News struck last night that Vitali Kravtsov, the Blueshirts’ first round pick in 2018 and presumed top winger in Hartford, was a healthy scratch for the Wolf Pack’s second game of the season. Initially there was no reason why Kravtsov was scratched, and a lot of people jumped to conclusions.
The reactions were standard. Folks over reacting before understanding what could have happened, stating that the Rangers were doing the same old thing by scratching rookies. I even saw someone mention that he should go back to Russia. Suffice it to say, this was hyperbolic over reaction and completely not worth stressing over.
I had theorized that since the Pack were playing a back-to-back to start the season, something common in the AHL, that new head coach Kris Knoblauch could be simply resting Kravtsov to ease him into North American hockey. That though, was incorrect.
Kravtsov was actually benched in the second and third periods of the Pack’s season opener due to lack of effort. Development is the top priority in Hartford, and ensuring players give 100% each shift is part of development. You can’t win on talent alone.
This is part of the new environment that John Davidson and the Rangers want in Hartford. They want to ensure that the cesspool of negativity that was left unchecked for the better part of a decade doesn’t continue. Benching players, even highly touted rookies, is part of that process.
So for Kravtsov, it appears the message was sent. Give a full effort. This looks like it is a blip for the skilled winger. If it lingers, then it’s a problem. But one game, two days into the season? No cause for concern.