State of the Rangers

Rangers didn’t have the personnel to succeed, and not just on defense

The forgotten St. Louis had speed to match the Rangers' trademark style
The forgotten St. Louis had speed to match the Rangers’ trademark style

The Rangers’ 2015-2016 season was about a team that didn’t necessarily lack enough talent, but certainly had the wrong mix.

That’s not meant to absolve Alain Vigneault. There’s no question the coach deserves a share of the blame for his atrocious deployment – but there was also only so much Vigneault could do to right the ship with faulty personnel.

New York’s major problems were three-fold – and all were hallmarks of previous success that suddenly became glaring warts. The headliner was the disastrous blueline with long-time rocks that crumbled and created a domino effect that directly impacted the club’s other two biggest issues – forechecking and the penalty kill.

We’ve talked about the blueline repeatedly and are in universal agreement that fixing the defense will be priority No. 1 this offseason, so let’s explore the other two dilemmas.

Forechecking

The main roster changes last offseason were the retirement of Martin St. Louis and trade of Carl Hagelin, supplemented by the additions of Viktor Stalberg and Oscar Lindberg.

Both St. Louis and Hagelin were vital components to the team’s speed game and their departures created a gaping hole on the forecheck, where both players regularly got behind the defense on the breakout and were sent galloping after the puck on offensive zone retrievals. Watching Rangers blueliners panic in the face of Hagelin’s forechecking pressure in the first round of the playoffs was a good reminder of just how much #62 tilted the ice. Even during his decline, St. Louis had the wheels to do the same.

Stalberg is not lacking for speed himself and at times was among New York’s better players at forcing quick decisions by the opposition’s defense or creating separation with his willingness to bang bodies, but his addition was not enough to overcome the losses, especially with several of the club’s remaining top skating wingers underperforming or injured for much of the season.

Penalty Kill

Hagelin’s absence was also felt on the penalty kill – but the special teams were mostly decimated by the deterioration of long-time PK horses Dan Girardi and Marc Staal. That left Vigneault with only two effective defenders in those disadvantage situations – Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein.

Vigneault’s reluctance to trust Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle was understandable given the fact neither has been used much on the PK in years. Dylan McIlrath may have made a major difference in this area and that’s a fair critique of Vigneault, but by and large the coach was hamstrung from a personnel standpoint to the point that the club had to import AHLer Danny Paille in January.

Where do we go from here?

Some of the Rangers’ problems could have been predicted before the season and some could not, but it was obvious by December that the existing roster did not have the capability to match the results of recent years. Even when the front office fired its big bullet to acquire Eric Staal at the trade deadline, it was a silly move in hindsight given the team’s real issues. The idea of having a former captain with a penchant for scoring net-front goals sounded like a great “missing piece” heading into the postseason and it may have been just that in recent years. But Staal was a square peg in a round hole – another player whose speed was no longer at the level the Rangers really needed – nor was he the puck-moving defenseman that could shoulder some of the weight on special teams.

So what’s next? There’s still a ton of talent on the roster, but the formula needs tweaking. The Rangers no longer have the identity of a true forechecking speed-demon team, or a lockdown defensive club with a brick wall behind them.

But the pieces are still in place to fix some of these problems rather quickly. Lundqvist is still all-world in goal, so with some competent help, the defensive issues could be mitigated. That starts with addition by subtraction and growth from within, but some fresh blood with puck-moving skills will also likely need to be brought in from outside the organization.

The Penguins just demonstrated that infusing speed into the lineup can be done on the fly with AHLers and a savvy trade (for that same Hagelin…), so long as they’re used properly. Adding Pavel Buchnevich and re-signing Stalberg would be a great start, but there are also some options available through free agency and potentially via trade that could return the team’s giddy-up quite quickly.

And on the PK, New York still has a trio of superb forwards in Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Jesper Fast – so really the club just needs to replace Dominic Moore up front. McDonagh, Klein and playoff revelation Brady Skjei look prepared to be the stalwarts on the back-end going forward, so there may only need to be small cosmetic changes on this unit.

If this all made it sound like the job facing GM Jeff Gorton and co. this offseason should be easy, it’s not. From finding takers for bad contracts, to swallowing loyalty and turning the page, to supplementing the existing roster with affordable talent that actually fits the plan – the front office really has its work cut out.

But it can be done. Maybe not all at once, and maybe not enough to make the Blueshirts the odds-on favorite heading into training camp. But there are enough building blocks and enough of the picture painted of what the Rangers need to be that it’s possible Vigneault will at least have a fighting chance next fall.

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  • Nice post, and to fair, there was enough blame for all involved, even AV, although Eddy will defend him later, bet on it !!!!!!

    We all know about Dan, and Marc, so let’s not kick a dead horse. There should be a decent free agent who can kill penalties out there for the taking, we have to do some work, but it can be done. If a deal for Shattenkirk can be made, wonderful, if not, well he will be UFA soon enough!!!!!!!

    The replacement of the forwards is simple. Pavel B. can slot in on the third line, with protected minutes, he can develop on the fly along side of Hayes. Our top six are there for the most part, and if we resign Victor, well our fourth line is complete, with Lindberg, and Fast. Under no circumstance should Fast play anywhere else but the 4th line. That leaves us with just a wing for the third line, and I have no idea who will be available, but maybe some kid in the system may fit the bill.

    Getting back to the defense if we can. McD, Skjei, Klein, DMc, Shatty, and free agent, could be a decent defense. Now if we are stuck with both of the anchor twins, well we are in deep doo doo……. Dave, that ones for you !!!!!!!!!!

    One last thought, about Pittsburgh, has anyone seen their defense when they get a lead??? Some have said that they were weak, and not deep in that area. I beg to differ on both counts???????? I believe there was a screen, the other day, showing that during the regular season, as well as the PO’s, when going into the 3rd with a lead, the Pens were something like 42-0, now if that’s bad, make me terrible please…………………

  • I would tend to agree with most of your points. I think the acquisition of Staal was a good move – if he would have been put at center between guys like Fast or Oskar and Stalberg. He is a scorer and a strong presence in front. He was playing out of position and did not contribute – that is on the coach.

    Not sure tweaking this roster is enough. If you love the top 6, then I would start fresh with a bottom 6 and see if anyone rises up.

    The defense is an old story, but losing Boyle and Yandle is not enough. One of the 2 (Staal/Girardi) need to be replaced. That would make us need more than just Skjei and McIlrath back there.

    Signing of Raanta gives us stability in goal, but we need a stud scorer. None on this roster and very few available.

    • Absolutely right abt Staal, he was misused on the wing. If he re-signs with Rangers, which is doubtful, he’ll be better but he’s no saviour.

    • How can anyone not blame AV when he said before the playoffs started that a line of Linberg-Stall-Stalberg was the best one for the few games they played together and then splitting them up?

  • At times it seemed like we didn’t have the horses this year. Other times you think about the minimal turnover and how the roster under achieved as currently constructed. We can’t deny how felt the losses of Hagelin and MSL were, but at the end of it, MSL was pretty much done- on ice. The MSL in the 2015 playoffs seemed to have aged about 4 years from the MSL in the 2014 playoffs. Let’s remember the effect he had on decreasing Stepan’s effectiveness for the second half of last season. Oy.

    That said, I am very surprised by the hole that losing Hagelin caused. Especially considering the lack of ‘hands’ the guy has. He brings a unique element to the team and good on him for igniting Pittsburgh. At this point, I’d say contract justified. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t work in our salary structure. Put that on Sather if you want, but it’s spilt milk. At this point, the question is what to do for next year.

    So, getting back to where I’m trying to go with this- given the minimal roster turnover coupled with the enormous drop-off in results, perhaps it’s prudent to look at other variables. I don’t think anyone can argue AV didn’t maximize the effectiveness of his roster this year or recognize and address lack of results in certain places on the roster before they ultimately buried us. And it’s unfortunate because he is the guy who was able to have the largest influence on what turned out to be our biggest bane this year- man games.

