. I could understand that if the other 3 lines were producing but they didnt. Rediculous… Come on.

        • Rob says:

          Again with Rangers incorrect identity of being a “Defensive” team lol.
          If anything it’s the fact that we try to play highly offensive with deep zone cycles that is supposed to manufacture goals, which obviously hasn’t come into fruition completely…yet.
          I swear if we played a conservative 1-3-1 trap system that relied countering attack goals, and that system ended resulting in more offense, everybody would be calling our system offensive lol.

          • Rob says:

            *ended UP resulting

            • Rob says:

              Also, I’m not that sure about this but maybe someone knows, because I think I remember last year that LA’s PP was lousy too all season, and I think they turned it up big time in the playoffs, but I may be wrong.

          • howiehockey says:

            Cycles are OK, but usually they’re behind the net…Blueshirts offensive problem is they rarely have anyone in front of the net. Watch other teams most have someone going to the front.
            BTW, with the exception of his first game with the Rangers,Clowe is very raely in front of the net…WHY????????????

            • Rob says:

              There okay if you had D-men that had just a lil more killer or selfish instict to one time the feeds comming from the corners then jam in front for the rebounds…Like Clowe as you mentioned. Btw…seems like he’s been out of it lately a bit eh?

  3. Walt says:

    Explain something to me if you could, you see I’m dense, did the NYI ever try to change Mike Bossey’s game? He was a pure scorer, and the Isles let him go, having a H O F career.

    I’m not saying that Chris is a H O F kind of guy, but there are enough teammates who play sound defense why force this on the kid. Look, Richards isn’t exactly the best defensive forward, but he was valuable just the same to this team. The kid is a gray hound, don’t make him into a bull dog!

    Lets hope that there hasn’t been enough damage to this kids mind that he become gun shy in the future. Let him play his game.

    • Dave says:

      I don’t see how you can actually compare a HOFer to a rookie across two completely different NHLs.

      • Walt says:

        Dave
        The point was that Bossey was able to play to his comfort zone, this kid isn’t. I’m not saying Kreider is a H O F player, but give him a chance to fly. Every team has has these type of players, look at Danny Brier with the Flyers, great offensive skills, not worth spit defensivly!

        • Spozo says:

          The whole problem with that is that we are in a shortened season where every game is important. They don’t have the luxury of dealing with Kreiders growing pains in a 48 game season. Tortorella has to dress the team that gives him the best chance to win every night and they have decided that Kreider is not one of those 20 and that he needs to work on his game. He was forced in to the lineup recently because of the lineup because of the Boule injury.

          • Walt says:

            Spozo
            To your point, then leave the kid in the AHL for the season, and let him evelope. Hay, they had others to bring up, why didn’t they????

            • Spozo says:

              I agree that he shouldn’t have been called up. But there was an offensive void and the coaching staff felt he was the best available option. I was disagreeing that you think the kid should be able to play without the hassle of responsible play away from the puck or without being a liability in the defensive zone.

              And if that is enough “damage this kids mind” then I don’t want him on the team anyway.

    • Rob says:

      Agreed Walt. Which kinda makes me think that Gabby did much better then he gets credit for under Tort’s system. Gabby was and is more suited for counter hockey opposed to grinding it out, but I agree let these kids play the way they were born to play.

    • howiehockey says:

      Walt, i fully agree with you. Krieder’s strength is his speed and getting out in the open to shoot.

  4. Bruiser says:

    Kreider is becoming the modern-day Manny Malhotra. Hope he doesn’t get jerked around any more, though I wouldn’t hold my breath. He didn’t play in the third period last night and 31/2 minutes for the game. Rangers basically use three lines, and that has to wear out guys in the truncated schedule.

    • RobG says:

      Malhotra wasn’t ruined. He just was never great in the first place from an offensive standpoint. He improved over time but experience did that not leaving the Rangers.

    • Rangers407 says:

      I thought of Malhotra too as I read this article. The coach publicly said he would never be more than a 3rd line player. Way to go coach. Glad to see Manny is still playing 15 years later. I hope Kreider recovers from this. Too much potential to waste.

  5. Bill says:

    So they had a good month on the power play look at the past 3 years!

  6. JimK says:

    OMG you all sound like you are coaches shut up how may of you have taken a team to the stanley cup and won ) tnhats how may STFU Team Torts all the way if kreider would step up he would be on the team stop being a big baby and play some hockey Ugh u guys are sad!!!!!!

  7. RobG says:

    It seemed to help Kreider to spend some time in the NHL and then get sent down. He found more offense. He clearly has attributes that should lead to success. The combination of size and speed is incredible and it’s not like he doesn’t show hockey sense either. He may be learning more from this season than it looks. Unfortunately, Torts is really hard on players who take bad penalties and Kreider has been taking a lot of penalties since college. I can imagine he didn’t have the opportunity to work on his defense in High School since everyone was chasing him, not the other way around. As for the offense, we have seen it before. It’s not a fluke. Give him some players of his ability level to play with.

  8. SalMerc says:

    You earn respect and playing time. When he earns it, he will get it. Not sure he has even earned a roster spot this year.

  9. bernmeister says:

    No. Kreider is NOT to blame. Not like he was lackadaiscal or expected anything handed to him.

    Torts wanted to make a statement, IMO cause he is rightly under fire because his precious system is hugely overrated. The goals we scored last few games happened when we stopped the excessive shot blocking by everybody, and did less dump and chase. In other words, we won them not because of the Torts system, but by going vs. that system. Further, last year we had more breaks than not, but because of this system, even a well conditioned team was too exhausted to dominate, to win early, and finally, to get into the finals.

    Kreider is the anti-Torts. The possibility of offense, skill, creativity and size, another Rick Nash in the making. Torts wanted EVERYONE, including golden boy, to bend, buckle and break into his system, instead of admitting his overrated system is what needs changing or chucking.

    Ultimately Torts will not be allowed to ruin Kreider, who NY should not trade at discount. Therefore, Torts capitulates, or goes.

    Kiss my ass, Torts.

    • Rob says:

      Bernie…The Rangers’s “Shot Blocking” is hugely overrated. The reason why we haven’t blocked too many shots the last couple of games is BECAUSE of Tort’s system lol.

      Last I checked, when you control the puck, especially in the “O” zone, there’s no need to block shots lol. It’s when the other team has got us pinned in our zone is when were diving head first into pucks, but for the past several games we’ve been taking it to other teams, so there hasn’t been a need.

  10. Tony says:

    The only thing you can blame on Sather for is not firing Tortorella. Kreider should not only have been with New York the entire year, he should have been playing on a top 3 line with consistent wingers. Only Tortorella can try to make a scorer a checker(see Gaborik) and a checker a scorer (see Boyle). The man is a failure with his constant line juggling and his hissy fit tirades when they do not work out.