To Blind to See The Problem, Sather & Tortorella Need To Open Their Eyes

Mr. ControversyCorrespondent INovember 21, 2009

For the last past two decades the New York Rangers have went out of their way to hire some of the biggest names in the NHL and spend as much money as they can at the same time. For the most part, all but a few have been a total bust!

No matter how much money spent on talented players, no matter who they hire to be head coach of these players, it always seems to be one thing or another that prevents the NY Rangers from having a winning season, and this year is no different!

But before we get into this year we need to look back to how this mess came about. The huge mistakes made by Sather , coaches and the Rangers organization, that has turned this team into the embarrassment it is today.

In the 2007/08 season the Rangers had some big names in the NHL. WE ARE NOT JUST TALKING ONE OR TWO, We are talking five big name players. Shanahan, Jagr, Straka, Gomez and Drury. Never mind the talent of players like Freddy Sjostrom, Petr Prucha , Sean Avery, Marcel Hossa and rookies , Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan.

Where do you even start here. This was the beginning of the disaster for the Rangers! Sather signs both Gomez and Drury to long term deals for an outlandish amount of money. Hossa never had a fair shot and was always getting minimal ice time , playing 3rd and 4th line. Petr Prucha just came off of a season where he tallied 22 goals and 18 assists and again a poor decision by Renney who takes Prucha off the first and second lines and places him on the third and forth line. The following year Renney plays Prucha 28 games out of the 73 games he is with the Rangers, and both Hossa and Prucha get traded .

With all this talent, the team can not find any chemistry and Jagr has his worst year ever. Drury and Gomez do their usual but more was expected from Drury do to his two previous years of 30 plus goals and more was expected from Gomez for some ungodly reason. He was never considered to be a goal scorer but yet this was what he was advertised as. Shanahan was third on the team in goals scored with 23, behind Jagr and Drury who were tied with 25 a piece.

Although Jagr wore the C on his jersey, it was really both Jagr and Shanahan. Both of these players were true leaders for the Rangers younger players and they even went as far as staying after practice to work with the youngsters and it showed during the games.

Nigel Dawes who was sent down to Hartford, struggle for the first half of the season. Dawes is called back up and Brendon Shanahan took him under his wing, where Shanny’s tutelage shows as Dawes ends the season with 14 goals and 15 assists.

Jagr takes Dubinsky under his wing and Brandon ends the season on a positive note, totaling 40 points. Prior to Jagr teaching Dubs, that line was not connecting all year.

Jagr leaves the NHL to play in Russia and the Rangers do not resign Sean Avery and Brendon Shanahan. Another mistake by the Rangers.

When you think of leadership you think of Mark Messier , Jagr and Shanny. The jobs they have done and the results their leadership has affected their team will never be forgotten. Nor will it be replaced. Chris Drury and Scott Gomez were not able to fill those shoes and the following year it showed. A team needs that leader, and it has been missing for the last two years. Jagr and Shanny lead that team, Renney was their assistant!

First Sather makes another huge mistake and signs washed up Wade Redden to a major deal worth 6 million a year. This is where I am totally blown out of my mind. I just do not understand this deal and I never will.

In the eleven years prior to Redden coming to NY, he has scored more then 10 goals in a season once and that was four years prior to him being signed. After his season career high in 2003/04 Redden went on a downward spiral. So why in the world would any team give him this contract that Sather gave him. He is not this great goal scorer from the point and the only reason he was anything was because he had great players like Danny Heatley , Marion Hossa, Daniel Alfredson, Martin Havlat and Jason Spezza on his team. As a defender or forward on that team, playing on those lines, if you could not manage to total 60 plus points then you weren’t worth squat. So lets be real here, you take away those players and what does Redden do. Nothing. So what is with the huge contract and all that money, that totally sealed the deal as far as the Rangers cap was concerned.

Sather managed to sign and trader a couple of good deals though as he acquired Markus Naslund , Dan Fritsche and Nikolai Zherdev. Although Naslund was at the end of his career, it is hard to say anything bad about the guy when he lead the team in goals and played very well for the Rangers.

