Thoughts on the Vitali Kravtsov situation

Prized prospect is getting yo-yo'd in Russia

Vitali Kravtsov has been in the news a lot lately. After opting to return to the KHL this season, Kravtsov has had a rough go of it. He played 11 games with Chelyabinsk, putting up 2-1-3. That looks bad, but the team is downright atrocious (-30 goal differential, last place) and is run poorly. Think the KHL version’s of the Knicks. Kravtsov was then demoted to the VHL. There was a lot of overreacting on Sunday. I wanted to let this settle before addressing it.

1. People are using the VHL demotion and the return to the KHL to state that Kravtsov has attitude issues. I find that to be a load of crap, and if he were anything other than Russian no one would be concerned about attitude issues. The kid is 19, he’s struggling. Kids go through this, and using Chelyabinsk as your measuring stick for how an organization should be run is probably not the best idea.

2. Another piece is that folks are a little upset that Kravtsov “wants to be treated differently.” First things first, you have no proof of that. You’re using your Russian bias again. Second, absolutely the Rangers should be treating him differently, and I’m not alone in this thinking. Kravtsov shouldn’t expect it, but we should expect the Rangers to their top non-Kakko winger, their 9th overall pick, and their top non-NHL prospect differently. He’s a difference maker, a true top-six winger at a position where the Rangers are woefully thin.

3. Given how Chelyabinsk are handling Kravtsov, Jeff Gorton should 100% be looking to get Kravtsov back to the AHL. Hartford has been an overwhelmingly positive environment this season, a testament to both John Davidson’s and Chris Drury’s actions. Kravtsov will have fellow KHLers Yegor Rykov and Igor Shesterkin there as well to help him ease into the game. He would immediately get top line time to help him rebuild his confidence. Again, this worked for Filip Chytil. It’s working for Lias Andersson. Let him dominate the KHL and get that swagger back.

4. Just a quick note on #3 – the Rangers have Kravtsov’s rights and he’s being loaned to the KHL. They can, at any point, recall him. They won’t without his permission, obviously, but it’s worth noting.

5. The NY Post says that Gorton is in fact looking to bring him back. Gorton is on record saying they’ve spoken regularly with Kravtsov’s agent about his status and what he would like to do. Make no mistake, the Rangers want Kravtsov under their development plan and with their people. The Rangers get a lot of things wrong with lesser prospects, but they have yet to really screw up a true high-end prospect once he’s been established as legit (Dylan McIlrath notwithstanding). The jury is out with Kravtsov –and Lias Andersson, but there’s debate on how high-end he actually was, but I digress– but Jeff Gorton and company have earned some benefit of the doubt in this regard.

Edit: 6. Chelyabinsk doesn’t play for 10 days, which may have had a role in this.

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  • well i rip clark and co re the lias pick selling him as closer to nhl ready so im gonna do the same with kravtsov. they told us they are looking prospects with character -apparently not wahlstrom . 4 teams in 3 months done not really convince me of one’s “character” . (on a job resume that would be thrown out or you don’t even list it)

    furthermore the traktor coach says his conditioning needs to be better. maybe DQ and Co. do know a thing or two. Maybe a little more than those sifting through eliteprospects.

    • Not surprising to most anyone, Wahlstrom has done nothing without Jack Hughes on his line.

      The Rangers got it right on this one, but not on Gropp, who no longer has Barzal on his line.

      • i dont really care about the wahlstrom aspect as much (which scouting reports on pace issues seem to be accurate) in so much as getting the player we did pick to actually be what he was drafted to be.

        • I think this is a temporary issue with Krav, at least I hope so, and Krav will be the player that the Rangers think they drafted.

          The talent that Krav has is slightly less than Kakko. The Rangers just have to get it out of Krav, after he gets his head on straight.

          They’re teenagers from a foreign country. We, as fans, forget that.

          • I hope so my friend. The only thing this situation proves is how badly the NYR screwed with his head. Let’s hope he can find his way back.

            In terms of conditioning, didn’t he come to NYC early to train and pick up the language a bit? If that is true, then shame on the NYR for him not being in condition.

          • It’s hard to say what happened exactly, but it appears like there was contributory fault on both sides.

