Jan
08

Assessing the big picture after some time away

January 8, 2016, by

I have a confession to make. I haven’t really been watching much of the Rangers lately.   A combination of a hectic work schedule and early deficits have conspired to dilute my commitment to watching this group. It’s tough to keep it locked to MSG when they are already down 4-1 six minutes into the second. Despite this, I have obviously read every wonderful article the BSB crew has churned out and scrolled through the ol’ Twitter feed to see the wreckage the morning after games. The weirdest part is my liquor cabinet hasn’t needed refilling as often. Strange.

What this little break has allowed me to do is take a step back and assess the big picture with this club. The only consistent thing this season has been inconsistency. They have been embarrassed by mediocre teams like the Flames and Oilers, but have put on clinics against talent-stacked squads in Tampa, Dallas and St. Louis. It’s maddening. What I have determined during my sabbatical is that the organization is facing a litany of crossroad decisions as the Rangers enter the back half of Henrik Lundqvist’s prime window.

The most challenging aspect of the current state of the club is the barely rising salary cap. If the Canadian dollar had not all of a sudden turned into Monopoly money, the cap should be somewhere around $80 million for next season. That would have given the Rangers an awful lot more cap space to work with for the off-season. The other effect that a steadily rising cap has is to create market inflation in free agency. Maybe all of a sudden, when (insert mediocre defenseman here) signs a 7-year/$49 million contract, the cap hits for Staal and Girardi look a little more attractive.

The reality is, though, that the cap is creeping up slowly. It is what it is. Now the Rangers have to manage it. There are several RFA’s coming due, a certain, very valuable puck-moving defenseman hitting UFA this July, and many unanswered questions from a long-term personnel standpoint. The front office needs to really determine this offseason (maybe trade deadline) what is truly has in Chris Kreider, JT Miller and Kevin Hayes. Are they are truly long-term pieces to build around, or are they are plugging important spots in the lineup without the production to match?

The team also needs to look at whether a market actually exists for Staal or Girardi. This is not to say the club doesn’t engage in this type of diligence every day, but the $11.2 million made between these two players is choking the cap management. Forget the NMC’s for a minute, and just find out. Is there a club who values the zone coverage, suppression-style defensive skill sets of either of them? Let’s not forget that Girardi is incredible durable and has proven adept at low-zone, shot blocking systems. I’m not even worrying about a potential expansion draft at the moment, because the epic war that will be between the NHLPA and the League on that issue will be a sight to behold.

Back to Girardi and Staal for a minute. Their deployment and systems usage has become a big part of the problem, as well. If you take the offensive counter-point to what has happened, people would lose their minds. What if all of a sudden, Jon Cooper decided that the Triplets needed to become a dump and chase, grind it out on the boards and create traffic in front type of offensive unit. It makes no sense. What if AV told Zuccarello he was a shot blocking, defensive forward? It’s a complete misuse of an established skill set. Sure, it was a valiant try to get 28 year-old Dan Girardi and a 26 year-old Marc Staal to try and adapt to a hybrid man coverage/zone overload, but AV needs to realize that is not a long-term strategy with these two.

Up until this year, Staal had exceled at shot suppression, but not puck possession. Chasing down wingers and transitioning the puck up ice was never his strong suit. Girardi is best situated shutting down static net crashers and slot skaters, not pivoting off into no man’s land to pick up a winger’s coverage. They were bad at it when they were not in decline. Why would the results change now?

Which brings us to AV, in general. The Suit wrote a fantastic piece the other day about this. AV is in his third year as the coach of this team. There is no question he has done a tremendous job and that he is an extremely talented coach. The issue is, as Suit brought up, that the third year is crucial for a coach’s message and style to cement itself as the culture of the club. If guys start tuning him out, he is not long for the bench. AV strikes me as a guy who trusts his gut with his decisions if he feels that certain players just need to work through it. As we have seen, however, he has an unnatural attachment to certain veterans (and not just Tanner Glass) and can be stubborn when making adjustments if he feels that the process is sound.

At this point, though, there are real reasons to question whether the process of deployment and systems are sound. Weaknesses are being exploited and players are not being put in the best position to succeed. After the Tortorella era of offensive repression, it made sense that AV needed his players to adapt to his system. The club wasn’t going to overhaul its roster, so that was the way it had to go. Now the question becomes, in the face of waning effectiveness, can AV adapt his systems to his personnel? The success of this season may depend on it.

The Rangers face many questions the remainder of the season and well into the summer. Some of those answers may shape the next few years of the success or failure of this club’s expectations. Some of those questions aren’t even in view yet; is Pavel Buchnevich the guy to take over 2W? Is Brady Skjei a long-term answer in the top-4? How about the success of some of the goalies in developing a succession plan to Henrik Lundqvist? But, right now, the club faces more pressing decisions.

"Assessing the big picture after some time away", 4 out of 5 based on 20 ratings.

115 comments

  1. amy says:

    the team just beat the best team in the west now they are playing the caps again they will get to know each other real well they play tomorrow then they play in Washington a week from sunday. if they play the way they played on Tuesday they will be fine.

  2. SalMerc says:

    Nice writeup. All logical questions, but all tough answers. Even if AV wanted to manipulate the roster with his style players, the Cap makes it nearly impossible.

    What is evident is that roster moves are necessary to evade the Cap ceiling and to mold the whole roster into the speed-style that is AV’s watermark.

    • Justin says:

      Thanks, Sal. I don’t think the roster needs to be tailored specifically to AV’s systems. I think that would involve a huge shake up, so I feel it is more practical to adapt hybrid strategies that work with the existing roster construction.

      • Alec says:

        Talent dictates tactics. It’s always been that way for the greats, not the other way around.

  3. AD says:

    “organization is facing a litany of crossroad decisions as the Rangers enter the back half of Henrik Lundqvist’s prime window.”