However this is a fine example of how bad coaching can ruin a players career. Manny Maholtra was told he would never be better then a third line payer. But yet he proved them wrong buy having good seasons playing on the first and second line With other teams. He hasn’t had great years, but he has been a factor in helping the Blue Jackets and now the Sharks who seem to be unstoppable.

Zherdev was everything you can want from a player in terms of offense. He has one of the quickest , most accurate shots in hockey and his passing was unreal. There are fans out there that shoot off at the mouth about ZEE and they do not have a clue on what they are talking about. But we will get to that later!

So now the Rangers roster looks pretty impressive when you look at it. Drury now the captain, Gomez, Naslund , Zherdev, Dubinsky and Callahan who looked very good the year before and was expected to have a break out season. They added size with Aaron Voros , rookie Lauri Korpikoski, and Patrick Rissmiller {who never played a game}.

Everyone is expecting a better season from Drury and Gomez. Great things expected from Henrik Lundqvist and Zherdev.

The hype is built up more then ever. This can be the year they make something happen. NOPE , not going to happen. The only thing they found out is who really was running the team when they had Jagr and Shanny. Because it certainly was not coach Renney!

Here was a team stacked with talent but yet other then Callahan and Zherdev, the team struggled to score goals. Tom Renney was clueless on what to do with the talent he had. Danny Fritsche showed some great stuff in preseason, he played better then a lot of other payers but yet was benched almost every game and when he did play it was minimal ice time.

Every time Fritsche was on the ice he managed to create something. He showed speed and a lot of potential, but yet was not given a real chance. Just another terrible move by Renney, for not playing him and Sather for trading him.

In 2005 I heard the hype of a young rookie from Ukraine that was about to make his debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets, whose name was Nikolai Zherdev. So I had to see for my self what all this hype was about. It just so happen to be the same year Danny Fritsche made his debut.

I am not an easy man to impress and what I saw made me a fan instantly. Not only of Zee but of Fritsches’ as well. It was like the first time Kevin Weeks got injured and Lundqvist played his first game. I knew right then and there who should be the starting goalie. I couldn’t believe Renney went back to Weeks as their starter. It was so obvious who the better of the two was. My hunch was correct though as Hank ended up being the starting goalie.

But what I saw from Zherdev and Fritsche was very impressive. The speed they both had, the awesome passes Zherdev was making and the both had great shots. So I was extremely happy when the Rangers acquired the two players.

But Renney was lost with out Jagr and Shanny. His best player, Zherdev, was playing forth line and third line minutes. It was so obvious that Renney had no clue on what he was doing. Sure Zherdev was scoring but no one else was, except for Voros. They were winning and riding the coat tails of Nikolai and this went on for the whole first half of the season.

With Renney clueless on what to do with the players, Zherdev never had that one spot, that one line where players build the chemistry they need. Renney moved him around like crazy. He had his best payer playing minimal minutes.

There was one game in which ZEE scored two goals and an assist and Renney benched him. For no dam reason at all! It was always ZEE getting benched. The fans were booing Rozsival for a week straight because of his poor playing and terrible mistakes he made on defense. But yet he was never benched. Not one other player was benched, like they all were playing great and didn’t deserve to be benched. Renney awarded Rosy by giving him more playing time. Think of that one for a second. Now think of what that does to a players moral . Constantly being singled out and for no reason at all.

The Gomez, Naslund line was not doing a thing. Renney finally got smart and placed ZEE on that line and all of a sudden Naslund is scoring off the great passes from ZEE, Gomez is now scoring off of feeds from Zee. The Rangers are winning again and Zherdev is the reason. Then Renney gets brain dead again and moves ZEE to the third line. Are you kidding me? Zee was the Rangers last year ,but some people will say well where was he the second half of the season. Well He was riding the bench, playing nil ice time. And in 18 games he had 11 points. Not great but far from invisible. If he would have been playing the time he should have been playing and on the line he should have been playing on, you could add another 10 goals to his total with about ten plus assists, easily!

Renney turned this team upside down because he was clueless on what to do. You never have your best player playing less time then payers like Blair Betts. That is an insult if there ever was one. So in any case, Sather fires Renneys’ sorry ass and brings in Tortorella.