            There usually is in situations like this.

    • Yeah, whatever Agentsmith. Wake me up when you actually have something good to say about a European Ranger.

      Enjoy Greg McKegg, Brendan Smith, and Micheal Haley. Fans like you deserve players like this.

  • While you feel there is. “Russian bias”, I feel there is too much of the “snowflake mentality” that he is special and needs white glove treatment.

    If his effort is poor and his conditioning is bad then that tells you something about character. If he wants to be a professional, then show it! We continue to baby these kids when maybe tough love is the answer.

  • I’m going out on the ledge with this, so here goes.
    The kid came here early, on his own, to learn the language, and did a decent job of it. He came with family so that he could have some comfort from mother, and friendly surroundings. When he went to camp he was good, and to everyone’s surprise was cut at the end, and sent to the Pack. Every objective person said at the time, what gifted hands, and skill level he has, elite as some would call it. He also supports his family, hence he went back to the KHL to get paid more for that purpose. Management gave him that option, so he exercised it, who’s fault is that?

    Now how many of his critics have been away from home, at age 18 to be on their own? Anyone who wore the uniform understands this very well.
    How many of those same people support their family at that age? I suspect very few.
    How many had to do the above in a foreign country?
    How many of these critics have even been abroad?
    How many can speak a second language, let alone try to learn one at that ripe age just to blend in?

    We don’t know all the ins, and outs, but we do know he has skill, and should be brought back here ASAP so our coaching staff can work with him, and also help build his confidence up. I’m also a believer of tough love, earn your ice time, and work your ass off. The kid is just that, a kid, and I’ll give him a second chance to get that talent on our team in a heart beat!!!!!!!!!!

    • Agree 100% Walt, really well said. Life is complicated enough at age 19 without a new country/language/culture to deal with. Anyone who has kids know that their progress doesn’t always happen in a straight line in life, why should athletes be any different in this?

      • With three kids of our own, they have three distinct personalities, and I wouldn’t want it any other way!!!!!!!!!!

      • Thanks for some sanity on this Krav situation. I trust the management will do the right thing if they think it will pay off. Am I the only one that felt he was too slight. It is a shame they couldn’t keep him in Hartford and bulk him up a bit but it appears going home was more lucrative (guess). Life in Russia is bad enough without being broke. He is likely the only breadwinner.

    • Well said Walt. Too often comments are shot from the hip with little thought. I expect that we will see Kravstov back with the Rangers sooner rather than later. He’s got great hands, and will fill out and be a decent sized player too. There is a lot to like about him. Now they just need to get him ready for the NHL.

    • Walt
      All good points, but I fear there is more to this situation. He could be like any 19 y/o that we ship off to college. Maybe they are ready, maybe they are not, but all actions point to a bit of lack of intensity. Not sure that working in our AHL affiliate will be able to grow the kids heart and hunger. Something either you have it or you don’t.

      Does he deserve another chance, hell yea, but let’s also understand that he has some responsibility in this as well. He needs to show the coaches that he welcomes another chance and will work hard to be successful. IMO, he does need a bit of an attitude adjustment.

      • The issue I have with questioning Kravtsov’s heart is he didn’t look out of place beginning at age 16 (I think we sometimes forget how crazy that is) through age 18 in the second-best hockey league for grown men on the planet. He didn’t look out of place at the U20 World Juniors earlier this year, which may seem like ages ago because of all of the “drama” (or whatever you want to call it) since then. He didn’t look out of place in the NHL preseason – not for a 19 year-old anyway; just because he didn’t light it up to the tune of a PPG-plus rate doesn’t mean he wasn’t doing respectively or respectably well.

        Then, all of a sudden, he’s completely lost his hunger and his compete level? I can’t subscribe to that, personally. I wasn’t a huge fan of sending him to the AHL, because I saw no value provided to the future of this rebuilding team in Smith/Haley/McKegg chewing up NHL minutes (the latter two, especially, not while already carrying a willing pugilist/ruffian in Lemieux anyway). Smith has somewhat proven to actually be deserving of his role, Haley and McKegg remain wastes of a roster spot and any minutes they are given, meager as they may be. However, there is the argument along the lines that 15 minutes a night in the AHL is better than 7 minutes a night in the NHL for development, so fair enough on that – even if I don’t know as I support that principle personally in all cases when it comes high-end/high-skill prospects.

