Case in point

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Remember how I said before that Tom Renney has a gift for being intentionally vague? Well consider this exchange today concerning struggling defenseman Marek Malik, who was exposed yet again on a third period goal by Washington’s Matt Pettinger in the 3-1 loss on Saturday night.

At one point, Renney was asked why he put Malik back in the game late in the third period with the Rangers down two goals and Henrik Lundqvist already pulled.

“To show some confidence in the guy,” Renney said. “There are other guys to choose from, I know. (Malik) is one of those guys where we’re sort of — I want to be careful how I say this because I don’t want to plant a seed in his head — we’re trying to rebuild him. We’re trying to build up his confidence and have him feel really good about his game. There are certain ways to do that and that was an opportunity.”

Later I asked Renney if he thinks Malik is struggling to a greater extent than he was at this point last year. The coach responded that the Rangers as a whole have been struggling in areas and that’s part of the problem. Then I said, “Let me rephrase the question: Did you feel the need to build up his confidence as you’re trying to do this year?”

“I don’t think so,” Renney said. “He was good last year but we were a team that had low expectations, and whatever we did was fine and away we went.”

My translation? Something must be going on beneath the surface. I don’t have anything to back that up, but you get the sense that Renney is going out of his way to not be critical of Malik because either a) the team doesn’t want to damage Malik’s already fragile confidence, or b)the Rangers might be looking to move him and they don’t want to make Malik seem any less valuable than he already is.

There doesn’t seem to be any other explanation for it. Or maybe Malik is actually perfectly fine out there and I’m the one missing the picture.

**************************************************

In other news:

  • Henrik Lundqvist gets the start in net, and rightfully so. The Rangers have had two days off, and Lundqvist was brilliant in the Rangers’ earlier win over New Jersey, making 34 saves on Oct. 16.
  • That said, it will be a coat and tie for one of that game’s other stars, Darius Kasparaitis. The Rangers today put the recalled defenseman through the same set of conditioning tests they gave him earlier in the year, and wanted to see where he was before skating him again in a game.

    Not exactly the vote of confidence he was looking for….

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    42 Comments

    1. Hmm… must mean they’re NOT looking to move Kaspar, cause they’re makin him look like a peice of garbage!

      Maybe that IS the plan… give Malik the opprotunities to maybe luck out and make a huge play one of these days… and then move him so Kaspar can play again?

      Call me ignorant, but I don’t know why they were so quick to seemingly give up on Kasparaitis and show guys like Malik a world of opprotunity while game in and game out he’s screwin up more then doing something good out there.

      Should I even mension Pock? The two things this team needs is toughness and grit in our own corners, and someone who can skate the puck out of our own zone and make the initial pass for a break out…. Pock showed me he can be that initial guy, and I think we can all agree that no one’s tougher then Kaspar…

      But again, this is just my opinion… and there might be something I haven’t seen that Renny has… So i’ll continue to show faith in him and the team… I mean they’ve been getting a decent amount of points lately so i can’t complain too much…. I just figure something’s gotta give soon.

    2. Sam, do you really think that the Rangers want to deal Malik as the main reason that Renney has so much patience with him ???

      Do you really think that they will put Pock right in the mix after Malik was shipped out of town ???

      Sometimes I got the impression that the coach is playing a game with you guys from the media trying to hide his real strategy ???

      “My translation? Something must be going on beneath the surface.”

      That sounds like you think the Rangers trying to make a big move, which will surprise everyone…..

      Is there any specific reason that you don´t have the line combos available for tonight ????

    3. Sam,
      Great insight into the mysterious world of Ranger management. Thank you as always. Is Brashear’s knuckle imprints er uh, Colton Orr playing tonight?

    4. I don’t understand why some people on this blog talk about kasper like he played this year like he has in the past. I did not see kasper be himself when he did play and when he through
      a body check he fell to the ice like a brick. Kasper is not a big guy and he always played the game very physically and at age 34 unless I am way off on this he looks like he is shot. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like Malik or Ozolish either but it is possible the ranger brass is hoping that these guys start playing a little better so they can move them via trade or waivers and if not than there doing a bad job.

