Renney: Whatever happens, happens

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Judging by the response to my previous post there’s obviously been plenty of debate about the job Tom Renney is doing, particularly in his allocation of ice time for prospects. Much of the criticism has been fair — among the coach’s faults is he’s probably too loyal for his own good. But I also think a lot of it has been over-the-top.

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That said, it’s important to know Renney isn’t thrilled with how he’s handling his ice time, either.

“I’m really disappointed with myself that my fourth-line doesn’t get six to eight minutes a night,” the coach told me. “But there’s an ebb and flow to a game and from a gut feeling, you go with it. The problem is you can’t really explain it to people. But at the same time, it doesn’t really make it right, especially when you’re trying to invest in the future. That’s the paradox.”

That paradox has proven to be far more prominent this year than last, when the Rangers faced none of the expectations they’re contending with now. And that leads us to the next part: Renney also admitted to me he can never get too comfortable in his job. That’s not to say it’s in jeopardy. But those of you who refer to Renney as “Teflon Tom” don’t see it the same way he does.

I hope you’ll pardon the long quote here, but I do think the entire statement is worth reading.

“It’s difficult because everyone in our organization wants to win the Stanley Cup and we’d rather do that sooner rather than later. But I also feel very sure that philosophically we are all on the same page, that as much as we’re pursuing the championship this year, we’re also pursuing the development of our organization that will withstand the test of time, and that we’ll be a contending team for years and years,” Renney said.

“I guess I can take solace in that, but it doesn’t change the fact that if I lose eight in a row, we’ve got a serious problem, and certainly I would personally. And I understand that. And I’m fine with that….But at the same time, I’m not shooting bullets at people in Iraq. Not to overuse that, but that kind of stuff means a lot to me. It moves me a lot. I’m not saving lives. I’m not going to battle for my country. I’m coaching a team that’s supposed to entertain the people who are watching. And if it so happens that it came to pass where they feel they need to make a change, that’s the way it goes. I’ll be on my feet, instantaneously.”

In other news:

  • Kevin Weekes will indeed be in net for the third time this year against the Sabres, marking his first start since Nov. 15.
  • Ryan Callahan is officially a go for “his NHL debut, an hour east of where he grew up”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061201/SPORTS01/612010432/1034/SPORTS. Here’s wishing him luck.

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    88 Comments

    1. Tom Renney said it himself, “It’s difficult because everyone in our organization wants to win the Stanley Cup and we’d rather do that sooner rather than later.”

      This is the crux of the matter, upper management (read James Dolan and most likely Glenn Sather) want to win sooner rather than later. Tom Renney may want to develop the younger players, but the people he works for are more interested in winning now.

      So it would seem that it’s not the fans that are against developing the young players after all.

    2. Sam:

      Today’s entry is what makes you a very good reporter, well beyond many of the veteran beat writers. Thanks for giving us some insight into Renney’s thinking.

      BTW, when I call him Teflon Tom (guilty as charged) it’s not necessarily because he’s safe in his job, it’s more that the mainstream press tends to ignore some of the faults that he himself admits in today’s quotes.

      Unlike some of my “unhappy” fellow posters, I actually think Renney has some good qualities. He was able to keep JJ happy and motivated last year (no small feat), and the locker room seemed to have good chemistry.

      What’s maddening to me is that he agrees that his TOI allocation is an issue, but then doesn’t seem to do anything about it. Almost like it’s out of his hands.

      You wonder based on his second quote if someone in the organization is giving him some heat on this issue. Maybe Don Maloney reads the LoHud blogs?

    3. it is like a pedophile saying: “I am very disappointed with myself that I don’t sleep with people over age of 12, but there is a gut feeling to it. The problem is you can’t really explain it to people. But at the same time, it doesn’t really make it right, especially when you’re trying to invest in the future. That’s the paradox.” Renney could talk his way out of a death sentence in the court.

      didn’t I say put this BS-meister on mute? He will say anything you want to hear and the continue doing everything the same way. And Sam falls for it every time.