    Wisdom.

    Spot on with the challenge facing management, Yet, I think you understated the task at hand, and would add these other crossroad decisions:

    – Derek Stepan is 1yr away from having a No Trade Clause kick in to his contract. In today’s NHL, can the Rangers afford a $6.5mm #2 center who puts up 15-17 goals per season? Or does the position require more goal production in particular, and offensive production overall? Team options become much more limited once the NTC is triggered.

    – Rick Nash; recall the Rangers traded Gaborik partly because there was a view within management that Marion Gaborik, while highly skilled, simply could not carry the team scoring wise deep through the playoffs. Well, neither can Nash, who is now a steady and defensively responsible 25 goal regular season scorer for the team. Hardly worth over 10% of the team’s cap.

    – prospect pool; the Rangers are coming off 4-7 years of graduating some quality draft picks into the lineup and organization. When you consider where within each round the team has drafted, and the lack of some high picks, this component to the club’s strategy for success has excelled, in my view, with a clear knack for identifying value in the 3rd-6th rounds of the draft. 4th round pick Ryan Graves is the latest to become more widely recognized, being the only rookie defenseman in the AHL’s Eastern conference to be selected by a committee of coaches to the All-Star game. He is a different type of player than Skjei but with equal, possibly higher, upside. In goal as well, young Igor Shesterkin could be a future NHL stud. However, outside of Buchnevich, we lack forward depth through all 4 lines down in Hartford. This is far from crisis mode but it seems clear the club, after investing for the immediate future with Marty St. Louis, instead of taking picks for Callahan, need to bring their bets closer to home through the draft.

    It’s no coincidence this organizational crossroad is occurring at the same time Sather passed the torch onto Gorton. Sather did his best, and a good job, at getting this club close to a Stanley Cup.

    Now Gorton is left with addressing the team’s future. The sooner this challenge is embraced the better off our team will be, in my view.

    • Walt says:

      AD

      Can you imagine how good we could have been if we had #1 picks over the last four drafts. We have been good, or lucky, drafting in the late rounds, just add some early rounds into the mix, and what would we be???????????

      Everyone is looking for quick fixes, instant gratification, and marquee names. I want to build from within, develop young kids, and have a continuous supply of quality kids. The way this organization has conducted business over my lifetime, has produced ONE, let me scream that out again, ONE frigging cup, in 76 years, surely not enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Just look at Tampa, and the Drouan kid, #3 overall, and he can’t crack the line up because they drafted well, and are knee deep in talent, while we have Ryan Bourque, what a contrast…………..

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        Tampa has a litany of their own issues as well. The grass isn’t always greener.

      • AD says:

        Walt, I certainly do wonder at times what the club would look like had a more aggressive push for retaining and acquiring draft picks be made.

        1 Stanley Cup in 76 years certainly screams “let’s try something new.”

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        It’s an alternative universe view you are preaching Walt. As I said before, the failure came when we were awful 1998-2005. We failed to land the superstar, difference maker player(s) because of just God awful first round drafting when we had very favorable draft position. If that had been done well, then I agree, different story. Once that ship sailed, retaining first round picks drafting 23-30 has a very low probability of yielding a difference maker player. So at that point, the Rangers had a good solid team, a good but not great contending team, that was only going to get over the hump by making trades for those final pieces of the puzzle to put them over the top–and that largely worked in terms of making us highly competitive these last few seasons. The draft choices you are lamenting that we traded these last few years would be likely making NO impact today, since even in a best case scenario, they take time to mature to NHL caliber.

        The reason the Hawks, Kings, Islanders as an example were able to draft difference maker players is because by circumstance or design they went deep into the tank, sucked for several years, then drafted extremely well (Hawks case, I’d say brilliantly). Voila! The Hawks are now the best organization in hockey bar none.

        You want the Rangers to do that? Then they likley have to tear it all down, and go into a five year rebuilding plan. So tank on box office, MSG ratings, merchandise sales, etc. All while carrying some huge likely immovable contracts for the foreseeable future (like Hank’s). Good luck convincing Jim Dolan of that strategy.

        The Rangers have been doing exactly what needs to be done at the moment. They have been a legit SC contender for the last two seasons and three of the last four. The book has not yet been written fully on this season, but there is no way they are going to bail on the season at this point, nor should they. There’s no reason to. The East is wide open, other than the Caps arguably. And the Caps (just like any other dominant team) can be beat in a seven game series.

        • orangemike says:

          Couldn’t have said it better myself, Eddie. Actually I did say it almost as well.

          Regards- orange

        • Walt says:

          Your game plan has been in effect for 76 years, with one cup to show for it, enough said !!!!!!!!

      • Spozo says:

        Cmon Walt quit living in fantasy land. What difference make do they draft at 27th overall in the last 4 years that actually helps this team right now?

    • Dave says:

      Stepan is one of those guys that you only trade if its part of an upgrade at the position. You don’t trade him to fill a hole, since you just create another one in the process.

      • 43 says:

        The only actually possible trade I’d include him in is one for Stamkos, as he as the “1C” would become expendable.

        • Dave says:

          I’m assuming in this scenario, NYR dump enough salary to give Stamkos a $10 million deal?

          • 43 says:

            Philly trade Pronger, and they just traded LeCavalier, anything is possible Dave!

            • Alec says:

              Teams splitting dead money on two years on 35 retirements for bags of pucks. Girardi & Staal have too many years.

              • 43 says:

                LA targeted LeCavalier to play 3C., not to reach the cap floor. All things are possible.

              • Alec says:

                Kings wanted Schenn for expiring contract, were willing to eat dead cap space of Lecavalier @$2.25mm for 2 years and hope that his declining skills are around long enough for a run.

  4. Walt says:

    Great thread, and the points that many of your readers have been making about this coach for some time.

