MusingsState of the Rangers

Thoughts following the Gorton/Sather Memo release


In case you missed it, yesterday saw some significant happenings in Rangerland.  First, the Rangers placed Brendan Smith on waivers and called up Neal Pionk.  Soon after, Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather showed up at practice and issued a joint statement about the future of the franchise.  There was a tepid (re: non-existent) endorsement about AV’s future and much Twitter ink spilled about what it all means.  As you can imagine, I have some thoughts…

1. If you read the memo that the Rangers organization released, a couple of things jump out. First, it seems the organization is trying to gauge fan reaction to the notion of a rebuild.  There is enough qualifying language and vague platitudes in the memo to reverse course if the reaction to the release was pure outrage at abandoning a season where they aren’t completely out of it. 

Second, there is a lot of self-back-patting about some of the moves made this summer to begin the long-term replenishment of the organization’s pipe line.  Now, I applaud what the organization is going and appreciate the transparency in their approach.  Lias Andersson and Anthony DeAngelo may end up becoming valuable assets for the organization, but that deal will remain a headscratcher.

Third, they are saying in not so many words “please continue to consume our brand” during this time of transition.  Well, that will depend on how the rebuild is executed, won’t it fellas? I think overall, this was a positive and unique step for the organization to take.  Not only engaging the fans about a significant change in direction for an organization that has been a perennial contender for over a decade, but also a league wide broadcast that the team is open for business. I’m glad to see them try to get out in front of the market.

2. Given his overall point production and reputation as a really nice complimentary player, I don’t know if Mats Zuccarello will fetch enough in a trade to justify moving him.  Depending on the returns at the deadline, it may make sense to evaluate the state of the franchise in the offseason and see how he fits into the long-term plans.  Zuccarello has already taken a sweetheart contract to remain in New York.  Would he take a reasonable extension to provide that veteran leadership to a new core?

3. I think given their performance in Hartford, John Gilmour deserved the call-up more than Pionk.  However, given their respective upsides and general value to the long-term picture of the organization, I think Pionk is the right call. I’d like to see Graves get some time, as well, later in the season.

4. I’ll be honest, this season has been a frustrating one.  Frustrating to watch the pretty blatant shortcomings of the roster turn out pretty much exactly as expected.  Frustrating watching the coaching staff refuse to adjust, even as the bottom is falling out.  Frustrating watching the league continue to fall behind the other major sports in innovation, fan engagement, public relations, and general quality.

5. I have spilled quite a bit of digital ink in this space discussing the damage that the “old hockey boys club” has done to the growth and innovation of the NHL, as a whole.  It’s nepotism and self-mandated echo-chamber has stifled new ideas and the growth of the game.  Now, some new research has come out over at Wave Intel, comparing the GM composition to that of other sports.  The conclusion is staggering, but not surprising.  In MLB, only 3% of GM’s are former players and 100% have post-secondary or higher educations.  In the NBA, only 27% are former players and 85% have post-secondary or higher educations.  In the NHL, 74% (!) are former players and good luck finding most of their educational backgrounds (hint: they don’t exist).

Yet, we wonder why the NHL is lagging behind other sports.  Hate Gary Bettman?  This created him.  He is a Cornell and NYU educated lawyer who worked for 20 years in the NBA before becoming commissioner.  Are you surprised he runs intellectual laps around guys who maybe graduated high school in Medicine Hat? Now, obviously, I am biased here being a lawyer, myself.  However, I don’t think anyone can make out a logical argument that having a higher education is somehow a deficiency in running a sports franchise.

Think about it. Professional sports are individually, mini-monopolies.  They have a whole different set of economic cause and effect, with collectively bargained market limitations.  The responsibilities here go way beyond understanding the game.  You have to understand the macro-economics of a system unlike any other in this country.  The game is easy by comparison.  You have a scouting department to find quality players and you have analysts to look at aging curves and contract comparables.  To be good at this job, you have to be able to anticipate market movement, manage the salary cap, find inefficiencies in your analysis of on-ice performance, balance a budget, negotiate with player agents (who are usually lawyers) and other GM’s, manage multiple departments filled with people and be the public face of the front office.  While some ex-players do remarkably well in this role (see Yzerman, Steve), does this job description really scream “former player” to you?

Just look at the efficacy in which rebuilding teams succeed in other sports.  In MLB, the Royals, Cubs and Astros embarked on extensive rebuilding efforts under new GM’s, and all three have since won World Series trophies.  How are the Sabres, Senators, Canucks and Avalanche doing?  Same with the Oilers and Coyotes, and though their GM’s have different backgrounds, are still relatively weak candidates given their one-dimensional skill-sets.

6. Now, if you are still reading, you either 1) agree with me, or 2) think I am a sanctimonious ass whom you are readying to tear apart in the comments section, so I might as well go for broke.  Another significant source of frustration I have comes from the fan base.  Those that claim analytics are useless, bemoan the lack of heart, grit, toughness, drive, yada yada yada, and claim that Hank is a negative asset to the organization.  You are wrong. Objectively wrong. You are wrong and willfully ignorant.  This is like still trying to claim that we don’t really know if cigarettes are bad for you.  That ship has sailed, and you just look, at best, like you are clinging to the good old days when the game was the game, or worse, like you don’t know what you are talking about.

If you hate the way hockey has evolved as a game and a business, fine.  Take the position that the game was better/more entertaining/purer/whatever in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  Say that the move toward the speed game and less physicality took away the game’s uniqueness and integrity.  Say that analytics took all the fun out of just watching the games and having a good eye for the sport.  Liken it to music.  I have no idea what the kids these days are listening to.  I’ll still listen to mostly Bruce Springsteen, U2 and David Bowie.  However, I’m not going to complain when Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars and SZA (whatever the hell that is) are winning Grammy’s because I know my preferences are outdated.

The game isn’t going to go backwards.  It’s about speed, possession and shot quality.  Analytics aren’t perfect, but they now paint a clear enough picture about what provides success in the macro.  If you don’t want to subscribe to them, understand them or value them, fine.  Just don’t become the “old man screams at cloud” meme.  /rant

7. Back to the Rangers, when asked about AV’s future, Gorton was understandable non-committal.  I agree with this choice here.  Firing AV in the off-season is the right move.  Maybe if you get an influx of NHL-ready talent at the deadline, you could re-evaluate that decision if he isn’t the right voice for the kids who now find themselves on the roster.  The choices for a replacement are much better in the off-season.  I think that the organization is closely monitoring the Quenneville situation in Chicago.

8. I’d be surprised if anyone claimed Smith given the size of his contract, but who knows?  Worst case, let him understand in the minors where is game needs to be and hope he is better prepared for next season.

9. Continuing to beat a dead horse here.  Hank isn’t going anywhere.  He has a full NTC clause and recently stated he is all-in on any direction the organization plans to take.  This tells me that they communicated to him this is what they were thinking, and he bought in.  He isn’t going to leave now and he wouldn’t fetch nearly enough to make a trade worth it given his performance.  Also, for those who claim his cap hit is too high, combine his salary with a ~$1m backup and the financial allocation for goaltenders is consistent with other teams in the league.  The Rangers have the luxury of Benoit Allaire, so their allocation between the two goaltenders can be a little more extreme.

Alright, I’m out of gas for the week, feel free to let me have it in the comments.  It will be interesting to see how this new statement of intent manifests itself in over the next couple weeks.  Hopefully when the calendar turns to March, we will all feel better about the long-term direction of the organization.

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  • 12 years, 120+ playoff games, 3 conference finals, 1 cup final. I say thank you new York rangers.

