Thursday, July 3, 2008

Now I Do Wonder

One of the posters (Tommy G to be exact) over at the Blueshirt Bulletin asked a really good question: "did Dolans lawsuit against the NHL have anything to do with Jagr's exit?". I responded that "no it did not" because Sather has a free rein when it comes to running the Rangers.

Then it dawned on me that maybe Sather's free rein is the biggest of all problems with the Rangers these days. Because the Dolans who have always said that they know nothing about how to run a NHL franchise so they defer to Sather's "expertise".

The question then becomes who oversees Sather so the Dolans know that it is time to make a change? After watching the moves that the Rangers have made this week one has to wonder about the direction of the franchise as when you take all of the moves and put them together then you have to ask what the master plan truly is.

It is as if for every forward thinking move that the Rangers took steps backwards with the next moves or in some cases non-moves. It is not about judging the players taken but rather judging whether or not the lessons of previous seasons were lost.

Wade Redden is a move I can understand as it is a move that addresses improving the defense even if I think the Rangers overpaid on the overall contract because of the foolish contracts that others gave out. Redden was a need and a drastic improvement over Malik, Backman and despite his heart Strudwick (who I have to believe gets another year because he will work for next to nothing).

However then the Rangers resigned Rozsival to a 4 year deal worth 20 million which was a very bad deal once Redden was signed. Paying 5 million a season for a player to be the "3" on your defense when his defense was second rate is a bad move. Give Rozsival 3 million for 3 years would have been the smarter move but 20 million was simply too much.

Then we watched as the Rangers sent us the message that Sean Avery was not going to be resigned by first signing Aaron Voros a left winger who was more suited to try to replace Colton Orr than Sean Avery. Sorry but Voros in our eyes was a waste of a signing because if you wanted toughness then Orr is tougher (and a better defender too).

People are acting like this is a good move but truth be told it is not as all it is in my eyes is a waste of time and effort. Besides PIMs what will Voros bring to the Rangers? Answer not much because did anyone look to see when Voros scored his last goal of the season (he only had 7) and if they did they would have seen it was Dec 26th (34 games with just 1 point period).

Compounding the head scratching is on the day the Rangers also add Patrick Rissmiller from the Sharks. Rissmiller also is a left wing, also has size but despite having a ton of hits, really is not an actual banger. It does not take much to be credited with a hit in today's NHL but what does stand out is that at least Voros will drop the gloves; a trait Rissmiller seems to avoid at all costs.

Like Voros I am left trying to figure out why they traded for Rissmiller as if he is going to be a 4th liner then shame on the Rangers because 4th liners are players you should be able to develop from within. You want to sign a George Laraque then that one I can see because he is in fact one of the top NHL heavyweights

Signing both Voros and Rissmiller leaves me scratching my head especially when while one for depth is understandable but both again makes me ask why? Even worse is as so many Ranger fans have already noticed the glut of forwards on the roster.

But wait the Rangers then traded for Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fristche from Columbus which to act like Yogi Berra is half good move and 3/4ths gamble. Since I wrote about this deal yesterday I am not going to waste space by rehashing it so I will move on to Thursday's moves which I am sorry to say I totally think were steps backwards.

Sather said he did not want to wait for Jagr anymore so that was his logic behind giving Markus Naslund a 2 year deal for a reported 9 million. Are you kidding me as this move is more a return to the cash and spend days of Ranger's past.

Yes Jagr had a down year but at the end of the season his game was coming together something that nobody can say for Naslund who's game clearly has been on the decline for the last 2 seasons. At least with Jagr they could have waited to see if the NHLPA would have agreed to extend the CBA for another season to see if they could offer him an incentive filled contract that would have carried over to 2009.

Naslund does not give the Rangers that luxury and Ranger fans will see firsthand that Naslund of today is nothing like the one most Ranger fans had heard about (given this foolish schedule few Ranger fans got to see him on action). All of a sudden Scott Gomez is going to fix everyone's career first it was Zherdev and now Naslund.

What happened to Gomez and Drury together which was the rumor prior to June 1? How about what happens now with Dubinsky, Dawes, Callahan, Prucha, Korpikoski and Greg Moore? Where does the development of the kids fit in with all these signings?

My answer is that their development may get damaged and/or retarded as you do not sign Naslund and you do not trade for Zherdev to have them become secondary role players. I may not like what a lot of those out of the woodwork posters are saying on the message boards but at the same time I too have to say I share a lot of their concerns.

Ah but I can not leave out the signing of the new Marik Malik in Dmitri Kalinin from the Sabres. By new Malik I mean a new boo bird target as when Kalinin is not on the injured reserve (he has only play an average of 66 games a season over his 7 full years in the NHL) then Kalinin has people questioning his heart, his work ethic, his productivity and just about everything else.

Yes the Rangers had a hole to fill on the blueline but there were a whole lot more options that would much better than this one. Seeing the press release on Kalinin brought back the bad memories of so many of the Sather defensive moves before the lockout.

So again the question begs to be asked who is going to judge whether or not Glen Sather is doing a good job with these moves? If the Rangers do not show progress, if the moves backfire then while Tom Renney would be the first head to roll; when would Sather's become under the microscope?

The coach can be fired when the team struggles but what if the coach has his hands tied by the moves made by the GM? I really was believing that Sather was more of a figurehead GM these days but the moves that have been made said I am wrong.

Either that or Sather decided that another 2nd round exit required his services to be more active once again. In that case I am very very nervous as at what price will the Rangers and Sather pay to advance past the 2nd round?

I do not want to be a gloom and doom type of thinker but it is hard to have faith when the moves are eroding that faith in the staff. These moves do not inspire confidence in the franchise at all especially when there is no checks and balances to put an end to any freefall.

