Last Tuesday was the day New York Ranger fans have been wishing would never actually happen: Sean Avery arrived in Dallas. Since the very beginning of the off-season, it seemed inevitable that the Rangers would never agree to Avery's salary increase.
They let him go and the Dallas Stars jumped at the opportunity. This was a terrible, though expected move for the front office. Rather than bite the bullet and give Sean more money, money that he surely earned during his time on Broadway, the Rangers sought out a "better" player.
Instead of spending $3.5 million on Avery, whose presence was felt every time he skated for the Rangers (especially in the playoffs), Glen Sather decided to throw five million dollars at Markus Naslund, not to mention Wade Redden.
According to the Sporting News, Avery says the the Rangers "spent (money) on guys they shouldn't have spent it on." I couldn't agree more Sean. He continued, "New York is a tough place to play. Markus Naslund is going to have a tough time, so is Wade Redden."
Let's take a look at the numbers. In 88 regular season games for New York, Avery put up 53 points, along with 12 in 18 playoff games. All the while he played on the second or third line. Avery is young, decently talented, hard working, responsible and, unlike many players near his age, actually wanted to play in New York.
Naslund has produced an admirable 60 and 55 points in each of the last two seasons respectively (both clearly better than Avery's totals). However, for most of the season he played on a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin (possibly the best puck-possession duo in the league). He was also at home on the top power play unit.
Now these numbers are good, but Naslund is getting old. He turned 35 on July 30th, and this signing follows the same pattern Rangers fans have criticized for years. Sather puts the opportunity for young talent to play on the back burner for blockbuster free agent signings of aging stars, who have scarcely ever lived up to their former pedigree.
Glen Sather once again defied logic and spent big money on big reputations and little else. I'll hope Naslund, and Redden for that matter, carry us even as far as the Blueshirts have already made it in recent history.
I'll support them, as I have the others, as long as they support the team. But, if they don't earn those contracts on the ice, my frustration with Sather is coming down on them. Good luck boys.