    Roster management was our best tool to combat the largest looming issue with the team. Bloggers and commenters called for it all year to no avail. Now its on the GM to freshen up the team for next season. Shedding a couple bodies (Girardi and/or Staal), while responsibly adding via free agency / trades (Shattenkirk) would go miles when coupled with our young and talented crop of forwards who, hopefully, take the next step collectively. This group still has a lot of good going for them.

    • I would welcome the moves you suggested, but the question is how? Stall and Girardi are not secrets. Their speedy decline is well-known. I also think the NYR feel that while they feed in some youth, they will season the team with a former superstar who wants a second life in NY. Slats has always found that shiny object hard to resist.

      Is AV the coach for 3 rookies on offense and possibly 2 on defense? We’ll see, but the force to put a contender on the ice may be too great to have a down year with kids on a learning curve.

      • Sal

        And there lies the problem, Sather always found that shiny object hard to resist, grandpa from years past, and gives away #1’s for these retreads………..

      • We had a down year this year without said learning curve as younger players were continually given a rough shake. Dave posted a couple days ago that he’d predict either Staal or Girardi going at the draft. I agree with that… couldn’t tell you to who or what for but moving one of them seems like it would be reasonable.

        We watch them and saw a year of decline and ineffectiveness. The guys were beat up. Give them a long off season and a system which isn’t extremely skating intensive and some might see 2 players who were pillars on one of the most competitive cores in the NHL since 2012(ish). No one can compete with Chicago or LA, but other than those groups, NYR is one of the most battle tested in recent hisory. And they got there on the backs of Staal, Girardi and co.

        No one should misconstrue this as my pitch to keep these guys in the fold. What I am saying is that moving one of them should be in the realm of things possible.

        As far as AV playing rookies…. we can only hope that improves. He likes some (Fast, Skjei). He doesn’t like others (McIlrath, Lindberg). To me, he doesn’t like young players who don’t play the “right way”. What many take issue with is the environment he puts in place to help them along to that end. Many see it as too restrictive. It will be interesting to see how that situation plays out, as next year this team will be younger. There’s no way around that.

        • The right way or the “AV way”. Kids need a little bit of rope to learn and make a few mistakes. The “AV way” on the PP and the PK didn’t work so well, so maybe the old dog needs to learn a few new tricks.

          While I am not advocating for a coaching change, I do think a coaching style adjustment needs to happen. Whether that is possible or not, I just can’t say.

          • Not the AV way. The right way. 30 out of 30 coaches require that players do certain things and play responsibly on both sides of the puck.

            Like I said, AV didn’t give certain guys enough leash to establish comfort and play an effective game but that is a separate issue from demanding accountability from his players. The latter is the sign of a good coach. The former is an example of one of AV’s mistakes this past year.

            I agree with you and I am saying the same thing, that- ‘I do think a coaching style adjustment needs to happen.’

        • And what exactly does the nebulous term “right way” mean? That there is only one way to play? Who knows.

          • It’s about playing responsibly.

            No coach categorically has a bias against younger players.

            If anything, coaches relish the opportunity for any players (especially youthful ones) to flourish under them. It gives media outlets and fans all the more reason to laud their coaching abilities.

            The reason why coaches, more often than not, are accused of not giving kids a fair shake, is because more often than not the ‘kids’ don’t play the right way.

            Some coaches do this to a fault, and others don’t. AV aside, there is a right way to play hockey. It’s playing both sides of the puck, back-checking and fore-checking, not floating and getting caught while also managing to find ways to get behind defenders, standing up for team mates while not taking penalties, making plays to open up the ice while also getting the puck deep when the play isn’t there.

          • It seems to me that it’s not only kids who might not play the “right way”, there are lot’s of vets who didn’t play the right way either.

          • The six guys on the ice at any one time need to play as a unit. That means adhering to a system. Yes, the coach is the one who establishes the system, but the truth is that the players who don’t fit into one coach’s system usually don’t fit into another’s.

      • Unfortunately as now constructed, we have a battle of accountants in place of a battle of hockey experts. Much of what you say would be fine but not so easy to accomplish in the current environment. This is not to dispute the need for youth or to question how AV handled some of the available youth (i.e. McIlrath) this year.

    • It’s not just Hags that Pittsburgh added to turn their team around. Sheary, Rust, and Daley on the blueline are fantastic skaters as well. Add in the surprisingly effective Matt Cullen, and that’s 5 absolute burners Pittsburgh added this season.

      As for losing Hagelin, I still say the biggest problem the Rangers had was their inability to control the puck in their own end and make effective D to FWD breakout passes. The Rangers forwards are still pretty quick, and like Kevin said, Stalberg essentially replaced Hags and like you said Hatrick, MSL was dunzo last season.

      Offense always starts from the back end, and with a team that relies on the transition game as much as the Rangers do, the back end is even more vital to the potential success of the offense. I think Steve Valiquette mentioned it around January that the Rangers number of odd man rushes that led to passes that cut across the slot (the most dangerous offensive play in the NHL) declined from something like over 40 for the first half of 14-15 down to 8(!!) for the first half of 15-16. For me, that was a damning statistic, and it explained why the Rangers didn’t appear to be the dominant force they used to be. Remember, this is an offensive unit that thrives on making shots of extremely high quality. That’s taking away almost 80 high quality shots over the course of a season.

      Beyond the actual scoring, all those extra high quality chances put the opponent on their heels and makes them more reluctant to pinch on the forecheck, which takes pressure off the Rangers D zone, which leads to more chances.

      tl;dr version, fix the D corps and you fix the Rangers. Nash is fine, Zucc is fine, Kreider is fine, etc., Hags was not the missing piece, the D is the problem, plain and simple.

      • I’m not arguing Hagelin is the reason why Pit embarrassed us in 5 when last year we handled them in 5 when we had Hags. All I’m saying is that he is an effective NHLer and you can’t discredit his positive effect on certain teams. He didn’t fit in ANA… so anyone who thinks he is plug and play isn’t all that plugged in, shall we say.

        In any event, yes, I agree that the decline in our back end was the issue. To me, that is a given. The point of my original post was to consider the conundrum of causation or correlation between declining roster/ underachieving roster and personnel deployment/ lineup decisions.

        Bullets
        -correctamundo on Pitts moves. You could argue Daley is the biggest net positive, even though Hags and Sheary get all the praise.
        -Telling stat from TV Steve. Not something that made it to my attention previously.

        • Yeah, TV Steve sneaked that stat into a postgame show one night and never mentioned it again. So either the Rangers picked it up in that department after that game, or he felt it wasn’t important, not sure.

          Going back to Daley and Hags, isn’t it funny how those two went to two really great teams over the summer, Chicago and Anaheim, and stunk it up, then they went to Pittsburgh and were reborn. I’m not insinuating that there is some larger meaning to that, I just wanted to point it out.

      • The real problem was that opponents figured out that if they covered the wingers at the half boards, the D had no where to pass it. It was just as much a system’s failure as a D failure. There was little adaptability.

        • Could it be that the D was taking so long to move the puck decisively that wingers who were open last year were no longer open? Let’s not forget those passing windows are only open for fractions of a second. If the D is a tiny bit slower making that pass then everything breaks down.

  • Kevin-

    Absolutely brilliant article. Well done!

    When an uneven season like this one happens, it’s easy to take the simple and lazy approach and say “Fire the coach!” While I agree that AV of course bears some of the responsibility here, I’ve been saying forever that this team is what it is…..a good but not great team with no high end, elite level players, other than Hank. When they succeeded in AV’s first two years, they were remarkable in their ability execute “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” approach. Their depth allowed them to compensate for the lack of star power. They could succeed that way, but with very little margin for error.

    This past season, as you said, Hags gone, MSL gone. Neither were adequately replaced. Girardi and Staal regressed significantly, most likely due to injury. If their regression was indeed due to injury, then that bodes well for a strong bounce back from both next season, especially with a normal rest and recovery that they didn’t have last summer.