    As for this blog and I can’t take it any longer…this blog has turned from a forum of discussion into your personal diary.

    • blog (noun) : a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

      Listen, whether or not you agree with Justin, the whole point of a blog is to write something and then people on the internet can converse and debate on whether or not what the author wrote … is right/wrong/etc. And since hockey is the least covered sport around, and everyone here who comments (regardless of who they think is to blame of the Rangers shortcomings) loves the Blueshirts, this site is an amazing place to come and see what is happening with our favorite hockey team. AND to converse with fans who are older and younger. Debates happen on this site every day, which is the WHOLE POINT of a blog.

      There is no need to take shots at the people who work and run this site (and this staff has real jobs mind you) that produces articles and create a space we can all vent and communicate with one another about the Rangers. I don’t post much but I read everything that is written here, it’s awesome. And I love reading the back and forth between younger fans and older fans. I’m 33 so my fandom only goes back to 93-94 (prettayyyy, prettayyyy good time). I haven’t suffered as much as some of the older fans here, and I like reading their stories about their fandom.

      So please, a blog IS a personal diary about someone’s feelings about a topic, that is the whole point.

      • Dave. On this website, your blog is described as follows:

        Blue Seat Blogs was created in December 2008 and is an unbiased blog about the business of hockey and the New York Rangers.

        I think the contributions on this website have gotten away from the intent for unbiased content and discussion. The content has turned into a formus for biased, opinion-based, rants which do not objectively evaluate hockey performance.

        • Kleenex is available at many stores now, try some—it’ll dry those tears right up!

        • That’s the thing – the reporting here is based on objectively evaluating hockey performance…if they weren’t telling us about how seemingly questionably this organization is being run right now at the top, how the coaching hasn’t been great in recent years and we keep seeing the same issues over and over in that area, and how certain players aren’t up to snuff (some of whom are also a recurring theme)…well, there would be little to report right now.

          The team overall is in arguably the worst top-to-bottom shape right now than it has been in over a decade. Heck, even Company Man Larry Brooks has started to become critical. The only Rangers blogs worth anything that aren’t talking about these things right now are those of the Texas Rangers.

      • Dan

        For a youngster you have a clear head on your shoulders. Great post!!!!!!! This from one of the relics on this site……

    • This is not Justin’s blog. In one sense, it is Dave’s blog – and in another it is a vehicle for a community. Even you don’t like Justin or me, don’t read us. Read the people who are interesting. I personally do not read all posters or all commenters – though goodness knows I disagree with many here about almost everything.

  • There has been a question of has this team hit rock bottom yet. Not yet, but admitting they have a problem is a good first step. Agree the Stepan trade seems like a head scratcher, but we don’t know what if any other options they had. I also think that was the true beginning of the sort of rebuild. Take futures and sign Shattenkirk.

    Think Poink is a decent choice and would like to see Graves get some time too. They need to bring these guys up from Hartford to gauge their future D men. With Staal injured and Smith demoted there will be ice time to be had.

    I have to believe AV and the entire coaching staff ex Allaire is gone, but no point in announcing that now. Unless Benoit Allaire is going to be the interim GM and I don’t think that’s in the plan. There is no reason to replace AV now. You know what you have on your roster both injured and not and the odds are very much against you making a run. But AV’s track record with dependence on veterans is 180 degrees away from the direction this team claims to be going.

    Zucc is a tough one. Would love to see him stay around and agree they need veteran leadership to help the kids, but you need to acquire the kids first. That said he is the one person to me you keep if the return is not justified.

    on Smith a couple of weeks driving around on a bus in the north east from rink to rink will hopefully wake him up to playing how he did last year in the play offs.

    This product is tough to watch. Although I keep trying I tend to lose interest most games about the midway through the second.

    Now we wait for all the shoes to drop. Going to be an interesting few weeks.

    • Other than Henrik, no one should be spared. If you’re going to do it then do it.

      Accumulate high picks and very good prospects and possibly re-sign Nash and Grabner during the summer if the prices are right, for some veteran leadership.

      This can be turned around very quickly if done correctly. The prospects the Rangers are looking at can probably play next year or during next season.

      • agree with you on Hank. The chatter on Kovalchuk is just starting ahead of the Olympics I have to feel they will sign him over Nash and maybe bring back Grabner. Not advocating signing Kovalchuk just reading the tea leaves. This can be turned around quickly. I also would not be surprised to see them make a run at Van Riemsdyk in free agency. Speculating but I sense they want a new direction and that won’t mean bringing back Nash. It’s also going to be dependent on the pieces we get back. Assuming some of those pieces are NHL ready prospects.

        • From your lips to Gods ears Andy…….
          Would I rather have Grabner and Kovy who together may score 60 goals, rather than Nash who although a pleasure to watch is no longer the sniper he was?
          I will drive him to the airport and pick up kovy at the same time!!!!!

          • Wait a second—I thought you were driving me to the airport! I gotta get an uber now? Luckily, my Marxist cultural manual has provided me with maps.

          • How does Kovy fit into the “lets get younger and hungrier” mold?

        • Just can sprinkle in vets for sure.

          I know the Rangers want Grabner back and with Nash it depends on his price.

          Kovy is definitely a possibility because he’s over 35 and they can give him a one year contract filled with goal oriented bonuses attached to it, lessening the cap hit.

          • If they move Nash, Grabner, Zucc and Mc D and the cap space goes to $80 mill as rumored they will have plenty of cap space to work with.

          • yep, I heard as high as $82M because Vegas has done so well.

            I would love to have Trouba. Carlson is also in play I think.

      • Don’t you think there’s been a leadership void in the locker room this year? I believe Rangers need to bring in a BIGGER and more emotional voice into the room next year.

        For all the things that Nash brings, he is also a big reason why Rangers didn’t win a Cup during the past 5 years. At this point, he is nothing more than a 3rd line checker.

        Rangers roster is full of passers and not enough players who have a shoot first mentality. That is why Vinni Lettieri is such a breathe of fresh air. We traded away potential snipers (e.g. Duclair). KOVY would be a nice addition next year (shoots right, PP specialist with Shattenkirk passing to him, nasty streak, mentor to Buch)

        • 100% pal. AV is a “hands off” coach so you need Messier types to offset that. McD is clearly not a Messier so there is a problem that way.

          I love Lettieri, he looks to shoot right away. Good release and could be a nice bottom 6 player.

          Kovy is definitely a possibility as a 35 year old who can get a one year bonus laden deal. Low cap hit.

        • prob too much $$$$$ and HOW OLD IS HE ?? don’t want to get back too old habits !! and what would you have to give up for him ??? with kovy that is.

    • one other thing on the Stepan trade. I think they made 3 assumptions this past off season that did not pan out.
      1. The Devils would trade them Kovlachuk
      2. They could sign either Marleau or Thornton to reasonable contracts.
      3. That Alex Kerfoot would sign with us.

  • Justin

    ” I am a sanctimonious ass”, LOL, not there yet, but close! Having fun with you my friend.

    Great article, and plenty of food for thought. We as fans are more passionate at times, without thinking things thru, and some of the ramifications of moves made. We all want a great product on the ice, with a fighting chance to win a cup every season, or at least have a good shot if the stars align right!