        So, either this kid completely lost his marbles over the AHL assignment…or this is a combination of a lot of moving parts that for whatever reason and in whatever ways have also simply worked against his confidence and stability from the on-ice standpoint – regardless of the off-ice effect – making his transition even harder than it would or should normally be. Regardless of how he has taken it, we are talking about a roughly three month span here, and the kid has been in four different leagues! That’s a bit asinine, and to say he has been “yo-yo’d” is more than fair. That’s not to say he handled his AHL assignment well from an attitude standpoint, mind you…but as Dave has outlined well, along with other Rangers blogs that have done the same…there is a lot more to this situation than just a kid who may be a bit too far into his feelings at the moment.

        I don’t know what the best route for Gorton is, but if I were him I might give it a week or so to see if he is traded to a KHL team that will actually be good for his development…and if not, get his butt back over here ASAP, whatever that takes. Might not even wait that week if I were him, frankly.

  • I think the whole situation has gotten overblown. Kravstov is just a kid, who needed to work on his game (He’s only 19). He got sent down to AHL, where he probably got spooked by the whole trading camp process, seeing how good NHL and even AHL players are, and realized where his game is at this point. Add in the lure of more $ back home and you can understand why he made that choice. Regardless, the Rangers need to protect their asset and bring him back to North America and help develop him as a person and player. Easily rectified. I don’t believe it’s anyone’s fault. People make bad decisions all the time. It’s how you bounce back from them that matters.

  • Meritocracy my #$%! Kid came to camp and showed he belong. Let’s assume he did all the right things coming into camp and during camp yet the message they gave him totally contradicted that. How else would you expect a 18yo north american, or even worse 18yo foreigner, to react? Kids today don’t get to be a 1st round draft pick purely because of natural born skill. They have busted their #$% for 10-14 years to get to this elite level. They have sacrificed friends, school, being a kid, and other sports and activities. It’s an 11 months a year job for a kid in any high level sports these days. Has Gorton done that? Has JD done that? Has Quinn done that? No, no, and maybe! It doesn’t mean let a kid get away with murder, but hell yes you better treat him like a 1st round pick! If Quinn wants every single one of his players to play with an edge he can go coach in the Western Hockey League. His style was in vogue 2 or 3 decades ago.

  • Too many times people confuse Russian stoicism to not caring.

    And sometimes you need to hit rock bottom before realizing what the actual opportunity is.

    If he Had tore it up in the khl then yeah he was mishandled. But that demotion told me more about the situation

    Vhl or Ahl. His choice. This should ultimately work to our advantage.

  • Not the first time that this occurs with a young player withingthe Rangers ORG….When we picked this player, we were all shocked that he was chosen…..then when the smoke cleared….many were optimistic that Kravstov was the right pick at the time…..Many of us were enamored with Wahlstrom, but was not chosen……I believe their is something else going on with this kid….

  • Let’s be HONEST here. None of us knows or understands what’s going on with the kid right now. Opinions on the matter should be tempered. Based on everything I heard before the draft and for 1+ year after, his behavior since camp seems odd. We heard that the kid was a “cerebral”, that he had a strong work ethic, etc. We watched him play out of position at the WJC, we saw the relationship with his WJC coach and teammates —- I mean the coach fist bumped him, never saw that in a game of any importance. He came here early in the summer to immerse himself in the culture/language, to work out with our S&C, etc. So whatever is going on NOW (or at least since getting sent down to Hartford) seems out of character of what we’ve both seen and heard about the kid. That leaves me with a lot of QUESTIONS, not answers.

    Take a deep breath and reserve judgment …

  • The kid will be fine…he went home to get paid…his Russian team is a mess and probably wanted to stay here but getting 1mm over 70k…I would do the same thing and everyone else would.

    Now, for what the Rangers need to do:

    Trade Kreider to Panthers for Serron Noel and a 2nd or
    Trade Kreider to Oilers for Rapheal Lavoie and a 1st
    Trade Kreider to Blues for Klim Kostin & 2nd
    Trade Kreider to Bruins for John Beecher & 2nd
    Fast for a 2nd.