    The talk last summer was all about how Kreider was going to take that next step. That was essential for us, and his failure to make a big step forward as a player (indeed, he regressed) might be the biggest reason why we couldn’t compensate. He needs to be significantly better and be a more than just a passenger on the bus now. Hayes regressed too, but as a second year player, that was a bit more understandable. He obviously has some maturing to do, much like Miller did the prior season.

    We needed McDonagh to emerge as one of the elite defensemen in the league. Again, perhaps due to lingering injuries last season, and then the concussion, he was just good but not great. He needs to go from good to great.

    Hank had his stretches of greatness, but the issues on defense were just too much for him to overcome, especially at this stage of his career. The Rangers can’t hang him out to dry going forward and expect him to continuously bail the team out.

    Put it altogether and you had the perfect storm that resulted in a regression. This was far, far more about the talent and execution than it was about the coaching.

    Speaking of the coaching, I remember a number of people on this blog back in December comparing AV to Boudreau. This was when Boudreau changed the team’s style of play, which resulted in an epic turnaround. All I kept hearing is, “that’s what a great coach does…he adjusts!….why won’t AV do that?” Well, yes, that can be true. But on the other hand, when adjustments are made that alter the core personality of the team, you’d better be sure that the move you make will not only work short term, but ultimately will be a style of play that will allow you to succeed in post season. I have no idea of exactly what went wrong in Anaheim, but a team with far more high end talent than the Rangers, that was the very popular consensus pick to win the Cup, got bounced by an inferior team in the first round. So much for coaching “brilliance”.

    • Eddy

      I have to take issue with you regarding this statement about Dan & Marc:

      “If their regression was indeed due to injury, then that bodes well for a strong bounce back for both next season, especially with a normal rest and recovery that they didn’t have last summer”. That falls right on AV, and that’s one of the many reason’s some of us have been calling for his head.

      Knowing that your players aren’t at 100%, and you have other choices to play another, and you play these two instead, well that falls on his lap, not the players who can’t play to their standard. That is in defendable at best, and borders on criminal , figuratively speaking !!!!!!!!!!!

      • What other choices, Walt?

        AV tried McIlrath and didn’t like what he saw. I think the coach has that right, don’t you? McIlrath is a wonderful hitter and he’s defensively responsible, but, he still can’t skate and he handles the puck like it’s a hand grenade. I like the kid, he’s got tons of heart, but he’s simply not a fit here. Now, Skjei on the other hand, he’s an option for sure, but it’s likely that if he didn’t get to play over 20 minutes a night for a full season in Hartford along with getting PP and PK time he wouldn’t be the player he is now.

        • That’s the whole void here. Seeing eye to eye on McIlrath.

          AV, Chris A, others….. don’t see D Mac as a fit in the current system.

          Walt, Bobby, others…. see a defensive stalwart who isn’t getting a fair shake and warranted playing time.

          While I usually give the benefit of the doubt to the coach- you know, the professionals who are with the team/personnel throughout the season- it’s hard to argue that McIlrath seemed comfortable when he did crack the line up. He seemed to fit as good or better than current options who were getting continuous reps. So his lack of playing time, was puzzling. That said, the clamor for McIlrath, like most things, was overblown at times.

          • But McIlrath looked good on the third pair getting sheltered minutes. Walt and others are talking about using McIlrath to replace Girardi on the top pair or second pair. That likely would have exposed the kid and who knows what effect that would have had on his development.

            It’s clear the Rangers were very careful with McIlrath, I’m sure there was a very good reason other than “he’s a rookie”. Skjei was also a rookie and got tons of ice time in the playoffs.

          • I never called for him as a top pair d-man, please don’t words in my mouth.

            Obviously Klein, and Boyle would play top four ahead of him !!!!!!!!!!!

          • Yeah, sorry Walt, that was my bad.

            All I was trying to say is that the Rangers were short two D from their top 4 thanks to the sudden decline of Staal and Girardi, McIlrath wasn’t the solution to that problem. Neither was Boyle. Basically, the Rangers had two top 4 guys in McD and Klein and five bottom pair Ds.

          • Skjei, or Mc Ilrath were better choices than Staal, or Danny boy, especially with flat tires under them. Don’t tell me that DMc can’t skate, I believe he skates much better than Dan, or Staal for that matter. Bottom line, he didn’t give the kid an honest shot, proof positive, in the PO’s he uses Diaz over the kid. And the kid has a much better shot than Dan’s lame wrist shot from the point, what a joke. We are at opposite points of view on this one Chris !!!!!!!!!

          • Walt, with all respect, you are not taking into account the cap hell the Rangers were in. Calling up Skjei for an extended period was not really possible, due to cap restraints. And, let’s not forget that this was his first full pro season. It was the fact that he played regularly in the AHL that made him ready for a recall. To suggest AV didn’t want him is utterly ridiculous, since when he did play, AV played him a lot.

            McIlrath played in nearly half the games he was physically able to play in. More than reasonable for a 7D. Could he have played more? Maybe. Should Girardi have rested more? Possibly. But do you honestly believe that any of that would have altered the final outcome of the season? And even if it is a valid criticism, is that why a coach should be fired? For not playing a guy who, by your own admission, is not the “second coming?” That’s hardly a reason for any rationale GM to make a change.

            Why is it improper for injured players to play, if they have been medically cleared to play? It only happens, I don’t know, all the time.

            Next we will hear that AV’s shirt and tie combinations weren’t good fashion choices, and it distracted the team. That’s just about the level we are sinking to here. :).

          • And, you are mistaking the Diaz thing completely. He played Diaz in one game. ONE. And that was as a 7D, sitting Boyle not DMC in order to jump start the PP. To suggest DMC would have been the guy to jump start a PP at this juncture of his young career is just beyond stunning. You are totally overacting to an isolated event that again, would have changed NOTHING at the end of the day.

          • Ed

            Have you ever heard of the LTIR??????

            I can care less if the results would be the same, the kid would have gotten experience, and Dan could of healed completely. Bottom line, the team performed poorly due to his judgement, AV, and that’s the point.

            As for the shirt, and tie combinations, well that was going to be my next rant !!!! Now don’t go off the deep end, it’s a joke, and I assume it put a smile on your face ?????Right????????

          • Jump start the PP, OK, got me there.

            Now can you see, or not see the way AV treated DMc, Lindberg, and to a smaller extent Hayes, and Miller? Then compare them to the treatment he had for his fair haired boys, Fast, and Glass!

            Let’s hope your not living up to Fatiu’s nick name of Amish Ed, or is it his plow horse, with blinders !!!!!!!!!!

          • Walt-

            First of all, I know it’s the fashionable knee jerk reaction to blame AV for everything, right down to the overpriced hot dogs on the Chase Bridge. But try to be objective. None of us are doctors, and none of us have any idea whatsoever if the LTIR option was even considered for Girardi.

            The decision as to whether a player gets put on LTIR is made by the GM and his staff, along with the team’s medical people. While I’m sure AV is advised and consulted, to say that it was his fault that Girardi was not placed on LTIR is pretty far fetched to say the least. However, anything is possible and I would invite you to share with us your evidence that has led you to this disturbing conclusion. 🙂

            As for the rest, McIlrath played in half of the games he was healthy enough to play in. More than enough experience was gained.

            And you have no idea what the diagnosis and prognosis was on Girardi’s injury, so to say he would have been healthy if he hadn’t played is without basis. Maybe if he hadn’t played, he would have been too rusty to play at all.

            The Rangers medical staff are not a bunch of idiots. Rammer has been around for over twenty years. He’s considered among the best in the business. I think he knows what he’s doing.

            As for treating some players differently than others, this is not pee wee hockey where everyone is treated the same. Every pro coach does this. Most coaches have players that have earned trust, while others who haven’t quite yet done it. None of us are in the room. None of us know what goes on behind the scenes.

