Vitali Kravtsov interview shows Rangers still have a lot of internal rebuilding to do

All news seems to be about Vitali Kravtsov lately, as one of the top Rangers’ prospects recently left the AHL to head back home to Russia. It wasn’t much of a surprise that he went home, but now there seems to be some dirty laundry being aired. The article is in Russian, but the translation brings about some interesting tidbits:

  • Kravtsov did not ask Artemi Panarin to try to get him a spot on the roster, as the kid believes in earning his role.
  • He was told that because he did not hit a pulse of 180 beats per minute during a drill that was designed to test effort, he was benched.
  • He was told by David Quinn that he had a few things to work on before getting ready for top-six minutes in the NHL. When pressed that the NHL now has a top-nine for scoring and a third line isn’t necessarily a checking line, he made a comment about Brendan Smith being on the third line and he must be outperforming him.

First things first, and this is important. There is a clear cultural difference between Americans and Russians, and the best way of summarizing it is in this thread:

The interview is candid, and Kravtsov –to Americans– comes off as brash and unappreciative. But as Kat here notes, there is a big cultural difference here.

More importantly, there are some important pieces to note here, and that specifically is with the apparent disconnect between the Rangers and Kravtsov. This was something I mentioned yesterday, but the fact that Brendan Smith was on the third line, even if it was short lived, resonated with Kravtsov. It’s tough to blame him either.

Imagine, for a second, you’re working in finance. A great role is there for you to take, and you’ve done everything you think you can do to land that role. But you’re told that you are just not what they are looking for. Not yet, at least. Then they go and hire some guy from IT to fill that role, something he’s never done before. How would that make you feel? That’s probably how Kravtsov feels right now. Add in the cultural differences, the distance from home, and the fact that Kravtsov is 19, and it’s tough to blame the kid for wanting to go home.

However this isn’t necessarily about Kravtsov. The issue is certainly manifesting itself in this situation, but it’s more about how the Rangers as an organization have already made one failure. It’s not a huge one, at least not yet, but it’s a failure nonetheless. They failed Kravtsov at the very beginning of his NHL career.

They failed to properly communicate to Kravtsov what they were looking for, and why they were sending him to the AHL. They failed to understand the cultural differences. They failed to tailor their approach to development to the individual instead of to the masses. The good thing is that this failure is easily fixed in due time.

This is what we hope to be a blip on the radar for the Rangers and Kravtsov. However this might be a larger blip for the Rangers and the beginning of the John Davidson tenure. JD has been touted as a guy who is a rebuild master. Let’s see how this situation is rectified.