    Maybe over wishful thinking on Kreider return…but that is what I would target.

  • How dare you , Dave!! Just because someone doesn’t have the same opinion of a situation as you do, the way you back up your argument is by labeling anyone who disagrees as a racist. I’m offended and would like an apology.

    1. I don’t think that he has attitude issues because he is Russian, I think he has an issue because his actions have dictated it.
    Let’s see the time line: He signs a contract with the Rangers but demands an out. OK fair enough, but that should’ve been a warning sign. The Rangers gave him that out, to placate him, probably thinking this kid would never go back to Russia. Then he comes to camp plays decently and everyone is screaming he should be on the team. However, JD, Gorton, Quinn et al decide this kid needs some seasoning at the AHL level, the kid probably wants to stay with the big club but he reports. Two games in he is benched by the AHL coach, don’t know why but he is benched. Then as soon as his out clause is available to use, the kid takes his puck and runs back to Russia, instead of staying and learning to play on the smaller NA ice surface. Which is essentially the reason he signed a contract in the first place, one could assume. Once back in Russia, again a couple of games in, he is sent down to the minors (moon).
    So, I see this all, the first to the last, and make the assumption that the kid has an attitude problem. It is certainly a fair assumption.
    That, my friend is not racism, I have no issue with Russian, nor any other, players. I welcome all who will play hard and try to earn the CUP. It just seems to me , the time line shows a clear issue with attitude.

    Once again, I’m offended!

    2. Once again, I must be racist if I believe he wants to be treated differently. Hogwash! I believe he wants to be treat differently because his actions point to that assumption, not because I have a “Russian bias”.
    I agree the organization should now try to get him back over here, and maybe, just maybe that demotion to the KHL minors was just the kick in the butt this kid needed to come back and get his career back on track. I sure hope so. Does that make me a racist? I guess not, we kinda agree here.

    3. I agree with you here, but assume you meant dominate the AHL to get swagger back.

    4. This just proves the Rangers are trying very hard to handle Kravs with kid gloves, they want the decision to come back to be his so that they can get on with developing him into the star they believe him to be.

    5. Just more proof the Rangers are on top of the situation and are looking to improve upon his chances to make the team eventually.

    Again, offended, but will to be holding my breath for your apology. Probably to the disdain of many poster here.

    Have a good day, Dave!

    • Nice comment Joe. I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that anyone who finds fault with a single thing you said should look in the mirror and attend to their own character issues.

    • Dave doesn’t use the word ‘racism’ in his posting at all and to compare attitudes toward Russian hockey players to racism is hyperbole. The anti-Russian ‘bias’ he speaks about has to do with an attitude that some have regarding the style of hockey and temperament of Russian hockey players. Swedish hockey players are generally regarded by many to usually be fundamentally sound 200 foot players because of their leagues’ focus on such things. That again isn’t racism it is an observation about how their players are trained. Many folks think that European hockey players aren’t physical enough because of the European game’s larger rinks and less grinding style, again having nothing to do with ‘racism’ Eeesh.

      • OMG, 100% agree Peter … you would think that after the likes of say a Darius Kasparaitus, Ovechkin, Vladimir Konstantinov, Federov, etc. that this myth about Russian players would have been put to rest … we could say the same for the Swedes, Finns, etc. I would suggest this is an illness of the time, but in reality “things” just haven’t changed all that much.

      • “Dave doesn’t use the word ‘racism’ in his posting at all”

        He doesn’t have to. He basically says that everyone who disagrees with him is basing their disagreement on a prejudice against Russian players. OK, so he is merely calling people prejudiced and not calling them racist. So what. In effect, it comes down to the same thing — and in this particular case, the issue at hand is character, not playing style, so how players are trained is irrelevant.

        I personally don’t care where a player is from. If they are Rangers, I want them to be good. While some people may be biased, I find it hard to believe that I am not in the vast majority on this one. Yes, a racist might root against black or Russian players on another team but when they wear Ranger blue all is forgiven.