    5. RangersTheyJustAintThatBad on

      “He was good last year but we were a team that had low expectations, and whatever we did was fine and away we went”

      I have a feeling this might be a little jab at the blog/mesaage board craziness that is going on of late. People are way out of control. Last year everything was grand this year they can do no right. Also, this is a player who’s been critiqued more than anyone on the team, save Hossa, why would a coach pile it on.

    6. Kaspars been a nightmare, on the ice hes been so slow a zamboni could deke around him, off the ice, hes basically asking the rangers to trade him.

      at least be realistic dude.

    7. Renney and Jagr adore Malik that is all to it. He is not getting traded…ever. God forbid Malik’s feelings get hurt by not being put on the PP at the end of a game, while those nobodies like Pock and Dawes rot away.

    8. well vinny pooh,
      all I can say is i hope you are wrong because that is not the way to build a winning team.

    9. Yes, Vinny I do, and I don’t think you should confuse me questioning certain moves, or me questioning what he divulges to the press, with me not thinking he is a good coach. And it goes without saying me questioning his moves has nothing to do with him as a man.

      There’s a middle ground there, and I would hope the same would apply to you or anyone else questioning some of my opinions here. If we disagree on things doesn’t mean we think of each other as idiots. Or maybe you do feel that way, which is your prerogative.

    10. That’s unfortunate about Kasper. Doesn’t seem to me he’s been given enough rope to hang himself with this season, at the NHL level at least. Especially compared to some others.

      Sam, do you ever get a chance to talk with Shanahan about the team play and the seeming lack of focus on team defense and toughness? As one of the game’s truly gritty players, maybe he would have some insight into what’s lacking.

      Thanks, as always, for the blog.

    11. doodiemachetto on

      Sam, I don’t think I broke all three, but I definitely broke the one next to the big toe. The other two are hurt though, so I have 3 popsicle stick splints on my foot.

      When it comes to a move for Malik, who could possibly be interested in him? Kaspar has a mean streak that some teams might want if he were even remotely in shape, but who would give up a player or pick, let alone a roster spot for Malik?

      PS – Great job for not taking the BS response from Renney and digging a little bit more until he gave you a little bit more than boilerplate coach responses.

    12. What in the world makes people think that any coach in any professional sport would in the normal course of events criticize his players in the media? It’s just not right to do that. Coaches have no obligation to speak every thought that goes through their heads. Should they divulge the details of injuries and players’ personal problems? Of course not. I’m a journalist, and I understand that my sources are not free to tell me everything they know about everything.

      Larry Brown was fired from the Knicks, who voided his $41 million contract, in part because he was criticizing players to the press and didn’t obey attempts by management to get him to stop. Brown lost $23 million that he was owed in a settlement.

      The idea that some kids in the stands have a better grasp of the players than a guy with the smarts and integrity of Renney is flat-out laughable. That’s not to say every decision of his is right, but questioning his integrity is absurd.

      On Dawes, he missed, what, a dozen games in Hartford while getting some lessons from Jagr and Shanahan? I don’t think that will set back his professional development by a great deal, if at all.

    13. It’s great that everyone wants to get rid of Kasper & Malik. The question is who’s going to take their contracts? I believe Kasper has another year @ $3.268M & Malik has another @ $2.5M (Sam, double check that please). I don’t think any team is that desperate for either of these guys, at this early point of the season. Even if we manage to trade them, we’ll probably get another over-priced, under-achieving player, coming to Broadway.

    14. Sam,
      I think there are certain things Renney excels at. instituting systems, practices, being positive, instituting work ethic, etc. But, i hope you would agree here, he is NOT good at accountability because of his blind loyalty to certain players, and he is not good at managing the roster.
      Know what that says to me? weve got an assistant coach as our head coach.
      Tom should be an assistant coach, and IMHO Schoenfeld should be the head coach, hes a take no crap, accountablity to the nth degree guy, and i love it.

