Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lessons Can Be Learned

The nonsense that benching a star player will not work is just that nonsense. We start with that line because in our beliefs that if one really truly wanted to send a message then Scott Gomez would spend tomorrow night in the press box rather than playing against the New Jersey Devil his former team.

Yes sit Gomez and send the message to the entire roster that nobody is bigger than the uniform that they have the privilege to wear. Let Gomez suffer the embarrassment of the entire hockey world knowing that he was a healthy scratch.

We believe in using healthy scratches as a way of demanding accountability from players, as a way of letting the entire team know that there is a price to pay and to hopefully light a fire under that player to get his best effort out of him.

We see it still being used in the WHL all the time and we have seen it work 80% of the time in getting players to play better. We watched as Regina scratched Colten Teubert (he was one of the gold medal winners in the WJC) and Teubert got the message.

Then there was Tysen Dowzak who got the trip to the press box on Jan 17th and deserved it. Both his play as well as the Rocket team had been a struggle for a bit so the Rocket coaching staff to quote Rocket announcer Regan Bartel:

"A gutsy move by the coaching staff to sit overage defenseman Tysen Dowzak Saturday night. After Friday night's 5-2 loss, the coaching staff thought it would be best to sit the big defenseman for his sluggish play. While Dowzak may be one of the oldest players on the team, that shouldn't let him off the hook for sub par play. If you don't preform, you sit in the stands and watch. Let that be an example to other veterans on this team that may believe they are untouchable, yet will feel as disappointed as Dowzak did Saturday night by watching the game from the bleachers."

Since the benching the Rocket have gone 7-1-1-1 and Dowzak's own play has improved. If anyone has any doubts about whether the message got though then we repeat: 7-1-1-1 since Dowzak sat in the press box.

It may have been embarrassing for Dowzak but it just might have been his most important contribution to the Rocket cause this season.

On Sunday, Dowzak was part of the penalty kill unit that forced the Spokane Chiefs into a mistake that led to the Rocket's scoring a shorthanded goal and then a 2-1 win for the Rocket's 4th straight win as they get ready for a big game on Friday at home against the Vancouver Giants.

Let us face it, Renney has tried being the nice guy, he has been loyal to his players and they have not shown the same loyalty to their coach. Renney tried to gas them and got an even worse effort out of the team.

IF Renney's job is safe for now then why not send Gomez to the press box for a game. We pick Gomez because of how big a message it would be. Sending someone to Hartford does no good because they would be taking up space needed for a prospect.

No bigger message could possibly be sent than sitting Gomez against the Devils in Jersey. We know it is a pipedream but given that the Rangers are running out of options then what is there to lose?


As for the rest of the Ranger prospects, Sunday's efforts can be best described as "Rangerish" at so-so.

Michael Del Zotto (2008 1st) and his London Knights clearly missed John Tavares but also have not recovered from blowing a 3rd period lead as they lost their 3rd straight game 5-2 to the Owen Sound Attack. Del Zotto had an assist but was also a -1 for his efforts.

Then there was Chris Doyle (2008 5th) and his Prince Edward Island Rockets who did their imitation of the Rangers on Adam Graves Night as they lost 3-1 to the Rimouski Oceanic. The Rocket retired the jersey of Pierre-André Bureau prior to the game.

Doyle was a -3 for this game as the Rocket in the tradition of the Rangers went 0 for 6 on the power play.

Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) was the backup goalie for the second straight game as the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies lost to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 5-1. The starting goalie for the Huskies Mickael Audette saw his season record drop to 0-7.

(Dowzak courtesy of the Kelowna Rockets/Tim Swanky)

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