Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Panicking Is Different Here

Once upon a time the New York Rangers had a marketing slogan that said "Hockey Is Different Here." It became a running joke because every time the Rangers did something wrong the response was to use the "HIDH" slogan to explain why it happened.

There is a new one making the rounds now which goes "Panicking is Different Here" as sadly the moment something even comes close to looking wrong, the panic button gets pushed.

It is sad to because it is a knee jerk reaction to the years of Ranger failures since winning the Cup in 1994. It also sadly is a by-product of the blogging world and yes it extends to the print media as well.

Marc Staal sitting out practices because he has headaches is a non-story right now. Why you ask is simple as John Tortorella is not sweating anything since Staal passed all of his required physicals when he reported to camp.

But it is exactly the kind of stuff that Tortorella wants you to be freaking out about because it is also keeping your attention away from the questions that Tortorella does not want to answer.

Keep talking about Staal (and Prust) not playing in exhibition games because it is also distracting you from the real issues facing the Rangers. Like who is going to be the starting left wing with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik?

That you are talking about those headaches rather than talking about the things like "How is his relationship with Sean Avery?" Sure keep talking about the status of Marc Staal because you are not asking Tortorella about what does he think about having to go over to Europe not only for exhibition games but starting the regular season too?

The one person who does not want the Rangers having to play exhibition games in Sweden is John Tortorella. He knows that he has almost no choice but to send Henrik Lundqvist to start in Sweden.

Don't think for a second that Tortorella will be holding his breath that he is not flying over to Europe to watch one of his key players get hurt there. Do not think for a second that John Tortorella is thrilled starting the season in Europe then coming back to North America only to go out on a west coast road trip.

But right now you are talking about things that Tortorella can control which is Staal's headaches and the longer you do the less of a headache Tortorella will have with the real issues facing the Rangers.

It is just another way of John Tortorella's style of media management and in this case you can't really blame him. He is trying to get the team ready for season where the expectations are higher as will the pressure on Tortorella to win.

Tortorella for the most part tries to avoid playing most of his veterans in exhibition games since he knows what they can do and the risk of injury is higher since the games do no count. But when you send a team to Europe then you are put into a position where you have to win so you wind up playing a couple of players who normally would have sat out.

Tortorella does not like answering questions that put him on the spot so he does what he can to avoid having to deal with them. Marc Staal headache questions are easy for him to deal with because he knows a lot more than he is going to tell the media anyway.

If there was something seriously wrong with Marc Staal there would be no way to hide it from the media but those first day tests because they are so tough are good indicators about a person's health. Sending Staal home also means that he does not have to answer to the media either.

Now had Staal failed those physicals then you had better believe there would be no way for the Rangers to hide their panic as they could not do much until the regular season was closer. Do you think that with only 1.36 million is open cap space that Glen Sather could find a replacement for Staal?

Sather would need to move some salary or place Staal on the Long Term Injured Reserved which is something he would not want to do unless it is a last resort. If there was a UFA option out on the market then Sather would go for him but Bryan McCabe showed he was not worth the money.

Here is when I will start worrying about Marc Staal and that will be on Tuesday September 27th when the Rangers take off for Europe. If Staal is not on that plane then is when I will become worried since it will mean that Staal will not be ready for the season opener.

But at the same time here is when the Ranger's depth in defensemen is supposed to buy Glen Sather and John Tortorella time as Ryan McDonagh moves up to play with Girardi, Erixon with Sauer, Del Zotto with Eminger and Valentenko or Kundratek becomes the 7th defender.

And if Staal is going to be out for a while then it is not going to matter how well Wojtek Wolski plays as they will need cap room until the Rangers get a LTIR cap exemption and 3.8 million will help pay for a higher quality defender than just 1.36 mil.

First Cuts

The OHL opens their season on Wednesday only it is very doubtful that when the Plymouth Whalers (JT Miller) or Owen Sound Attack (Scott Stajcer) take the ice that
night for their respective teams.  If the Rangers were facing the New Jersey Devils in New Jersey or at home then Tortorella has liked to let the kids stay for a game to show them what could be theirs.

This year is different because of Europe so when Tortorella makes his cuts it will be a huge number with most of his CHL kids being sent back in time to play this weekend. Right now we only see Dylan McIlrath, JT Miller and Christian Thomas as making it past the first cut but their stay will end before the Rangers head to Europe.

The Rangers mainly Gordie Clark and Scott Gorton will prefer that the prospects play as much as possible which is why we seriously doubt anyone with CHL eligibility will make the European trip.

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