Post Free Agency thoughts

Hmm, do I demand RHN or Eberle for Girardi?/Daily News

The ridiculousness of free agency is now a week behind us, and a whole lot has happened. Not much with the Rangers, mind you, but that is more or less a good thing. The Blueshirts brought in Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, Nick Holden and a couple AHL signees. Most of the heavy lifting appears to be done, and as you can imagine, I have some thoughts…

  1. I can’t help but wonder if Jeff Gorton was aiming for some sort of actual return for Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. I am painfully aware that the number of cap floor, analytically-averse teams are dwindling rapidly and that there simply may have been no interested parties. This could explain why no one has signed Kris Russell yet. Point is, I hope Gorton would have jumped on the opportunity just to shed the salary and not hoped for an actual return.

  1. Sticking with the blueline conundrum for a second, it still needs to be fixed. Adding Holden and Skjei to replace Boyle and Yandle is not going to end well. Expecting returns to form for Girardi and Staal is going to end worse. Too bad Florida already took all the good defenders. Looking ahead, a buy-out of one of the two (hopefully Girardi) is a no-brainer, as being forced to protect both players in the expansion draft is pure insanity.
  1. Speaking of Florida, they have had a very impressive off-season thus far. They added two of the top defensemen available in Yandle and Demers, extended a couple of franchise cornerstones, fleeced Vancouver and added platoon insurance for a slightly long in the tooth Roberto Luongo at a reasonable cost. Savvy.
  1. On the other side of the coin, man, that David Backes deal was bad. Like, disaster in year two bad. It’s probably the Yankee fan in me, but I have an irrational hatred of the Bruins and Don Sweeney has consistently impressed me with his ineptitude since he took over the job.
  1. Sticking with the garbage pile, the Islanders got gutted on 7/1.   Losing Neilson, Martin and Okposo and compensating for those losses with a 7-year deal for Andrew Ladd? Yikes. Between the terrible venue they play in and the significantly reduced talent level, it could be a long year in Brooklyn. Also, can someone explain to me how Jack Capuano is still employed there? He is the prototypical “sure, coach the team while they suck and we will replace you when we turn the corner on the rebuild” type coach. Yet, the Isles never brought in an actual replacement. Weird.
  1. I know the skill sets read similar, but let’s not try to compare Michael Grabner and Carl Hagelin. It will just make you sad. Grabner is a broke man’s Carl Hagelin.
  1. Money cannot buy you intelligence, unfortunately. Until owners can exercise some restraint, July 1 is going to be an exercise is valueless, bloated excess. If you look at sports where footwork and foot speed is the foundation of elite talent (think soccer, tennis), you will see that the aging curve is decidedly young. Hockey is trending in this direction. As the concept of speed and skating ability begin to be the dominant indicators of success, the productivity curve is going to skew the prime years younger. Lavishing 32 year-olds with Brinks trucks full of money is going to be a very bad way to do business. Most of the GM’s who hand these deals out won’t be around for the end of them, so it will be up to the owner’s to run a more efficient model. The weird thing is, they presumably were cunning businessmen to acquire enough wealth to purchase a pro-sports franchise. Why do their brains go out the window once they own one? It’s not like free agency overspending is a new concept. There is plenty of evidence to support its lunacy.
  1. Speaking of lunacy, how about those Oilers? The mental gymnastics their beat writers have attempted have been something to behold with both the Lucic signing and the Hall for Larsson swap. They paint the front office as having been backed into a corner with the mandate to go something, anything to change course from the past few seasons. I’m sorry, but massively overpaying for a solid, but unspectacular defenseman and giving max term and $6m to an aging goon/power forward is not a defensible strategy. Even in the “something, anything” department.
  1. I’m sick of every old school justification about how Shea Weber is the player you want over PK Subban. Just sick of it.   Wouldn’t it be the most ironic thing for PK to get run out of a progressive, quasi-European city in Montreal, then be embraced in the American south?
  1. Oh, and I agree with Chris. The Rangers won’t sign Jimmy Vesey. Also, the Kyle Palmieri extension is a perfect model for a Chris Kreider extension.   Go use it, Rangers.
  1. On a personal note, I went to see Independence Day 2 with the old man last night. So. Much. Stupid. It made Batman v Superman look like Citizen Kane. Sorry, just had to be said.

Did I miss anything? I feel like I covered most of the mayhem. Let me know if you have any thoughts on the last week of nonsense in the comments below.

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  • Justin

    Right on with all points mentioned, especially with the NHL youth movement…..

    Question for you, if we start the season with the two pylons, and they don’t perform, could we buy one out at that time????????? I suspect that we will see first hand how poorly these two will play, and come to the realization that they have to do something, even bite the bullet, and pay off one of them. Hell, we gave them all the time, and space to prove themselves, and they just couldn’t .