      BTW, tell Renney, this team is only putting people to sleep, not entertaining them.

      “I’ll be on my feet, instantaneously.” WTF do these ambiguous statements mean? They are meaningless he is talking, but not saying anything really.

    4. That’s it, Vinny. Compare a hockey coach to a pedophile. Thanks for keeping things in their proper perspective.

      Dude, lighten up. It’s just a hockey team.

    5. DoodieMachetto on

      Thanks Sam, both for the article and your comment in response to Vinny Pooh.

      Twin: I am usually a Renney supporter and usually in disagreement with you, I have to admit you hit the nail on the head with this:

      “Unlike some of my “unhappyâ€? fellow posters, I actually think Renney has some good qualities. He was able to keep JJ happy and motivated last year (no small feat), and the locker room seemed to have good chemistry.

      What’s maddening to me is that he agrees that his TOI allocation is an issue, but then doesn’t seem to do anything about it. Almost like it’s out of his hands.”

      Cheers. Good Luck Callahan!

    6. Sam:

      I echo twin’s praise for the way you conduct yourself. Many of us who have watched this team for decades have gotten used to those writers who just restate whatever crap the PR staff hands out – or having to stomach the guesswork of a certain columnist with the initials LB.

      That quote from Renney is very revealing. The two main problems with the Cablevision Rangers are (1) They believe that it is possible to find some sort of shortcut to winning a Stanley Cup, and (2) At the end of the day, the organization is more than happy with a limited degree of success (i.e. making the playoffs). The “sooner rather than later” sentiment runs contrary to how you get things done. CVC will short-circuit long-term development in order to avoid the type of season the Penguins had last year, the feeling is that they have shareholders to answer to on a quarterly basis. However, if you look at things right now there isn’t a lot of doubt as to which team is better situated to be a serious cup contender every year for the next decade.

      But the sad fact is that the bean counters down at Penn Plaza can live with mediocrity as long as there are enough playoff appearances to maintain the facade that the Rangers are close. The priority is maintaining fan interest deep into Spring, actually winning the Cup would be a bonus.

      And while Renney is an inferior bench coach (sorry, his hunch-playing doesn’t inspire confidence) he is intelligent enough to understand his role in the organIzation. I agree with him that he would not survive an 8 game losing streak. First sign of extended trouble and he will be Sather’s latest fall guy. Fortunately for him, this team is too good for that to happen. Unfortunately for us, the price we pay in order to be only that good means that our long-term upside is limited to the probabilty of success from the annual exercise of bringing in a few mid-level FA’s. Read through Renney’s comments and the truth is revealed: The organIzation is not patient enough to build from within. As such, it doesn’t matter what prospects we have because management is unwilling to commit to seeing if they are as good as they are purported to be.

      So for the time-being, it will just be more of Renney tapping Jagr on the shoulder every other shift and praying for Lundqvist to mask the ineptitude of our d-men.

    7. Sam, just ignore Vinny. We can’t let him ruin this comment portion of this blog.

      Good luck to Ryan Callahan tonight!!

    8. “Compare a hockey coach to a pedophile. Thanks for keeping things in their proper perspective.”

      no I am saying that if he wants to lets say roll 4 lines, but says he is unable, then he has a problem and shouldn’t coach, because he knows what he is doing is wrong, yet he says he can’t help it. So either he should see a shrink or resign from coaching.

    9. DoodieMachetto on

      “be a serious cup contender every year for the next decade.”

      No one in the New NHL will be able to do this because of the Salary Cap, ESPECIALLY the Pens. When Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Staal, and others all break out of their entry level contracts, keeping all of them will prove too expensive. They have about 5 years, tops, before they start losing these guys. Look at Tampa Bay, NJ, and Buffalo. Tampa Bay lost Khabibulin and Kubina right after winning a cup, NJ needed Loudini to make millions of salary dollars disappear and for Brodeur to sign a nothing contract, and he STILL will lose Gomez at the end of the season. Buffalo is going to have to decide between Drury and Briere, but they’ll probably keep Briere and cut Drury loose.