            As for your specific examples, DMC, I agree, he could have played him more. But come on, let’s not go crazy here either. The kid got his feet wet. Presumably, this will serve him well next season. It’s still very unclear what we have here in this kid. Time will tell.

            Lindberg? Again, you are distorting the facts. AV stuck with Lindberg all the way until the trade deadline. Then, when they acquired Staal and then once Nash came back, someone had to sit. Yes, I suppose it could have been Glass, but really, it was about either Hayes or Lindberg. Lindberg, after his fast start, was pretty mediocre from November on. The guy wasn’t producing and he was arguably one of the sloppiest players in terms of taking penalties on the team. Now, I will say for that brief stretch when AV deployed the “Staal-Berg” line, that seemed to be working and I would have liked to have seen that unit stay together. But once Nash came back, job one was seeing if a pairing of Nash and Staal might work (which it didn’t). AV wanted to see whether moving Stalberg to the 4th line would work, which it did. Lindberg was the odd man out, but again, he WASN’T GOOD for most of the season.

            Hayes and Miller is just nonsense. It’s been well documented that both have had work ethic and maturity issues to work through. This year, Miller was given a much longer leash, and this is despite the fact that he still remains a pretty substandard defensive player and a turnover machine. He was never sent to the press box, and he had a breakout season, in my view because of AV’s “tough love” approach”.

            Hayes had AV’s full trust last season. He earned it. This year, despite a significant drop in play, AV largely stuck with the kid. He benched him all of two games in mid-season. Many writers took AV to task for not sitting him sooner. Finally, come playoff time, there was no choice but to sit him down.

            I don’t at all understand why any of this is a major issue at all. Every coach in the league can be criticized for player usage. This is hardly unique to AV.

          • Ed

            During one of the debates, Chris Christie said to Marco Rubio, ‘There you go again”.

            Why is it when I question you I’m either emotional, reactionary, and or knee jerk reaction? Then you ask that I have some objectively, but your always right. Then you put words in my mouth like I made mention that it’s AV’s fault that Dan wasn’t placed on the LTIR, I never said that period. I said that may be an option in the past, but I know good, and well that the medical staff makes those decisions.

            Last, but not least, whenever your questioned, you always have a diversionary tactic up your sleeve, like bring back old history which is more times than not immaterial, in order to change the subject. My friend no need to answer any more of your post in the future, because “There you go again” !

          • Walt-

            I’m sorry you feel that way. I really enjoy our discussions, and if I came across in a way that seemed like “I’m always right”, I assure you I do not for a minute think that. I, like everyone else out here, have opinions that we want to stick with and justify. You do the same right? If you look at some of my other comments below, I readily admit a whole litany of mistakes I have made this season in judging the team. So, no, I am nowhere close to thinking I am always right.

            I re-read what was talked about re: LTIR. It certainly seemed to me that you were implying that AV was responsible for not putting Girardi on LTIR. I obviously misunderstood your point then and should have phrased it differently. So I apologize.

            As for having a “diversionary tactic up my sleeve”, again, I can assure you, that’s not the way I operate. We are all wired differently, and I often will take examples from other teams, or past Rangers teams, to draw comparisons. If you believe AV should be fired after the last three seasons, I think it’s more than fair to ask if you felt the same following the early stages of Torts time on Broadway. I don’t think that’s at all diversionary. It’s simply asking a question.

            Again, my apologies if I offended. I very much respect your opinion and look forward to our discussions, even if we don’t always agree.

          • Hatrick scores again. Give me the Mcllrath of last year over the everyday malaise that was Boyle, Girardi and Staal. Throw in the fact that he stood up for the entire team on numerous occasions, put people on their asses, and gave the D-Corp a much needed nastiness attitude, cause lets face it, the rest of our current D-corp ( granted a few are very talented,) ARE FAR TOO POLITE!!! He should be even more effective with a year under his belt, and lets not kid ourselves that Girardi & Staal are going to miraculously be much better next year, like MSL & Richards & Boyle they will only be a year OLDER!!

          • I am going on the record now. Both Staal and Girardi will be back, and will be improved players because they will be rested and healthy. Bank on it.

          • Like you went on the record that the team was holding back for the PO’s, and we saw the results. Ed, please don’t stick your neck out that far……….

          • Just two points:
            the only game Rangers won in the playoffs this year DMC was in the lineup:
            Girardi decline started much earlier that this year, we lost two games to LA in ’14 finals b/c of his giveaways

        • True,
          But still, the coach was given D Mac, and could have tried better to make it work, instead of hoping that somehow a broken down cyborg and a grey beard would magically revert back to their glory days.

          We’ve seen AV stick to the players he likes, whether they have the skills or fit to play that position. Like that guy made from transparent window material.

          Who knows how D Mac would have worked out had AV shown him the same kind of tolerance.

        • Please, DMc isn’t the second coming, I never said he was, but he was an option. Also Skjeu was an option, but AV would have no part of it. As far as skating, Dan is running on flat tires, as is Staal, and MDc skating is so under rated. Then there is the BS weak wrist shot from the point by Dan, while the kid has a cannon.

          The point is AV never wanted to use the kid, and proof positive, he uses Diaz over him in the PO’s. Sorry, we are at 180 degrees from one another here !!!!!

          • Skjei was NOT an option until injuries made him an option. Then AV gave him significant minutes. Totally debunks the nonsensical “AV hates the kids” narrative.

          • No, you stated above that the reason he used him was for injuries, so let’s be consistent !!!!!!!

            AV still is very uncomfortable using younger players, and that’s thru clear eyeglasses my man !!!!!!! No rosy tinted glasses, or blinders here ………….

          • Yes, it was injuries that got him in. But he could have chosen to only give him limited minutes right? Not to mention that the reason Skjei went in was because of McDonagh’s injury. So if injuries were the only reason, why didn’t AV sit Skjei once McDonagh was back?

            And once Diaz was recalled prior to Game 3, he could have gone that route, right? Or in Game 5, why did he sit Boyle and keep Skjei in. Sorry my friend, your argument on Skjei has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese!

            In the 2013-14 season, AV’s first, he gave a long leash to players with very thin resumes, such as the 26 yo Zuc, the 23yo Stepan, the 26 yo Brassard, the 22yo Kreider, the 24yo McDonagh and the 25yo Hags. He did that instead of giving extended time to the 32yo Pyatt, the 35yo Asham, and the 28yo Powe (those three were Torts’ darlings….guess Torts hates the kids too!)

            In the 2014-15 season, he gave a long leash once again to Stepan, Hags, McDonagh and Kreider, as well as the 22yo Hayes, and the 19yo Duclair (who it seems he REALLY liked and really wanted to keep with the club, but the rules said he either had to stay with the big club or go back to Juniors). He did this instead of playing the 28yo Mueller and the 29yo Kostka.

            This past season, he gave long leashes again to Stepan and McDonagh. He continued to give Hayes and Kreider very long leashes despite their struggles and incosistent play. He increased the leash of the 22yo Miller significantly. He stuck with Lindberg, despite the kid’s struggles, and that only changed because of the trade for Staal. He did that even though he could have lobbied for Gorton to keep the 33yo Stoll, and the 31yo Paille. And as mentioned, he chose to give Skjei significant minutes when he had other, more experienced choices to go to.

            Add it all up and it’s pretty clear–This whole narrative of AV not being comfortable with playing younger players is, as I’ve said before, the biggest myth since Big Foot, who I understand was once considered for an enforcer’s role on John Ferguson’s Rangers. 🙂

          • The problem with the AV Diaz rationale is that it is so lame it is laughable. When you have Yandle out there, who needs a hack like Diaz. Furthermore it conveys to DMAC a negative interpretation of his perceived play by the coach which undermines the player’s moral & team morale. And congrats for recognizing Eddie’s penchant to use “distractability operations” as they are known in the world of psychology. Kids do it all the time as when Johnny is getting reprimanded & he says “but Suzie did it too.” Not implying that Eddie is a kid for those jumping to unwarranted conclusions, just that the process is the same. Oh, and if AV wanted a great shot from the point use DMAC, he has THE best shot on the team.