    To all the people out there who say we need a bunch of veterans, they know who they are, maybe your wrong, because the NHL is going young, but we are still stuck with this horse crap called the “Anchor Twins” ????????? But they are the type that will never admit they are wrong !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • The morons don’t know what PgDn means so they only can read comments at the top of the screen.

    • For the record I might not be as quick in responses. I just welcomed my first (and newest Rangers fan) to the world a couple weeks ago so bear with me.

      I don’t back away from a healthy debate…….

      I gave you a thumbs down at the mention of a buyout. I don’t like the idea of dead cap space for the next 8 years.

      • Congratulations Spozo! Fantastic news! Nothing like passing the Rangers tradition down to he next generation.

      • Fair enough, won’t argue with that point it’s the ones who won’t argue their views, and automatically give thumbs down, that is clueless !!!!!

        Congratulations on your new addition !!!!!!!!!!!

      • Listen, Spozo. I named my Number One Son after Nicky Fotiu.

        Reflexively, it’s a given that you perpetuate this one-man, if rather gonzo tradition by naming your newest addition after another Ranger enforcer.

        I’m thinking “Knuckles” (Nilan) Spozo…

        What’s that Swarty?… “Kong” (Kocur) Spozo? Huh. Poeschek Spozo?

    • Not sure I really understand what you are talking about. The Rangers, like every team in the NHL as well as every sport, need the proper mix of youth and veteran experience to win a championship. You don’t just do it one way. It’s like, in your world, the Pens won the Cup with ALL kids, and ignore the fact that they made significant trades to acquire key vetearns and signed aging FA–as well as cultivating young players.

      Do that, and on top of that happen to have arguably the two best centers in the world and one of the great defensemen in the game–all three of which will obviously be first ballot HOFers, you have yourself a team that can win it all. Totally bizarre that you are so fixated on just one aspect of what it’s takes to win a championship, but whatever.

      • Slamma lama ding dong, Eddie-the-Oracle’s back…

        How’d the sabbatical go?

        What were you, in Tibet, or Nepal? (Picturing a tiny Ranger shield sewn into your monk’s robes.)

        Well, suffice to say we’re all a little richer to have/your 10K word screeds once again.

        • You always crack me up Fotiu. Your writing style is fantastic and I look forward to reading it!

          (Wouldn’t it be ironic if you were working in my organization and I would never know!) 🙂

          • Well, Swarty divulged that you went from being Herman Cain’s communications tsar-advisor to some high placed post in The NSA.

            Ne plus ultra/hugger mugger stuff. But hey, man, this site is secure.

      • what am I talking about, your defense of the two in question, only to be proven wrong, but what does that matter. farewell……

        • I guess I’m not that quick to throw players overboard after several years of being key parts of the success of the team. It was more than reasonable to see if they can work through it. We aren’t in the room. We aren’t privy to the medical reports.

          Should AV perhaps in retrospect rested them more? Quite possibly, and I concede I may have been overly optimistic. But in the end, more McIlrath and Skjei and less Girardi/Staal/Boyle most likely doesn’t change the final outcome of the season. We still had 101 points–hardly a bad season. We still likley lose to the Pens, who won it all. It’s not like AV was sitting Leetch and Park here.

          Farewell my old friend….I hope you have a very pleasant journey wherever it is you are heading. 🙂

          (It’s just a blog Walt…we can have discussions….really, it’s ok!)

  • I think Girardi and Stall are still salvageable, but they need to be used correctly, and they need to play about 65 games max. I believe they need to be partnered with a quicker partner and play a more “stay-at-home” game. These are not the rush-the-puck defenseman type players, but they are still pretty good in their own end. Let they play where they are strong, and let’s play them 17 minutes a game.

    We can ween the new guys, while resting the old guys. Maybe this can actually jumpstart these two and let them show they still have value (them we trade them to a stupid team while we laugh out loud).

    • this is pretty much the only path forward with these players on the roster, whether it is effective or not

      other league GMs value them much less than Gorton does; same for Nash

      i have no qualms with a GM that is willing to wait 6-9 months to receive the value he perceives for a player BUT I would be concerned about morale and motivation if we enter the season with the current roster. players tune out when changes are long overdue and they are offered very little by management

      still ample time to make some needed changes this off-season though, so hopefully patience will pay off

        • i think Staal can be traded if we retain $2.5-3mm of his contract.

          Gorton has a different view of what our players are worth, compared to other league GMs and scouts

          • Either Dallas, or perhaps Minnesota, AD.

            Though it’s hard to see Marc Staal somehow fitting into Lindy Ruff’s uptempo, run and gun style-of-play.

          • The fits are bad teams looking to acquire leadership, like Colorado or Edmonton.

          • Dallas gave up a ton for two months of Kris Russell last year, so it’s possible they see value in shot blocking Ds

      • No Trade Clause. Brutal buyout structure.
        So how do you manage them?

