Monday, January 7, 2008

So as the Rangers return from the West Coast with only one rescued point to show for their efforts everyone wants to offer their own ideas as to how to turn things around.

From what I saw unless the Rangers can find an emotional transplant then no trade, no roster mover or coaching change is really going to fix things any time soon.

Ranger fans keep getting told how frustrated the team is for allowing games that the team should have won slip away.

The players all say the same things but the one thing I noticed more than anything else was the lack of emotion either positive before the game or negative after losing.

Maybe what this team needed more than anything else is to have someone in that locker room screaming at the rest of the team behind closed doors. Just about every other place I have ever been when a team has struggled like that there was a screaming session after the game.

Please do not tell me that this kind of behavior is not in the Ranger personality because if you do then my response is then go buy some. See hockey at every level I have ever watched is about emotion.

Players feed off it unlike any other sport because you spend so much energy playing such a fast paced game.

It is about coming to the arena with a smile on your face, maybe a joke or 2 to help relax the team but in watching the Rangers show up, prep for the game and then warm up I never saw that.

Every other place I have ever been you could always count on hearing some laughter out of the locker room, maybe some screaming (in jest of course) or even some really bad singing.

When the Rangers showed up for the games there was no smiles just player straggling in as if they were showing up to work at a factory. Most teams that I have seen when they show up it is in groups not the one or two players that I witnessed.

I could be wrong since this was my first time with the Rangers as media but really to see such a business like atmosphere was nothing like the hockey I have witnessed.

Let me give an example. I attended 3 games on this trip, 2 Rangers and 1 University of Alberta Golden Bear but what set the games apart was one huge factor emotion, the Golden Bears had it and Rangers lacked it.

Sitting up in the press box you could see from body language and facial expressions that the Rangers were almost comatose at the start of these games.

The Golden Bear came to the arena with smiles, handshakes for everyone and lots of words of encouragement for each other. You heard joking and teasing during the pre-game stretching as the music blared from the locker room.

That is what I am used to seeing just about every night at every level I have checked out. Maybe the NHL has some kind of rule about having fun before a game but the tension level in the Ranger locker room was pin drop quiet.

It was as if the Rangers were expecting the worst to happen so they were afraid of each other. To walk into the locker rooms after the game and not see anyone yelling or screaming bothered me.

I see that happen just about every place else I go but walking into the Ranger locker room was like entering a company meeting.

The players, the coaches and even the media were acting like they were about to sit down to discuss the latest production figures. The voices were flat, with each word being measured. It was like that for both games and perhaps being the outsider that I am I could see it differently that those who always see nothing but the Rangers.

Maybe it was because they lost but you could read faces and the looks lacked any anger or frustration over losing. It was as if they got the result they expected. The voices were flat, the emotion totally absent as I am used to seeing a player throw a towel or ask not to talk to the media out of fear of saying the wrong thing.

I watched Avery, Hollweg (before the ejection), Orr and even Jagr turn and look to the refs as if they expected to be called for something if they initiated the contact. It really affected how they played because none of the mentioned players were their usual selves. They feared the refs and it showed.

So how do they fix things and fix them in a hurry? See that is the frustrating thing as everyone keeps saying how Jagr is not vocal or how Renney does not scream at the refs or what ever. sorry that is no longer an acceptable excuse.

Renney could take lessons on how to have a screaming session from a true professional in Ranger Assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld as a screaming session even if it means getting himself kicked out of the game just might do the trick.

The Rangers need to stare adversity smack in the face and attack it instead of fearing it which is what they appeared to me to be doing. They need someone to toss something in the locker room to shake themselves out of this coma and they need to do it while this team still has a pulse.

The Sunday Prospect Report

It was sad to see but Antoine Lafleur lasted all of 12:39 before getting yanked after giving up 3 goals on just 9 shots. However in the record books Lafleur escapes from getting a loss as his Prince Edward Island Rocket forced the game into a shootout before losing 5-4 to the Gatineau Olympiques.

In a game shown on ESPNU, Max Campbell had an assist but his Western Michigan Broncos lost 6-3 to Nebraska-Omaha.


Pucks on Broadway said...

Great read as usual. The Rangers need a much better effort moving into the second half of the season. I am the Blueshirt Bulletin Copy Editor as well as the blogger Pucks on Broadway. Love reading you stuff! I also linked you on my site.

Matty said...

Great reporting from the games even if I disagree with some of your points lol

Although I think that if the Rangers are going to be angry and yelling and such it won't be done in front of the media ... but that's my personal view on things ...

Other than that, even though he denies it, learning about what has been going on with Henrik's father does throw into focus why he's been so up and down since the end of November ...