          • Did Diaz assist on the PP goal? Yes he did. Was it desperation? Yes it was.

            As for team morale, are you in the room? How do you know that? I recall a discussion where you applauded Torts for having the courage to bench Richards in the playoffs back in 2013, at least as I recall. These aren’t easy decisions but in both cases, desperate times call for desperate measures.

            Given your praise of DMC, I’m surprised you’d think this would affect him negatively. He seems seems like an incredibly focused, mature and even keeled young man. He will use this experience to learn, grow and become better. I mean, it’s not like AV berated him and nearly destroyed the kid like Keenan once did with Pronger. :). Trust me,mi think he will get over it.

            Oops…there I go again Doctor….employing a “distractability operation”. Please help me with my affliction. I mean, why would anyone want to site historical precedent in order to support a position? I mean, it’s only done all the time by reporters, authors, teachers, lawyers, judges, etc. How childish of me! I’ll try to get some help for this, along with everyone else in these professions! 🙂

          • Go watch DMACs exit interview & watch his nonverbals during the relevant Qs, if you want to learn something, or just continue to blow smoke out…oh I have to be nice!

          • Can’t help you I’m retired. Like AV, I somehow get the feeling you would resist all input & drive your therapist to drink by using distractibility operations to disarm him or her. With clients like this I would usually get them so angry they would fire me. Good outcome for client & therapist.

      • Exactly paisan! But you play injured guys when you lack the ability to take risk & put your trust in others whom you have already pre-judged.

        • It’s so shocking for coaches to play guys that have earned their trust. Stunning! How dare they?! 🙂

          • Loyalty to that extent is a fault !!!!!!!!!!

            He knew they were hurt, and wouldn’t play some one else who is healthy, that’s stubbornness, or down right stupid !!!!!!!!!

          • Ed- if they aren’t performing then they don’t deserve the ice time. That’s the difference.

          • Valid, but it’s also more than reasonable, since they were obviously medically cleared to go, to give trusted vets a longer leash and hope that if they get the playing time they need, they will round into form. And again, with a right cap situation, there weren’t a lot of better options. McIlrath played in half the games he was physically able to play in. The kid is a nice player but he’s not exactly in the class of the Ghost-Bear kid in Philly. He wasn’t a difference maker that made the team better when he was in there. He just wasn’t. So,it was reasonable in this case to stick with vets.

    • I personally believe you learn more about a coach when his personnel or system is not performing to standards, than you do when the team is hitting full stride. I know your central nervous system may break down for you to admit this Eddie, but Vigneault had a poor season (not just a role), and we all learned a lot about his skills during this process. Some of us suspected he has significant shortcomings as a coach, but this past season made those clear to any objective minded fan.

      As it stands, Mike Sullivan is shaping up to be Coach of the Year. I think you recognize why that may be. Maybe Vigneault can assess what took place in Pittsburgh after his arrival, and learn a thing or two. He isn’t above learning, is he?

      • Given his personality structure my bet is that he will rigidly stick to doing what he always has done. Mike Sullivan has done a terrific job in Pitt. When it comes to hiring coaches, Sather is one of the worst in the league. Bet they didn’t even consider Sullivan when Torts was canned. But the fact is that the same coaches are constantly recycled in the NHL.

        • “When it comes to hiring coaches, Sather is one of the worst in the league” ???

          Torts was pretty darn successful for a while, until he burned himself and the team out.

          AV, well if his track record the past few years indicates a failure, I don’t know what the metric are for success.

          Sullivan is a Torts disciple, so hiring a Torts clone right after getting rid of him would hardly make sense. Seemed right at the time to hire a polar opposite.

          Yes, I’m unhappy about the job AV has done this year. But that’s the whole point of this article, isn’t it. Was AV given the right tools to succeed?

        • Paul, this is even more off the wall than your suspect and distorted playoff winning pct argument that was totally off the wall.

          The players wanted Torts out…it was reported in every single publication covering the story so there’s little doubt it happened. By extension, Sully was a part of a team the players were done with. Why in the world would Sully have been considered? And if it was so obvious that he was the right choice, then why didn’t Vancouver hang onto him after Torts got canned there? And after that, NO team wanted offered him a coaching job. He had to wait a year, and only got hired in the AHL because Hynes left to go to NJ.

          Yes, no doubt, he’s done an excellent job. All credit to him. But when you have the kind of roster the Pens have, you hardly have to be a miracle worker.

          • Eddie, why do you repeat this Torts player mutiny over & over. It’s very tiring to hear over & over & over & over…. As for those playoff winning percentages they are fact, therefore, not off the wall. Thay just don;t fit into your AV narrative conveniently.

          • Well a) because it was widely reported in every publication of the time. Just check it out for yourself. Based on that, it’s highly probabIe that, while probably not a mutiny, that a number of players indicated he situation wasn’t working. It’s been pretty well reported.

            As for winning pct, you seemed to move on from that pretty fast considering I responded and showed that your data was flawed. Regular season coaching records post lockout are inflated on he high side because of OT/SO. Post season on the low side. Lindy Ruff, who spanned both eras, is the perfect example. I laid it out for you but for some reason you didn’t respond. Check it out and give me your thoughts if you’d like.

            So in any event, what you are saying is, you place more value in a coach that would, let’s say, sweep a first round series but then get bounced in the second round in seven games….7-4 record or .636 over a coach who won three series in seven games, then lost in the SC Finals in seven. 15-13 or .535. I mean, that’s essentially what you’re saying. Interesting. 🙂

          • Oh ya, I forgot, it’s the NYR beat reporters, how could they be wrong abt anything. They are in the locker room so they know it all. My bad.

          • Oh, so we don’t have OT in the post season. You go on & on abt AV being the best coach because of his high winning percentage in the reg season(.594 to be exact), yet his drop to .500 in the post season means nothing. I got it!

          • Paul….. just my .02. If your trying to argue that AV is a bad coach because his winning % decreases from reg season to playoffs, it might be a good idea-and good professional precedent- to take into account how his delta compares to the rest of the field.

            While you are correct in saying it is a “fact” AV’s winning percentage decreases during the post season, you’re wrong by using that sole metric to judge the guy. Because the same thing happens to every friggin coach in the league.

            Now if you establish that AV’s negative delta outpaces the field, then sure, you’ve got a case. BUT without that qualifying information, you really don’t have much proof of anything. Cherry picking stats is for politicians.

          • I didn’t say AV was a “bad” coach, did I? I’m just saying he’s not the HOF coach Eddie claims he is. As I showed in my other post that metric does not apply to every friggen coach in the league & I gave you examples, leaving out old time coaches no one would have ever heard of. AVs % drop is one of the highest of coaches with high % reg season records. Cherry picking stats I may be doing but no different from using Corsi, which regression analysis demonstrates predicts to no significant outcome.

      • AD….no worries….after I read this I went into shock, but the medics got my nervous system back on track!

        I agree, you learn a lot when a coach has a rough season. Depending on what kind of roster he has, next year will be a very importamt one for AV.

        I’m just curious, what did you learn about Torts when, after throwing the water bottle in the 2009 playoffs, distracting his team, and choked away a 3-1 lead to the Caps, then followed that up with the only playoff-less season of this past decade, and then followed THAT debacle up with a season where he barely squeaked into the playoffs and then was dispatched in the first round? I learned that he was stubborn as hell, wouldn’t adjust, and kept doing the same things over and over because he believed that way was the right way ( “Stop Coaching, Pat”). I also learned the only thing he really brought to the table were entertaining post game press conferences.

        Isn’t it possible that, simply put, AV and the team just had an off year after two good years and we leave it that?

        • Glad you are ok pal!