        Staal is last pair(and has to work his way back up;) Girardi is 7D, playing 20-30 games depending on schedule & opponent style. Give him maybe 1 start a week. Hopefully it keeps him fresh for the shop window and the lack of action makes him willing to waive his NMC.

      • I mostly agree with you AD, and especially agree about how other GMs assess our talent. Gorton says we are open for business, and yet the rumblings are that teams are not exactly falling over themselves to acquire our so-called stars. Which goes back to what I’ve said all along. We are, when we are at our best, a good but not great team that has proven when healthy that they can win with their “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” approach. Everything has to click just right for that to happen. The last few seasons of playoff success has probably blinded us to the reality. Actually, I give Joe a lot of credit for pointing that out over and over–the talent level on this team is simply not that great.

        One thing I would disagree with is morale. I mean, none of us are in the room, but I think we’d be hearing rumblings if that was an issue. Based on everything I’ve heard, Girardi in particular is absolutely beloved in the room. So I don’t think playing him and Staal would cause any issues in that regard, at least not at the moment.

        • This season, nobody interested. It’s not a situation where you have to move them this season. Girardi next year, maybe Staal the year after.

          The team overpaid, but future value of money theory says you sit on them as long as you can.

          • Alec, you are he great sage of cap management. Totally agree. Well done!

    • I think people have made Staal and Giradi sound even worse than they really are. I’ve always thought they didn’t move the puck well But we still need guys that defend our end. To me it’s just that they make too much. But I see guys talked like they can’t defend at all. Of course I wanted to be able to move them, but I think Sal is right about the way we can try and use them. I kinda feel bad for Giradi. After all the games he’s played and shots he blocked,I feel like that’s forgotten. I do think they can both be better this year. Also, I don’t remember anyone complaining when they gave them those contacts. I remember the NHL network saying “great move…. Rangers have the best group of 6 defenseman in the league. I realize they’re not the best but I don’t think they’re as bad as some people think

      • Sammy, they can still defend, but not within the defensive system the head coach has offered them that requires more mobility than each player has at this point in their career

        • I agree with Sal n Sammy but you have a great point as well AD. I’ve been saying since AV got here that he plays a different system n I’m not so sure it works for the guys we have like Staal n Girardi. It isn’t hard to see that Girardi is not exactly to swift on those skates. Staal isn’t either but he makes up for things sometimes with his long reach with the stick.

          • Ranger 11-

            I hear what you are saying, and there may be some truth to that. But let’s not forget that the Rangers as a whole have had their two best seasons in recent memory in AV’s first two seasons, and Girardi and Staal were essential to that success. So I’m not sure we can conclude that AV’s system is not right for them.

            To me, these guys were slowed by injuries. They had bad years, and probably would have in most any system.

      • For their style at the time. Yes great fit.

        Now with this pond hockey shit they are playing not so good.

      • The main stream media might have said “great move” to the Girardi/Staal signings, but many of us on this site weren’t in that group. Those two contract extensions aren’t hindsight regrets for several posters here.

      • Sammy, great point. I’m frankly amazed at how everyone is dumping on these two. Exactly 14 months ago, both players were key parts of a unit that was considered among the best in hockey. They had injuries that required surgery, and clearly had off years. I don’t understand why everyone thinks there is no chance that these guys, with a normal off-season, can’t have bounce back seasons. Staal will be 30. Girardi 32. These aren’t guys in their late 30s trying to hang on. Time will tell.

        • Girardi was hanging on at the end of the season.

          Save his legs, polish that turd until it shines like a diamond.

          But I’m just crazy.

      • He didn’t do it for FREE. He got paid to do a job. Oh the how soon we forget BS. He did a job he was paid for and hasn’t been doing it well the last few seasons. He done trade one and buyout the other. Move on, cut the cord and move on. Shit is sickened.

    • It’s nice to see someone talk reasonably and not just jump on board with this whole “kill Staal n Girardi” trend. Yeah they had bad years last year but we’re still talking about guys that were the main guys in our D n when I say “were” it’s not from 10 years ago. It was the years before. I agree with you if they can change things around a little n give them less time it should not only help them but also help the kids get comfortable with playing more n more. After reading that Girardi had 66 players ahead of him in turnovers I was really hoping it would make fans realize they’re blowing things out of per portion n that these guys are not as bad as they’re being made out to be. Yeah they do have to be moved when we can but if we’re gonna have to keep them for now then let’s use their experience to help the new D men coming up

      • There may be 66 other players with more turnovers than Girardi, but nobody had as many back breaking O zone cough ups that led directly to goals.

        Girardi also led the league in snow angels.

    • It’s so obvious, as you say, that the system needs to change to accomodate Girardi & Staal, who are indeed, not rush the puck players. The Rangers downfall last year was the play in their own end, trying to be too cute and something they are not. Hell, I wouldn’t even classify McDonagh as a rush the puck D. Play like Pitt did, backcheck ferociously and get the puck going the other way as a five man unit, not leaving it up to two “stranded” D. If AV does not implement such as system, he will indeed be goners by Christmas or before.