    10. Vinny’s comment doesn’t warrent response, except that I’d be willing to bet that he is single ladies!

      Pemoco hit the nail on the head. It is no coincidence that Neil Smith went from Cup Winning Genius to utter dunder-head after the Dolans got their meathooks into the Garden. The first step in the decline was Gutkowski being shown the door after a season where he presided over a Stanley Cup Champion and an NBA Finalist. The mandate is to fill the luxury boxes and get as much revenue as possible. Winning is secondary, and the strategies of both the Rangers and the Knicks since 1995 follow strangley similar paths, with the same results. Expectations were SO low last year for the Rangers that nobody balked when Holik was bought out and the other vets dropped. The problem now is that Dolan smells cash, winning be damned.

      That being said, there is no excuse if this team does not win the division. As a recent convert to NHL Center Ice, I spent the Ranger off nights this week watching bits and pieces of the other teams in the division. They are all terrible. The Rangers are CLEARLY the most talented team in the division, what they are short on right now is a spark that can get them a little energy (and some ugly goals) when the big guns are not firing.

    11. DoodieMachetto on

      “If the Sabres let go of Chris Drury, the Rangers should be on him like spots on dice”

      They probably will, much to my, and others on this board’s collective chagrins. I like Drury, but if they are gonna rebuild, it has to start next season.

      “The Rangers are CLEARLY the most talented team in the division, what they are short on right now is a spark that can get them a little energy ”

      Agreed.

      PS, here is a dubious distinction that I just saw on ESPN.com, from the Elias Sports Bureau:

      Olaf Kolzig defeated the Stars for the first time in his career in the Capitals’ 4-3 victory. Kolzig was 0-9-1 in 11 previous games against Dallas. That leaves Kevin Weekes as the only active NHL goaltender who is winless in at least 10 career decisions against a particular opponent. Weekes is 0-8-4 in 13 games against Ottawa.

    12. French60wasp

      We have not recovered from the loss of Gutkowski.

      How would you reshuffle the lineup to accomodate Drury?

    13. Well it’s nice to see Renney knows there is an issue, and I would say I’m still on the fence whether this is his doing or the people above him. There are times where I am left scratching my head over TOI or pairings, but one thing that always sticks out in my head is that we had a 8-3-3 November, which is interesting considering by looking on this blog and other message boards you would think the sky is falling.

      I haven’t been a huge fan of Weekes but with the exception of the one Buffalo game, he’s kept us in them. Plus I rather see a rested Henrik in net for the Isles.

      And good luck to Callahan tonight…maybe playing in front of his fellow western new yorker’s will inspire him to play some impressive hockey!

    14. Doodie

      “but if they are gonna rebuild, it has to start next season. ”

      we hear that every season, most fans are willing to believe that which is why management is content to never do it.

      last season we did what most teams do every season. rebuilding is not something can happen one out of every ten years and should not be considered to be something out of the ordinary.

      Going into last night, the Sharks had 62 points this season from players they drafted in 2003. Buffalo has 44. The Rangers have 1 – a goal from Dawes, who is now getting unecessary “seasoning” in Hartford. Our track record is truly pathetic.

    15. DoodieMachetto on

      “Going into last night, the Sharks had 62 points this season from players they drafted in 2003. Buffalo has 44. The Rangers have 1 – a goal from Dawes, who is now getting unecessary “seasoningâ€? in Hartford. Our track record is truly pathetic.”

      That actually proves my point. You need to go into it all at once or not at all. That’s why I’m saying that they HAVE to do it next year. Not one or two players, I’m talking at least 5 or 6 rookies.