    The man wears blinders, is rigid, and biased, stiff as a board, an refuses to make the proper changes. He has two boat anchor on the defense, signed to long term contracts, that are affecting the play of the entire defense. There has to be a market for them, and should be pursued for that market.

    I can hear it now, how can you question this coach who led us to the Presidents cup? He is a first ballot HOFer! That’s all garbage, if he is so wonderful, make the necessary changes to make this team a winner again, and stop his whining, the dog and pony show is getting old already………….

    In the world that I worked in for years, one was rewarded for performances, and released for failure. This is the standard we should hold the players, and coaching staff to !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      I don’t know what world that was Walt, but in the world I work in, and in virtually every business I know, yes, obviously, you produce or eventually you are out. If I’m Jim Dolan, I am for the most part thrilled with what has taken place over these last few seasons. And in what business do you can the guy running an operation that has been as successful as this one has been the past two seasons after what is essentially a blip in the overall radar?

      I run a big business. We have had great success. So when we have an off quarter, by your thinking, that’s it, out!? Man, that’s brutal! There are no quick fix solutions. All you do then is set your business back, and create an environment where instability is the rule and folks will choose to avoid working for you of they have a choice.

      The solution to a problem is you calmly work together and figure out the best solution to getting it turned around. In your view, you don’t think we’re very good and have no chance to win this year. So if you are right, (which I don’t buy into at this point), what “changes” can you make that will suddenly transform this team? Either we are a contender with parts that are struggling at the moment that just need to come around (and/or making some deals to add to what you believe is a successful mix to win), or we are not, in which case the fix will come slowly over many years.

      You are saying we have “two boat anchors” on defense, yet you say there has to be a market for them? Aren’t you contradicting yourself? Why would anyone want an expensive boat anchor?

      Patience my friend.

      • Walt says:

        Let’s look now, your me game plan for76 years, with one cup, great track record!!!!!

        Doing something over, and over again, expecting different results is the definition of insanity as stated by Einstein !!

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          Sorry my friend, that’s irrelevant. This is not the same management team for 76 years.

          This President has been on board for 15 years. Awful marks in the beginning. I would have fired him. Since then, far more positives than negatives. He built a strong contender. No issue with that. D- to begin, B to B+ since.

          The current GM, his grade is incomplete. But in his number two role, again, I’d say a solid B to B+.

          The current coach? Two years, a SCF appearance, followed by a President’s Trophy and 20 minutes away from a return trip to the Finals. By current standards, given how balanced the league is, that’s terrific. When I look at the team, and see one great player and a bunch of good solid guys but so other big stars, his work has been extraordinary. He’s gets an A-. No one other than George Steinbrenner would advocate moving on at this point.

          The Rangers are one of the most valuable properties in the sport. TV ratings, attendance, merchandise sales all good. Why in the world if I’m Dolan would I be upset and say this is a failed strategy?

          What did the Kings just do? And the Caps? Spent money on vets who are “over the hill”. I wonder why?

          Unless you are in a position to draft great players, you cannot win it all the way you are suggesting. Every team in the NHL does it the way the Rangers do. Draft picks, trades, and FA signings. Always a mix. This is not the 1960s Canadiens.

  5. Ranger17 says:

    Anyone on this team can get traded including the King for the right return Just suppose Dallas gives us Sequin and Klinberger for Henrik do you do it . or lets say Kopital and Doughty . Just saying we can do anything we want we just need to pull the trigger ,. Shea Weber for Nash

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Point taken… but Dallas, Los Angeles and Nashville all say thanks but no thanks.

    • Dave says:

      I wouldn’t touch Weber’s contract with a 10 foot pole.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      We are drifting into fantasy land Ranger17. You can not do anything you want, as you are implying. In a salary cap world with NMCs, you can only trade assets that are in fact tradeable. Hank has a NMC and would NEVER agree to be dealt…certainly not at this point.

      • Ranger17 says:

        Was only saying all things being equal with NMC NTC / No Cap i would trade anybody to make us better .Hank is very good but he has not taken us to the promised land yet . I do think we could win a Cup with Raanta or some other goalie as well if all the other pieces better . Don’t beleive Crawford was the best goalie to ever win 2 Cups or Neimi either . Just saying

  6. Ranger17 says:

    Would you do Henrik for Stammer and Drouin . Raanta isn’t a bad Goalie if you have to ride him can always play Skapski against Buffalo for 2 points

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      It’s interesting food for thought, but Tampa Bay is in the position they are now with Stamkos because their cap situation is not in great shape. No way they can afford Henrik’s cap hit, nor would they probably want to.

    • Dave says:

      Skapski is in the ECHL. Worth noting.

      • Alec says:

        Skapski was hurt, came back to a bad team and needs to get reps that he won’t get in HFD.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      What are we doing here???? HANK HAS A NMC. He loves it in NYC. He is NOT going anywhere. This is not NHL PlayStation.

  7. SalMerc says:

    Hank isn’t going anywhere. He is the face of the franchise right now. Nash on down and every d-man except McD is also trade-able, but for a cup run or for 2017 and beyond?

    Not many easy choices. I think Slats saw the writing on the wall. If we were really a cup contender (in his eyes), he might have stayed this year.

  8. Leetchie Nut says:

    JT Miller – a keeper.

    CK – still a work in progress but should not be dealt.

    Hayes – definitely tradeable.

    Glass – a valuable asset until someone else who is a regular on this team can be physical night after night.

    Girardi / Staal – need to be coerced to waive NMC’s/NTC’s (if they even have those).

    Both Brady Skjei and DMac need to become regular Dmen sooner vs later.

    • Ryan says:

      Kevin Hayes — “definitely tradable”
      Glass — “valuable asset”

      Proof that single digit IQ’s exist.