    The announced move to rebuild is long overdue IMHO. There are some that like to remind us we have no elite players, and can’t win without them. I’m of the opinion that if that’s the case, go get them at all costs, do something differently, because what we have done over our history is poor. One cup in my lifetime, every 54 years, (one in last 78 years), isn’t a record to be proud of. Teams have taken the swan dive over, and over to position themselves to get those elite players, Pens anyone? In so doing they have 5 cups, to our four, in half the time, something to think about folks. We have run this organization with one thought in mind, make the PO’s, not necessarily win the cup. Many are glad to get into the PO’s, I want the damn cup, is that too much to ask for?

    We are in a position to start anew, with youth, and a spattering of vets to have some leadership for the kids. This upcoming draft is deep, or so we are being told, which makes this the most opportune time to start a rebuild. I’d rid the team of the dead wood, the guys who won’t give 100% every game, show up and play 30-40 minutes at best. I’d avoid as best I could any long term deals, certainly no more NMC for marginal players, and consistently replace older players with younger, faster, chippy kids who are hungry.

    Lastly, I’d get a coach who has a proven record of developing kids, a good teacher with patience, who won’t play silly effing mind games, I wonder who I’m thinking of there? This may need a few seasons before we are where we want to be, but repeating the same old, same old isn’t the route to take.

  • Some points of disagreement:

    1. I love Mats Zuccarello (my favorite Ranger for a long time) but get real. “Given his overall point production”? Really? He only has 38 freaking points! I get that part of that is the team effect but is that level of point production something to hang on to when the “Everything (except Hank) Must Go! sign has been put up around MSG? Yes, he’s a nice complementary player but who is he going to complement during the rebuild? I think Zucc has more value as a trade chip than he will to the Rangers for the remainder of his contract.

    2. I really have to take issue with your statement about Gary Bettman. He is the perfect example of an over-educated (full disclosure: I have an advanced degree), snobbish, management toady and all around douche bag who has done more to ruin the sport than all of the ex-players in GM positions. But its not his elitist credentials or profession that have enabled him to run roughshod over ex-player GMs its the backing of the owners (as big a collection of hypocrites, ignoramuses and sociopaths as you will find anywhere). Without that backing he wouldn’t get to first base (yes, mixed sports metaphor).

    3. I don’t think analytics are “useless” but neither do I think they are all that they’re claimed to be. Hockey is not like baseball where its much easier to make isolated measures of an individual’s performance (and even then there are multiple caveats and confounding factors). And frankly, I find many of the analytic “analyses” that I read in this and other hockey blogs to be laughable, particularly in their over-attribution to “luck” phenomena that their exalted models simply fail to capture. Analytics may be the future, but the future is, in my opinion, still a ways off.

    • For people who complain about keeping old players I’m surprised people want to resign Zuccarello. Its people using there heart instead of there minds. He’s 30 years old. He’s going to keep trending down. He’s been noticeably worse this season. Games where you don’t even know he’s playing.Trade him while he still has value.

      • Its kind of like the people who rail against AV for not holding veteran players accountable and then moan when Smith gets benched for playing like crap.

        • no, you’re missing the point, the coach does not hold his “faves” accountable.

          I personally have no problem with benchings except it’s the same players over and over again when the entire team has played like crap, other than the goalie.

          • Oh, please. I’m not going to listen to a lecture from you on “missing the point”. You do that on a daily basis here.

          • I do that when people say things that is different than what is either actually said or actually meant.

            You can challenge me on anything I say, like others do. I welcome it my friend. That’s what we’re here for, to converse and discuss. 🙂

      • In defense of the players, if you know what’s coming then that will certainly play into their mindsets. I know they’re pros but they are still human.

  • Gary Bettman may be a well educated man but he sucks at being a league commissioner. If you want to know why hockey fans are staying home, he’s the reason. Other then attempting to transform the great sport of hockey into girls ringette, the league has made many bonehead decisions. Not participated in Olympics boils my blood. I mean here’s a opportunity to showcase ice hockey to the world and the league say nyet.

    And these lockouts are another reason why the NHL has lost fans. If you don’t want to pay players huge salaries, then don’t sign them to huge contacts. Why make devoted hockey fans suffer for your stupid business decisions.

    Anyhow Justin IMHO the suits are destroying the NHL not making it better.

    • I agree 100% on the Olympics. It is a great showcase for the sport and the NHL. Most of all, it is a shame that the best players in the world will not be playing.

  • Rangers still have enough good players. What hurt us are bad deals which led us to not winning the cup including getting Yandle who stunk defensively and we paid a big price to get him. It is difficult to get a quality center without paying big with assets, yet we simply gave away Stepan at still a young age. Getting Zib was good, but remember Brassard was a playoff performer who had a lot of chemistry with Zucc. Hockey is all about chemistry. Our coach needs to understand the strengths of our players and adjust to teams who exploit our weaknesses. AV can do neither, nor can motivate.

  • As an over 50 year fan, I am very excited about this overhaul. I am excited to see young players give 60 minute efforts, regardless of the game results.

    I think I fell asleep twice the other night against Boston, lol.

    This comes at least a year too late but better late than never. And with a very deep draft this June, having maybe 4 or 5 firsts could provide quick results.

    • As I posted in the prior thread, this says it all:

      Zach Ellenthal @zellenthal

      Looking at some Vigneault-era Rangers stats on @CorsicaHockey. They’ve scored right in line with their expected GF total at 5v5 (751 actual vs. 747 expected) but wayyyyy outperformed their expected GA total (663 actual vs. 765 expected. #Lundqvist
      7:37 PM – Feb 8, 2018

    • Richter, you and I have been arguing for an overhaul for about two years at least. I guess that the stars have finally aligned to make it happen.

      • 100% pal. Look at the moves, look at the press conference, they are very serious about this.

        I know that the Rangers are looking at a lot of other team’s prospects for possible trade. Preds, Dallas, TB, Boston, Minny, Anaheim, San Jose, Jets, Leafs, Kings, all in play.

  • Hockey has become Ice capades with sticks. Political correctness / cultural Marxism played out on ice and sports fields the world over. Fights are now frowned upon as well as even big clean hits. Players share agents and seem quite often buddies! What that means is a rather vanilla game devoid of passion mirroring a society in decline. The reason every generation thinks the following one is w/o taste/soft/strange might be because they’re right. I understand why they are, being inculcated by a system meant to do just that. Hockey/culture is devolving just as planned and I choose not to play along/support it. Hockey, for me anyway, will be unwatchable very soon. Like the so called new music/art I know crap when I see/hear it. I am so happy I was born when I was.

        • Spot on Hondo……..
          Germany, Sweden, France, Italy have more dangerous ”’NO GO ”’ zones than North Korea and China!!!!!!!
          Its amazing that the people on this blog haven’t a clue as to the destruction of western Europe and its culture!
          Kudos to Poland and Hungary and Russia for their fight back against this ”’liberal plague”’!!!!!!

          • I know, in a few decades these PC liberal snowflakes will be looking out through the bars of their tenements wondering why their neighborhood is no longer safe. What happened to critical thinking?

          • Whatever happened to not living your life embedded in a racist, dystopian corporate fantasy? What’s so frightening about living your life like a free person in a free society?

          • MC…..this comment should be beneath you….
            Anyone who disagrees with you is a racist???
            Talk to [like I have] people who have had to flee south africa because they were europeans, or people who had to flee Hungary because the russians invaded and were slaughtering and raping the population….or now the swedes,french or germans who had to flee their own homes if they are located in ”NO GO” zones because the police cant protect them from hordes of violent, rape crazed immigrants…….
            YUP, the marxist agenda is certainly doing wonders for the good people of the world!!!