          What does Tortorella have to do with this?

          Vigneault needs to be much better next season.

          To answer your question, yes of course it is possible the team had an off year but based on Vigneault’s own comments it doesn’t seem that is the way he/management views things at all. It sounds like management believes changes need to be made to the core of this team. I would agree with that notion and, in fact, preferred trading from our core going into the trade deadline, if at all possible. I believe you diplomatically ridiculed me for that and also thought highly of the Eric Staal trade.

          So, I am back to where I was in January: we need to restructure the top end of our roster and should be doing everything possible to accumulate draft picks. Our needs are deep enough, in my view, where I very much question whether Vigneault is the right steward for this team transition. It’s not really why he was brought in and I wonder if he welcomes a transition/development type coaching profile.

          • AD

            Great question my man.

            What the hell does Torts have to do with any of this?
            It’s a distraction, can’t you see??????? LOL

          • AD (and Walt too)-

            This is what you said at the top….

            “I personally believe you learn more about a coach when his personnel or system is not performing to standards, than you do when the team is hitting full stride.”

            I then simply asked what you, a Torts fan, learned after Torts got off to a pretty rough start record wise with the Rangers. Why is at unreasonable or a distraction? And even though he struggled mightily, he did in fact deliver a very strong regular season after that. Credit to him. Which proves that things change year to year. Same guys pretty much. Different results. So again, I ask, what did those early Torts years tell you that’s any different from ONE off year (if you can call 101 pts an off year) from AV?

          • AD-

            I didn’t fully answer your post.

            I know you preferred to trade from the core prior to the deadline, and yes, I certainly questioned your judgment here. To your credit, you were abolsutley correct in your assessment. Well done!

            However, I stand by what I said then. No team that I can ever think of in the history of pro sports would decide, after the two seasons the Rangers had just had, to start a retooling when, at the time, the Rangers had just come off two terrific seasons where they were among the best teams in the league. On top of that, they were playing excellent hockey as they approached the deadline. Second best record in the conference. Almost as hot as the Pens. And they were doing it without Nash, McDonagh recovering from two hits to the head, and Stepan just rounding into form. It was more than reasonable to assume that once all that came together, add one more piece, and you could make a deep run again.

            So again, I give you credit for your insight. But I would pretty much guarantee, if you were the GM of the team, there is no chance that you would do this. Why? Because how exactly to you explain to your bosses, your coach, your players, your sponsors, your fans, especially your season ticket holders, that you are effectively NOT going to go for it? You couldn’t. Because if you did do this, and the team THEN got bounced in the first round, it would be YOU that would be on the hot seat, not the coach. And given that your plan seems to be to retool and not be a legit contender for several years, you might as well get your resume together. Because someone else will likley reap the benefits of the rebuild.

            Doing it my way makes more sense and is what most GMs would do, IMO. In my view, you gave up minimal assets of consequence that we will likely never hear from again. You gave the coach and everyone else mentioned above that “one more kick at the can”. There is no second guessing now. You can now make the changes you need to make.

            So, I think, in terms of our argument, like in Monty Python, I’ll just say, “All right, we’ll call it a draw!”

            And, again, to show I’m fair and balanced, I agree. It’s perfectly reasonable to question if AV is the right coach going forward, depending on what kind of roster is assembled (don’t assume necessarily that getting younger and changing the roster means they won’t still be in “go for it” mode. Depends on the deals that can be done).

            Similar to the decision to trade for Staal, it would be totally bizarre for the Rangers to fire AV after what was accomplished in the first two seasons. And even this year, 101 pts is hardly a dismal season that requires a change. This would be uncharacteristic of a franchise that, at least recently, as been very patient and loyal with coaches. If they sticked with Torts, with a far weaker record, for 4+ years, I doubt they would seriously consider firing AV after three seasons that on the whole have been very good. The organization would look foolish, and good coaches would question whether the Rangers are a legit destination.

            Now, as I said before, IF Gorton and AV are not seeing eye to eye on what needs to be done, I can see a scenario where they could decide to mutually part ways. But I doubt that would happen. And remember, it was reported that Slats was going to keep Torts until two things happened to change his mind…..the players revolted to some degree, AND they knew they had a chance to upgrade with Ruff and AV on the market. They’d have to feel that a better option was out there, and given how AV is perceived around the league, I don’t know that any of the options out there….(Cameron, Yeo, Boudreau, Hartley, Crawford, Carlyle) would be perceived as upgrades.

            To me, unless there is a total disconnect, he more than deserves to come back. After that, all bets are off as to whether he can or should survive the 2016-17 season.

          • Right on Ad, the classic distractibility operation yet again. AV must be good because Torts is bad.

          • I prefer to call it historical precedent, but hey, if it makes you feel special to throw out your psychological terms, I’m very happy to go with that.

            I was simply comparing the Rangers coaching life span under two different coaches and asking him (and you) what your impressions were then and why you see them differently. I didn’t realize that daring to do so means I’m employing some “operation”.

            Always fascinating Paul, always fascinating.

    • AV is responsible for the Rangers demise. He was the cook. He was the driver. He messed up the recipe and couldn’t shift gears. Fire him!

      • To the writer formerly known as Rock. Should I just refer to you as _?

        Imagine if your nonsensical statement were actually true. AV would be the first coach to ever SUBSTANTIALLY improve the performance of the team in the standing and in the playoffs from what his predecessor delivered. Yet, somehow, he’s responsible for the demise.

        The name may have changed, but the reports from the Bizarro World certainly have not!

        • Hanging on to retread coaches like AV, hanging on to stuck in the past Pres Slats and acquiring washed up players like Eric Staal is not a recipe for success. Its’ time for the Ranger franchise to move towards the future and come up with a new plan.

          • You mean a twenty year plan like the Islanders? Or the now ten year plan of the Oilers?

          • Eddie, there you go again, what you just said is irrelevant to the point made above. Your logic is dreadful!

          • Huh? How is historic precedent with other franchises not relevant? My point is that going on a new plan guarantees nothing, and moving on from a quality coach after three mostly very good years is more likely to fail than succeed.

            I’m so so sorry that my logic disappoints you. I’ll try to do better. I promise

  • On another matter, how many of you saw Letang leave his feet against Marcus Johansson last night, hit him square in the head? I know he got a 2 minute penalty for it, but that should be a few games sitting for the guy. It they sit Orpik for three games, they should have the same standard for Letang, who just happens to have a history of this kind of crap………..Both were late in the game, both were head shots, and Letang left his feet, hitting Marcus from the blind side!!!!!!

    Now lets see if the NHL does right by the Caps, or shows favorable treatment for the Pens. I again will question the integrity of the NHL if they don’t suspend Letang for this, especially because he is a repeat offender !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Didn’t like the hit when I saw it. My first reaction was the hit deserves 3 games…. Letang gets 1, maybe.

      • I’ll believe it when I see it. For some bazar reason, the Pens get too damn much lead way, vs the entire NHL!!! That’s how I see it ……..

      • Letang has become the dirtiest player on the Pens. At least Johansson managed to knee Letang in the back of the head last night for some revenge. His hit was almost as bad as the dreadful Orpik hit. Letang should get two games, he likely won’t get any.

        Someone is going to put that little puss down next season, and I can’t wait to see it!

        • I think that was Backstrom that kneed him in the back of the head Chris, upon jumping over him.

          I’m very very curious to see how many, if any games they give LeTang myself. It’s fascinating to me, just how much he’s gotten away with so far in these playoffs. Like Walt said, it’s unbelievable to me, how much Puttsburgh always gets the calls.

    • First of all, Orpik’s hit was early in the game.
      Second, not sure of Letang hit Johansson in the head or not, but it certainly wasn’t square in the head.

      Third, the situations were completely different. Orpik went out of his was to deliver a head shot. OTOH, Letang and Johansson were skating toward one another and were about to collide. Yes, Letang made the collision brutal for Johansson, but it looked much more like an enthusiastic check gone awry than anything else.