        • Indeed. Clearly, Dr. Paul’s Better Half is buying the high end coffee.

          Or he wrote himself an RX for Ritalin.

          Hey, can you help us out, Paul?… Swarty ain’t kicking down.

      • That simpleton for a coach insists on his way, and only his way, to the point he had an injured Girardi playing full time, and a healthy DMC sitting, what are we to expect??????????? Given what we know, what are we to expect next season, the same old crap, with two guys who never were speed guys in their best days !!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Think back to the finals, Girardi was exposed by LA, every dump in was in his corner, and Sather goes and signs Dan to a long term deal out of fear, and desperation !!!!!!!!!!! This is as much on Slats, and AV for the hostilities directed towards Dan………..

        • Your time line is off, Walt. Girardi was signed to his contract on February 28th, 2014. Girardi was “exposed” by LA three and half months later.

          It is certainly fair to say that Girardi did not have a very good series vs the Kings. That was obvious. But he’s been way too much of a lightning rod as the reason we lost. We were mostly outplayed by a much more talented team, and the only reason we were even in that series was because Hank stood on his head. Girardi wasn’t the only player who had trouble matching up.

          It’s amazing how everyone forgets that it was Girardi’s play in the post season in 2014 that was instrumental in the Rangers even making it to the Cup Finals that year. And he was critical again just 14 months ago in shutting down Crosby, and then Ovie in getting us to the ECF, where the injuries he and the rest of the defense suffered was likley the key reason why the Rangers did not return to the Cup Finals for a second consecutive season. There’s a reason why Claude Giroux, back in January, called him the most underrated player in the league.

          In fairness to Slats (and let’s not forget Gorton, who was I’m sure involved too), Giradi and McDonagh were a very effective tandem in 2013-14. McDonagh was being discussed as a future Norris candidate thanks to the season he was having with Girardi as his partner, and it was easy to envision the two of them being a strong tandem for years to come. So I can understand the rationale for signing him. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees with any long term deal, and this one right now is certainly one we wish we didn’t have to deal with.

          But every team has those contracts they have to deal with though.

  • No disrespect Justin, but I always laugh when you posit that speed and skill are the NEW parameters of hockey. Spoken like a young man, who doesn’t realize that these have always been the parameters of success, even when the game wasn’t as fast as it is now. It was Bobby Orr who revolutionized the position of defenceman & even today you will never see anyone out there who could lug the puck like him or Paul Coffey. The game is still physical, however, you don’t see the goonery & bench clearing brawls that one saw before & that is just fine. The little guy has always been a part of it too with such elite players as Dave Keon & Yvan Cournoyer. The Rangers had a 137 lb smurf back in the 50s known as Camille “The Eel” Henry, whose claim to fame was that he could deflect the puck several different ways by changing the angle of his stick. He would skate through the slot at just the right time and deflect shots from the point. That skill doesn’t exist anymore. As for being sick of the Weber over Subban conundrum, aren’t you overreacting just a bit? It’s clear that there is more upside with P.K. in the long term, but Weber is the better defender right now. And as one should learn from Mr. Miyagi, there is nothing wrong with old school, just as there is always a need for young school & new ideas.

    • The point that you made is exactly the reason I am not overreacting. Right now, PK is objectively better at every facet of hockey than Shea Weber, with the exception of goal scoring/slap shot velocity.

      I agree with your point about speed always being part of the game, but there was certain divisions of skill set that allowed slower players with specific skills to carve out meaningful careers, especially on defense.

      Now, however, the literal definition of what it means to play defense has changed. It used to be keeping your body in between the man and the net, swatting away passes and dekes and generally boxing players out. Now, defense has evolved into removing possession from the opposing player and transitioning up ice. Simple defensive defense isn’t enough in the modern game. Even if you don’t like the analytics, the conceptual acceptance of this reality can go a long way toward bridging the gap between the old and new school positions.

      • Take the man, stay between the man with the puck and your own goal. This has not changed. What has is the speed and skill of the guy with the puck. Now your defender needs to be just as fast and as skilled.

        In your own end, you can be a bit more deliberate, and play a bit more of a cerebral game, where you can play the angles and position because of the area you defend is smaller. That said, I feel if we have a forward grab the puck at our own blueline and start the rush, we may be better than hoping that one of our defenders who is ill-equipped to to do this carries the puck. That defender may be better off joining the rush on the weak side.

      • I think you overlooked Weber is more consistent, game to game, than Subban, as well (unless you disagree). Subban can be the best on many nights; but has some very poor nights as well. Weber is consistently very good each game; but not as good as Subban on his best nights.

        There is value in consistency, especially for a team leader.