        • You must have missed it when the guy who ran with that initial No-Go zone report on Fox News recanted his story and admitted that wasn’t the case once he actually went to those areas.
          I get that some just believe what feels true to them instead of facts, but unfortunately those people are deluding themselves.
          Double check your sources on this stuff.

    • Sounds like you were born 2000 years too late. You would have enjoyed the Circus Maximvs and the Roman Colosium. Maybe Mayans kicking a human head down a field or eating the heart of a losing opponent.
      Hockey has evolved from a cro-magnon mentality(see Lou Fontinato) to a highly skilled game. The hands on some of these players are amazing. If you think the players don’t have passion, ask Giraradi or Mac after they played on fractures. Players still care. If you think that hockey is in decline because there is no fighting mirroring a societal decline, you are wrong. What is wrong with trying to protect athletes? Evolution is a necessity to survival, whether as a species or a sport.

      • It’s not evolution that we are witnessing as a society it’s planned DE-evolution to a 3rd world shit hole.

  • this is what I call building for the future you keep guys like Miller, Vesey Shea Hayes and you build around them the reason why Zucc has only 38 points he misses brass he would get him the puck and the magic was there hopefully tonight they will play with heart and determination

  • if your tearing it down, tear it down. why have the over passing not shooting disease spread from zuccarello et al to the “new generation” ?

  • Anyone else catch Sather checking text messages during the press conference? He’s still running the show.

  • Igor S continues to tear it up in the KHL. When is he scheduled to arrive in NHL? Contractual agreements aside, how great would it be for Hank/Igor (the “prince”) to split work in the next 2 years? Igor could learn a lot from Hank and Benoit A. Or maybe a half a season in AHL before coming up?

    Your thoughts?

  • Brendan Smith had always been an inconsistent player. He went through bouts while he was in Detroit where he was scratched from the regular lineup. Yet the Rangers aggressively went after him, giving away draft picks to acquire him.

    In the offseason, they doubled down and signed Smith to a big dollar 4 year contract. I really don’t understand how giving a hockey player huge sums of money will suddenly make them better. But then again, I am not a Havard Graduate. I am just a simple haystick from the far north who rides a turnip truck back and forth to work everyday. Good luck with the rebuild.

  • Absolutely outstanding article Justin! Top -> Down, that’s where it’s got to change!, The fact that they have convinced Dolan is an outright Miracle on 33rd Street!!

    if we don’t get a Cup soon I’ll have my attorney talk to your attorney…. wait..

    here’s to hoping they pull off some good deals…the real work for them starts now…

  • My thoughts following your thoughts following the Gorton/Sather memo release.

    1) Agree with this part – I think overall, this was a positive and unique step for the organization to take. Not only engaging the fans about a significant change in direction for an organization that has been a perennial contender for over a decade, but also a league wide broadcast that the team is open for business. I’m glad to see them try to get out in front of the market.

    I will add that I believe the memo has put the rest of the league on notice that there is a going to be an AUCTION and NOT a fire sale which I believe to be brilliant whether it was intended or not.

    2) Zucc – if there was one guy on this team that I would want to have next year as part of a rebuild it would be Zucc – Captain Zucc – leadership, tenacity, enthusiasm. I would not be surprised at the market that could develop for Zucc with the Cup contenders
    3) Interesting comment given the take on Gilmour’s game on this blog over the last year. Outside of the fact that he has a cannon of a shot I only know what I read and he made the AHL all-star team. He must be doing something right.
    4) Uh – yeah…
    5) My thoughts on your thoughts – off topic – who cares – save it for the summer – we all know you are lawyer – my own thoughts – this is what makes hockey unique and I will leave it at that…
    6) See #5 – except for the fact that some of the readers are wrong. Objectively wrong. You are wrong and willfully ignorant. It’s always good to get a pep talk first thing in the morning.
    7) My thoughts from two previous posts of mine – keeping AV for a rebuild would an egregious error of epic proportions. If they commit to the plan then the team needs someone who can be a teacher and someone who will garner their respect. A top AHL guy would make the most sense but it might be time to go outside the box. Honestly, I am intrigued by Messier and what he could bring if he has a strong staff. I also like the thought that Pat brought forward about the Czech coach Filip Pesan who has been invited to Ranger camp previously. Him and Mess could be a real good start.
    8) Agreed – I hope he goes unclaimed and he goes down there and makes the most of the wake-up call. We don’t have that many NHL ready D-men
    9) The horse has been declared dead and beaten into submission – get over it – thanks though for not reminding any of those folks who do not share your opinion that they are idiots as has been the case in the past.
    10) McD – no comments from you so here are my thoughts – I think we need to be careful here. If he goes who is going to be the top D pairing next year? If Sergachev is in the deal then let’s talk – otherwise – getting another season out of him as tutor to the youth movement and then getting a package, which I would expect to be greater than Nash’s at next year’s deadline, is not a bad option.

    Random thought – if you think that the readers may think you are a sanctimonious ass – then maybe you could consider modifying your approach.

    • While he makes a great pass here and there… He in no way fits the mold of “tough to play against”. He should be on the block to a contender who needs a pp specialist or who has established finishers.

  • If all these analytics were really effective, I would not have to keep reading websites BEGGING people to believe they have value, and turning to insults to try and convince people to take them seriously. That’s your first hint right there. And this has been going on for years now all over various websites.

    It’s not that analytics are horrible. I feel though that most of the stuff does not give real insight. The NYR did not do much of anything against BOS. We all saw it. A pie chart and heat map isn’t terribly insightful, and neither is Corsi or Fenwick stats.

    But you know whose stats are? Steven Valiquette’s. That’s the stuff that tells stories about underlying themes and real trends going on in the game. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him use the fancy stats. But he gives stats that highlight things that are sometimes not evident to everyone. No charts that graph obvious things in the game. I don’t know where he gets his stuff, but it is far more valuable information…

    • 1. Steve Valiquette is part owner/operator/analyst (something to that effect) for an advanced stat company. That’s where he gets he stuff.

      2. Exhibit A that advanced stats are effective- the anaylitic community warned everyone NOT to give Brendan Smith a big contract.

  • The NHL first began to change on the ice when they competed against the Russians in the ’70’s. Hence, the influx of european skaters in the league.

    However, you are correct management has been extremely slow to change. The Eagles switched to analytics recently for their decision-making and their change resulted in Super Bowl win. See NYT sports section this past Sunday.

    Kept up with analytics on this page! You will convert all sooner or later.

  • Not to rain on the upcoming parade but my biggest fear is that while we are about move some players that we presume have value other teams may not share our optimistic sentiment. The Cam Talbot trade was extremely disappointing as most of us assumed he’d bring back a lot more. The duality here, I think, is that the league perceived the Rangers, at the time of the Talbot trade, to be in some desperation to move him. There seems to be some desperation here now too. I want the world for Nash, McD and co. But I’m a little nervous.

    • Cam Talbot brought in exactly what he was worth, in line with other goalies of similar situations.

      The crowd of people claiming Cam Talbot was superior to Henrik Lundqvist expected a larger return.

  • Good article. I also took it as a vote of confidence for Gorton going forward as “part of the solution” versus leaving the GM position open for review in the offseason. That part didn’t thrill me.

  • In today’s Daily News (yuk) there was barely a page on the Rangers. And there were 4 full pages on the Knicks. The Rangers have a beat writer while Brooklyn has no one. AP feed to cover their game. Why? I think this goes back to lack of marketing in the NY area for hockey. Any thoughts out there. I’m 71 and have been an avid Ranger fan for 60 plus years and I fear my only cup will be 1994.