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        Boston traded away a 3rd round pick for Zach Rinaldo, so there’s that

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Ryan-

        Why is Hayes not “definitely tradeable”? Are you saying he’s untouchable? Every player without an NMC is tradeable for the right return.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Leetchie-

      What has Skjei proved to this point that you can say he is ready right now to assume a key role on this defense? i would revise it to say “hopefully” they need to become regulars sooner rather than later. It’s not that easy to jump from good (but not yet great) AHL defenseman to NHL caliber.

    • Jamie says:

      “Glass – a valuable asset …”

      Interesting how no one picked him up when he was waived.

  9. Alec says:

    Re: expansion draft/NHLPA-NHL fight

    One punch KO by league. NHLPA can argue all they want that it wasn’t collectively bargained but the language below suggests that expansion is beyond the purview of the CBA. Expansion is not mentioned in a NMC, yet payments for getting claimed in an expansion draft is. A lot of eyeballs went over that CBA and if they missed it, tough noogies.

    >>11.8 (c) A no-move clause may prevent the involuntary relocation of a Player, whether by Trade, Loan or Waiver claim. A no-move clause, however, may not restrict the Club’s Buy-Out and termination rights as set forth in this Agreement.

    13.7 Expansion Draft, Team Relocation. Any Player forced to move as a result of being claimed in an expansion draft, or as a result of a team relocation, shall be paid $6,000. (This payment shall not affect or be credited against “moving expenses” to which the Player might otherwise be entitled). >>

    • Dave says:

      Doesn’t address who will be made available for an expansion draft.

      Logically speaking, this will come down to NTCs being exposed for an expansion draft, and NMCs not.

      • Alec says:

        What logic does that derive from? NHL can set the rules unilaterally because there is zero language re expansion(thus is possible) in 12.8 and that players get paid to move in an expansion draft

        • Dave says:

          It’s the most logical solution that will come from the negotiations. A no-move states no involuntary movement. A no-trade states no trades. An expansion draft isn’t a trade, but it is involuntary movement.

          • Alec says:

            Again, read the language of 11.8(c)

            Notice the words: trade, loan, waiver claim. Under American law(except in Louisiana) anything not expressly prohibited in a clause is allowable. There is no mention of a NMC prohibiting movement via expansion draft.

            Later at 13.7 is the only mention of expansion/relocation in the entire CBA.

            Add in article 5 of the CBA(the league and clubs can do whatever they want, provided it doesn’t violate the CBA or any part of a SPC) and that’s the golden ticket. If the league negotiates(they have no legal obligation to do so and would be foolish to set precedent) then that’s of their own free will.

            So for 11.8(c) not to explicitly mention an expansion draft or relocation as a part of a NMC, yet the expansion draft is mentioned later on in a collectively bargained agreement with no recourse for arbitration of those two articles tells me this:
            1: the expansion draft is beyond the purview of the CBA, as that is an agreement between clubs in how they organize themselves.

            2: that the NHLPA agreed that players were to be compensated for moving by reasons beyond their control.

            In exchange for that, the NHLPA gets 50 more players under their wing per new club. Not a bad trade off.

            How will the expansion draft go? The CBA will force the new clubs to get to the salary floor ($58.2mm in 2017-18, going with the 5% inflator per CBA barring a huge revenue deal that overcomes the drop in CDN$) and grab 18 skaters & 2 goalies. The unknown is how they piece together the 50 man roster.

            Current teams will want to use this as a chance to unload overvalued contracts, very few teams around that have managed the cap that well to block a 2/3 majority. The talk about minimum salary exposure confirms this and a minimum exposure would actively punish teams that actually do manage their cap situation.

            As for protected, I’m guessing 6F, 3D, 1G along with younger players below waiver exemption rules. Nobody can lose more than 2 players. A lot of overvalued top 6F and top 4 D will be exposed, with draft picks and minor leaguers dangled to take on that salary. I’m guessing that will be managed through trades as expansion teams will be juggling 5,6 &7 rd picks, both theirs and others, like so many balls in the air.

            Example: Las Vegas selects Marc Staal from the New York Rangers. A day later, Las Vegas trades their 2018 7th rd pick to the New York Rangers for a 2018 7th rd pick and a 2019 3rd rd pick.

  10. orangemike says:

    Justin, et.al.- good analysis and some, I said some, good reaction. A couple of things-

    1. I agree, Hank has 5-6 more years at top form. If the narrative is to dump Staal and Girardi at all costs, and replaced by, oh, say, Brady Skjei and Ryan Graves, then I don’t want to hear about it when they make rookie mistakes for 2 years, Hank is making 80 saves a night, and the team misses the playoffs while they mature. I don’t want to hear it. Those $2,000 ice-level seats are tough to fill with a sub-.500 team.

    2. To the extent that anyone reads my posts, and doesn’t just put in the usual Thumbs down without reading, you all know I agree about Nash. In my view he is the softest, quietest “super-star” in major professional sports. Just MHO. If he disappears again in the playoffs, there’s $8 mil the team can use on someone else. Apparently Nash is the only person in North America who doesn’t realize the hockey season starts on April 1. As I’ve said before, I’d rather have Graham Nash in the lineup at the moment.

    3. The coach. As per usual, everyone knows the coach in any professional sport is a dope, an idiot, a fool, a moron. All the players are in the wrong position, playing the wrong system, too old, too young, on the wrong lines, not shooting enough, shooting too much. Look. From my recollection, it seems to me this team has made two deep playoff runs in the last two years. Vigneault must know something about hockey, maybe he even knows more than some of us. He probably knows his players. His job is to get the most out of the players he has. Blaming him for 1979, 1968 or 1952 is silly and counterproductive. We all hated Tortorella and wanted him run out of town on a rail. I think AV will be here for a while, and I for one am glad he’s here. Again, just MHO.

    4. Draft Picks- this is the New York Rangers, not Columbus or Nashville. Stockpiling draft picks and trading away everyone over 30 won’t work here. Unless, as I said above, everyone in the building is OK with 2 or 3 or 4 seventh-place finishes while those draft picks mature. I don’t think that’s going to be happening anytime soon.