        The reason people disparage Kravtsov (if indeed some people are disparaging him) is because he quit (at some level). His nationality is irrelevant.

        There should be sympathy all around. Kravtsov’s woes came in response to a difficult situation that is hard for us to grasp. And for Ranger management, dealing with a problem case like this is also very tough.

        • No Ray, it doesn’t come down to the same thing. It was an inappropriate use of the word ‘racism’, so I pointed it out.

        • Bias is not racism, but racism is always a bias — would say the same for prejudice. Words have meaning, they should be utilized properly.

          • I simply do not understand this thread.

            ” I find that to be a load of crap, and if he were anything other than Russian no one would be concerned about attitude issues.”

            “You’re using your Russian bias again.”

            In what world are those lines not offensive?

    • Your post deserves absolutely no consideration past the word “racist” in your second sentence. Gross misuse of the term, to put it nicely. I have seen a lot of ridiculous comments on the internet about Rangers topics, of course, but you, sir, have mustered up a doozie, here. Take a lap. In fact, take several. Unbelievable.

    • To Ray and Salmerc thanks for understanding where I am coming from and having the gonads to post it, it’s appreciated. Peter and Tanto, 2 of my favs by the way, you’re wrong here, Tomaaato, Tomato. I hope you get that.

      discrimination, bigotry, bias, segregation, apartheid, unfairness, partiality, racialism, sectarianism, illiberality

      Still offended, Dave!

      • Joe, you can be biased or prejudiced about a lot of things — authors, TV shows, movies, flavors, looks, cars, foods, hockey systems, hockey drills, colors, etc., that doesn’t make you a racist. There are also many cognitive biases. A racist specifically has to do with another RACE. Last time I checked Russians and Euros are for the most part all white, just like the great majority of American and Canadian NHL players, no racism involved.

        We should always try to at least acknowledge that despite our best intentions we all harbor them to one extent or another.

    • The English language is tough, eh Joe? Ray? Russian is a nationality. The term you were looking for would be bigotry. Racism is a form of bigotry, but not all bigotry is racism. There’s ageism, homophobia, etc.

      You also further go into an argument that I call anyone who disagrees with me a racist. Again, English must be hard, because the word you’re looking for here is arrogant, not racist. If I think you’re a clown for disagreeing with an opinionated statement, then that makes me arrogant. Sure, I’ll own that one. I certainly have some arrogance, it’s what happens when I use the organ between my ears, and recognize that life is in the grey area, and not black-and-white.

      I was calling out others who hold a bigoted opinion of Russian players, not expressing one myself. If I were to say “all white players have attitude problems,” then that would be racist. When I say “your Russian bias is showing,” it is a call out of said bigotry.

      By taking offense to what I said, specifically by my calling out people who hold an antiquated view on Russian players, you outed yourself as one of these bigots. I never mentioned you by name, nor did I even really care what your viewpoints were or are. I was referring to conversations I saw on Twitter, which in and of itself is a cesspool. Believe it or not, your comments here don’t enter my mind. You are, quite honestly, not that important in the grand scheme of my life.

      I appreciate your continued support of the blog. However I would think twice about jumping to ignorant and uninformed conclusions. Lest we repeat this again down the road.

      • To be clear, I did not introduce the word racism to the conversation. The subject is clearly bigotry against a nationality and certainly there was never any doubt that you were calling out others and not expressing any personal bigotry. I merely echoed Joe as (except for the use of a highly charged word) the form of the bigotry seemed of little importance.

        What I objected to was your calling out of everyone who disagreed with you as a bigot. And even in this comment I have outed myself as a bigot. I am not without my biases in life, but I don’t give a crap where hockey players come from – hell I don’t even root for the US in the Olympics.

        As for arrogance, sorry. I am vastly more arrogant than you are. Philosophically I object to calling those who disagree with you bigots. I really don’t care that you sort of called me one. Arrogance does not malign others because they are simply not worth it.

        I read your blog because you are sincere, because it is informative, and because I like some of the commenters and their perspectives. I appreciate that it is hard for a person with strong opinions to produce so much copy without ever stepping over the line.