  • My issue isn’t with advanced stats. I fully agree that possession correlates with wins. My issue is with some of the inferences (especially, in particular, how those shots are generated) and the long leash given to stats. The discrepancy between Smith’s observable performance and his analytical stats is one example. So are the careers of Clendening, Etem, and other fancy stat darlings.

    • Brendan Smith had one, one, strong advanced metric. All the rest of his advanced metrics were 3rd pairing level quality. The analytic community warned and said don’t sign him. The “eye-test” community said look at his playoff run with Brady. How’d it work out?

      Not gonna go into the other “darlings” because it’s just not worth it.

      • All the scouting reports I ever read was B. Smith was consistently an inconsistent performer. I would agree there is some worth in advance metrics, however just as in using the eye-test, it’s how you interpret what is of value.

        Hockey is a complex sport with many intangibles. Breaking it down into components and looking at it in isolation doesn’t always provide an accurate account.

  • I believe that a rebuild for the rest of this season, and going forward for the next year or two, is a good idea. The team, by and large, is playing rather listless, inferior hockey. A change is certainly in order. So, if the Rangers are going to re-stock with prospects and almost ready for prime time players, (or put another way, a version of the Hartford Wolfpack that could be competitive against some of the lesser NHL teams), then ticket prices should reflect the planned lesser quality of product as well as the reduction in salary expense incurred by MSG. Thanks for the opportunity to voice this idea.

  • On points 2 and 9, the Rangers need to have a good plan going forward on how to compete and they need to respect the landscape. The easiest way to get good players is to keep the good players that you have. The Rangers have a good consistent goalie with a NTC and a long contract. No action needed. Players like Zuccarello, McDonagh, Zibanejad, Hayes, Miller, Buchnevich are good players – you can win a Cup with guys like this on your team. There is no addition by subtraction here. OTOH, I’d tried any one of them in a heartbeat for five #1’s.

    It all depends on whether what you can get in return will help you more than they will. In a sense, what you do is put Zuccarello on the auction block, but you also consider yourself as one of the bidders. And if the bids are too low, you keep him. There is nothing like keeping a player you want to deal to drive up the market for all your players. I can’t help but believe that the Rangers’ absolute commitment to trading Hagelin and Talbot when they did was a factor in the poor return for both players. (see Martin St. Louis trade)

  • There is no doubt the Rangers need to retool.Just keep in mind that the fanbase is fickle. The Bruins were out of the playoffs for 3 seasons while they
    retooled. And they had Marchand,Bergeron,Chara and Rask. Will there be patience?

  • The real question here is after Nash, Holden, McDonagh, etc are all gone, traded who will right this course. Can’t JG get a hold of either Darryl Sutter ( 2 time cup winner) or if Joel Quinnville leaves Chicago and either coach deciding what player or players they want. I would love to see these players as New York Rangers.

    -Tyler Nugent Hopkins
    -Oliver Ekman-Larsson
    -Alec Martinez

    If NYR can rebuilb and acquire a few of these players we could turn things around. Also, does anyone really know if Ryan Graves is an NHL ready defensemen or will he end up being another Dylan McIrath? Why doesn’t Alain at least give Graves a chance to show what he can do? Graves 6’5 220 along with Skjei 6’3 and add either Larsson or Trouba or Dumba to that mix you have a decent defense core.

    • It could be that Graves ability is at best a 7th D but nothing more or I think he would have been up for a stint.

  • Ur absolutely wrong when u think that the physicality is not important in the game. It’s a game where u fight for position on the ice and go from zone to zone by out playing and hitting and toughing your opponent. Things get tougher as u get closer to the nets usually. The Rangers have sent a clear message to the rest of the teams in the league. “U can have the ice.” There is little resistance and these other teams who r used to fighting for it will now simply take it and punish them anyway. Take the Preds for instance. You don’t have to be a goon or fighting team. U just have to gain respect. The Rangers are prey for the rest of the league now. They can’t be competitive. I blame AV entirely. He’s an asshole

  • Excellent commentary as always Justin. Agree with on all but three points, two quite minor. Don’t know what to think of Gilmour, high scoring but worst +/- among defensemen. And I would fire AV now and hire an interim coach, but there is a strong argument for doing nothing until the trade deadline just because they have too much to think about with personnel.

    However, we come to point 6. Here you are not the smartest guy in the room and while many attack modern stats from an old school perspective, some of us attack them as bad statistics. I started computing baseball statistics about sixty years ago and was an ardent follower of Bill James. Now statistics in baseball are vastly easier than in hockey and EVEN THEN, James had an important caveat. The relative value of singles, home runs, walks, stolen bases made a presumption that managers would continue to manage in the way that they did. If you consider a manager who bats Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays in the leadoff position, there is simply no data as to what his results would be. Yet such a strategy would almost certainly boost the sabrmetric stats.

    The moral is that baseball stats help you evaluate players, but give no guidance in lineup construction. Now hockey is much more complicated and the parallel caveat is that if coaches focus on the stats, the value of the stats may decrease.

    On hockey exclusively: I believe that there can be advanced hockey statistics. I also believe they are hard to develop. so just because people have put a lot of work into this does not mean it is sound. I am comparatively ignorant on the wealth of advanced metrics, but the little tinkering of data that I have done suggests that it is off base. I will however take some time to discredit two ideas – counting shots and assessing goalie performance by shot difficulty.

    1. Corsi-like stats: Subject to a little luck, it seems both obvious and statistically correct, that regular season standings are determined by GF-GA. So if we just count goals, we have a good picture. Of course, sample size error and converting team stats to individual stats make this problematic and leave us searching for a better answer (and incorrect handling of EN goals makes an already dubious stat inaccurate).

    Now the number of goals is just (# of shots)(shooting percentage) and so if you can measure those two numbers separately, you have it. Unfortunately, shooting percentage has the same sample size problem as goals, at least on a team basis. But we can measure shots much more accurately. Anyway, I did a study of GF in the 2016-7 season, looking at all 30 teams. Here is what I found.

    Average # of shots per team 30.56.
    Average # of shots for playoff teams. 30.65.

    Average shooting percentage per team. .0901
    Average shooting percentage per playoff team .0952.

    The teams that made the playoffs were those that shot well, not those that took lots of shots.

    Going further, I didn’t calculate standard deviations, but the Rangers exceeded the league average by over 15% in shot percentage and were only third in the league. The Avalanche were more than 20% below average. On number of shots, not a single team deviated by 10% from the norm. Only two teams exceeded the norm by 5%.

    At least for GF in 2016-7, shooting percentage was vastly more important than number of shots. I did not look at GA, thinking that because of the goalie effect, shooting percentage would be in more important here. Now one might argue that good players are good players and the same players exceed in both areas. But those are not identical goals and if you actively choose for good possession players instead of good players, you will fall on your face.

    Goalie metrics: I don’t understand these at all, but I do understand that it is hard to determine a good shot. I also know that you can fire the same two shots at two different tenders and, depending on the relative strengths, they will disagree on which is the tougher shot. [Most shots they likely will agree on.]

    Anyway I am skeptical. Then, when informed that the 2015-2016 stats said that Lundqvist was totally off the charts, I became dismissive. I think the charts really said that Hank was a better tender than Gretzky was a center. To me this is evidence, not that Hank is great, but that the stat is bogus. And this in a year when Hank did not get any Vezina consideration nor did he outperform Raanta in traditional stats. Hank is a good goalie, but how good remains unclear.