The Rangers just make the playoffs and again Zherdev is to blame for their loss. Where was he in the playoffs. Clueless individuals that probably did not even watch the games. Because if they did, then they would know Zee was riding the bench playing 4th and 3rd line. Three lines, 9 player all took shots at an empty net and missed it. But yet, who was benched? ZEE and he never even had the chance to shoot on the empty net! The whole season was just a joke and an embarrassment and these are just the little things fans do not realize or see, but yet they place blame.

The end of the year comes up and ZEE wins arbitration. What he wanted was 3.1 million just around 500,00 more then previous year and he was definitely worth it. But Sather doesn’t want to pay it. So Zee wins in court and is awarded 3.7 million. Now Sather offers Zee his original offer of 3.1 million. Are you kidding me? Why would he do that?

For starters Sather already signed Gaborik. Now think of Prospal, Gabby and Zee on the same line. It would be goal heaven. It would be a magic show just watching Zee passing to Gabby and Sather just let him walk. The best player on their team and they just let him walk. Say what you will. But you have not seen any player make the plays and passes Zee has made. Reason being is because he has his own talent no one else has. No he is not the greatest player. But he is the best at what he does when he is allowed to just play his game. Now the Rangers are looking for someone to help with scoring. Unbelievable!

Zee could have went any where on the first two lines and he would have made the difference. Anywhere other then with players like Dubinsky who is a puck controlling freak. That is Zherdevs’ job. But if you think smartly, then you would see how having ZEE would have been the difference this season. Weather it is passing to Gabby or even Prospal, to passing to Higgins or Kotalik. Anisimov and or Lisin. Any of them would have benefited. But no, that is not happening because Zherdev is young and an extremely good player and Sather Rather spend the money on washed up , over rated players who cannot score a goal in an empty net.

In 1994 the NY Rangers found them selves in top form casing what is the most beautiful trophy in today’s sports, the Stanley Cup. With a team full of talent, lead by Mark Messier and head coach mike Keane, the Rangers finally won the Cup after 54 years. This team had some of the greatest players in hockey era and they will forever be remembered. Players like Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, Mike Gartner, Tony Amonte, Sergie Zubov, and a player I consider to have been one of the greatest defenseman of all time, Jeff Beukeboom. The list does not stop there, their were seven players that scored more then 20 goals that year and eight players that had over 50 points on the season.

But what did the Rangers do in their off season, they let everyone go except for a handful of players and along with the players they let their head coach go as well. This will for ever be the biggest mistake in Rangers history and it shows how the RANGERS MANAGEMENT has not learned a dam thing in the past sixteen years!

Last year, teams fought to score a goal against the Rangers. So what does Sather and Tortorella come up with. They get rid of their defense and all the wrong ones. Now it is the Rangers who can not manage to keep the puck out of their own zone and out of their own net.

If they would buy out Reddens contract it would free up the cap and allow them to drop him. Same goes for Rosy. But that is not what Sather will do because it is the best thing to do for this team. Dropping these two players allows the Rangers to use their defense they have in Hartford . All with great ability and all can make it in the NHL.

Or they can now trade Redden and Rosy and attempt to acquire better, bigger defenseman that the Rangers so desperately need. The Ranger would have tons of cap and can look into the free agency for defense. Over all they need size and toughness, not scoring defenders at this point.

Is it a waist money buying out their contracts? absolutely not. What are they going to get from either of the two? Nothing! That is the real waist, letting these guys continue to cost them games with their horrible play both defensively and offensively . Tampa Bay did it with Prospal to free up cap space and it worked for them. The Rangers can do it as well and would benefit even more than Tampa. A team does not need 3 or four scoring defenseman. The Rangers have Del Zotto and Gilroy to score defensively, and if placed right, on the right lines, would be good enough. Now they need guys to protect their net and clear their zone. They do not need Marc Staal working on his offense at this point in time, who as of late has been struggling defensively and when he tries to do something offensively it has turned into a goal for the other team. Have they learned that yet, absolutely not!

