Friday, June 10, 2011

How About Some Fingerpointing?

Sorry if your Friday edition of this place has some attitude to it but for New York Ranger fans it is rather overdue. It is way past the point of being polite as it is time to step up and accept some responsibility.

When Jesse Spector broke the news that Chris Drury was going to be bought out of his final year of his contract; the first reaction was to blame Glen Sather for giving Drury the contract by fans as well as media.

The world knows that this place never has been and odds are never will be a fan of Glen Sather's overall work as the New York Ranger's President and General Manager.

Maybe I am getting soft as I get older but you know what in reading all the finger pointing at Sather for signing Drury back in 2007; what is being forgotten is the role that the Ranger fans as well as their media played in Sather's decision to sign Drury in the first place.

Pretty sure several of you are cursing me out for doing some finger pointing of my own and I am very cool with it because I can say "it is not how much money you spend but how well you spend it."  I have always opposed using free agency as a means of addressing problems with the franchise or use as a means of stocking the roster.

It has been the Ranger's way of doing business since Neil Smith gave away not the prospects used to win the 1994 Stanley Cup but the ones used trying to get back to the Cup. Smith's biggest failure was once he emptied out the prospects that he failed to restock the pipeline.

Glen Sather did not start this way of doing business but he sure has kept using it even though the Rangers do not even have a trip out of the second round of the playoffs since 1997. Yes he deserves blame but he should not be standing up on the ledge by himself.

To me it is a bit of revisionist history that so many among the fans and media are forgetting how they were calling for Sather to sign Drury to begin with. The moment Chris Drury scored with 7.7 seconds left in regulation of Game 5, Ranger fans and media began the call for the Rangers to sign him.

So when July 1 2007 came along and Glen Sather announced that he had signed Chris Drury to a 5 year 36.25 million dollar contract along with Scott Gomez; it was hailed as a coup for Sather.

Glen Sather was given credit for on the first day of free agency signing the top 2 prizes of the free agent class. Everyone was happy at that point as few were worried about how much Gomez and Drury were going to make.

And nobody complained when the Rangers got payback on the New Jersey Devils in the the Sean Avery series. The Penguins through eliminated the Rangers in 5 games in the second round but no blame was placed on Drury (though many were unhappy with Jagr's play).

When Drury was named captain for the 2008-09 season after Jagr took his act to the KHL there was still no major complaints towards Drury but Gomez was very much falling out of favor. The Rangers blew a 3-1 lead in the playoffs to the Washington Capitals which in part led to Gomez being shipped off to Montreal in order to clear up cap space for Marian Gaborik to be signed.

2009-2010 was an embarrassment of a season as the Rangers lost on the season's final day to the Philadelphia Flyers in the shootout. It was also Drury's turn to become the symbol of overpaid contracts as he spent most of the season on the 4th line putting up a then career low point of 14-18-32.

Now fans were totally against Chris Drury not because he was a bad guy but because he was a 7.05 million dollar cap hit. Every possible reason to dislike Drury found it's way to the message boards and blogs of the Ranger media.

2010-2011 might as well never happened for Drury as he started the season with a busted finger, came back broke it again and then when it appeared he was going to head to the press box as a healthy scratch went down for good with a knee injury.

The calls for Drury's head got louder and louder especially since his salary is being viewed as taking up space which according to some fans and media needs to be used to sign yet another free agent Brad Richards.

Yet what is so very wrong here is not that Drury very much is staring at a buy out of his contract but the picture of how things went wrong. All over the media are you hearing about how terrible his contract was for Glen Sather to give him. (FYI while the Cap Hit is 7.05 million, actual salary is just 5 million)

Nobody said word one about Chris Drury's contract on July 1 2007 so to do so now is wrong. Too many just do not see how this horrible circle keeps repeating itself but only Chris Drury and Glen Sather get blamed.

And why was Chris Drury signed in the first place? The Rangers did not have a first line center. The Rangers did not have a first line center when they signed Bobby Holik.

The Rangers did not have a first line center when they traded for Eric Lindros and when you really want to kick someone then kick Dave Checketts for his "How long are we supposed to pay for the 1994 Cup?" remark when he pushed Mark Messier out the door after the 1997 season.

The Rangers tried Petr Nedved as a first line center and that did not work. Oh heck just say that since Messier was thrown away the Rangers have not had a first line center.

Trades and free agency have been a total and complete failure to address this franchise need. Yet here we are in 2011 and fans as well as the media want Glen Sather to once again make the same move AKA the Flavor of the Year starring in 2011 Brad Richards.

Sorry but it is time for Ranger fans and for the New York Ranger media to take some of the blame. Since Glen Sather has taken over as GM there has always been someone who the fans and media wanted him to sign or trade for as they were the ones who would be the solution for the first line center.

