Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Rock has Left the Rangers

This was supposed to be moving day for us but the news that the New York Rangers decided not to renew the contract of Director of Player Personnel for Europe Christer Rockstrom. It is hard to decide what was harder to deal with that Rockstrom was let go or that most Ranger fans found out via the Edmonton Journal.

Please do not take that as a criticism of the Ranger beat reporters because as one of those who is on the Ranger media release list; there has not been any official word from the Rangers.

Steve Zipay at Newsday was the only one who confirmed it but still you would think the Rangers would have at least done a press release for a guy who gave them 21 years of service.

But if it is a true story then shame on the Rangers for mishandling how the fans found out. Rockstrom was with the Rangers since 1989 and at least deserved a public send off from a team he worked hard for.

Over the last couple of years there has been a debate about whether or not Rockstrom had lost his touch. Here is the thing which is we will never know which players the Rangers bypassed that Rockstrom urged them to draft.

Yes Rockstrom had his own share of bad picks but so does every scout (notice nobody even says the name of the scout who fought for the selection of Brendl, Montoya or Jessiman?) as it is the nature of the game to have more bad picks than good ones.
Rumors were also making the rounds that Rockstrom (hired by Neil Smith) did not always get along with Glen Sather. There are a ton of rumors as to why the Rangers for the most part stopped drafting Europeans the last couple of years.

It depends on who you want to believe as it could be not having a Player Transfer Agreement in place, the lack of a willingness for Europeans to come over to North America or the change in the Collective Bargaining Agreement which took away for a while the never ending hold on a team's rights to a European player.

Now if the Rangers were to say that the CBA played a major role into why they went after Europeans who said they wanted to come over now and not those who would not show interest; then it is hard to blame them. Drafting and developing players is hard enough but when you also have to factor in whether someone can adapt to a totally different style of play and you only have 2 years to judge then you will not risk a pick.

As for who should replace Rockstrom; that answer is easy in our eyes as Anders Hedberg and here is why: After his active career, Hedberg has worked as an Assistant GM when Craig Patrick was the Ranger GM. Hedberg also held the same position with the Toronto Maple Leafs as well a was a scout for them; Hedberg was the Director of Player Personnel for 5 years with the Ottawa Senators.

Oh and Hedberg has also been the GM for the Swedish National Team so if Sather were to pass him over for the rumored Oiler crony Kent Nilsson then that would be a huge mistake. It would also toss gasoline on the rumors that Sather wanted his own guy in the spot instead of the best qualified.

In any event the Rangers should have handled this better than they did.

(Hagelin courtesy of the Michigan Wolverines)

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