  • Jeff Beukeboom was never a really athletic player. He wasn’t a blessed skater. He was, however, one of the best simplistic defensive players to bless Madison Square Garden as a Rangers legend. Beukeboom was constantly throwing his body around and catching up to players much faster than them because of a simple but effective strategy. His strategy was always the same, throughout his career. He went out of his way to be defensively in position. Being constantly paired with offensive minded defensemen throughout his career, Beukeboom knows better than anyone how to teach the younger players how to play shutdown defense while being relevant in the offensive end. If the Rangers defensive strategies are changed to where they play safe hockey for 60 minutes, not allowing breakaways or odd man rushes, they’ll win the majority of the games they play.

    Basically, the thinking needs to be that the defensemen without offensive talent do not need to be part of the offensive play other than during the cycling of the puck. McIlrath and Staal don’t necessarily need to be touching the puck and putting it on net. Instead, they need to be in position to where nobody can get an odd-man rush or a breakaway on Hank. Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the league when he isn’t being left out to dry, and that needs to be exploited as much as possible if the Rangers want a return to the Cup—–just read that and I think it aptly sums up what many of us have been thinking.

    • Paul,

      Although I agree with some of your points, there’s some other aspects of the D that were conveyed on here that I don’t think you touched on.

      It’s not that management, the players, the BSB writers, or even we, the fans, want or have witnessed our D try to become the second coming of either Reijo Ruotsalainen, Paul Coffey or even Bobby Orr. Nobody is saying our D was trying to go end to end and were turning the puck over and allowing the opposition on odd man breaks. That’s not the issue here, and in my opinion, I didn’t see much of that happening last season.

      The issue on D here, is this new formation if you will, of playing “man to man” in the D Zone. Not what the D does when having the puck on exit, but more so, what our Forwards and Defenseman do when NOT having the puck in our own zone.

      In my opinion, this formation/system was our biggest issue last season. How many times did we see goals that were scored on us from in front of the net and out between the circles because there was some sort of confusion on “who was supposed to cover the opposing forward in that situation?” “Was it Staal? Or was it Stepan? Or was it Kreider etc etc.?

      The way you can execute this type of coverage on Defense, is to ABSOLUTELY have very mobile Defenseman. If you’re going to insist on playing “Man to Man” coverage in your own zone, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have your Defenseman in some unorthodox positions some nights (depending on what the opposition does.)

  • I am with Paul on this one. The defensive system we watched the Rangers play last season was absolutely brutal. I don’t care who you have on your blueline, with that sytem they would look like keystone cops.

    If you want a real life example, of what team defence is suppose to look like then review the Penguins game tapes. And if it looks familar its because the same defensive coach Sulley. Who BTW got tossed out with the bath water because Henk had another one of his hissy fits. Of course Henk is the best, he can do it all, doesn’t need a defensive system or shot blocking dmen in front of him. Just ask Roberto Luongo how that plays out.

    • AV is running a stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid…stupid defensive scheme for this roster.

    • Bloomer-

      A few things…..

      By all accounts, reported by multiple sources at the time, Hank wasn’t the only one who was unhappy. It seemed many of the players had grown weary of Torts (and possibly Sully’s) act. It had been 4+ seasons which featured a strong defensive approach but little in the way of offensive creativity. The results were two seasons of barely making the playoffs, one year of no playoffs (only time that happened in this run btw), two first round exits, one second round exit, which surrounded the one year it all came together with a strong regular season and a trip to the ECF where they lost to an inferior Devils team. Given that record, it’s understandable for the players to have been frustrated and wanting a change. And, that’s about the right shelf life for a coaching staff that had only been marginally successful.

      (Btw..,,This will be AV’s fourth season. I’ve been a supporter, but no doubt, he will be on the hot seat a bit this year. Just the nature of the coaching business. Sometimes, it’s just time for a change, and that time may be coming soon.)

      As for Sully, while its always difficult to assess the impact an assistant coach has on a team, let’s not forget that the Rangers PP was just as bad if not worse under Torts as it has been under AV. And Sully was considered the “architect” of that. So I’m not sure what in Sully’s record would have led Sather or Gorton to conclude that Torts’ assistant was the right guy to succeed Torts, when obviously that system wasn’t working and it was time for something new.

      On top of everything else, can we please keep the whole Sully “love fest” in perspective. The guy was head coach of the Bruins and was fired in ’06. You can say Sather/Gorton passed on him in 2013, but every team in the NHL had passed on the guy for a DECADE. Heck, the only reason he was even in the Pens organization was because of a certain level of serendipity. If Ray Shero had not been hired by the Devils, then John Hynes is still the coach at WB-Scranton, and he’s the guy who might have been promoted. Jim Rutherford did an unbelievable job remaking that team. So we will never know obviously, but who’s to say the results would not have been exactly the same with Hynes as opposed to Sully?