    16. Sam, I too think you are capable of learning from those of us that have watched the Rangers for a long time and have just had it with Ranger management.

      My assessment of Renney is that he is a smooth silver tongued salesman and is pushing a product that no one should buy. Sounds like he is a smooth interviewee and can easily lull you into his logic, especially in those comfortable chairs you mentioned, if you stop paying attention.

      He is somewhat constrained by the incompetance above him but he adds to it too. That’s why I identify Dolan, Sather, Renney as the three stooges.

      My views are quite radical but feel I’m right on the money. I’m persona non grotta on a couple of sites. On one of them, I said that Renney is a friggin idiot and I was thrown off. Don’t operate this blog that way. Just learn from all of us, some more than others. If those other sites want to be closeminded, then that’s their choice and they are stuck with it.

    17. DoodieMachetto on

      Lenny, he’s not selling carbolic smoke balls. he’s coaching a team. no coach in history wasn’t silvertongued unless the guy was a jerk, like Tortorella.

    18. pemoco – your post about the business and management is spot on.

      i am fairly young, 24, compared to some of you. and for a while i kidded myself into thinking that, from management’s perspective, it was indeed possible for winning and making money to be mutually exclusive. that is, making money wasn’t the only long term goal an organization had in striving to win. The sportsworld holds an incredibly emotional attachment over many of us, including you i’m sure, and emotions, more than not, usually get in the way of cold, hard logic. In this case, for a while my emotions for the rangers deluded me into thinking that they’d want to build a contender and win, even they didn’t have to for profit’s sake. haha, boy was i wrong.

      In this case, as you say, the cold hard logic is that the rangers are like any other product that has ever been sold in a free market. What’s important to any business is keeping demand for their product high, which CVC does fine by marketing very well, putting out a good enough product and paying just enough lip service to the idea of rebuilding to keep all types of fans engaged and satisfied. This is easier for CVC than, say, Proctor and Gamble, because CVC has no direct competitor (cmon, are we really gonna be converted to isles or devils fans even if the rangers missed the playoffs for 20 years straight? highly unlikely). The only competitor CVC has is disinterest – and as I said, they manage the organization well enough, and know their customer base well enough (there are enough die hard NYR fans in ny for CVC to remain profitable even in down times) to get by just fine.

      If CVC knows that the garden will sell out and sales of merchandise will stay relatively solid for a 10 year period (a fairly long term outlook for any business model, especially in today’s business climate) whether they “rebuild” or not, the choice is obvious. Rebuilding entails much investment, patience from the fans (which NYC just does not have, with the exception of you and fans of your ilk), and in most cases a decline in fan attendance and merchandise sales during the off years (even the rangers, i’m afraid, wouldn’t be immune to this decline if the team engaged in a true rebuild). If signing big free agents each year will keep the garden reliably packed game in and game out, then that’s an easy ticket for ownership.

      It’s a business decision on CVC’s part, and nothing more in my mind, that leads Dolan to run the Ragners as he does and allow himself to be satisfied by Sathers mediocrity (mediocrity is putting it nicely).

      In my opinion though, CVC is making a very poor calcualtion. If anyone wants to find the perfect example of a supremely run organization, look no further than the Bronx. Steinbrenner makes hordes of money from merchandise and even more from the YES network. These avenues of revenue generation, unlike ticketsales, are theoretically limitless – while there is a fixed number of tickets each year, there is limitless number of potential buyers and watchers of merchandise and the YES network. Steinbrenner knows this, and knows the only way people will consistenly keep these streams of revenue nice and fat is if the yankees win consistently – something they’ve done quite well for the past decade.

      Dolan, on the other hand, apparently does not see the benefit in either growing home grown stars (jeter’s arguably the biggest NY sports star ever, up there with ruth and mantle in terms of his value to the organization) that could become some of the best, or in putting out a team that could legitimately contend for a championship. Just enough to make the playoffs, as you’ve been saying, is all that’s needed to tote along fans like DoodieMachetto and co. Meanwhile, while Dolan’s raking in big bucks, the rangers are languishing in mediocrity.