    I did a quick study and compared the Rangers 2001-2004 to the Rangers 2005-2008, the last three years before Hank and his first three years. In the Hank years, on average the team scored, on average 23 more goals per season and gave up 36 fewer. Hank started 63 games per season. I think the Hank teams were better skater-wise, led by Jagr as opposed to an aging Leetch and I think the increased scoring should be credited to better skaters. I suspect the skaters also contributed a little to the defensive improvement and the goaltending pre-Hank was below average. My conclusion is that it would be generous to say that Hank was worth half a goal a game, though perhaps not far from the mark.

    • I have not analyzed the stats but I would guess the stats for the pittsburgh penguins before mike sullivan was coach and after he was hired will probably tell you that the coach has as much to do with a players stats as the players , maybe more…….
      Point is , put a good coach in charge of the rangers, when they are healthy of course, and i would bet the stats will improve tremendously!!!!

      • Systems have a point in this league. But it really comes down to the players. Pitt was an average team til they got Hags, and I remember that very clearly. It pissed me off so much when he got traded to them and we had etem. Up until that point they were an average team. Sully didn’t change anything. Giving credit to coaches is like giving credit to the president. They just put in guidelines. They don’t actually play the game.

        What made pitt so good that year and the next was the speed of their 3 lines. It was impossible to match up against them cause no one in the league had the same talent level and speed as them on 3 different lines.

      • Rich

        “put a good coach in charge of the Rangers, when they are healthy of course, and I would bet the stats will improve tremendously”!!!

        Now that’s a given!!!!!!

    • All those words to say this:

      Advanced stats showed Henrik Lundqvist to be an excellent goalie. I don’t like Henrik Lundqvist so therefore i don’t like anything that disproves that.

      • No. Advanced stats say that Henrik Lundqvist is an unbelievably good goalie. And unbelievable means unbelievable.

        Geez, I said he was maybe worth half a goal a game; that is hardly harsh criticism. That is a good tender — and he is also amazingly consistent. What makes me seem anti-Hank is that I oppose the idea that he is responsible for every win and blameless in every loss. People here laud Hank with what should be hyperbole, but which they believe to be literally true.

        I might also make two observations to put things in perspective. Considering the four year period, 2013-2017, Cam Talbot was, on average, a better goaltender than Lundqvist (granted he played less because he was a back-up the first 2 years). OTOH, if Lundqvist had been traded for Talbot at the start of this season, Edmonton would be preparing for another playoff run instead of being way out of the picture. If you have playoff-caliber skaters, a consistent tender gets you in every single year.

        • People really don’t read on here half the time. It is too time consuming so they breeze over what you said and take words they don’t like or do like. Critical thinking is not a standard in the average internet commentor. You might be expecting to much.

  • Can the Rangers land realistically either Sutter or Quennville? (sorry about spelling)?

    Sutter was coaching the LA Kings to 2 cups with a lot of size and speed and quickness on the team. The Kings drafted very well (Kopitar, Brown, Doughty, Quick, etc). They also traded for Carter and acquired Gaborik for their 2nd cup, it was that bum in Columbus (GM) that made those trades. Add Quick to that mix along with Williams, etc LA had a good depth team that could score.

    Chicago drafted very well with Toews, Kane, Keith, Sharp, and added to that great core of players. Add Niemi (1 cup) and Crawford ( 2 Cups) Blackhawks won well. Also, look at what Richards did for Blackhawks winning another cup in 2015. Sad to say this, but NYR should have paid Richards what Chicago paid him for lets say a 3-4 contract.

    My point of all this, is that NYR over pay, and have bought out so many players, its like the Rangers love to do or make the same mistakes and they never learned from them.

    Where is the core group of Rangers players, where is the toughness? Where are the grinders or playoff heroes? The current team is very soft, its easy to play against them. MSG has become a flyby place for teams to dethrone the Rangers on a nightly basis. Also, look at the Penguins, Predators, Blackhawks, Kings of the last few years. They all have 1-5 ranked PP’s. NYR over paid and unless Sather goes and there is a new mentality and thinking of doing something right (meaning limit the crazy contracts especially if a player is 30yrs old or older), NYR will never win the Cup at all. I give Lundqvist 2 more years to compete for the Cup. If the Rangers get the right players, right coach and “a coach that can motivate his players” the Rangers might have a shot. If not, its going to be another 54 years and counting.

    Oh yeah, last thing, what do you all think about Mark Messier as the new team president. Just wondering if Messier would accept the challenge of winning here in NY as an executive. He won here as a player, NYR should explore the option of Messier as the new team president. Establish a good management, good coaching staff, proven players mixed in with young players, and hard nosed players, NYR could rebound.

    • People have stated on here that Sutter won’t come out of retirement and the kings had to pry him from it to be their coach.

      Messier was the assistant to the GM for couple years prior to AV signing and left for whatever reason. Assuming a disagreement between him getting the Head Coaching job and AV ending up with it. Or atleast how it was handled.

  • Great stuff Justin!

    My thoughts….

    1) Agree…this was a brilliant PR move by the team.

    2) Good point about Zuc. I’ve always thought he’s more valued by AV and Rangers management than he would be around the league. Not saying he doesn’t have value, because he does. But I’m not sure if he will yield much of a return. Related to this, in addition to the obvious suspects likely to be traded (Grabner, Nash, Holden possibly McDonagh), I would absolutely look to deal our overrated “elite beasts” Miller, Hayes and Kreider……IF the return was substantial. Indeed, other than Hank, Chytil and Shesterkin, I would make every single player available for a substantial return.

    3) I cant really comment on the AHL guys. I’ve been hearing the drumbeat for Graves for several years now. Starting to wonder if he just another one of those prospects who we overrate each year that actually is nothing more than a borderline NHL/AHL player. Depending on how deep the Rangers purge is prior to the deadline will obviously determine whether we see our more marginal prospects.

    4) That’s a lot of frustration you have! :). Reality is, most thought this would be a team that regressed and would be a borderline playoff team, which is exactly what they are at the moment. If they had been fully healthy, they’d probably be in pretty decent shape, although still flawed. But given the lack of high end talent combined with the injuries, all this was pretty predictable.

    5 and 6) This is a fascinating point you make. I never really thought about the “ex-player” factor in NHL front offices compared to other sports.

    I do think that your argument is a bit flawed. Just becasue the guy at the top does not have an advanced degree doesnt mean he doesnt have, working under him, a team of MIT geniuses crunching numbers. The guy at the top has to have the ability to take in the information and draw the proper conclusions. He doesn’t have to be the guy doing the calculations. I have no doubt that every team in every sport nowadays has guys who specialize in analytic analysis. It would be like most Presidents past and present….these guys have advisors who probably know ten times more than they do about many subjects. They personally don’t need to be the expert if they have smart people working for them.

    Your broader point about analytics is just way too black and white for me. I’m clearly not an analytics expert…not even close. I do find them fascinating, but I can tell you from experience running major organizations that data tells you just part of the story. As an example, I had a news anchor who we tested whose numbers were not very impressive, but yet my eye test told me this guy is good. The analytics guy said we should fire him. I disagreed. So how did we fix his numbers? Maybe promote him better. Maybe create better chemistry with his co-anchor, etc. We tested him again a few years after the fact. He became a rock star now and the newscast he anchored became the fastest growing in the country.

    Obviously, you aren’t going to be employed long if you ignore stats that are clearly say a change needs to be made. But all I can say is, hockey, like the TV business, has a heartbeat. If you are slave to the numbers, you might be as guilty of missing reality as someone who ignores those numbers completely. It’s a middle ground.

    Numbers can be deceiving. And in the wrong hands (no offense to some of you), they can be totally misinterpreted to draw a picture that is incomplete if not blatantly inaccurate.