      And, if Rutherford was so certain of Sully when he hired him into the Pens organization, why didn’t he hire him immediately as head coach, given the apparent shortcomings of Mike Johnston? I mean, obviously, Rutheford went into last season believing he had the guy who could lead them to the Cup. If not, then why keep him? If Johnston had been a little more successful early this season, probably he isn’t fired and again, who knows what happens?

      So while Sully deserves all kinds of props for winning the Cup, no doubt, I truly believe that many of the top coaches could have won with that roster. Let’s not make Sully into Herb Brooks winning the gold with a bunch of amateurs here!

  • Hate to tell all you old timers (I’m one of you!) out there this…but the game has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Anybody bringing up the ’94 team and JB’s style playing with Leetch should cue up a few You Tube videos and watch a little. It bears no resemblance to the way the game is played now. Messier flying down the wing, dipping his shoulder and shooting is a routine save by the worst goalie in the league. Matteau’s wraparound never happens today.

    And defending in your own own is WAY different. It’s truly how fast can you get the puck out of your zone and limit the shots of the other team. Period. It’s up and down your wing, no crossover, no wingers on the opposite side. It’s how fast can you get there. So, please spare me the stuff about the game not changing. It’s a different sport.

    • Spot on. Not sure why all the thumbs down on this accurate post (guessing some folks don’t like how the game has changed).

      I’ve been a rabid hockey fan since the early 90s, and even in the relatively short amount time that is 25 years, the game has changed exponentially. I can imagine it’s a foreign sport to that of the 70s and 80s.

      • That’s not true at all, but right you are if you think so. Foreign Sport? now, c’mon, you can do better than that.

        • It’s very different, to my eyes at least. Just think back to even the 90s/early 00s Devil’s teams. That style of play – clutch and grab/interference, focus on shot blocking, Scott Stevens taking out one player per game. Not too many teams are employing that style even now. Mainly because it’s not a winning style in the game as played now.

          Hell the elimination of the red line has drastically changed the game, and to add to Roger’s take, this has opened up the stretch pass and changed the way team’s break out of their own end.

          • Devils(playing the trap) scored 300+ goals in 93-94, the Rangers(playing the trap) scored 300+ goals in 91-92. Now Florida doing it and making the SCF with 250 goals playing the trap is what happens when you lack talent.

            I’m not suggesting a return to the trap, but any forecheck system that generates more odd man rushes ain’t a bad idea, same goes with putting guys on the off wing. We have to do it anyway as there’s only 4 righties in the entire team.

    • No old timer here is debating that the game hasn’t changed, but you’re really not listening to the discussion. All I was saying is that the PARAMETERS of hockey haven’t changed & that speed & skill are not new to the outcome of games. All sports have changed & athletes are faster & better conditioned. One of the major reasons games change is because of advances in equipment. The skates today are so much better that what we used when I was a kid & the sticks are not wood anymore but composites that allow one to shoot much harder. The biggest change in hockey has been in goal, where the goalies are all big guys with big equipment which is why you don’t see a 92 goal scorer like Gretzky anymore. Just look at golf, how equipment has changed the game. Now we have 300 yard drives & 9 irons are hit 175 yds. Stan Mikita changed hockey by putting a curve in his stick & Jaques Plante changed it by wearing a mask because the shots were getting harder & harder. It’s falacious to state that the succesful teams of yore were plodders compared to the present day players. The oilers, Habs, Isles were dynasties because of speed & skill just like today, hockey has always been about speed. You mentioned getting the puck out of one’s zone quickly, which is why the game on the boards is so important. Watch teams that can work the boards & cycle the puck for a long time. That’s how you keep the puck in their zone. The Rangers aren’t very good at that often. The concept of having a “strong stick” is really important, especially on D. You know that guy you battled on the boards with and you couldn’t win because his stick was immovable. Games are different today because of other factors too, like steroids, or corked bats or inventive ways to cheat, like blood doping in cycling. That’s why I can’t get too excited about the Olympics anymore.

      • Agreed, hard to argue the PED factor. They are probably the biggest cause of change/”evolution” in sports (and that detection cannot keep up with PED innovation). Everything else takes a back seat.

      • The bigger change for goalies than the equipment has been the technique. Goalies never used to be able to seal to either the ice or their bodies effectively, leaving gaping holes for shooters to shoot through. Not to mention the butterfly style effectively ended huge five holes. The size is important, the equipment overblown, but the technique is the biggest single change.

        • Also, goalies went from the smallest, most unathletic, worst skating guys on an NHL roster to the biggest, most athletic, best skaters on an NHL roster.

          • Beg to differ. I bet you never saw Glenn Hall play. Way more athletic than most of today’s goalies. Today’s goalies all rely on the butterfly & spend most of their time on their knees. Previous goalies were smaller & playing a stand up style was essential for success. Today’s goalies don’t have to move much & the way to beat them is to make them move. You can’t compare eras really but to characterize previous goalies as unathletic is a falsehood.

