Normally, I would say “Happy Friday” and other pleasant greetings on the eve of Memorial Day weekend. Nope. Not today. Last night, my air conditioning decided that it didn’t feel like cold air was the life choice it was looking for anymore. This was on top of the Penguins winning, the Yankees losing and few other personal life factors that I could have done without. In the wake of this, I decided to take it out on a few Rangers off-season concepts that have been irritating me over the last few weeks. You’ve been warned. Just to qualify these fractured mini-rants to those who will find themselves disagreeing with me. They are not meant to insult you, I just find them to be ridiculous and need to vent. Feel free to pick a fight with me in the comments.
Ok, first, I’ve had it with this “you need grit and determination and not to be soft” garbage when it comes to assembling a team. I’ve “been in the room”, I’ve won championships and I understand the culture. Sure, it’s great when a teammate stands up for you and it helps create a bond to that person. However, do you know what I really want when I’m out there on the ice? Talent. I want the guy who will put the puck in the net. I want the guy who will avoid the check and make the outlet pass to go the other way. There is nothing better than playing in the third period of a huge game and the puck is in the other zone. This falls on the narrative of “he doesn’t step up for big games” as an excuse for when an athlete doesn’t do exactly what you want him to do at the time and will his way to making you happy. Hockey is hard. Talent gets a lot farther than an intangible desire to compete harder than the next guy.
I’m also sick of this “we need to at least look at a Hank trade as the center piece of a re-build” nonsense. It’s been long established that teams who trade away high-end goaltenders get nothing in return. Nothing. Trading away your best player because he hasn’t been given the support he needs to maximize his talent in insane. And no, he doesn’t need to step up and make it so with his toughness regardless of what is happening around him. Goaltending is a reactive position. All you get is what is thrown at you. While we’re on this topic, I’ve seen people mention Hank’s supposed poor body language after he gets scored on. You know what? He is a human being. When you get scored on the third rebound after a terrible turnover, you would have the same look.
Sticking with the goaltending theme, it has become a popular theory that you can have wildly effective goaltending for no money so far in the playoffs. “Just look at the goalies in the Final Four!” they say. This narrative has caught fire and ridden on a full tank of stupid ever since. Here is the dirty little secret. Every goalie in the NHL is good. Gasp! Every. Single. One. The great ones can play at that level for 60+ games per season and make sure you get to the playoffs so their backup can get hot and make the world wonder why teams pay for goalies. Martin Jones and Matt Murray are very good goalies who have very bright futures ahead of them. However, the Sharks had less points than the Rangers. Jones picked a very good time to get hot and I truly hope he is lifting the Cup in June. But the notion that he is better than Hank or Carey Price or Tuukka Rask because he is playing right now and they aren’t is absolutely asinine.
It is impossible to home grow an entire team with drafting and development. It has never happened and will never happen. All championship teams are a combination of drafting, trades and signings. It is a reality of roster construction. Cost controlled young talent is also a necessity in a salary cap world, so I am all for having a phenomenal player development model, but you can’t say “no more free agent contracts!” and expect to realistically assemble an NHL team. A front office needs to show restraint and savvy, but it’s a resource you cannot ignore.
I try to be an optimist and after 1994, that tantalizing possibility of seeing the Rangers lift the Cup again keeps me going. However, if this front office does not modernize its processes and analysis, I will be waiting for a long time. I understand you aren’t going to advertise the fact that you are shopping two career Rangers when there may not be a market for them, but if the plan is really as Brooks describes it, then I got nothing. The fact of the matter is, the game is changing. It just is. The days of bruising defensemen and deterrent tough guys is over. O-V-E-R. The game is too fast and controlling the puck is too important to concentrate on things like hits and fighting. The game is now about speed, possession and putting the puck in the net.
Honestly, at this point, I want Yandle to walk so I don’t have to hear about how terrible he is defensively anymore, regardless of the reality of his effectiveness.
You also do not have to eat salary if you trade Rick Nash. Any team with cap space would love to have him. The hate that guy gets for not being a genetically engineered Wayne Gretzky/Mark Messier/Cam Neely/Steve Yzerman hybrid boggles the mind.
I’m also excessively sick of the “_____________ (insert random hockey professional) works in the game, so they must know more than you” attitude that some people have. The world of pro-sports is a nepotistic boys club filled with sycophantic “yes men”. Before you dismiss someone’s opinion criticizing a coach, GM, journalist, maybe take an objective look at the professional in question and see if there is any validity to it. No matter who you are, I think you can agree that Mike Milbury and Jim Benning have no business making money from this game.
Ok, I think the tank is empty. Let me know how much I pissed you off this morning in the comments. Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!