    I love learning and reading about advanced stats. It’s one of the reasons I love this site. But advanced stats in hockey are still somewhat suspect and incomplete. IMO, there are just too many moving parts to accurately measure. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the Kings have great possession numbers in the final seasons under Sutter? They had trouble making the playoffs. Weren’t the Devils a strong possession team a few years back when they were regularly missing the playoffs?

    Didn’t some of you INSIST that first McIlrath and then Clendening MUST play over Girardi because some stat showed they were better, and that if only we had a different coach those guys would have played more? Yet those who slavishly worship these numbers refuse to explain why McIlrath was waived three times and can’t make it back to the NHL, can’t explain why Clendening bounces around from team to team and is now toiling in the minors (after we had people out here who GUARANTEED that once he was playing for an organization like the Coyotes who have a young, new age thinking GM, we would all find out how wrong AV was…NOT!), and can’t explain how Dan Girardi, who was just mercilessly destroyed out here as poeple insisted he’s barely a competent AHL option, let alone an NHL player, was signed to a nice sized multi-year deal and is playing important minutes right now for the team most people think will be lifting the Cup in June.

    Again, only a fool would dismiss new age stats cavalierly. But I suspect if you could sit in a room with any of the league’s braintrust, they would tell you that so much more goes into player evaluation than you are allowing for. And, I think it’s also true that the stats that teams look at are proprietary, and likely very different than what we get to see.

    7) AV. I 100% agree with you about Coach Q. I’ve been saying that since last summer and that scenario would not shock me at all.

    I had a chance to listen to the Michael Kay Show yesterday. They had Gorton on after the presser. In addition, I went back to the press release following the decision to give AV the extension last year. Based on both these, I came away with the following conclusions on Rangers management’s thinking—

    A) If the Rangers felt AV was the primary issue here, he would have been canned yesterday. The fact that he wasn’t says to me management has not made up their mind yet.

    B) Some of this decision will be based on how AV and the team responds to this situation going forward. More games like we saw vs Boston and AV may be gone in a week or two. Will players give max effort? How will AV handle some of the younger players being brought in? Has AV lost (or will he lose) the room? There is no indication that he has. I’m sure all this will be closely monitored.

    C) Back when AV signed his extension, it was evident from Gorton’s comments at the time and AV’s as well, that it was Gorton that very much wanted to extend AV, and that it was AV that needed to consider whether he wanted to sign such an extension. That suggests to me that AV wasn’t fully sold on where the team was heading. It was not a slam dunk at the time that he accepts the offer. But Gorton made it financially worth his while to stay, so he agreed to do so. Yesterday on the Kay Show, Gorton said (paraphrasing) that we really all need to sit down at the end of the season with AV to see what HE is thinking. So again, this might not be simply about management making the call. I suspect AV will have a large say as to whether he even wants to be back.

    So my takeaway here is that this may not be what you think it is. It does not appear that management has had it with the coach, that they think he has failed, that they desperately want him out. Again, if that were true, he would not have been re-signed last year, and he would have been fired yesterday. All reporting suggests that Sather/Gorton/Vigneault enjoy working together and trust each other.

    D) Gorton also said that his preference is to trade for NHL-ready players. Not that he won’t opt for picks, but he clearly wants young up and comers who can help the team in the short term…..for example…..think 1994 in reverse….a green Amonte or Weight type player who would be swapped for guys with more experience that can help a contender to win now. Someone who can be slotted into the Rangers lineup by next season if not right away. So if that’s true, then perhaps they will want to see what kind of chemistry develops between AV and his “new” roster. Just speculating.

    E) So put it all together, and my hunch is that the jury is still out here. If the assets that come back are more longer range prospects which suggests this will be a long rebuild, I doubt management would conclude AV is the right guy for that…and more importantly, I suspect AV will want to move on under those circumstances as well. AV’s clock is ticking. He most certainly wants another legit crack at winning it all before it’s too late. I doubt he wants to stick around for a long rebuild.

    Yesterday I said I think AV is likely back. After the presser yesterday, I downgrade his chances to return to probably 40/60 against. But yesteday’s non-firing says to me they will not want to fire him unless a legit option is out there to replace him.

    8). Love the move with Brendan the Bust (see i told you!). :). Those who made the case yesterday that Kampfer should have been waived instead of Smith are totally missing the point. This moves sends shock waves through he locker room and indeed to any FA planning to sign here—take our money and fail to prepare, and there will be consequences. You embarrass us…we will embarrass you. Hopefully he learns a valuable lesson and will come back next season ready to prove everyone wrong.

    9) Correct…..I can’t believe there are people that can’t comprehend this. Hank is not leaving. No way, no chance. It would be a lose-lose situation for him to move on. Even in a rebuild, you still need someone worth coming out to watch. That’s why the Rangers traded for Jagr back in 2004.

    As a sidebar note, I would have no issue at all signing Kovalchuk, re-signing Grabner or Nash or any other certain that makes sense. You can’t do a rebuild solely with young players. You need some veterans to help pave the way.

    • Generally well though out Eddie, but a few quibbles.

      “I would absolutely look to deal our overrated “elite beasts” Miller, Hayes and Kreider”. Overrated by who? It is natural for Ranger fans to overrate their players and you have harped on this for years. The shrewd deal maker sends a guy who is overrated by the Ottawa GM to Ottawa because he gets more than fair value in return. But there is no premium for dealing a player overrated by 80% of the BSB community. Do you have any evidence that any of these players – or for that matter any others – is overrated by some potential trading partners?

      Of course, I agree with you that trading one of these for a fair price is reasonable – and I support your criticism of those who will insist that we did not get enough for our elite beast.

      “Indeed, other than Hank, Chytil and Shesterkin, I would make every single player available for a substantial return.” A few others with NTCs of course. In principle I agree, but I hope your list is too short. I suspect (and very much hope) that there are 2-5 sleepers that the organization believes in and absolutely knows that they won’t get a fair return for because the rest of hockey hasn’t caught on yet — and no, I have no idea who these players actually are. [And I suspect all organizations have such a list.]

      “Just because the guy at the top does not have an advanced degree doesnt mean he doesnt have, working under him, a team of MIT geniuses crunching numbers.” Funny thing about that. Just because you have people telling you stuff doesn’t mean you have to listen. And many executives just don’t. Seriously, how does Theo Epstein win the World Series with two different teams by using numbers when everyone has those numbers. Because he believed in them and knew what to do with them.

      On AV and everything. This whole reconfiguring of objectives is not a priori a good thing. It is only really good if done correctly. Gorton must decide whether or not to keep AV and sadly, there is no guarantee that he will make the correct choice. [Note: nor is there a guarantee that you or I or anyone else would choose correctly in his shoes.]

      • Ray-

        There is absolutely nothing that you wrote here that I can disagree with.

        On the Elite Beasts, I just like to tweak my buddy Rich and a few others who over the years talk about our “Triplets” like they are Crosby, Malkin and Ovechkin. :). I think my overarching point here re: the “Beasts” as well as the rest of the possible trade candidates is that pretty much everyone should be in play. You are right about all players with NMCs…but at this point other than Hank and Staal, anyone else could be moved I think.

        Your point about execs being willing to listen is fair. But I would say this. If organizations are hiring guys and paying them big bucks to present data, I suspect most execs will strongly consider their analysis. Otherwise why have them? My point is that numbers crunchers don’t necessarily have the broader perspective beyond just the numbers. The guy calling the shots should have the right to reject the information if other factors are in play. Hockey, unlike baseball, has way to many gray areas to simply be a slave to numbers.