      • Watch it again Ray. Letang was head hunting, he put his shoulder directly on Johansson’s face. That hit was a Scott Stevens special. Very similar to the chicken shit hit Prust put on Stepan two years ago.

        Only a one game suspension from the league is a joke.

        • I looked at it ten times and I just would not unequivocally say there was head contact, although there probably was. I think the primary point of contact was the shoulder. The Orpik shot was only head.

          Now one can argue that Letang was trying to injure while not going too far out of line.

    • they were terribly inconsistent, Amy. When Vigneault commented post playoffs “this group has been playing together a long time and changes are needed” I think he was specifically referencing this inconsistency and complacency within the team

      i am just confused as to how to address this. is it Nash? Is it Stepan? Is it Hank? is it McDonagh? maybe it is not one or two players but a team culture that needs to change? If so, does that exclude the coach? after all, teams usually reflect their coach’s personality.

      I just hope Gorton is up to the task and is not interfered with by Sather. we need a new gameplan.

      • AD, you’ve been banging the drum on this narrative for some time. Sather is the President of the team. Gorton reports to him and clearly, they share a similar philosophy or it’s highly improbable Sather would have made him his handpicked replacement.

        Now, the good news is that the word is that upper management is in agreement that a retooling of some kind is needed, and allowing the team to get younger will be given the green light. It was also reported that AV and Gorton will be meeting with Sather out at his palatial California estate to plot out a game plan. I don’t think he’s inviting them out there, will say hi, then head off and play golf. 🙂

        Translation…..Gorton will make the trades, but the direction the franchise will go will, in large part, have Sather’s fingerprints all over it. Gorton is not some maverick that’s going to tell his boss “stay out of my way”. Not happening

        • Well at least management is in agreement that there is a need for youth, now that’s enlightening !!!!!!!!!!!

          On a serious note, Gorton has his hands full, and let’s see if he can be a magician and rid us of at least one of the boat anchors on defense, if not both. Maybe Nash could get us a hefty return as well??????????

        • Eddie, I am confused. What drum am I beating? Is it my concern Sather may be overly influencing decisions at the GM level?

          Yeah, that is a valid concern I have. Hardly a drum beating; really don’t get your point.

          • “I’m just hoping Gorton is up to the task and is not interfered with by Sather”.

            That implies, as you did prior to the deadline, that Sather will have no input and that somehow Gorton will go off on his own path. I think that is highly improbable. Whatever is decided, it will start with the President (Sather), the specifics will be executed by the GM (Gorton) in consultation with the coach (AV). That’s my point. Sather will not be off playing golf whil all this is going on (well maybe he will, but he will be involved).

          • If Gorton can’t follow his own path, he has no self respect & should be fired. Oh wait, if he’s Slats stooge like you suggest, he won’t be fired.

          • You see Paul, unlike the lunatic Keenan that you seem to admire (oops, there I go again…distractability operation….I’m working on it…really!), most organizations have this thing called a “chain of command”. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Most people actually respect and follow a chain of command, especially in this case when they owe their position to the guy who is his boss. Not everyone is a back stabber like Keenan (I did it AGAIN!!!!).

            The point is, they all will work together to figure out how best to move forward. Sather is going to be involved as he should be. There will be respectful differences that will be discussed and worked out. But in most organizations, the president gets involved, helps set the course, the GM works with the coach to get him what he needs and handles the transactions.

            Really…..that’s how the real world works.

  • What helped the Penquins was putting the right person behind the bench. I don’t understand the logic in firing the team to the save coach. It didn’t work in Vancouver and I don’t see it working here. I am in total agreement with Walt, Sather is getting long in the tooth time to bring in a management change. Don Maloney is out there and understands how to develop young hockey players and the importance of hanging onto draft choices. There needs to be accountabilty when you roll the dice for rental players and it blows up in your face.

    • Bloomer, you are dreaming. Sather just hired Gorton. Gorton is going nowhere. Sather is going nowhere. I’m not saying Maloney couldn’t be hired for some lesser role, but I doubt that either Maloney or Gorton would be comfortable with this.

      Besides, what is it exactly that you like about Maloney? He failed as a GM with the Islanders. The Rangers drafting from 1996-2007 when he was Asst GM was hardly stellar. And his career in Phoenix was a real mixed bag.

      I don’t get the bromance here with Dave’s younger bro.

      • Reread my post eddie, I am advocating punting Slats and replacing him with Maloney. It would then become his decision what to do with Gorton and the coaching staff.

        • You can advocate all you want, but Dolan loves Sather. I read an article a few months ago about Dolan and his drinking problems 10-15 years ago. It was Sather who became like a brother to him and got him straightened out. At least that’s how the story goes. Sather will be the Rangers President until he no longer wants to.

          But you didn’t answer my question. I don’t know what exactly makes you think that Don Maloney would be the right guy to become team president. What has he done? As I said, when he was Asst GM, he was involved in a ten year stretch of drafting that was pretty brutal, and might be the singular reason why this era of Rangers hockey is Cup-less.

          Don’t get me wrong, I liked Donnie as a player. I interviewed him many times. Just about the nicest, most humble player I’ve ever encountered. As a fan, I’d be happy if he was back in the Rangers fold. But what has he done to make you say he’s the guy to run an remake the Rangers?

  • Player performance is a product of the system played.

    I think we had the horses we just don’t have a coach that will use those pieces to better effect.

    But remember AV is just the coach. All team matters are handled by the players.

    • Well Eddie will tell you AV deserves “some” of the blame. In the military if you lose the battle do they blame the soldiers or the general? And, although I like Kevin’s article. I believe AV had a lot of input into personnel choices. They wern’t just foisted on him.

      • Great analogy Paul, and wasn’t it Harry Truman who said the buck stops here. That may be a strange concept to Eddy, when it comes to this coach……..

        • Paul, Walt-

          I’m not sure what you are saying. Of course the coach gets blame. But let’s keep the blame in context. This was a 101 pt season, and we lost in the playoffs to a team that’s on a historic roll. Not exactly the general of a massive failure.

          So what you are saying is, either win the Cup, or it’s a failure and the coach should be canned? As mentioned in a prior post, did you feel similarly when Torts failed epically in NY each season? Should the Flyers have fired Keenan in 1986 when his team got bounced in the playoffs by a Rangers team that finished something like 30 points behind them? Since history means nothing, shouldn’t Coach Q and Sutter also be flogged, or maybe fired, given how many thought they were both at least making it to the WCF. Their respective failures with far more talented rosters to me was far more agregious than AV’s Rangers early ouster.

          I mean, wow, pretty harsh punishment…win it all or die! George Steinbrenner would be proud! 🙂

          • And he should be proud !!!!!!!!!!

            Wasn’t it you all season long that said we were saving ourselves for the PO’s? Wasn’t it you who laughed any time I mentioned we should get younger, faster, and bigger? Wasn’t it you who said that we should trade #1’s for veterans, who didn’t show up? Wasn’t it you who loved the E Staal trade, while your ideal AV hadn’t the slightest clue as to how to use the man?

            See Ed, there are plenty of area’s to question this guy, and for your constant defense of him, come hell or high water. When I’m wrong, I fess up to it, while it appears that your never wrong, or so that’s the impression one is given. Sorry my man, you know your stuff, write beautifully, but on this one your way off base !!!!!!!!

          • Hey, I have said many times when I’m wrong. I was wrong about McIlrath. He was way better that I thought he’d be. I’m still not sold on him long term as anything more than a 2nd or 3rd pair defensemen, hardly worthy of a high level first round pick, but that’s another discussion and time will tell. I admitted that I was wrong on Hags, in that I thought we could fairly easily compensate for his loss. Wrong! (but, I still maintain the decision to deal him was correct, because the cap situation gave us little choice).

            I was wrong about Kreider, who I predicted would have a breakout season, and he let us down again (see, doubling down on kids has its downsides!).