    That’s it. Go ahead and give me all the Thumbs Down, Have a great day everyone.

    Regards- orange

    • Dave says:

      The only thing I don’t really agree with is #2. The rest, while a bit blunt, is pretty accurate.

      • Chris.C says:

        I don’t know Dave
        Nash is a bit of a proven powder puff come the Playoffs.

        • Dave says:

          5-9-14 in 19 games last postseason. Don’t know what else you expect from him.

        • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

          I think the problem with Nash is expectations. In my opinion his cap hit is disproportionate to his production.

          He is what he is at this point, a 30-35 goal scorer, great 2 way player, good teammate. He’s just not a superstar. He’s not among the elite, aka, the type of player that can carry a team for stretches in the playoffs. He needs to be a part of the sum of the team.

          His playoffs have been fine, but people expect him to carry them, and he’s not that guy. Unfortunately, the cap hit says he should be, and that’s the disconnect.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Yep, agree with Dave, Orange. 100% agree other than Nash.

    • Chris.C says:

      Orange,
      You read my mind 100%

      IMHO, there is no way can NY handle a retooling like the Blackhawks did from 95-96 to 08-09 season with one appearance in the playoffs, before rolling out 3 stanley Cups in six years. MSG would collapse from the ghosts during that tenure.

      • Dave says:

        Well, the Hawks weren’t even on TV then. Their owner at the time refused to let them be broadcast.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          True. For home games. Road games were on. I was living in Chicago at the time. What a joke!

    • Ryan says:

      Skjei is likely better than Girardi right now. Girardi is a replacement level defender. Sub in Skjei and Graves for Girardi and Staal, and we’re likely a better team (not even considering the $11M in cap space that opens up). There are no mistakes that Skjei and Graves can make that Girardi and Staal don’t already make routinely.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        You are likely hallucinating. It’s just amazing to me that people think you can just call a kid up from the AHL, slot him into a key role on defense, and expect him to do what Girardi does year after year vs Ovie and Crosby in the playoffs, not to mention Dallas the other night–shut down the league’s best when it matters most.

        No doubt, an good but not great AHL player can do that right now. Sure.

        • orangemike says:

          Again, Eddie, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Or maybe I did. I don’t know, it’s Friday afternoon after a hectic week.

          Regards- orange

        • Ranger17 says:

          Right on Eddie time to play Skjei and Graves is in the beginning of the year with sheltered minutes . Come PO time i would rather have Staal and G on D

    • Rangers Rock says:

      I just wanted to talk about #3. I guess I was the only person that likes Tortorella. I do not think All coaches are stupid just as I did not think Keenan was stupid, but the jack ass after him was a joke getting rid of Zubov. Roger Neilson was a good guy. I just started watching hockey. Hated John Muckler. Didn’t like what Tom Renney did to Prucha but didn’t hate him, well maybe I did.
      Watching all of those coaches, I have never came close to saying that anyone of them sabotaged the team because of 1 player. Colin was too stupid to know what he was doing.
      To research AV before he came to the Rangers, I read as much about him as possible and the fans were saying how stubborn he was and how he misused his young players. I started with an open mind and that first year we went to the finals. I did not give him credit because the only thing that made the team go that far was St Louis. No question about that!
      The following year AV gets Glass on his team and overpays him. I heard some fans cry about it but still had a open mind. I watched the whole season and saw how he misused his players. I still say it and will always say the team did it despite Glass being in the lineup but created a weak link situation. Anywhere he played the line would suck. It was very frustrating to hear the announcers giving praise to crappy play. And some stupid people not recognizing the obvious. He sacrificed the team with uneven lines and reducing the 4 line playing almost equally. So playing many 7 game series your team was tired because of the coaches’ decision to roll 3 lines. It was wrong and the season prior showed the importance of rolling 4 lines. The coach got rid of the good Boyle and lost Haglin because of the Glass deal.
      Think about it, AV would rather roll 3 lines to keep Glass in the lineup.
      The closer you look at the wart the uglier it looks.
      I get frustrated with the AV defenders for not looking at the real reason we lost. Zuc was hurt and we went really far without him. Broken legs on Defense-men, well thats why you have call ups. And I do believe if it wasn’t for Keeping Glass in and not putting Sheppard was what caused the Rangers to lose. The team says the defeated lineup and put in an extra Defensive player and they were defeated before they even played.
      Either I am wrong or we will never know because Sheppard was not in the lineup, but we do know the coach was wrong because we lost. He blew it and still has defenders. Each and every player on the team is important. The coach went with the 6 minute mistake that cost them. He sabotaged the team for 1 player. And He is trying to do it again. And the players could see it. We all see it. But some don’t think history will repeat itself again.

      • Spozo says:

        I got halfway through your post and realized that you don’t know the difference between the GM and the coach. The coach did not trade Zubov. The coach did not pay Glass.

        I put this aside and read the rest of your post. That was a mistake.

        What exactly did Renney do to Prucha? Isn’t there a reason he played Ike 4 seasons in the NHL then went to Russia?

        Boyle signed for 2 million per year. Hagelin signed a contract for 4 million per year. Suprisingly I was a math minor in college so I think I can say with good authority that that adds up to 6 million per year. How is the glass contract the reason those players had to go.

        And I won’t even get in to your “we didn’t land on the moon” AV sabotage theory.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          Thanks for responding Spozo. You said it perfectly. James Sheppard! James Sheppard! The would be savior of Game 7 who’s playing in the Swiss League now?! It’s…..just….mind boggling!

          Hey, it takes all kinds. It’s like reading the comic strip section of the newspaper. Don’t take it seriously. Read it and laugh.

      • Spozo says:

        I think I could rip this post apart for hours.