    15. Inferno…I agree with you to a point..maybe Reneny dosnt have the accountability thing down, but he is teaching this team to be a team, and to work hard…I dont know if Shonfeild is the right guy ither, but someone whith some more bang when the talk and who likes to use icetime to reward players and punish palyers…but I tihnk realisticly we will see Renney for the rest of this year and through next, jsut because I do beleive the team plans to use more and more younger players as tehy develope, and I tihnk Renney is a good guy to have behind the bench for those kids…NOW after next year, or during next yera, I tihnk it depends on who becomes availible, I would NOT be surprised if Renney was ok with a situation like that in COlorado, were Granato stepped down to an assistant role, but I tihnk it depends on who becomes availible for teh head position…I still say teh Rangers should go down to florida and begg and beggg and beg Scotty Boman to come out of retirement, not much chance in that I dont think…but maybe…just maybe they could get it done…

    16. I agree NY_Rob, that’s definately a problem. There isn’t a gm in there right mind that would want over paying aging over the hill players, especially defenemen. It appears that we are pretty much stuck with these guys until there contracts are up.

    17. pf: Forget criticizing his players to the media. How about is Renney just benches the guys who fail game after game after game? It’ll go a long way in diffusing all the double-standard, lack of accountability talk.

    18. the thing is, i dont agree with you at all that Renney is the guy for these kids. I mean, Prucha didnt get a sniff till Rucinsky went down, and even then he didnt get more than a few minutes a game. He was scoring so much that it FORCED renney to play him. But really, Renney has shown nothing to lead you to believe he is the right coach for the kids. How about Henrik? Henrik was flat out dominant from the get go, yet he still insisted on playing Weekes till basically he had no choice but to play Henrik. you can look at it likes hes protecting the kids etc, but i find that bogus. how many teams protect their kids when they produce like that?

      puh-lease. also, renney has no grasp of the physical game whatsoever, he plays a pressure game in the offensive zone when the other team has the puck, but the team never consistently finishes their checks.

      I just am fed up with Renney getting such a wide berth just because of last year. Frankly I was not one of those people predicting the rangers to finish last, I had them at 10th in my preseason picks, the low expectations were more a function of the previous futility than an examination of the roster.

      Renney has done a lot of good, which is why i want him to stay within this organization, but I simply do not feel he is doing a good job for the future of this organization. I wanted a rebuild, and weve got some kids who should be playing. Guess what, when you rebuild, and you have kids who can play….THEY SHOULD PLAY.

      I can almost stomach the Dawes decision since he is a bit easy to get off the puck, but Pock has done nothing but produce, and produce and produce WHILE improving his defensive game. And yet he is the one who hasnt played a lick since like game 4 or so of the season. It is an absolute JOKE that with Malik, Rozsival, Bozolinsh, and Kaspar all having below average seasons you cant find minutes for a kid who has done nothing to warrant a benching. he plays hard, he never takes a shift off, and his “mistakes” are just that, rookie mistakes, you need to learn from them.

      Whereas Marcel Hossa, Malik, and Kaspar take entire GAMES off with impunity (well maybe not kaspar since hes just unable to play now)

      Thats it not a sign of good coaching.

      it would be one thing of Pock played himself out of starting, but can a single person here say that he has done that?

    19. “There’s a middle ground there, and I would hope the same would apply to you or anyone else questioning some of my opinions here. If we disagree on things doesn’t mean we think of each other as idiots. Or maybe you do feel that way, which is your prerogative.”

      I just wanted to know the reasoning behind you thinking that Renney is a good coach and a good man, that’s all. Not saying it will convince me, but perhaps I will understand the Hyena better.

    20. Vinny, why would you even question whether Renney is a good man or not? Good coach is one thing, but good man?

    21. Yeah, ive heard renney is actually a very good guy from various people. really nice to the fans, always takes the time to talk to them, etc.