      There’s a small part of me that gets the last laugh when I think about all the profit potential Dolan is missing in the long run and how he’s basically screwing himself, but then I think about how the rangers could very well never truly contend for a string of years as long as he’s in charge, and I stop laughing, and I get annoyed as hell…

    19. Lenny –

      I agree with you…to an extent. I want this blog to be an open forum for all you, even if it means criticizing the coaches, players, or dare I even suggest it, me.

      I just don’t see the point in getting personal, and if you refer to Renney as a friggin’ idiot, I would say it’s going too far. It’s a simple difference. Say a move is moronic. Say the Rangers played like idiots. Say, “Sam, that’s a stupid point you just made.” I can live any of those. I just ask that you direct your criticism at the work, and not the actual people.

      Again, this is just hockey. I know it’s big business, and along with being part of my career, it’s something I feel passionate about, too. But even thenm very rarely is there reason to go after someone’s character.

      Sam

    20. Ok Sam, but isn’t that what blogs are for? The freedom to blast or praise the team and members thereof? To me, calling Renney an idiot falls within those guidelines. By that same logic, if I called him a genius, that’s getting personal too. Just because it’s praise or criticism, it’s still personal by your definition. Also calling him a genius would be an outright lie. :)

      But, where I agree with you about the personal stuff is among each other. This blog I’m sure you set up to be about the Rangers and not a vehicle to attack each other personally. On that part, I’m agreeable with you.

      Hope that isn’t a problem for you.

    21. If we roll four lines steadily we’ll see less of Jagr.

      Has Colton Orr really earned ice time from Jagr?

      Renney is right – sometimes you have to go with something more than the final scoresheet. You’ve got your third line coming off the ice. You look and see Colton Orr and Ryan Hollweg ready to go, having barely hit the ice. You look and see the other team’s second line out. You look and see Jagr fully rested.

      Who do you go with? Should be an easy answer. With all the stoppages in today’s game the fourth line is less necessary. They’re there mostly to let the other lines take a breather, as well as to put some punishment out there.

      Fourth lines have become less and less of a necessity. The Rangers haven’t been fans of them in ages. I lament their loss, but if your first line is fully charged you go with your first line.

      And yes, it’s really only Hollweg and Orr getting under 8 minutes.

    22. With regards to Drury, it would be an off season pickup to fill the 2nd line center role if Immonen ends up being a career AHL’er, a distinct possibility since he has not elevated his game and is 24 years old. Cullen is still better suited as a 3rd line center.

    23. “Lenny, he’s not selling carbolic smoke balls”

      Doodle, he’s selling a flawed system which is worse than selling carbolic smoke balls. He’s very good at it, much better than one guy you mentioned, Tortorella. John wears his emotions on his sleeve and would lose at poker with his obvious body language. I think Renney has the facade to be a great poker player. You’d never know what cards he’s holding.

    24. There are a handful of us that are pissed that a “rebuild” isn’t occuring right now. But look at it this way, if we did a full rebuild right now, we’d probably be losing every game and I guarantee that more people would be pissed at that than a handful of us being pissed over a non-rebuild. Us losing every game for the sake of the future would be terrible for this organization since it needs big stars and a decent record to sell out every game. No wins = no fans = no money. I think they’re doing it the smart way by slowly trickling in the players, even if it is slower than almost every team in the NHL.