        Along those lines, didn’t Smith have pretty good underlying numbers this year? Yet the eye test told a very different story. If true, yet another example where the numbers don’t tell the full tale.

        On AV…..can’t disagree. Which is why I don’t think his firing is a given. IMO, the Rangers will not make a move for the sake of making a move. If that were the goal, he’d be gone by now. If they see a chance to upgrade, then yes, he will be gone.

    • E3

      If the assets that come back are more longer range prospects which suggests this will be a long rebuild, I doubt management would conclude AV is the right guy for that…

      What, do I detect a chink in the armor????

      • Walt-

        The armor is definitely showing some chinks right now. 🙂

        Seriously though, I’ve never said AV MUST be back. Every coach has a shelf life. It may well be that his time has come. My issue is simply I don’t buy into certain over the top narratives that says this guy is some “train wreck” coach that if only we would replace him with pretty much anyone, things would certainly get better. I dont think there’s an NHL exec anywhere that sees the situation that way. And as I said, if Gorton and Sather saw it that way, he would have been shown the door yesterday, much like McAdoo was shown the door at the Meadowlands.

        I’ll say again, I’m all in favor of upgrading any and every position on the squad. Players, coaches, execs, hot dog vendors, etc. If a better option becomes available, I will be the first to say “Thanks AV, but don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” 🙂

        Bill Parcells said it best….”You are what your record says you are”. AV’s record as Rangers coach has been very, very good. That’s fact. Whether he’s the right guy moving forward is more than a fair question.

  • Coaching : Someone on here should really break down what a coach does.
    Coaches in my little knowledge of them… just put systems into play and since there is very little deviation from what is commonly acceptable as far as systems, it really doesn’t matter who you put behind the bench as far as the head huncho goes. With one exception…Rookie teams. Young players looking to break into the league will by default be much more willing to accommodate a higher up then someone who is making 4 million a year guaranteed. And it works the other way also.. someone who has coached winning teams might not want to coach a rookie team.

    When there is a team of veterans and a couple rookies mixed in…it makes sense to have a hands off coach. Whether you like AV or not his approach works very well with vets. Seems teams with vets always respond well to him and his system is very effective with the right talent. But he has seen what happens when the team he is coaching is on the decline and realizes it is time to jump ship. Was it AV who destroyed the Canucks? Torts certainly didn’t do any better after him. And look at what he has done with the Jackets since his arrival there. So you draw your own conclusion.

    Whether you want to admit or not AV is a pretty damn good coach for this league. He seems to get results. (please don’t say he has not won a cup cause I will retort where is the cup with Hanks name on it prior to AV or for that matter where is the Sedins’ cup without AV for 4 years now?) If they trash this team for picks then he must go. He is not the guy for the job. He is not a in your face leader. Messier in that scenario would be a option. But if guys like Nash, Zuc, and the likes come along for the rebuild it will be hard to win over a room. And Messier will fail. Really anyone will fail.

    Advanced stats are way above my mental capacity. I just don’t care enough to devote time to them. Much more important things in my life to focus on…like getting under people’s skin on here! lol

    Seriously stats are great indications for success or failure, but that is all I think they are …Indicators. I never took statistics but if statistics really mattered I would be dead by now. So many things in my life that I have done have had very low statistical success rates/survivability. Yet I am still here typing to you. And one other thing I have noticed about stats is correlation between stats and the item in question can always be misconstrued. Matter of fact there is a whole subreddit to this factor. So it is all garbage to me.

    On that point just look at the product we are all seeing on the ice. Statistically Hank is garbage and no one would even consider his season a success, yet everyone on here thinks he is having a great season without a doubt in his/her minds. Now there might be stats out there that state the truth about this but I have yet to have them presented to me anywhere. Generally what I see on ice is what statistics say.

    Plus how reliable are stats? Couple years ago and Michletti or Emerick were saying how unreliable the checking stats and blocked shots stats were. Cause the official score keeper was just adding checks out there that never really happened. It is a very subjective thing in this league. It is not held to the same standard of baseball. Til that standard of statistics keeping is raised everything will always be questionable.

    Leadership is essential to winning. If the team doesn’t have it they will always fail and like all organizations and companies and small businesses…The effort and ethics of a the people involved all get their guidance by the person at the very top. And in the Ranger’s case …well friends we are not doing so well! Good luck to those of you hoping for 1 more cup in your lifetime. I personally doubt it will come til Dolan dies or sells this team. So I am hopeful for one more in my lifetime cause I am much younger then Dolan, but just like Jerry Jones and his cowboys this franchise has no real shot. I just hope for a competitive team that does not blantly dog it like this team has done.

  • Honestly, if you simply judge. goaltender by save percentage, an old traditional stat, Lundqvist is 12th out of 28 tenders who have played 30+ games and 16th out of 38 who have played 20+ games. That isn’t great, but it is above average and hardly qualifies as garbage. His number there is better than Dubnyk, Holtby, Schneider, Murray, Jones.

    People here overrate him. He is clearly not the savior as the Rangers are not being saved, but he is still quite good. Unfortunately people here often see only two grades – A+ and F – and want to assign those two to everybody. Hank has had too many bad games to be having an A+ season, but it is at least a B+.

  • Now take the last 30 days and here are his basic stats :
    2- 7,

    with a 3.73 GAA,

    and Svpct of .892.

    Every goaltender with a similar shot load in this time frame which I will say is 200 plus is at least 15% points better. Just so I am crystal Clear …Hank has 264 saves in this time frame and that is what I am referencing when I say shot load.

    .906 is the worst next save percentage. The only one who is just as bad if not worse then hank is Price at .890 and he has a more dysfunctional team in front of him. Just so you understand there is 21 other goaltenders within this statistical analysis. The 2 worst are hank and price. That .906 is holtby.

    The high in wins is Rask with 8, Mzarek is the best GAA at 1.30 and 2 shutouts to boot.

    So only Price is worse, and Hank right there next to him. If those 2 weren’t who they are…… they would be out of a job! So his stats are garbage but we are all aware of what exactly is going on in front of him. And his past record is keeping him from the bench or minors.

    If you have read anything I have ever written about Hank I feel is a good goalie with a great consistency/compete level. That is highly overpaid and overrated. Never once have I stated he is garbage. He might have a garbage game but I realize every goalie has a blown tire.

  • Horribly misguided article! Rangers are only 3 points out of a playoff spot, despite critical injuries to Krieder, Shattenkirk, Staal, etc., and need to wait to end of season before tearing it down (if they don’t win a Cup). Here is the short term plan: 1) keep Nash because you can’t get much for him that will be useful this year or next; 2) keep Henrik forever, but add a better backup next year (maybe Igor, or Flyers backup Alex Lyon); 3) trade Holden, and replace him with Pionk/Gilmour for rest of this season; 4) try to reacquire Brassard; 5) keep McDonough and Zucc; 6) keep Letieri in NHL, and see how he does as a sniper; and 7) tell AV, Gorton and Slats they’re all gone if Rangers don’t make the playoffs and make a run once they get there. P. S., analytics don’t work in hockey (or in most team sports outside of baseball, and maybe basketball)–look what they did for the Cleveland Browns the last two years.

  • I notice you catching some grief so I am commenting for the first time ONLY to compliment the high quality of this article (along with your other pieces) I thought it was compelling and gave me some stuff to think about. Not sure where all the rage is coming from but apparently you hit the nail on the head with the “Chicken Little” Lundqvist fans 🙂

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