Unfortunately that blame rests on one man. Our beloved general manager Glen Sather. Although we can all agree on the fact that Glen did a great job of freeing up some salary cap in the off season, however it was his fault that the Rangers were in that predicament in the first place. I also believe we can all agree that he traded the wrong guy .

Scotty Gomez was a decent center, with speed, great offensive awareness and the experience with winning a couple of Stanley Cups! Sure Chris Drury won one when he was with the AVES, but when comparing the two, Gomez was the keeper, not Drury. Drury is not a leader, nor is he a true offensive threat.. That whole Mr. Clutch was based on one year with a totally different team. He is not a Power Forward, he is a defensive forward who had a few good years and it was the players that where on his team, that played as a team, that created that for him. Whereas Gomez never had a really bad year his whole career.

Now came all the hype, Goals were expected and they never came. This has been the problem for god knows how long. Drury had chemistry with the players on his team in Buffalo. They played as a team and they played much harder in one game then the Rangers do all year. Once a player gets traded, to find that chemistry again with a whole new set of players is hard to do. As much as they try to create scoring chances the goals were not there. Then to turn around and make him the captain is just ridiculous . He is not a leader and he never will be.

This isn’t about hating Drury, I like Drury, it is kind of hard not to when you watch him play his heart out each and every game. This is a matter of what was best for the team and their was not even a rumor of Glen trying to trade Drury this off season.

Defensively Chris Drury is as solid as they come. He blocks shots, he anticipates plays, and very seldom does he take bad penalties. He is a decent, solid player and he is good for 20-25 goals a year. Only twice in his 11 years of playing has he scored more than 25 goals. So he has been doing his average scoring. But again Sather gives this unbelievable contract to just your average everyday player who can score 20 goals.

But maybe we can give Sather a break on this one. Only because we are trying to look into his mind. The way I see it is like this. Sather had Ales Kotalik willing to sign, so he figured Drury and Kotalik can find the chemistry they once had back in the day in Buffalo. So Sather did the right thing in taking the chance because the two players were superb for those two years in Buffalo. Why not give it a chance and see what comes of it?

But again the move turns out to be a bust for Drury as he has not been a factor in the scoring department so far. Or maybe we can blame coach Tortorella for constantly changing the lines and never letting that chemistry build up. Drury and Kotalik have not even been playing on the same line together since the second game. Now out with a concussion and no set date to return, we can just hope he will recover and the injury will not be as severe with him, as it was in the past for so many other players.

Sather signs Marion Gaborik which was totally worth the risk. Here is a player that scores 40 goals and plays only 30 games. Sather signs Vinny Prospal for 1 million for the year. The best pick up in the off season, Prospal is the heart of the Rangers. At 34 years of age he is the best player on the ice and he does it all. He has been a complete players his whole career and this year he will go far and beyond the call of duty!

But where is everyone else. Gaborik has 15 goals, and the player who is second only has 6 goals. Kotalik is doing ok when it comes to the power play. In all fairness that is what he was brought in for. But he needs to start knocking some in when it is five on five. The Rangers spend more time on penalty killing then they do on the power play.

Artem Anisimov and Enver Lisin are doing their thing. Remember Artem is a rookie and all though he has been getting more ice time, you have to look at the little things. Like who he is lined up with and why is coach Tortorella not using him as center on that first line. He has shown some great moves and scoring so far, and he deserves to be there. How ever, Lisin also has been a factor and playing very good. You have to remember Enver has only played 61 games in the NHL before this year. So he is really a rookie as well. But both players have been playing outstanding hockey and both deserve to be playing on that first line. But they can’t. Gabby and Prospal take two spots.

The point is that Tortorella needs to pick one and stick with it for a little bit and see what happens. Bouncing players all over does not do anything for anyone. It certainly is not confusing their opponents or having the other teams change their lines. The problem is that every line for the Rangers is almost the same. They all have speed and every line has the ability to score goals. The only line any team has to really worry about is the Gaborik line. You do not need to be a brain specialist to figure this out.

Let the lines develop them selves. If you as a coach interfear to much, you cause more damage then good and this is what we are seeing. Every game has been a whole new line up with the results the same. For god sakes man leave it alone for a few games. Let the players build their chemistry , then you have something to work with.