    25. Reality check: Tom Renney’s primary job is to win hockey games. Plain and simple. Developing future talent is his secondary role. In my view, the key quote from Renney is the following: “But there’s an ebb and flow to a game and from a gut feeling, you go with it.” Now step back and look at the nature of the games the Rangers played in November. 6 of the 14 games went into overtime. The overwhelming majority of the 14 games were decided by 1 or 2 goals. Given his primary goal of winning, he’s mostly been in a position of playing those players that are going to have an immediate impact on the game at hand. Getting guys like Dawes 10 minutes of ice time is not what he is focusing on when he’s involved in a one goal game heading into the third period. Given the tight nature of the games over the last month, I’m not going to get on his case about his inability to increase playing time for the fourth line. On the other hand, I disagree with some of the players that he chooses to dress for games, but that is very different topic.

    26. It all comes down to perspective.

      Is it Renney’s job to win the most games this week, this month, this year? CVC shills to its fan base in the shortest possible timeframe to paint a positive picture. This leads to the piecemeal approach to team-building the Rangers have practiced over the last decade.

      On the msgnetwork, it’s all style over content. The emphasis is on making people buy into the illusion of progress rather than do the hard work of making substantive progress.

    27. From Beamer:

      “Renney is right – sometimes you have to go with something more than the final scoresheet. You’ve got your third line coming off the ice. You look and see Colton Orr and Ryan Hollweg ready to go, having barely hit the ice. You look and see the other team’s second line out. You look and see Jagr fully rested.”

      As soon as you said,”Renney is right”, BINGO, a flag went up and directed me to the keyboard. :)

      In the short term, sure you have a point of using the rested Jagr and his line but as shown last year, over an 82 game schedule, it doesn’t work. Same goes for Shanahan who has looked tired lately.

      You mention the 4th line but what I want to draw your attention to is the 2nd and 3rd line. Here’s where the Rangers colud have given their young studs at Hartford the chance. I think the odds are better than 50/50 that if the Rangers brought up Immonen, he would be the ideal center for the 2nd line, with Shanahan on the right and Dawes on the left, the team would have a better record and both Jagr’s and Shanahan’s TOI would be more reasonable.

      The third line could then be Prucha, Cullen and Hall. Less pressure for Prucha and Cullen, plus a steady TOI for Hall who should benefit from it. The 4th line could be made up from this season’s version of the Black Aces, remember them?

      For this season, that would be Betts, Ward, Hollweg, Hossa and Orr. Bench two of them and play the other three, preferably on a rotating basis. On that 4th line, Betts, Ward and Hossa kill penalties and can do that job when the Rangers are shorthanded.

      Putting newbie Callahan on the 4th line tonight is plain idiotic (see?? I didn’t call Renney an idiot but the thought is there).

      I think that Renney needs to sit down with Willie Randolph, who is the anti-Renney and gives his youth the chance to sink or swim and so far, more have swam than sunk.

      Set that one up Sam and maybe Renney can learn something.

      Jeez, I forgot to mention the defense. Next comment.

    28. Beamer

      There is more to rolling four lines than giving identical TOI to all forwards, that’s overly simplistic. And playing Jagr more minutes does not automatically mean he will score more. He has actually been more productive when his ice time has been under control than when he’s been extended out to 24-26 minutes.

      And if you look back, Shanahan has averaged in the neighborhood of 17 minutes a night for the last decade. So far he’s averaging over 21 this season. I don’t think that is a wise way to manage an older player. Are you going to be surprised if suddenly Shanahan is ineffective or injured down the stretch when he is being asked to play 20-25% more than he is used to?

    29. Lenny

      The Hallmark of the Sather-era Rangers is bringing players in and ask them to perform in roles other than what they are used to or best at.

      Dawes doesn’t excel on the 3rd or 4th line when he has been a top 6 forward since puberty. Pock gets zero pp minutes (on the rare occasion he’s dressed) even though he made his mark as a pp qb. Hell, Cullen was the pp qb for the Stanley Cup chamions, maybe he could do the same for us?

    30. From Evgeni:

      “There are a handful of us that are pissed that a “rebuildâ€? isn’t occuring right now. But look at it this way, if we did a full rebuild right now, we’d probably be losing every game and I guarantee that more people would be pissed at that than a handful of us being pissed over a non-rebuild.”