  • A few random thoughts. First, Kravtsov is talented. Is he as talented as Sean Day? probably not. Talent alone is not enough – which is why I wouldn’t touch Puljujarvi with a ten foot pole. Don’t get me wrong. I think the Ranger organization should be high on Vitali – and even struggle with Day for that matter, but what is needed is a mixture of optimism, effort, and realism. You want Kravtsov as a top six winger; but you can’t just pencil him in.

    Does Kravtsov have attitude issues? Well, it’s just wording really. The kid clearly has mental issues of some kind (and attitude issues actually sounds nicer. Presumably the cause is one or more of culture shock, disappointment, resentment at his treatment. If it is either of the first two, it is likely curable (though one never knows). I do think his supporters are part of the problem since they painted him as a star as opposed to someone with the talent to become one. [Panarin was not all that great at Vitali’s age.]. Whether he was crushed that he did not make the team legitimately or crushed that he was mistreated, those who wanted to guarantee him a slot contributed to the delusion and hence rude awakening.

    As for whether you treat him differently, I think the goal of the organization should be to treat every single player differently and still convince them that they are being treated fairly. Unfortunately using a player who sulks on the ice poisons the organization and so the Rangers cannot have that. But short of that, patience in the face of his mental crisis is important.

      • It’s actually a step backwards. Mental issues literally means a problem with how one is thinking. Yes, under some circumstances (not here), it could refer to schizophrenia. Under other circumstances, it could refer to lack of confidence. It could refer to an attitude problem. It could refer to many things.

        So you simply choose to read my comment in a way that I never intended it and then ridicule. Congratulations.

        From the information we have, it is extremely likely that Kravtsov either has a bad attitude or he is depressed. If it is depression, it may be fairly minor or quite serious. Diagnosing the problem with the information we have is not really possible, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that there is a problem and that problem is very likely mental, not physical.

        • Intent does equal impact. That’s, like, rule number 1-A of communication. Nobody is perfect, but you should probably choose your terms more carefully if you don’t want to be ridiculed. Applauding JoeS.’s ludicrous comment then adding some gas of your own is not a good look, my dude.

          • The overarching point here though is that Kravtsov supporters don’t like any language at all. There is a problem with his approach to playing hockey. This whole thing started with the criticism of “attitude issues”. OK, so you can’t say attitude issues. And indeed we don’t know that it is attitude. It could be depression, lack of confidence, who knows what. But it is something. That something is negative in nature. And frankly words that describe things that are negative in nature tend to be negative.

        • Seriously dude – mental issues??? So if Kravs has a bad attitude and anything that has to do with attitude is related to every person mentally, then every person in the world who has a bad attitude has mental issues? Wow.

          And you Ray, for the second time in ten days, twist around what I am saying. Your post illustrated a lot of things to me Ray. One of which was how fun this blog used to be when you could disagree with somebody in a civil manner and the reply did not include a personal insult. It’s too bad really, but it is what our society has become. For some of you anyway.

          This blog has lost a lot of good and knowledgable folks because of the BS like this. I’m sure you regard me as neither good nor knowledgeable, but like the others before me I’ve had enough. The line has been crossed….again.

          It’s been mostly fun. Richter, Walt, Peter, Sitoo, Twilight Zone, Tanto, Egelstein who has been MIA – thanks for keeping the dialogue civil and upbeat.

          Ray and JoeS – Do me a favor and read Egelstein’s post above. Maybe you will learn something.

          Dave – thanks for having the blog. It is clear you are passionate about the Rangers and there is not a dam thing wrong with that. I know the blog is a labor of love and it is on your own time. Thank you for that. And thank you for the numerous times you’ve taken my words and created a useful piece around them. It’s nice to see someone develop my thoughts.

          So farewell kemosabe’s – I have to meet Fotiu down at the corner for a Patron and a beer.

          • I’ve gotten a bit worked up a few times in the past, perhaps a little out of line. It happens, like I said nobody is perfect and I am included in that. Been trying rather hard to be civil the past couple years on the hockey blogs, though! Mostly. 🙂

            I’m not a tequila guy, but have a beer for me! Cheers!