          • So why was the stand up style scrapped? Because it was too successful? Stand up was a joke. Absolutely the wrong way to play goalie.

            As for previous eras, everything I’ve read points to the goalies of the good old days consistently being the worst skaters on their respective teams. Hell, John Davidson was one of the better goalies of his time and he routinely joked about what a lump of crap he was in his playing days.

          • False again. The most successful goalies of that era were stand up goalies like Terry Sawchuk. The “floppers” were often scored on by rebound. Some floppers have been successful like Worsely & in more modern times Hasek. Go watch little league hockey, I remember one kid starting the game on his knees in a butterfly, with the coach imploring him to get up. Very funny & had me in stitches.

          • Then why are goalie careers shorter than ever? The butterfly & VM styles are destroying hips.

      • Paul….hate to say it but there is no correlation between today’s hockey and hockey from 30-40 years ago. Same with baskets and football. Not even close. Sorry.

        • You can be sorry & wrong at the same time, because you are not processing what I’m saying. LOL!!!

      • No Paul, the reason you won’t see 90 goal scorers and decent players posting seasons with over 100 points ever again is that goalies are good now.

        Watch any game from the pre-butterfly days (mid 80s and earlier) and it’s laughable how bad goalies were at the time. Mike Bossy used to shoot from the blue line, with no screen, and the puck would beat the goalie. Did Bossy have some magical shot that would vanish and elude goalkeepers? No! It was simply that the proper techniques of the position had yet to be developed.

        In the old days the goalie was just some crazy guy that was willing to let pucks hit him while wearing minimal protection. Now, goalies are elite athletes, part contortionist, part figure skater, part shortstop, part clairvoyant. To say that it’s simply bigger pads is an insult to the goalkeeping profession.

          • It’s a fascinating debate, but I’m more in Chris’s camp. Paul isn’t wrong about great goalies front the past, but I don’t think there’s really any doubt that there are more great golatenders today then there were back then. So yes, the bigger equipment plays a part no doubt, but goalies as a whole are way better atheletes today then they were back then

    • Messier could still score on that shoulder dipping wrister as it caught every goalie off guard. The shot is off stride, which you hardly ever see.

  • Where is Eddie Eddie Eddie? How can he explain all these stupid moves that managers do. And if I say get rid of Leopold he would say no manager in the league would do something like that! Keep Talbut and get rid of Lumpy? No manager would do that he would say. I think he is hiding and doesn’t want to defend Hillery anymore, I mean Leopold.

    • Do you know what? It now makes sense Hillary is related to AV and Eddie. Who in the world can get away with Glass on the team and get away with it? Who can pick on great players and not to even consider benching the awful? Who can betray the team and not play the best players available? Who can sabotage the team by benching better players in Game 7’s and get away with it and have people blindly defending him. No consequences, and no punishment. Equals AV!

      • Or Benghazi or reading/writing confidential emails on her private device, but I digress.

        Let’s make the Rangers great again!

      • I won’t comment on Hillary, but you most certainly sound like one of those wack-job polio cal commentators or bloggers that believe in conspiracy theories at every turn.

        Reality check time…..

        I’m no fan of Glass and wish we had signed someone else. We didn’t. Cap forced us to downgrade the 4th line after 2014. We had the best record in hockey with Glass playing 10 minutes a game, and we were 20 minutes away from a return trip to the ECF. How does that happen if Glass was THAT horrible?

        Pick on “great” players? Who? Miller, who it was reported and confirmed that he had significant work ethic issues? Hayes, who he played despite his uneven season where again work ethic issues were strongly suggested?

        These guys are good young players, but they have done nothing to prove they are great. Your definition of great needs a little work I think. Other than Hank, we have no great players at the moment. We have good players. You may disagree, but then I think you owe it to everyone to explain who you think is “great” and what your definition of “great” is. Certainly, based on what we’ve seen and heard in trade rumors, few if any talent evaluators think our players are “great”. I suggest you heed the words of Bill Parcells….”you are what your record says you are”. So who has a “great record”? The coach, the goalie, and an argument can be made for Nash, (but not recently). That’s it. Who is great beyond that?

        Being great in short spurts doesn’t make a player great. Ron Blomberg of the 1973 Yankees was flirting with a .400 average at the all-star break and I remember everyone saying how great he was…until he wasn’t. You have a low bar on what “great” actually is. Messier was great. Leetch was great. What players do we have that even hold a candle to those two?

        Betray the team? Seriously, you need to stop your silly conspiracy theories. You actually make good points from time to time but holy smokes do you go over the top!

        Game 7 sabotage—oh you mean James Sheppard of the Kloten Flyers?????HAHAHAHA! OMG!….still to this day the most hilarious nonsense I’ve ever read! It’s amazing how you refuse to acknowledge that Yandle, Girardi, Staal and McDonagh were ALL significantly compromised. That’s why we lost. But why bring that up when you can keep pushing a phony narrative!