        Once again the coach didn’t get rid of Boyle. The GM didn’t re sign him.

        James Shepard should have been Glasses replacement in last years playoffs? The guy played 13 games in last years postseason. And he put up a huge stat line of 1-1-2! And this season where is he ripping it up? The Kloten Flyers. Yup AV really tanked the postseason by playing glass instead of Sheppard.

        • Rangers Rock says:

          Rip my friend, Rip. He produced more than Glass and did not cause the 4th line to be just defensive. He made the team more offensive.
          Wikipedia In 2009, Renney was the subject of an Internet parody, The Ranger Line Generator, that focused on the coaches’ strategic shuffling of player line combinations. The popular website[2] allowed users to create random line combinations based on the 2008–09 Ranger roster. The Line Generator also points out Renney’s perceived misuse of Petr Průcha.
          We all know how it ended and we lost Because of AV. We will never know what would have happened with Sheppard. He did have an important goal in the playoffs and benched for the worst player in the league.
          How can you defend that? Your defense of stupidity is amazing. Your coach resulted in our loss. You can put down my opinion which is ok. You can not defend reality where your coach put shit in the lineup and we are now without a Cup. The Jackass could not adjust to the other team and is a failure. 2-0 at home.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            I know you’re just pulling our leg on this, because no one with any knowledge of this–coach, GM, scout–would actually agree with this babble. If you ever had a chance to ask them, they would surely laugh you right out of the arena!

            Only a guy I know who might be on board with your theories is Dunc!Dunc!Dunc!, but this is might be even too insane for him to go along with! 🙂

            • Ranger17 says:

              Boyle and Hags would still be playing for the Rangers if they really wanted to be playing here . They wanted what the Rangers could not give them . Jerry McGuire Money you know SHOW ME THE MONEY . End of story they would bring Hags back in a heart beat if they could CAP CAP CAP

            • Rangers Rock says:

              Boyle gets 2 Million not too much money.
              Viktor Stalberg 2.5 million would not be needed.
              Haglin was not important for the team but Glass is.
              The coach is the one that disliked Haglin and Boyle. Not the GM.
              NO BODY WANTS GLASS EXCEPT AV!

              • Spozo says:

                whats your source on the coach not liking hagelin?

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                He has no sources Spozo. Just nonsensical rants based on his irrational hate of a player and coach.

                Here are the facts–

                First of all, Stalberg has zero to do with this conversation. He wasn’t even in play then. The roster as it was last year vs the prior year is all that can be considered in this discussion.

                Boyle wanted more money and a greater role than a 4th line guy. Sather (with I’m sure input from the coach, but make no mistake, it was Sather’s call to manage the cap) concluded that neither was possible, given that they still had Hags on the third line and more importantly, a huge commitment to MSL financially. As a smaller consideration, the extra dollars saved allowed them to sign Talbot to a contract that would later make him tradeable this past summer, which resulted in picks. If Boyle’s contract had expired lets say this summer, there’s a much better chance they could have considered retaining him. It would have created a very tight cap situation last year.

                As for Hags, I don’t see how you can possibly say AV hated him. His style of play was perfect for AV’s up tempo approach, and he thrived in it. AV publicly lamented his departure, and the organization came out and said how sad they were that they had to let him go. He wanted to come back, and it was rumored he might have been willing to take less to do so. So if he thought AV hated him, why would he do that? If anything, it was your guy Torts who hated him. Torts called him out often, and said publicly he “stunk” on the PP. Nice way to motivate a player.

                And if you would stop with your irrational hatred, you’d realize that the Rangers lost Boyle and Dorsett, two physical guys who were key to the success of the 4th line two seasons ago. Tell me who was out there who could play the physical game on the 4th line that was available and relatively cheap? The Rangers did not have that type of player in the organization. I’m not aware that the Rangers passed on a better option at a similar price. This was a cap decision 100%. Sure, AV may have liked him and suggested him, but these calls were 95% Sather when it comes to managing the cap. Should the Rangers have simply decided to have no one physical on the 4th line? Then everyone would have been screaming even more about how soft we were. And the bottom line was, despite his imperfections (and I don’t deny he wasn’t very good last year, I just think you are way over the top about how awful you think he was), the Rangers had the best record in hockey. So your whole premise is beyond flawed.

                The cap is real Rock. You need to get a little more real and stop with these wacko conspiracy theories.

        • paulronty says:

          I’m not defending that post but in all fairness Shepherd was one of San Jose’s best players in the playoffs the year before.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            Sure. I have no problem with the acquisition strategy. Sometimes moves are made that fail. That was largely Sather’s call. But obviously, once he got to NY, AV properly determined that he was not an upgrade over what he had. And based on the fact that he couldn’t even crack the CBJ’s roster on a PTO this Fall, and there was no other interest, then it’s clearly a long shot to think he’d have been a difference maker in Game 7 of the ECF!

            Not saying you’re saying that Paul, obviously. Your point is totally fair.

  11. Ranger17 says:

    I can settle for a Detroit like run make the PO every year now for what 24 or 25 yrs and still in the thick of it each year. Infuse a kid each year as we have been doing and we will be fine not a great team but a competitive one each year

    • Dave says:

      They won a few Cups in that span too. That’s going to be the determining factor.

      • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

        Yep, that’s the big difference. At some point you have to have a year where you put it all together, otherwise you’re the Thornton-era Sharks or Ovechkin-era Capitals.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          Shhh on the Ovie stuff……this could be the year. I fear it will be so

  12. Chris.C says:

    Excellent Post Justin.

  13. 43 says:

    I disagree with the sentiment that the “What AV Needs to Do” article was a fantastic piece. Anytime fans start stating what the coach needs to do is overstepping the credibility and is taking fandom a bridge too far. None of us are involved in the organization, none of us are privy to what goes on within the locker room, and none of us have any major level hockey experience to really be able to responsibly dictate anything in terms of what contributes to the success or failure of a professional sports franchise. I, because of his track record, trust every decision AV makes. He’s one of the best coaches in the league and if he feels Tanner Glass needs to be in the lineup, so be it, because it worked out pretty well for him.

