It is almost fitting that even Sean Avery's departure from the New York Rangers is fueling conspiracy theories as the never ending drama known as Sean Avery has to have one last act. The Avery defenders are blaming John Tortorella claiming that the coach is finally getting his way by getting rid of a player the coach hates.
There is only one tiny problem with this "theory" and that is it is not true. It is not true for one simple reason and that is when it comes to the New York Rangers there is only one person who decides anyone's fate.
That person is of course Glen Sather as nobody not John Tortorella and maybe not even James Dolan decides who is and who is not on the Ranger's roster except Sather. John Tortorella may be happy to finally be rid of a player he reportedly dislikes but it was Glen Sather who made the final decision.
If Tortorella really hated Avery as much as the Avery defenders would have you believe then don't you think that Avery would have been gone way before being placed on waivers today? The real reality is that when you look at Sean Avery, his cap hit and what the Rangers were getting in return then this decision was not all that hard to make.
There remains one area where the Rangers continue to shoot themselves in the foot with and that is with salary cap management. Sean Avery had to go simply because the Rangers have zero idea what is going to happen with Marc Staal and the 1.94 million cap hit the Rangers have with Avery opens a little cap room just in case.
That does not mean that I buy for a second John Tortorella's repeated claims that the Rangers had better players than Sean Avery. Right off the bat I would have kept Avery over Erik Christensen because the Rangers are only kidding themselves if they believe Christensen is a better overall player.
It was good for a laugh to read Tortorella actually saying that Christensen could be a "Top 6" forward because in the chances that Christensen has had in previous seasons to claim such a spot he has been a failure. Yes Christensen had better numbers than Avery on the power play and shoot out but who in their right mind would send Erik Christensen out when they needed a spark?
Who in their right mind puts Erik Christensen out on a penalty kill against an NHL team? We would never dare such a foolish move.
And to be honest, Avery in our eyes offered more than Wojtek Wolski except when it comes to being an underachiever. On offense no question Zuccarello was better than Avery but could you send Zuccarello out to kill penalties?
Christensen for now is safe because he only has a 925 G cap hit otherwise if Avery was the one with the low cap number then he would have stayed. The Rangers can not seem to figure out how to manage their salary cap situation, they never have and odds are until Sather is gone never will.
We were never Sean Avery fans but we do admire how he created this "cult of personality" that Avery has among many a Ranger fan. And because Sean Avery is so good at promoting Sean Avery then we seriously doubt that we have heard the last of him waivers or not.
The question now is how much faith do the Rangers have in Sean Avery reporting to the CT Whale and not being a problem for Ken Gernander? Is there a team in the NHL that will gamble their locker room by adding Sean Avery even though if you needed a penalty killer Avery was pretty good at that?
Honestly if Sean Avery asks to be released from his contract so he can play in Europe then do not even think twice about it just do it. Avery even on his best behavior would cause a circus in the AHL that the Rangers do not need or should want on the CT Whale.
Still one has to wonder if Wojtek Wolski had been 100% during the exhibition season whether the Rangers would have cut him as well. That 3.8 million dollar cap hit almost covers Marc Staal's salary by itself.
If we were Wolski, Christensen, Zuccarello and even Ruslan Fedotenko then we would be constantly looking over our shoulders. The Rangers say that they believe Carl Hagelin and Ryan Bourque need a little seasoning in the AHL but the truth is both have lower cap numbers.
The flip side to starting the season in Europe then having a west coast swing is that the Rangers also risk scaring their fans into jumping off the bandwagon if the team struggles. Already people are worried about the state of the defense with Marc Staal out so remember the Rangers are still 22 days from their home opener.
That is more than enough time to cause a good old panic
But some friendly advice to John Tortorella; if the Rangers stumble out of the gate you might find yourself joining Sean Avery on the not so happy New York exit. Glen Sather has you perfectly positioned to take the fall if the Rangers stumble at any point of the season.
If Glen Sather has no problem firing his own friends like John Muckler and Tom Renney then exactly how safe do you really think your job is? At this point in time, Tortorella's record with the Rangers is not much better than Tom Renney's and from a talent standpoint a good case can be made that Tortorella had more talent to work with.
See coach this is where your being a bully to the media is going to bite you in the rear. If the team struggles and the rumors start then do not expect much support from the very media you kept screwing with.
By mid-season if the Rangers are treading water then it will not be just players moved; it will also be the coaching staff. Anyone want to start some good old "Ken Hitchcock to coach the Rangers" rumors?
(Sean Avery courtesy of the New York Rangers)
3 hours ago