    • Not hiding….working. If you haven’t noticed, it’s been an unbelievable week. So much for vacation I guess.

      Been reading everything and have much to say, but every time I’m ready to respond, something significant happens.

      Anyway, I’m enjoying reading all your posts. I may not be able to respond as much right now, but I’m reading as much as I can. 🙂

    • Now to address your babble….

      1) if “Leopold” is AV, I stand by what I wrote. No GM anywhere would fire a coach in year three after the two seasons he had. None. Zero. (Exception–George Steinbrenner led-Yankees of the 80’s when he fires Dick Howser and Howser goes on to win it all in KC). Going forward? Totally different conversation. It’s year four….no Cup. Team may be rebuilding. If so, totally fair and reasonable to consider a change at some point this season or next summer.

      2) Talbot/Hank…..what the heck are you even talking about? Hank has a no move. He would never have agreed to be dealt. No chance. That was the crux of my point. Why push for something that has ZERO chance of happening? And even if it could happen, unless the goal was to clear cap space to re-invest in other ways, no sane GM is going to trade Hank to keep Talbot. Talbot has never played a meaningful pressure game in his NHL career. There is no indication whatsoever that he would be a better option than Hank. None. And if you look at what happened last summer, the trade return was marginal. Why? Because there was no real market for the guy.

      As per usual, you totally overrate our young talent.

  • Any buyout mention for Girardi & Staal automatically gets a thumbs down. Textbook example of a panic move. In a year Girardi’s salary drops to a manageable level while the cap hit is what it is. Still enough floor teams looking for those kind of players, even as 7D.

    Still amazes me that the hockey stat heads can’t grok the financial side of so many of these trades & transactions. The baseball & basketball types do.

  • Justin, absolute best post I’ve read possibly in a calendar year. Nailed every single bullet- though I haven’t seen independence day 2, so ill take your word for it. If we ever meet, I’m buying you a beer for this one. Hard stick tap, well done.

  • Grabner scores every 3.8 games, Hagelin every 4.8.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? He did really solid numbers with 2nd line minutes; do fancy stats go back to 2010-11?

  • You touched on Florida doing well recently,they have a distinct advantage over other teams in high tax states in that their players take home the same amount of money with a lower salary while teams like LA or NYR have to pay a 10% higher salary to give equal take home.This allows Florida teams to build up a pile of money to sign a free agaent other teams can’t.With Bettman pushing for an even playing field with the salary cap he hasn’t addressed this advantage that the Florida,Dallas and soon to be Vegas teams.

    • Tax regimes change. State income taxes are deductible for US citizens(don’t know the Canadian angle.)

  • Justin-

    Good analysis, but a few things….

    1) I think you and others are sometimes forgetting the most important part of the Staal/Girardi equation—-they have NMCs and are highly unlikely to agree to be traded. So you have to find a team they would be willing to go to, AND a team willing to take them. Chances of that….very slim. Maybe, possibly, Staal might be willing to go to the Twin Cities to play with his brother and be a little closer to home. But it seems to me you are really minimizing the fact that the players have all the power here. Reality check, they aren’t likely going anywhere prior to the start of the season. Now, if the Rangers fall out of contention, and they are playing well prior to the deadline, then they may agree to be moved and there may be teams interested. (Although, I’d say if they do bounce back, we will likley not be sellers at the deadline)

    2. Agree that we will be weaker without Boyle and Yandle, but all this was expected. Boyle’s done. Yandle just was too rich for our blood. We are now a worse team. Disagree on Girardi and Staal. I think the chances they rebound and have good seasons are much better than you think.

    3. Agree

    5. Delighted to see the Isles in this situation! Capuano in my view doesn’t last the season.

    6. We will see about Grabner. I’m optimistic he will be a good add.

    7. FA is like a drug. Part of the reason you are in it is that you can make a splash, create interest and sell tickets. The problem is that once your players hit their prime, then they are FAs. So what do you do? Avoid them altogether? If you do that, you are in perpetual rebuild. There’s a time to double down on free agency–when you feel you are a piece of two away. It comes with risk, just like any business decision. I would argue the reverse….if you don’t play and just go with youth, as a GM, you won’t be around long term either unless you have drafted brilliantly. As I said before, you win with a mix of youth and veterans, homegrown, trade acquisitions and FA signings. It’s never just one or even two. It’s all three.

    8. Totally bizarre what the Oilers are doing. I heard a theory….that long range, retaining Hall and McDavid would be cost prohibitive. Still doesn’t make sense.

    9. Totally agree.

    11. I haven’t seen Independence Day 2, but if it makes Batman vs Superman seem like Citizen Kane, then it must be REALLY bad!

  • so far the rangers didn’t do much in free agency because of the bad contracts that they have so now the free agents they have applied for arbitration and they will probably get a lot of money

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