    22. Conspiracy theory time!

      Sam, do you think some of the things going on beneath the surface has to do with the expectations of this team? Maybe last season Renney had more free reign over things because no one expected the Rangers to do anything? And this year there’s something different because they’re expected to make the playoffs and be better than they are?

      Again, total conspiracy theory on my part here. hehe

    23. “Conspiracy theory time!

      Sam, do you think some of the things going on beneath the surface has to do with the expectations of this team? Maybe last season Renney had more free reign over things because no one expected the Rangers to do anything? And this year there’s something different because they’re expected to make the playoffs and be better than they are?

      Again, total conspiracy theory on my part here.”

      Um, that’s not a conspiracy theory, it is exactly what Renney said.

    24. I think there is something to be said for the Rangers struggling a bit with what’s expected of them AND YOU PEOPLE ARE TO BLAME!

      I’m kidding. Seriously, a year ago, the directive was fairly simple: develop, play hard, get better for next year. Now it’s more complicated. Now it’s be a competitive team this year, but don’t do anything that is going to jeopardize the future. It’s a tricky dynamic, and it makes success much more difficult to quantify, or even to recognize.

    25. Yeah Vinny, what does being a coach have to do with being a good man? I don’t think that personal attacks, such as name calling of the man is really warranted …

      Also to the poster who posted

      :: I have a feeling this might be a little jab at the blog/mesaage board craziness that is going on of late. People are way out of control. Last year everything was grand this year they can do no right. Also, this is a player who’s been critiqued more than anyone on the team, save Hossa, why would a coach pile it on. ::

      I don’t know, and I would hope, that Renney and the Rangers coaching staff/players don’t pay attention to this(yes, here too) kind of craziness … you have people posting as if they are experts and could, if in the same situation, do the job better without really knowing what is really going on internally …

      What, so Dawes was sent back down … They want him to play 2nd line minutes, he ain’t playing on the 2nd line because the first and 2nd lines are set … he isn’t better than any of the guys(right now) on those two lines so he cannot take that spot … the third and 4th lines are checking lines and that’s not what his game is about … I have zero problem with him being sent back if he will get ice time and play …

      I see way too much whinning and complaining about the Rangers lying and how they are not rebuilding and how it’s a smokescreen and blah blah blah blah blah .. they are trying to have success now, what franchises aren’t? They have a lot of good prospects who will be ready in one of two years, I have seen no deviation from that, since I expect most of these prospects to be with the big club in about two seasons and if you read any kind of scouting reports from independent sources is the same information so whatever … the teams job is to try to put a winning product on the ice, whether that is with kids, veterans, a mix of both is up to them … I highly doubt, although almost everyone who is complaining would say differently, that if the team was filled with a bunch of kids and still was playing inconsistently that these same fans would be happy …

    26. “but don’t do anything that is going to jeopardize the future”

      I think Jeopardizing future is all they have been doing so far. Unless, of course, by “future” they mean Malik.

    27. “Yeah Vinny, what does being a coach have to do with being a good man? I don’t think that personal attacks, such as name calling of the man is really warranted …”

      I am not the one who brought the subject up, it was Sam who said it and I want to hear his reasoning or at least some examples. Because I doubt he truly knows Renney privately enough to know whether he is a good man or not. Heck some wives never even know that their husband is a serial killer.

    28. “I think Jeopardizing future is all they have been doing so far. Unless, of course, by “futureâ€? they mean Malik.”