    • Justin says:

      Would you say the same thing about a US President? A CEO? All authority can be questioned. You cannot just blindly follow someone because they are in the position they are in, and have had past success.

      So much opportunity in pro-sports is nepotistic and relationship based, you cannot anoint someone who works in the profession as inherently smarter or more capable than anyone else. You think running a team is more difficult than running a multi-national corporation or a hospital? Please.

      Intelligent people should be encouraged to challenge the status quo, it’s how things are improved and how faulty processes are exposed. (note: I’m not insinuating that AV’s processes are faulty, just an example).

      • 43 says:

        Coaching and GM a sports team drastically differ from leading a nation. First of all, AV’s coaching decisions don’t matter to my everyday life. I will not have to pay taxes or get drafted into a war because AV scratched Kevin Hayes. Same with being a CEO, who’s decisions affect work force and often times, have an impact on the economy. Coaching an NHL team has little impact on the world. That’s fact. That comparison is really poor.

        • Justin says:

          Last time I checked, a sports franchise was a business, which employs hundreds of people. The performance of large market clubs affects the economic landscape of the whole sport, has an impact on the city’s economics and affects the emotions of millions of people across the world.

          Sure, the true impact of the results doesn’t significantly affect the days to day lives of outsiders, but tell the people who own memorabilia shops up in the Bronx how their lives are when the Yankees suck.

          Ultimately, it is completely moot, because no single person of authority is ever entitled to absolute discretion and infallibility in any industry or context.

          • Bob says:

            Haha 43 what’s the point of blogs, media coverage, or the free press if we can’t constructively criticize or analyze sport or the people who run it? Seems pointless that you are even here if you feel that way.

      • orangemike says:

        Justin I don’t know what industry you work in, but wake up and smell the cappuchino. Number one, the entire world is nepotistic and relationship-based. If you think opportunities in the outside world are exclusively given to those who who deserve them, and that all are fairly judged in a working environment, you are mistaken. If you’re waiting for life to be fair, you will be waiting a while.

        Second, to the best of my knowledge, none of AV’s family works for the Rangers, so I don’t know where the nepotism comment comes from. It is a true statement that many relatives of CEO’s, owners, and so on, are involved on a high level with sports teams, corporations, etc. Again, life ain’t fair, my son. If you’re expecting fairness, you are living in a fantasy world.

        No one, at least not me, are suggesting we follow AV’s program blindly. Everyone gets to have their opinion. My point is that this coach has a pretty good record of success. I am one of those who gives such coaches the benefit of the doubt in these arguments about line-ups, systems, and positioning and expectations from players on sports teams. Again, just MHO. I refer everybody to Bill Polian’s theory that sports executives and coaches who listen to the fans will eventually be sitting with them in the stands instead of running the team.

        Regards- orange

        • Justin says:

          Orange- No one is saying AV got his job through nepotism. If you read my reply, 43 was stating that the wisdom of AV was not to be questioned because we don’t work in the industry or have the high level hockey experience to lodge intelligent criticisms.

          My reply to that was that there is nothing inherently more intelligent or capable about folks working in pro sports just because they are there.

          No one is asking for life to be fair, I’m asking that we constantly question authority and don’t let leadership skate by on their track record. As consumers of this game, we have a right to demand a product reflective of what we pay for. If that comes down to player performance, coaching decisions or front office management, no one is above having their job evaluated.

          Additionally, no one is saying AV is doing a terrible job or needs to be replaced. We are saying he needs to make adjustments. But the crowd that says “you aren’t allowed to criticize AV’s decisions because of his track record”, are just sticking their heads in the sand.

          • 43 says:

            I disagree completely with this statement: “there is nothing inherently more intelligent or capable about folks working in pro sports just because they are there.”

            First of all, this sentence is worded poorly, and syntactically leaves it a little ambiguous what your intended meaning is. Are you saying that people who work in pro sports are not inherently smarter than people who do not work in pro sports or are you stating that people who work in pro sports are not inherently smarter about sports than people who do not work in the industry?

            I think you mean the latter. While I’d agree and say that the bat boy for the Dodgers doesn’t inherently know more about baseball than I do, or that the usher at MSG doesn’t inherently know more about the Knicks than I do, I’d pretty much draw the line there. Anyone who has a real, necessary job in that industry has it for a reason, because they know and are capable of a lot more than the average consumer of the product.

            Stating which things AV needs to do is ridiculous. Even the premise, to think someone who writes a blog has the credibility to state the things which a coach with multiple President’s trophies and many other accolades needs to do in order to be successful is the one thing here that must be challenged more than anything.

            • Hatrick Swayze says:

              No. There are more qualified (better) musicians who do not have record deals than many musicians who do. Talent and luck/opportunity.

              Same can be said about athletes.

              Same can be said about coaches.

              You don’t win alone on talent… those who hold positions also had timing and opportunity on their side. Talent, yes, but not necessarily more talent than those who don’t have. Fortunate circumstances assisted them along the way to where they are now.

              • 43 says:

                Terrible argument. Music is subjective, sports is not. Give me a better example or don’t argue. Sports is only similar to sports, not politics, not the music industry.

          • paulronty says:

            I agree with your sentiments abt not questioning the coach. People that do that are what I call “company men.” I have a friend like that who never Q’d his company but I told him that I saw numerous indiv’s from that company who suffered from low morale. I never kissed anyone’s @$$ during my career & once led a three week strike against my employer who actually didn’t want me to leave. I questioned & argued with bosses to the amazement of others. Everyone can & should be questioned, including an NHL coach who is the greatest since Scotty Bowman. It’s only a blog and no one is going to stop one from Qing the coach or saying he’s heroic. Remember the epic debate we had abt The Undertaker?

