Sunday, April 18, 2010

It is Not Just Money

With the rumors that the New York Rangers are about to sign Norwegian scoring sensation Mats Zuccarello Aasen running wild; what really bothers us is the mindset that Ranger fans and even the Ranger beat media have.

"It only costs money" is how many a fan and media are justifying this reported move but they are wrong it is more than just money that is involved in this move. The very first thing that is wrong here is the mindset about it being just about money.

It is "just money" has been the excuse used by the Rangers for why they have become dependent on free agents both in North America and now it seems Europe. What is sad is how many Ranger fans are OK with another free agent signing and are making the case as for why this is a good move.

Last season the buzz was about Ilkka Heikkinen who was supposed to be the good move
by the Rangers. Now after spending most of the season in Hartford; Heikkinen is already looking to return to Europe.

Heikkinen was supposed to be the best defensemen out of Finland, how he was going to help the Rangers but as we saw he just was not NHL material. But we will remind you that Ranger fans wanted this player too.

Once again a European is going to come over with a lot of hype about how much he is going to help the Rangers. Yes he played well in the Olympics for Norway and yes he led the Swedish Elite League in scoring but to see people thinking that here is the answer to take the pressure off Gaborik is a bit much.

Want to talk about setting a guy up for failure before he has even been officially announced as a member of the Rangers. But still it is more than just the more involved here as too many are looking at Hartford as a dumping ground for Ranger mistakes.

That is not what the Hartford Wolfpack are supposed to be used for; they are supposed to be where the Rangers try to develop players for the future. Great keep sending Ranger mistakes to Hartford which in turn takes up roster space from a player who should be there trying to develop.

It is more than "just money" as it is a contract that counts against the 50 contract limit so if the 5'7, 5'6 or whatever his size is does not make it then one more wasted contract. The Rangers already have a ton of them.

And please spare me that the Swedish Elite League is a very good league because it is still below the level of the NHL. And just because the Rangers are going to sign him should not be viewed as a sign that the Rangers are being pro-active in fixing their mistakes.

They do these kinds of moves every year as Mats Zuccarello-Aasen is just another in a list of European prayers that the Rangers have tried. So while people are just saying "It is just money", "it is worth the gamble as they can always send him to Hartford" and more; what is being forgotten is that the Rangers have been tossing money at their problems for more than a decade and look how well that has worked.

Maybe instead of tossing money all the time what they should be doing is developing their own players so they have a team chemistry rather than spending money and then crossing your fingers hoping it will work.

Computer issues kept us from reporting on the outcome of Game 2 of the Victoriaville Tigres/Saint John Sea Dogs but it did not make much of a difference for Chris Doyle and his Tigre. The Tigre lost Game 2 5-1 to fall behind in their series 2 games to none.

Chris Doyle had a secondary assist on the Tigre's only goal but the Tigre just can not solve the Sea Dog's defense. As in game 1, the Tigre took a first period lead but the lead did not make it out of the first period. 

It is as if scoring first just makes the Sea Dogs mad as they took control of the game in the 2nd and 3rd periods with 4 goals in those periods. We can not blame Doyle as he has been trying to do his job as he has been getting scoring chances.

But you are not going to win many games when you give the other team 11 power plays as the Tigre did on Saturday. The 11 power plays led to 3 Sea Dog goals and that right there was the game for the Tigre.

The series now heads to Victoriaville for game 3 on Tuesday. 

(Mats Zuccarello-Allen courtesy of Modo Hockey)


Nat Loh said...

so you oppose the mentality and not the player? or both?

Kirk said...

What if he is everything we all hope he is? Would you rather see him in a Maple Leaf Jersey. I understand that Hartford muyst be for player development, but then what that means is if these europeans are not ready maybe we need to have a relationship with a team in Sweden to develop these mistakes into players. Dolan's money is THE ONLY ASSET the man brings to the table and we have to use what we have.

Your column is the greatest, period!
Kirk, upstate NY

elroy said...

i disagree mildly re Heikenen:" as we saw he just was not NHL material"
he never got much of a chance, the coaching staff is equally indicted in his non-impact. When guys have some amount of skill, size and experience, some coaches find a way to help the player adapt and succeed. In my mind the worst performer on the Rangers all season was Torts, hands-down. He was never effective making the team or players better

Jess Rubenstein said...

Mainly the mentality because you can then sub the various names that the Rangers have brought over.
As for the player, I would feel better if he had spent time developing in North America so handling the 82 game schedule would not be a concern for his size.
Ryan Bourque who is basically his size was only able to play 41 regular season games because he was injured 3 different times. So in that case size is a concern.


Thanks and it would be nice if the Rangers had a relationship with a team or two in Europe.
Still the concern has to be that what you spend blindly today can come back to haunt you tomorrow.
If he wound up a Maple Leaf I would not be worried at all since they are even more messed up than the Rangers are.
Still the mindset is the danger of money come clear on July 1 as once you have spent money here then it becomes easier to spend it on July 1

Brian said...

I don't get the "taking up space in Hartford" argument. The kid is 22, younger than Locke, PAP, Byers, Heikininen and a bunch of other Wolfpackers.

Best case scenario the kid lives up to his contract (do we know what the terms supposedly are, btw?) and provides some production in the NHL.

Worst case, he can't cut it in the NHL, Dolan wastes a couple mil and some scrub AHLer loses his spot in Hartford.

Also, just because they are the same size means that this kid is gonna have the same injury problems as Bourque? Pint-sized Brian Gionta has played an average of 74 games a season over the last 6 years.

Jess Rubenstein said...

Elroy I do not disagree with you about the coaching staff failing to develop in this case.

But how many times do we have to go though this annual "Well it is only money" before the Rangers stop trying to take the easy way out?


But that is not how you develop players nor do you turn Hartford into a dumping ground for mistakes.

What I think people are also not realizing is that by using Hartford as a burial grounds then it means those who are actually there trying to be developed into NHL players are playing on a roster with dead weight on it.

Not to mention again you are missing the point; you can not keep just tossing money and hoping that your problems will be solved. You need to spend your money in a wise and productive manner.

And as for your remark about a scrub AHLer not having a spot; no what I am talking about is the 50 contract limit which means one more contract means one less chance for a real promising player.

The Rangers did not have contracts to offer to Luke Pither, Craig Cunningham and Luke Walker so Pither has a monster season and signs with the Flyers.

Cunningham and Walker both had rock solid seasons and are both back in the draft.

That is what just spending money prevents.

RIch said...

so instead of Heikkenin the Wolfpack would have used Jared Nightingale or Tysen Dowsack

both of which have no future in the NHL..

you make it seem like the Rangers are going to cut some promising prospect to make room for him but i'll take a risk on the guy who put up great numbers in the SEL then Ryan Hillier or Tomas Zaborsky

Chris said...


I thought both Walker and Cunningham are ineligible to sign with any club because they still have this draft to go through. They are not UFA's. Where as Pither who is one year older has already used his draft legibility and became an UFA after last years draft.


Jess Rubenstein said...


Try Tomas Kundratek who was a 2008 3rd rd pick.

There is your promising prospect who was cut to make room for Heikkinen. He had junior eligibility left so he paid.

So come July 1 then you have not problem signing more Wade Reddens, more Donald Brashears because the core fundamental issue here is not the player but the mindset that drives this constant and repeated use of free agents to try to look for the easy fixes.


The Rangers could have signed Cunningham and Walker to entry level contracts (NHL versions) is what I was told.

Chris said...


If Walker and Cunningham could have signed entry level contracts that means all 30 NHL clubs passed on them.

Always thought if a player has to go into the draft they are not UFA's.