      Why do you think that Vinny? (correct me if i’m wrong but is it) Because the rebuild that you invisioned isn’t the same that the rangers managment has invisioned for the team? It hasn’t happend in an instant where one season we have a complete team of rookies regardless of whether or not they’re developed enough to compete… just kinda shove em in to the fire.
      I say that because I’ve talked to alot of fellow fans who feel this way. That they want more than anything to see the guys in the system just play on the big team this year then anyone else for the reason that this is what a rebuild means to them.
      I think what the managment is doing is good. Let the guys develope in hartford. Maybe not Immonen who i think is ready, or dawes who I also think is ready, but that’s the price they pay for signing/resigning the insurance policies they did in the off season like Straka Hossa Hall Cullen and Shanny… Now that they’re almost monitarily obligated to play these guys, Immonen and Dawes are stuck in the minors again for a little while until an injury happens or we get rid of some of these guys some other way.
      Patients is a virtue though… It’s hard to believe that this is the line up that we’ll see for the rest of the year, so we’ll all need to be satisfied with being only slightly over .500 rather then rediculously over .500 till we get it all figured out haha

    29. So Sam, who’s met and conversed with the man multiple times, and knows and speaks to people who know him even better on a regular basis, is in no position to weigh in with an opinion that Renney’s a good man, but you, who’s likely never met him nevermind spoken to him at length, are qualified to make daily assassination attempts on his character? Please Vinny, it’s time to take a step back from the computer and get a grip.

    30. Mike,
      Where do you see these kids playing though? particularly on D where everyone will be under contract for next year with the exception of rachunek (and pock i think)

      on offense i believe nylander is back for next year, straka is a F/A as is Shanahan.

      not sure the status of Hall, Hossa, Ward, Hollweg, Orts, Orr, etc.

      but top 2 line minutes arent to be had next season either. you cant assume the rangers are going to stand pat this offseason and just plug kids into the mix, you know theyll go hard after a FA to fill in strakas hole, and i have to believe shanahan would be back.

      so where exactly is the space for the kids?
      on the 3rd and 4th lines.

      and if dawes cant crack a lineup with hossa, orr, ward, and betts in it, then im not sure when hell ever play with this team.

      there is a flawed strategy in place for these kids.

    31. Matty: I’ve tried to espouse the same exact sentiment, much to the chagrin of the more recalcitrant fans(see above), who obviously don’t recall the Messier II years, when the closest thing to prospects in Hartford was Brad Smyth, Jason Dawe and Derek Armstrong, while the youths -or rather youth -being benched went by name Malhotra.

      At 21, Dawes can wait for a good sniff at the NHL. At 24, the clock is ticking a bit for Immonen. And Pock, I agree whole heartedly he should be skating. I’d be willing to bet that he will, once two blueliners are moved in one way shape or form.

    32. Sather must have slipped Matty a mickey…I mean the idea a professional sports team is in the business of winning games…that’s just silly talk.

    33. The top two lines next yera may look completely difrent, Nylander may get traded IF and its a big IF the rangers can sign a youn FA who is a center, there may be a few on the market, Straka may not be back if the Rangers think that Prucha can fill that top line role, Dawes may get that 2nd line wing role, Immonen may push Cullen to the 3rd line, Shanny will probably re-sign, Jagr will be there, but the rest of the positioning may be totaly new…and if JJ dosnt like it trade him…LOL…but I dont tihnk we will see the exact same linup at the end of this season let alone next season.

    34. Doodie Machetto on

      No one will take Malik under any circumstances, we’re stuck with him.

      no one will TRADE for Kaspar until maybe late in the season (if he can get in some kind of shape other than round) when a playoff bound team is looking for a hard hitting veteran defenseman. But I think there are a few teams who would pick him up off of waivers, especially teams that are hurting on defense, like Tampa Bay or even the Isles.

    35. >> MATTY: Keep drinking that Kool-Aid.

      I intend you, why you want some chardkerm? Because I fully intend on cheering on the team and enjoy watching them play … which is what I did last season, and what I will continue to do until they show me backwards progress and since we are only into the 2nd month of the season I think it’s just a tad, just a tad, too early to say that they will end up worse than they did last season … Now, if at the end of the year, they are out of the playoffs or bounced off in another sweep well then I will stop drinking the so-called kool-aid you think I am fond of….

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