If anything I have to admit that my faith in the progress that this franchise has made over the last 3 years has been very much shaken over the last few days.

Time will tell but right now the clock is not saying a whole lot of good


Dov said...

I have to step up to defend Sather, now that the dust has settled, and the departures of Jagr and Avery are done. What constrains Sather as well as all the other GMs is the salary cap. What you gain on the squares you are going to lose on the rounds. I think he did a great job in producing a competitive team. I don't think anyone else except maybe Tampa Bay got as much bang for the buck as Sather did this year.

If we had to lose Avery, Voros at least can add some sandpaper and he's big. He engages in proactive mayhem like Avery, he's not just a fist of last resort like Orr. Voros also has instant chemistry with the other Alaska products Gomez and Dubinsky who I'm sure will help him along. He's a guy too who was going to have his leg cut off a few years ago because of a big tumor. He's like someone who's come back from the dead. He'll give it all.

Zherdev is Jagr's replacement in terms of production and the bar is not set very high. Naslund replaces Straka. Ditto.

I was afraid too that Backman, Sather's horrible error, was going to turn into another Renney social worker Marcel Hossa project at the expense of the team and upcoming prospects. But Sather managed to dump him, which means his gray matter is kicking over.

I don't like a D without a crease clearer. Sather should have gone for Gill instead of Backman last year. But he's got lots of trading chips with with 19 forwards (counting Shanahan) and some prospects from Hartford. These guys like Rissmiller and Fritsche don't seem very promising, they neither score nor fight, but they are good spare parts.

It's a competitive team.

Jess Rubenstein said...


Just because Voros is from Alaska does not automatically mean chemistry.

I am no fan of Avery but I would not consider Voros as a replacement, he did next to nothing after Dec 26th

How is Zherdev Jagr's replacement in what way can you be sure Zherdez will be that player.

IF Naslund is Straka's replacement then you are very much acknowledging that Naslund has declined.

Define Competitive what is going to the goal for next season?

And I keep hearing people say the Rangers have all these trading chips but nobody has come close to suggesting how these chips can be used to improve the team.

Sorry Dov but that was not bang for buck but I have a serious concern that the fuse might not get lit.

The moves as a whole do not show a stronger team than last season just that a lot of money was spent.

shakman said...


Firstly, I want to thank you for the incredible job that you do in informing us ranger fans of all the prospects in the system.

I understand your head scratching, especially in view of the potential danger of retarding prospect development. Nevertheless, I think the blueshirts are moving in the right direction. The future to raising the cup for the rangers will be going thru the Penguins. We need to get bigger, faster and more agressive to accomplish such a feat.

I have faith in Sather and more importantly, Renney. Youth will be served if Lauri K, Artem A and/or Correy P can step up. If they show that they can contribute, the Rissmillers and Fritsches of the NHL can always be traded for draft choices. I expect to see Ryan H gone and perhaps even Betts (if Artem can step up).

It was time to move on from Jagr and Avery. Jagr and Avery could have stayed in NY if they took less money or in Jagr's case, a one year K, but they wanted their cake and wanted to eat it too. The committment to Naslund is 2 years. If he delivers, good deal. If not, we will have Cherapanov step up next year.

My only heart ache was overpaying for Roszival and Redden, but then again, they paid market.

Finally, I note that I appreciate your desire to see these prospects succeed in the NHL. There is no greater pride for a fan than to see a young player develop and succeed. I personally would like to see Prucha get his groove back. But, at the end of the day Sather and Renney run the team, are paid to do it, and have done a pretty good job in the last three years. Renney is the master of chemistry and he clearly discussed the way to go with Sather. We have to let them try and finish their vision. I hope they are succesful, because I would like to see Renney be the GM.

I for one will support their endeavors.

Thanks again for your great work.

pemoco said...

Technically, Sather answers to Steve Mills, who knows less aobut hockey than his boss Jim Dolan. Not encouraging, I know.

Agree with a most of what you write -- although I like the Zherdev deal a more than you do and see Voros as a replacement for Hollweg not Orr. But for the most part you are on the money, too much money and effort wasted in areas that didn't need addressing. Too many players signed for too much money with seemingly not a lot of thought put into how the pieces fit together.

btw, Naslund has acutally been in steady decline for 4 NHL seasons, not 2. It's Redden who has been in decline for two, and Rozsival is the one who has never been especially good ever.

But we will make the playoffs again and maybe even win a round, and that is the only criteria by which Mr. Mills will use in his assessment of the performance of Mr. Sather.

Matty said...

Well is Sather the one making the decisions on all these moves? I thought it was not just him but others as well within the team that make all these decisions and Sather is out there speaking to the press because the Dolans want a big name as the figure head of the organization ...

I hated losing Jags but from the interviews he gave today on TSN it seems to me that the only reason he didn't sign with with the Rangers was not because of the money but because he wanted a 2-3 yr deal and they were only willing to go for 1 yr ... he confirmed that OMSK is going to pay him $5 million per season, certainly something that we could've matched here ... he also said that with him being 36 yrs old and the CBA being what it was he understood why the Rangers only wanted him to do a 1 yr deal ...

So while I am fully aware of the role Sather and others in charge had in not bringing back Jagr and Avery and while I, like you, do not fully understand why Roszival needed to be signed at 5 million per after getting Redden ... I am just not ready to view these moves as a regression, as a sign that our team is going backwards instead of forward ... there will be plenty of time to do that next spring ....

james said...

with the trades and signings, it seems like it will be an interesting training camp. those who fail to make the grade will become trading chips, demoted to hartford or waived. Where is Hutchinson in all of this??