            I fessed up to all of that.

            As for the playoffs, clearly, it didn’t work out. But sometimes you run into a buzz saw, and that’s what the Pens are now. If we had been in the loser’s bracket (Atlantic Division) like the Isles, I think we beat the Panthers at the very least, and all the questions right now are being asked by Islanders fans.

            I never laughed when you said get younger, faster, stronger. What I laughed at is the notion that you dramatically alter a roster that had two deep playoff runs by going into a rebuild, or not go for it when you are in that cycle. My position was hardly an outlandish approach, and pretty much what any GM would do given the Rangers success the past few seasons.

            I’ve never said there aren’t plenty of reasons to be critical of the coach. He’s hardly perfect, but who is? Questioning is fine. But jumping off the deep end…he hates all kids….he defies medical advice and plays injured players…He’s an idiot! C’mon! That’s crazy talk! And a coach can have an off year (to the extent one could call 101 pts an off season), without saying he’s clueless, he’s horrible, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Aren’t you the one that’s kind of over the top and not being objective here with your criticism? Doesn’t the coach deserve ANY credit for the first two seasons? Or does he only get the blame when they lose but the players get the credit when they win? It seems to me you are just as biased here as I am, if not more so.

            I wasn’t on this site when Torts was here. So I ask again. Did you have similar criticism of Torts when he had his early struggles as Rangers coach? Was he similarly culpable? Did you call him clueless? Did you want him canned? Seems to me that to be credible, you have to be consistent.

            As I said, I wasn’t on this blog then. But I will tell you, despite his somewhat off the wall behavior at times, I supported Torts at the time almost as much as I supported AV and whenever people said he had to go, I pushed back almost as much with Torts as I did with AV. I just believe that organizations succeed when there is stability as opposed to chaos. It wasn’t until his final year when I thought he badly misused Kreider, and the team took a step back, and then we learned he had lost the room, that I accepted the fact he needs to go.

            Now, to show I’m more objective than you give me credit for, I will say that, depending on the roster we have next season, AV’s seat will start off warm, and will get mighty hot if the team scuffles again. And if he does and they do, then I would whole heartedly agree that a change might be needed. I just don’t make these wild Steinbrenner-esque maniacal moves that usually do more harm then good, especially after the prior two seasons which were two of the best back to back in over 40 years.

            Hasn’t he earned a LITTLE patience and benefit of the doubt? That’s all I’m saying.

          • Ah, now the obligatory mea culpa followed by negating qualifiers. Like this: “I was wrong about McIlrath but he really hasn’t proved anything yet.”

  • Pens are for sale. With revenue sharing it’s in the interest of every team owner that Pitt win the Stanley cup

    • What garbage, but probably true???????

      Then my suspicions are true, Buttman wants to look the other way when it comes to this sorry organization, and unfair to the rest of the other teams !!!!!!!!!

      • Sorry guys, I don’t buy this conspiracy theory nonsense at all. Not a chance. In this day and age, you think someone wouldn’t blow the whistle on such behavior? Not a chance.

        • Ed

          You could be right, but it appears that the officials seem to look the other way whenever the Pens do something illegal, it just doesn’t pass the eye test ?????????????

  • The worst two things that happened to the Rangers this year were the 14-2-2 start and the month of February where they went 10-3-1.

    The start had everyone thinking that they could just pick up where they left off last year and masked all the deficiencies especially on D. Fact is the team was playing horrible and Hank was in a zone like no other. With that start, hope for the season were high and AV stayed pretty much all season with what worked at the start and made little to no adjustments.

    February’s run just prior to the trade deadline had everyone believing they were in for a deep Cup run and “one more kick at the can” (God I hate phrase). Enter Eric Staal – Exit prospect and two #2 Draft choices. AGAIN…

    Except for those two periods of hockey the Rangers were 22-22-6. Looking at the season as a whole they just were not equipped for the long haul and pretty much lived up to the mediocrity that the roster reflected.

    When are our makeover entries due?

    • Hard as it is for me to admit, Swarty, I think you nailed it. It was worth taking one more shot though. More than understandable to give this group that “last kick at the can” (Sorry, didn’t know how else to phrase it!)

      Players didn’t perform. Too many passengers on the bus combined with injuries. Too much to overcome this season, especially against juggernaut squads like the Caps and Pens.

        • And I was deeply hurt Walt! 🙂

          Nah, no problem. I can understand why you would say it.

          I like to be argumentative…and I tend to be a bit of a contrarian. It makes things more interesting. If most of the site was constantly saying how incredible AV was, I probably would be trying to show the other side. I’ve been harsh on McIlrath, only because I think the narrative out here since last summer has been borderline hilarious…like he’s the second coming. If most were a little more muted in their expectations, I probably would have taken a different approach.

          Basically, I like a good discussion and if we all agree, then it’s boring right?! 🙂

          • No one said DMAC was the second coming or thought that he was. You were the guy who brought that up because you thought that as a first round pick he should have been superlative. He’s just a good workmanlike D with a great shot who plays a heavy game & has his team mates back. And he’s great in the locker room too.

          • It wasn’t said in so many words. But you know full well that many out here totally made a bigger deal out of this guy then was really warranted. Look how many posts there were about him? My God, if I had arrived here from another time in a DeLorean, I’d think we were talking about Pronger! He’s a kid with some potential. He had a nice beginning. Let’s see where it goes from here.

          • “he had a nice beginning. Let’s see where it goes from there?” Are you talking about DMAC or AV?

          • In truth, the hype was much greater for Skjei than it ever was for McIlrath. He’s your DeLorean.

      • Why thanks Eddie – it’s a pretty clear picture. Let’s hope for bigger and better things next year…

  • Excellent article Kevin!

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one that doesn’t believe this team needs a complete gutting, but that with a few tweaks here n there and we’re back in business.

    It’s not gonna be easy, as Gorton needs to tread carefully here, but it CAN be done and am confident Gorton will pull it off.

  • One thing that gets overlooked is the goaltender. I watched Game 2 of Wash-Pitt.
    The Penguins dominated the first two periods and the Caps got off 10 shots, two of which I believe came from across the blue line. So what exactly did Matt Murray do during those two periods? Plenty actually. He often got to handle the puck and made a number of fine passes.

    If everybody had the exact same skaters, the Rangers would usually lose the possession game because a hockey team has six players, not five. The Ranger power play needs to be a little above average just to get average results.

    Now, as bad as Hank is, he is a better puck handler than Patrick Roy, a HOFer with his name on the Cup multiple times. Having a guy who is really good at preventing goals is worth a price. But let us not deny that we are paying it and cut the skaters a little slack.

    One difference between 2014-15 and 2015-16 was the departure of Talbot. On a peculiar level, Hank and Talbot were equals (Raanta is not). Talbot was better at playing the puck and oddly Hank strove to keep up with him. I think Hank regressed this year.

    • Nobody wanted Hags shipped out. There was debate about his relative value and whether the team could carry on without him. I was definitely wrong about that part of it, but I stand by the argument that given the roster construction and the cap issues, there was no choice but to let him go.

      There’s a cap. Teams lose key players every year. If we had signed him, given the other issues we had, nothing likely changes to the result of the season. Hags is succeeding because he’s playing on a team with superstars right now. He would likely not be doing this with the Rangers. We are still likely out first round and everyone would be screaming why we signed a third line winger to a multi year extension? There was no way to do it. You have to have cap room to make moves in case of injuries.

      • Ed, here we agree 100 %

        Agentsmith, I don’t recall anyone saying trade Hags at all. Like Ed, I was for keeping him, and his two buds together, Brass, and Zucc for team unity……….

      • No choice? Really. There are always choices, esp. when he said he would have taken less than 4 mil to stay. Guess somebody wasn’t listening.

  • So Letang gets a game suspension for interference, but when he swings his stick like Paul Bunyon, the League hardly even notices. The NHL is, and always will be, a joke!

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