          • Swarty

            Don’t let idiots run you off my friend. I usually refer to them as Rainman, Three Stooges, Forrest Gump, they get the message but still continue with the idiotic games they play. Read this site, enjoy Dave’s labor of love, and don’t let the buffoons get under your skin!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ray, because you were not privy to Kravstov’s discussions and his family’s and his agent’s discussions with the Rangers management, your take on the kid’s supposed attitude problem, mental problem (?) is based on very little.

    • Hoo-boy. You and JoeS. competing to see who can dig a deeper hole? (JoeS. is winning by the way, with that abhorrently ridiculous tirade above, but valiant effort here nonetheless.)

      • Nice to see your comment, but I think you miss the mark here. Read my comment carefully and what exactly is wrong with it. I tend to use words denotatively more than connotatively, so I get in trouble sometimes when one reads too much into exact words. By mental issues, I mean an improper mental approach to the situation and not a disease. My comment is almost all vague speculation and not firm assessment.

        Secondly, Dave has a habit of creating straw men to get ahead of anyone who disagrees with him. In #1, he very explicitly says that no one would criticize Kravtsov’s attitude if he were not Russian. That is ridiculous. Rightly or wrongly, Kravtsov was sent to Hartford. From day one (or close to it), he made minimal effort for the Pack (for whatever reason). I don’t care what his nationality is – that is going to draw criticism from a lot of people.

        Defending Kravtsov is fine. He is just a kid and in a strange new world. One can try to look at it from his perspective. One can even assert that running him down is not in the best interest of the Rangers. However, to attack the motives of those who criticize him and declare that they are only based on prejudice is reprehensible.

        Dave did not say those who disagree are racist. He said they are blinded to reality by their prejudices. As I said, I live too much in denotation and not in connotation. In my world, those things are the same.

        • While it is a fair point to contend that it is hyperbole to say “no one” would have a problem with the situation if Kravtsov weren’t Russian, I feel I caught what Dave was going for there, personally. Seems most others did as well.

          It’s not hard to produce examples of non-Russian prospects who have been tagged as having attitude issues…ADA, obviously, for a close-to-home example. Josh Ho-Sang. However, those guys have rather extended histories of outbursts and clashing with coaches/teammates/officials, with some pretty tangible incidents to cite. Lil’ bit different than this situation at hand with Vitali. Lil’ bit different even than Puljujarvi as well, who may have a longer history of conflict with his team…but perhaps not necessarily as tangible public issues like ADA or Ho-Sang.

          I’m not even willing to declare yet that Vitali has an issue with his attitude, personally – that’s how small of a sample this situation really is in the big picture, IMO – let alone his overall mental status is a problem (whether or not you intend it, when you say things like “mental issues”, mental health is understandably going to be the audience consensus of what you are getting at). Far be it from me to declare either of those things, in this case. I’m not calling for your head, here…but I’m also not a big fan of anyone trying to paint the article as accusing anyone of racism, nor am I a big fan of saying someone has mental issues if they are not happy with a set of circumstances in their life.

          I frankly took more issue with your glowing support of JoeS.’s comment than your post that followed, for what that is worth…but, I can’t agree with those semantics in either case. Just don’t know why one would take this post of Dave’s in either of those directions.

          I see what you are trying to get at with denotation vs. connotation, but you’re speaking in a public forum here. Not everyone is going to take everything you say 100% deadpan flat-line literally. Random example here, “Home is where the heart is”…nobody is gonna take that to 100% literally mean “the structure in which the organ responsible for blood-flow physically exists”. Nor is that what it means. Certain combinations of words are commonly accepted for a connotative meaning than a denotative one, is what I’m getting at.

          In any case, it’s pretty commonly evident in my eyes that Russian NHL players can frequently be derided as being “enigmatic”, “hard to handle”, “not playing the game the right way”, etc., by many (surely not all, of course) North American fans especially. Some percentage of coaches/front office personnel probably feel the same way, even if they’d never in a million interviews say it in front of a hot mic. I frankly have never tried to coach a Russian hockey player, so can’t speak to any validity there. Point being, though, whether earned or not, it is absolutely a label often slapped on Russian hockey players. I don’t feel Dave was out of line for pointing this out, nor do I feel it is a straw man fallacy.

