james sheppard
Please play me.

I open this post with a peace offering to those who came here to be irritated due to the title of this post. This is your friendly reminder that you have the freedom to choose which blog posts to read and which to ignore. Additionally, this post will include #fancystats, regular hockey-loving eyed interpretation, and perhaps the scariest of all, logic.

Let’s start the Tanner Glass dilemma from the beginning. Rangers fans that follow hockey were less than thrilled with the Glass signing for several reasons; the first being that he’s not good at hockey, and the second being that the contract itself ties a lot of money and time into a career fourth line player. That second part doesn’t need stats – fancy or basic – as justification. We saw a great fourth line player in Brian Boyle leave for monetary reasons over the summer, but big players with decent offensive upside are a dime a dozen. No need to bury your cap and lock one down for three years.

Consider, for one moment, that fans are a little agitated because Glen Sather had, despite his moments of brilliance, just locked down a 30 year old player whose career saw virtually no offensive capability (54 career points) for the highest and longest contract he’s ever received. Writers were lauding this as a move to have some “grit” and “jam” and whatever other strange words we want to associate with toughness on the team, but if you check around the league, you typically don’t pay $1.45M/year for a glorified punching bag.

For comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at some very, very simple stats. No Corsi here, so don’t worry, there’s no need for anyone to look too much up.

Tanner Glass


Would it surprise you to know that Player A is making just $50,000 less than Player B, and has an extra year on his contract? These are both Rangers who have had consistent fourth line minutes this season, both players who have pretty decent playoff history. Player A is obviously Glass, and Player B is Dominic Moore. Moore is a fourth line guy, but shockingly that doesn’t mean he can’t produce.

There’s a ton of talk about how Glass is a great guy, and I’m sure he is. He seems pretty amicable, he’s always there to congratulate his teammates and he got a pretty stellar ovation when he returned to Pittsburgh. I’m sure he’s a true delight in the locker room. Sadly, being a nice guy doesn’t win you hockey games, and I hope we all want to win. The argument that the Rangers haven’t been losing with him in the lineup is silly; if you have better players that fit the roster, play them. Imagine how much better your players can play, how fewer sloppy plays will reduce chances of your Dan Girardi’s having to risk breaking themselves blocking unnecessary shots. I get that we’re all just here to support the team, but you could support them all the same with a better roster skating.

All the above leads me to the basis of this post. The reason this was written was because of the practice lines yesterday.  Lines looked like this, per Pat Leonard:

Tanner Glass

April Fools! Wait..

This means that with the return of Martin St. Louis, James Sheppard becomes the extra forward on the ice. Who is this elusive Sheppard? Well, he played on the third line during his time with the Sharks, and he played phenomenally in the one round of the playoffs that the Sharks played with 6 points and an insane shooting percentage at 20%. This is why Sather targeted Sheppard from San Jose at the trade deadline. I’m pretty sure Sheppard was a favorite in the Sharks locker room, and he seems like a good Nova Scotia boy, so I don’t see a character reason why he wouldn’t play. As for athletic comparison – crazy, I know, since hockey isn’t really judged on athletic ability – well Sheppard blows Glass well out of the water. Forgive the few #fancystats here, if you’d like, please focus your attention to the more basic stats on the bottom of this chart (s/t Adam Herman):

Tanner Glass stats

Courtesy of Own the Puck

There’s not much to say on top of that.

Above all else, Glass is not to blame here. The rumors that fans who elected to stand out in the cold for players’ autographs turned their backs on Glass is pretty rude, but the nerdy bloggers like myself aren’t the ones preaching hatred of Glass. Hell, I wouldn’t mind being Glass right now. Getting paid millions to play a game you love? That’s pretty phenomenal. He isn’t forcing anyone to play him… unless my theory about the naked photos is true, in which case, well done.

At the end of each and every day, the Rangers could win the Presidents’ Trophy this year, but playing a sub-optimal lineup does nothing more than put you at risk of losing it all in a heartbeat. The playoffs are a tough time where you face the same team for several games, giving them a chance to exploit any and all of your weaknesses. If you don’t think Glass in your lineup is a weakness, then you haven’t been paying any attention. Please, Alain, stop the madness already. Don’t let us say that we traded a draft pick for a benchwarmer.


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