Oh this is not letting Glen Sather off the hook in any manner as he was very good at making bad moves without the fans or media help and yes he has been very good at signing the wrong people to contracts.

The list is very long and rather ulcer causing from Bobby Holik to Donald Brashear and Wade Redden. And that rightfully should be Glen Sather's legacy as nobody has done so little for a franchise in so long a period of time.

But here with Chris Drury, Sather should not be alone in taking the heat for this contract. Please join him, fans and media as you deserve it just as much as Sather does. If Sather grants the wishes of those fans wanting Brad Richards to be signed with the money "saved" by buying out Drury then they too will have kept up the legacy of trying to take the easy way out and buy something that you need to develop on your own.

And for those of you who are going to say that Brad Richards will do what Drury, Nedved, Lindros, Gomez, Nylander and the cast of thousands failed to do. Do not bet your house on that happening as there is another saying that has been forgotten.

You can not go out and purchase a working chemistry; you need to build it and allow it to grow. Go look at how Dubinsky, Callahan and Anisimov clicked last season and if you can not figure out then ask what all 3 had in common?

Yes they have all attended Prospect Camps, they have attended Traverse City and they all have come up via the Hartford Wolfpack.  All were Ranger draft picks and earned their way onto the team not on July 1 but via their play.

But sure go right ahead and sign Brad Richards because come post-season 2012, I am pretty sure Ranger fans and media will have a new name that Glen Sather needs to sign. And the cycle sadly it appears might not be broken until someone says let us draft and develop a first line center who is the same age as Kreider and the rest of the prospects.

That is OK though after all there is always another free agent to be signed right?

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It started out as a lark as the Rangers assigned Tysen Dozak to the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs of the Central Hockey League. I sent an email to the team asking to be put on their email press release list which they were happy to grant.

The more I played with their website the more I learned about them and it was a pretty good record for a lower level minor league team. In 14 years, the Mudbugs won 4 CHL league championships which is of course 4 more than the Rangers and Islanders combined have done in the same time.

What made it even more fun to follow the Mudbugs was all of the names that wound up playing for them that I knew from Ryan Munce who played for Charlotte when they were a Ranger farm team to Mitch Love who I got to know when he was on the Everett Silvertips and finally Nathan Moon who was Ethan Werek's teammate this season in Kingston.

The Mudbugs were professional with everything that they did as I got game recaps that were written as well as those in the NHL. If I needed an image I got it and even when I asked about someone who I knew they took care of me.

On May 28th, the Mudbugs won the 2011 CHL Championship with a 2-1 win over Colorado. I wish I have taken the time to watch the game on the web because it turned out that it will be the last game the Mudbugs will play.

I had gotten emails where the Mudbugs were flat out begging people to come buy season tickets for the 2011-2012 season. It was in it's own way so sad to watch as this very good franchise was dying by the day.

They said they needed 2500 season tickets sold to have a chance and they did not even come close as they only made to 1331. I could not believe that this winning franchise would be allowed to just die.

I was on Twitter when PuckDaddy broke the news and at first I did not believe him because at times PuckDaddy has a sense of humor that I do not get. He is a great guy but not my cup of tea but he was telling the truth.

The team announced at midnight eastern that the decision to cease operations had been made. It was a sad announcement which nobody wanted to make but the realities of the economy claimed another victim.

This was not the case of badly run franchise unlike the Atlanta Thrashers were as this was a "mom and pop" operation where everyone pitched in. It was not the greatest hockey but they gave their fans their money's worth.

I need to say thanks to Travis Hunnington who was the Director of Communications and Broadcasting. Really what he did was do the play by play, write up the media releases  and making sure bloggers who had a personal interest in some players got to keep up with them.

Anyone who knows of a team needing a Media Relations person could get themselves a very good one by hiring Travis. Only wish I had purchased that hat and shirt when I thought of it.

Sad that the money about to be spent on the Drury buyout if you took 2,062,500 out of it and used it to purchase 2500 adult season tickets there would be a Mudbug team next season.

Everyone loses here. 


(Chris Drury courtesy of the New York Rangers, "Mudbug" courtesy of the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs)

3 comments:

Joseph said...

Bravo! I am happy to see that somebody is being honest.

Leatherneck said...

Awesome...100% agreed...Ranger fans on the blog scene seem to be very melodramatic and very opiniated with what they read...not what they put work into to learn on their own... we don't need free agents...we need to keep building the core of our young players and Sather is now doing a great job at that

Jess Rubenstein said...

Guys

I want to win just as much as anyone else does but I am greedy. Why settle for just 1 cup every 10-20 years when you can build towards being a cup contender every year.

It is not about wanted to see the team pull a Capitals or Penguins where they stunk their way into talent.

The Rangers should follow the model of Detroit as when was the last time the Red Wings had a lottery pick?

They have no secret magic, they go out and scout well then draft well and then develop well.

If Detroit can do it there is no reason why the Rangers can't