          • I do want to say something about mental issues. There is a huge inappropriate stigma here. The percentage of people who have problems at some point in their lifetime is rather staggering. I don’t remember the number, but it is something like 25% or 50%. While I should have been more careful, the fact is that people should not react so strongly to the term. That is a serious prejudice in itself. People are too quick to label those who are struggling with some issues as crazy whereas it is much more common that it is a difficult phase. And perhaps being linguistically carefully helps people maintain their prejudices as opposed to confronting them.

            Hypothetically, if Kravtsov has issues, we acknowledge them, and he overcomes them, it is a positive experience for all.

            FWIW, the situation here is obviously tricky. We have a kid who has likely always succeeded and he hit a bump in the road and lost his drive. My fear is that he is depressed to some extent and the depression was misdiagnosed as an attitude problem. That would be bad as the proper response to a bad attitude is a horrible response to depression.

          • I definitely hope it is not something more meaningful/impactful than he is just frustrated with his circumstances. Hockey has been his life, and I’d imagine what he looks forward to being his life for a long time, so these are big things to him. Who knows, he might even be at serious odds with his parents right now for pressuring him to go back; it might not even be the Rangers he is most upset about. Hard to say, really.

            Thanks for taking the time to clarify/expand – I feel understand where you are coming from now more, or better. I just really cringed hard to see “culture shock, disappointment, resentment at his treatment” as being identified with “mental issues”.

  • He’s 19. My life from 19 to 20 was dramatically different. All I know for sure about this kid is that Gorton needs to get him back here like yesterday.

  • Well written. I look forward to seeing VK reach his full potential with the Rangers, he’s got game!
    I wouldn’t put Dylan McIlrath on the Rangers. He’s a sub-par Dman with a penchant for making really poor decisions on the ice, period.
    Lias Anderson? I’m with you, I’m very hopeful but, you’re correct, nowhere near the potential of VK. It would have been good for Lias to have continued to play in Sweden, or something along those, for the sake of his development.

    • McIlrath also had some pretty significant injuries in the minors, and all. Rangers could not have predicted that of course. Made his skating worse, and he wasn’t a dynamo there to begin with. I wouldn’t have drafted him where the Rangers did personally, mind you – I couldn’t believe they didn’t take Fowler at the time. They did draft him in high-end/legit prospect territory, though.

      • Agreed, but Fowler was no prize either … basically he was another MDZ, defensively unsound. He wouldn’t have lasted more than a few years here before everyone would have run him out of town.

        • In hindsight, Tarasenko, of course, is who we’d be happiest with these days of those who were left on the board when the Rangers were up in that draft. I don’t hold it against the Rangers that they didn’t see in Tarasenko what St. Louis saw in him, though…half the league didn’t see it either. Heck, Tarasenko wasn’t even St. Louis’s first choice in that draft, haha!

          With that said, Fowler’s high end comparison in some scouting reports was Scott Niedermayer. Granted, that was the absolute high end, and it is always folly to expect those types of comparisons to come to fruition…but still, I was shocked the Rangers didn’t go for Fowler, knowing they probably were going to draft for position and take a D. MDZ was never quite touted to be that talented that I recall; I remember leading up to the draft some projected Fowler to go in the 3-5 range.

          It’s possible Fowler might have lost the fan base over time, but I don’t feel like Ducks fans hate him. I went to a few f games in Anaheim when I lived in LA (until 2017), no shortage of his jersey around. Maybe they’ve turned on him since, I dunno. It’s different when those PP QB types come up through the organization, I feel, though – whether that’s at all fair or not. Every team needs two defensemen to play that role, but fans just hate when their team has to pay for one for some reason.

          • Duck fans and Ranger fans, kind of different. I’m not suggesting Fowler was/is a bad player or anything, but if you peruse his stats over the years he’s just slightly better offensively and slightly worse defensively (worse +/- which I know isn’t perfect, but generally indicative given those were some damn good Duck teams). Plus MDZ suffered some from not having the stability and confidence of one team throughout his career.

            Clearly Tarasenko was the right pick … but like you said (and this goes for anyone drafted late 1st round or later), a lot of teams made a mistake on him by passing.

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