Monday, May 9, 2011

Pushing Yourself Out The Door

For those of you who are trashing the New York Rangers for trading the rights of Ethan Werek to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for the rights to Oscar Lindberg; think you might want to think again.

For all of you who say you never saw this coming then the signs were all there as Werek the Ranger's 2009 second round pick put himself in this position. If anyone thinks that the Rangers did not want to see Werek make it then you are making yet another mistake.

Nobody wants to see a prospect let alone a 2nd round pick fail to make the grade but at the same time the Rangers have decided this is what they want to see from their prospects or they will not sign you.

Werek is not a bad kid in fact quite the opposite as we respected the heck out of him for attending Queens University full time while playing for the Kingston Frontenacs. From an IQ standpoint, Werek was perhaps one of the smartest prospects we have ever met.

But the way we see things Werek's biggest mistake was trying too hard and once he made one mistake then his whole year became one mistake after another until the Rangers finally felt they had 2 choices; simply not sign him or try to get whatever they could for him.

From what we saw, Werek over trained trying to make the Rangers as soon as possible. From March  2010, Werek's mantra was to make the team that year and as noble a quest it was; it sounds like how he trained is what bit him in the rear end.

The whispers is that Werek came in "too heavy" which means he added too much muscle and was not in hockey shape. That set him back as well as a couple of issues with his knee.

Upon being returned to the Kingston Frontenacs, their season was one of under achievement with the entire team being called out for their play several times during the season. Werek was up and down as a player as when he was good he was very good like leading a great comeback win against the Oshawa Generals.

October was good (9-9-18 in 12 games), November was so-so (5-4-9 in 11) and it was December when it fell apart as Werek was injured against Saginaw on December 10th.

Now the question is when did Werek notify the Rangers? Our experience has taught us that the Rangers do everything to help out a prospect when he is injured and never once asked the prospect to pay for it.

Werek from all accounts was trying to avoid surgery which is understandable but when he was into mid-January before getting a wrist brace then it was too much. Out 46 days and 18 games in such a pivotal year does more harm than good.

Werek returned at the end of January with a 3 point game, February was 6-6-12 in 11 games but half the goals came in 1 game. But by then Werek's stock started in a free fall that sealed his fate

In a game against the Oshawa Generals on March 11th at the final buzzer for reasons unknown Werek left his feet and hit a General in the head with an elbow. It was a dirty play and it rightfully cost him a 5 game suspension. Werek missed the final 3 regular season game then the first 2 of the playoffs.

His Frontenacs eliminated in 5 games ended Werek's OHL season and even we expected Werek to be brought to Hartford on an ATO but it never happened. As time went on people were wondering why Werek was not in Hartford on that ATO or not in New York working out.

Nobody was talking about Werek anymore as a prospect which is a sure sign that he was in trouble. We have a gut feeling as to who Werek angered with the Rangers but since we cannot confirm it will not say so.

What we will say is that the Rangers were hoping to get big things out of Werek and his fall from favor disappointed several in the management. Werek has size as well as skill but what good are those when people do not believe in you?

To be honest up until Wednesday we had nothing to indicate that Werek was being shopped. But when the word was making the rounds that Roman Horak was going to be signed then we knew something was up.

And odds are that Werek never saw this coming either as the feeling we get is that up until the weekend Werek was still thinking he was going to sign with the Rangers. As bad as we hate to see Werek not be signed by the Rangers at the same time; maybe this is exactly what he needs in order to understand that hockey has to be a year round occupation.

Odds are that Werek will get just one real chance to sign with the Coyotes and we urge him to take it as he does not want to go back into the NHL draft. Almost 95% of those who re-enter the draft wind up being taken until a lower round.

We wish him good luck but at the same time know that Ethan Werek is the reason why Ethan Werek is not going to wear a New York Ranger uniform.

As for Oscar Lindberg, the first question that has to be asked is why the Coyotes gave up on a player drafted in the 2nd round 10 months after drafting him? We doubt his contract in Europe was a factor but odds are his representatives simply told the folks in Phoenix that he was not interested in signing with them given their lack of stability.

The bigger issue is which team got the better end of the deal? Talent wise the Coyotes did without question but the Rangers have made it clear that character is just as important as talent.


It was one of those good news bad news bad new days for the only two prospects seeing action on Sunday. Scott Stajcer was dressed for his Owen Sound Attack for Game 4 and that was the good news.

The bad news for Stajcer is that his Owen Sound Attack defeated the Mississauga St Michaels Majors 2-1 in overtime to even their OHL Finals series at 2-2. It is bad new because the 2 wins mean Stajcer is going to be stuck as a back up until either Michael Zador falters or gets injured for Stajcer to get another chance.

The bad news is also for Casey Cizikas of the Majors because he was scoreless and now for the first time this season people are not looking at the Majors as invincible. Game 5 on Tuesday is going to be a dandy as if the Attack can find a way to get a 2nd win on the Major's ice then we just do not see the Majors winning a game 6.

(Ethan Werek courtesy of the Kingston Frontenacs)

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