        • Stranger Nation says:

          Rumors of AV adopting Glass notwithstanding

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      I think anyone can and should be questioned, it’s our right as fans.

      That being said, I totally agree with your premise. This is a good team that has been struggling, maybe showing signs of coming out of it, with a great goaltender and a great coach. We could be in far worse shape.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Justin for Prez

      Professional coaches, managers and players live and operate under the microscope. Considering the money and power linked with such positions, similar to CEOs and Politicians, it is just and right.

      To think that we, fans and citizens, should follow mindlessly is nonsensical. Citizens vote and fans spew opinion. Often times misguided and misplaced, but it certainly trumps the alternative.

      I understand your point, 43, that too many fans, bloggers, reporters seem to have an opinion without knowing the circumstances. (Larry Brooks comes to mind.) Thus, such opinions are incorrect more often than not. That’s a given. But you lose me when you state, “Anytime fans start stating what the coach needs to do is overstepping the credibility and is taking fandom a bridge too far.”

      I think Justin said it best with his ‘head in the sand’ adage.

  14. Seahorse says:

    Seconded though there’s a gluttony of history says that he will never be that level of goalscorer again. Ovie is the one exception. Even Gretzkys best g scoring years was before his 24th bday

  15. supermaz says:

    AD, your views on Nash are warped. 25 goals a season? Are you thinking about Graham Nash or Rick Nash?

    • AD says:

      Supermaz, I was referring to his current run-rate goal production. 25 goals is spot on. At his age, I personally am not expecting more than 25 goals per season from Nash going forward. I am trying to be realistic.

      Fans are always looking in the rearview mirror to project what is going to happen in the future; that is reasonable sometimes and very misleading in other situations. With Nash, looking in the rearview mirror to gauge what he is likely to do going forward is misguided, in my view.

  16. supermaz says:

    Fans who trash the likes of Girardi, Staal, and Nash on a daily basis get no respect from me. You are all ungrateful fans who, in my opinion, know very little about the sport. The grass is not always greener. I’ll take that threesome on my team any day.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Agree completely. Especially re: Girardi and Staal. Girardi has played like the Bionic Man, sacrificing his body for the team game after game. He’s been a warrior when it matters most come playoff time. Staal nearly lost his eye, and worked his way back to being a very strong defender. These guys have a tough stretch of games (and I’m convinced at least part of it had to do with the injuries vs TB and subsequent surgeries last summer). Slowly, they seem to be rounding into form…we’ll see. But to want to throw them in the trash heap just like that, after all they have meant to the franchise? Just stunning to me.

      Nash is a little different. I certainly envisioned more when the deal was made. He was acquired to score goals and be a dominant force and at times, his production has fallen short of that expectation. Still, I wouldn’t undo that deal if I could. He’s been a very, very good player who often goes under appreciated.

      • paulronty says:

        Nash has been great, you don’t play by yourself and he’s been shifted all over the place. I don’t blame him for not scoring(he did a lot of that last year lest we forget) because scoring is down league wide. Why? some opine it’s because of poor officiating and lack of PPs. I opine it’s that the goalies are now huge & the nets too small. I certainly have not been one to beat up on the D because I think our forwards have been backchecking like slugs this year hanging the D out to dry.

  17. 43 says:

    Per Steve Zipy, Rangers expected to announce deal involving Etem today. Rumor mill may include Staal and Glass…

    Atkinson?

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      I’m scanning this, I see where Etem is going to Hartford for a conditioning stunt and may well be traded. But I see nothing anywhere on Staal or Glass on any Zipay post (or anything else) that I can find? Source?

      • 43 says:

        Staal and Glass unfounded, just part of the original source I saw, not credible, though.

  18. AD says:

    Supermaz & Eddie G, when Gorton trades one of either Girardi, Staal or Nash, will you lose disrespect for him?

    It’s the nature of the business to replace and trade players that have performed well in years past. Been that way, always. It doesn’t mean fans or management have no respect for their service.

    Let’s keep it real, guys.

    • AD says:

      * lose respect *

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      All well and good…..until keeping it real goes wrong.

      ^Chappelle reference

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      I’m not referring to you AD, nor am I questioning that, when the time comes to move on, that a deal shouldn’t be done because of past loyalties. That’s the nature of this business and any business.

      My frustration, and I don’t want to speak for Maz but assuming this is where he’s coming from, is that some out here talk about these guys like they are utter trash–ready for the garbage truck to come get them. And eight months ago….EIGHT MONTHS….they were part of a six man unit that was widely hailed by many as the best in the sport. Don’t they get, oh, I don’t know, a little time to work through a slump to determine if it is indeed a slump or something more?

      Good organizations carefully assess moves like this and don’t make knee jerk calls that could set an organization back. Let’s say worst case scenario, it’s a bad season. Stall is 29. Girardi 31. You’re telling me there’s no chance, with a longer off season to recover, that they don’t rebound and have a strong bounce back next year? Frankly, I would bet the majority of scouts would say it’s more likely that would happen then the notion that suddenly, just like that, they’re done.

      Time will tell, and there’s no rush to start on a re-tooling process that isn’t needed at this immediate moment.

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        See the LA Kings…. missed the playoffs last year after many deep runs prior. Many players have been quoted to say it was the best thing to get them fresh for this year.

        Whether its good or bad, right or wrong, minute crunchers Staal and Girardi would be 2 of the first to show signs of wear.

        Lundqvist too, perhaps. Yes he was focused and dedicated to starting hot out of the gates. And that he did- he is an extremely dedicated athlete. But tought to keep going over a full 82 game season.

        Time will tell

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          Yep…a lot of people want to pretend the SC playoff hangover is a myth, but it is very real. Only the Hawks somehow seem immune.