In the off season I have spoke to many of you about our defense. Their was with out question the high expectation of Gilroy and Del Zotto and they have been awesome so far. The Rangers did away with Paul Mara and Derek Morris, I truly believe this was all about Tortorella’s dislike of Mara. Last year the Rangers had one of the best defensive units in hockey. Mara however was not used correctly. He has one hell of a hard shot and was rarely used on the power play. He was tough , and he played extremely well in his own zone. Morris I do not know much about but he played well while he was here. His defensive play was very good and he was some what effective on the power play. So the Rangers do this trade for one player{ Chris Higgins} and another player that is not even playing. Makes no sense, but they freed up cap space. But now the Rangers are hurting defensively and no one is even mentioning it.

Staal’s defensive play has drop considerably since last year. Along with Dan Girardi who somehow forgot how to play defense and has turned to blocking shots to make up for it. I guess its easier to get pegged with a ninety mph hard ass puck then it is to get back to basics. Tortorella has Staal working on his offensive play. Is this a joke or what? Do these coaches even watch the games? Staal and Girardi have made so many terrible mistakes defensively that they might as well be sent down to Hartford. Forget his offense, work on his defense.

They have one of the best goalies in the NHL but yet they are giving up 4- 7 goals on an average. The defense is the dam problem and the coach is to stupid to figure it out. You can not fix your defense when all you do is worry about offense. So in order to win we will need Marion Gaborik to score 8 goals a game. Need I say more?

Instead of looking to trade for defense, the Rangers are looking to sign, injury prone Peter Forsberg. Now don’t get me wrong, yes he will add to the offense. But can you count on him to even make it through ten games. Even if he does, that does not help keeping the puck out of your own net.

The Rangers are missing size and toughness when it comes to defense and all the tough talk Tortorella was doing, on how this team will be a fore checking, aggressive team, has went out the window because for the last 9 games, they have not done anything he has talked about. He also said he will bench anyone that do not carry their own weight and hold up their end of the ice and Rosy, Redden, Staal , and Girardi have not held up anything except themselves when on the ice.

Brian Boyle is one hell of a disappointment to me. He is 6’6 250lbs and he might as well be playing on the woman’s team. Where the hell is the aggressiveness and the hard checks Tortorella talked about improving with him? Pick a dam fight, hit someone! It is pretty pitiful when a 5’11 180 lb player {Callahan} is tougher than a 6’6 250 lb player.

Higgins and Avery, have not being playing their game at all. Higgins knocked in two back to back goals but fell off again.

As for that other guy, Sean who? Mr. antagonizer has be invisible. Has he even played yet? Scoring only two goals, not being a force he should be on the ice, he played one good game and that was the last game they played. What happen to these players since Tortorella took over. Tough Coach has turned tough players into a bunch of pansies.

Our goalie is getting tossed around like a dirty diaper and not one player has stepped up to kick some ass. Forget the dam penalty, who cares , I rather see a five minute penalty for sticking up for your goalie then take 6 penalties a game on stupid stuff like hooking. Changes are needed and they are needed now to save this team.

What wins games? Goals, defense, and toughness! I will give you your pick of 18 players who can score goals and I will take the toughest 18 players on the ice and you will lose. Just make sure you have enough stretchers to carry them off the ice, because that is what you will need. It is unfortunate that the Ranger have none of the above. No toughness and no goals, And their defense is the worst in the league and Tortorella and Sather are not doing a dam thing about it.

It is early in the season, but when you are playing the way there are playing, and for the period of time it has been going on for, yes it is time to panic. Every other team out there is getting better, finding their chemistry, whereas the Rangers are going backwards.

You should not have to score 4 goals or 8 goals to win when you have a goalie as good as Lundqvist. The Rangers have the players to score goals, but they are not being given the time to develop with each other. What they are missing, are defensive players that can be aggressive every game, because it is the way they play. You can not make a player play that way when they have no fire in them or they are not aggressive by nature. They need players like Jeff Buekeboom that have that killer instinct from birth. There are players like that in the NHL, and the Rangers need to get them! If not the season is over for them. MARK MY WORDS!


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