      Actually it’s more than a handful but that aside, nobody is asking for a full rebuild, especially with the #1 line plus Shanahan doing as well but what;s the objection to rebuilding around those guys? Is it Jagr who is throwing up red flags to Renney? Is it Renney, just not able to handle the rebuilding? Worse case, if the scenario I alluded to in my previous post didn’t work out, the team would be no worse for trying but might be a hell of a lot better if they tried to add guys like Immonen, Dawes, Pock, Baranka and Girardi (there, I mentioned the defense, I’ll leave it to you to decide who should be gone).

      No way we would be losing every game no matter what lines 2,3,4 look like with Jagr and company getting 25+ minutes a game. Might be a different story in March and April when they are worn down. Long before that time, if the rebuild was put into place, we would know well before that if it worked. We better do it soon or else we’ll never know. What we will know is that the Rangers are prone for another end of season collapse that might even cost them getting into the playoffs.

    31. lenny:

      I 100% agree with you that we should be putting some kids in the lines, but to support Renney, by putting in the kids, then we could be a lot worse. Of course, we’ll never know, but I think he wants the group we have now to get some chemistry going and by adding younger players, that really won’t help. I mean, I’d like to see a completely new fourth line, but we really have no room anyone.

    32. I’d be pretty happy if the coach could figure out how to get an average TOI distribution resembling this:

      Line 1: 20 min
      Line 2: 15 min
      Line 3: 15 min
      Line 4: 10 min

      The NYR’s is more like:

      Line 1: 25 min
      Line 2: 20 min
      Line 3: 12 min
      Line 4: 3 min

    33. DoodieMachetto on

      Lenny, your lineup is flawed because it will lead to one of three results:

      1) It will be able to kill penalties, but there will be no one in the lineup that can hit

      2) There will be hitters in the lineup, but there will be no PK

      3) A little of each, but neither being effective.

      It also doesn’t account for Ortmeyer’s return.

      And I don’t know what you’re talking about with Randolph. Percentage-wise, the Mets are made up of more store-bought veterans than the Rangers.

      As far as your comment about Immonen playing 2nd line center, I’ve said this before 100 times and I’ll say it probably triple that before the season is over: When the Rangers signed Cullen, they were probably expecting him to take a 3rd line role, and have Immonen slide in the 2nd line center where he played well last year when Rucchin went down. For some reason or another, they didn’t like his camp or preseason or something personal about him and put him down in the minors, where he did rather poorly up until the last couple of games. At no point has Cullen demonstrated to anyone any ability or characteristic of a 2nd line centerman. He is a 3rd line guy, no question. Something happened with Immonen that they didn’t bring him up. Hopefully, he builds on his last few games and he gets brought up so that Cullen can slide down and Orr can get bumped from the lineup.

    34. I love when other posters misrepresent the position of the “unhappy” group by saying we want a “total rebuild.” I don’t think I’ve heard anyone (well, except vinny pooh) say that he/she wants a “total” rebuild. Most of us have advocated an approach that adds 2-3 young players a year. That way, in a few years the majority of your roster is young, has been “battle tested” and is ready to take over from the vets. If you’re missing a key element from your youth, then you can look to fill it via free agency/trade.

      This year, most of us wanted to see Pock, Immonen and Dawes be given a real opportunity. Instead we get to watch Ozo, Cullen and Hossa. And you wonder why we’re unhappy?

    35. DoodieMachetto on

      “This year, most of us wanted to see Pock, Immonen and Dawes be given a real opportunity. Instead we get to watch Ozo, Cullen and Hossa. And you wonder why we’re unhappy?”

      I have a few problems with that, but first, let me say I agree with Immo and Pock. Ok, heres my problems:

      1) Cullen isn’t bad, he’s just bad where he is. He would be an excellent 3rd line center.

      2) I’m more interested in Baranka being up in Rachunek’s spot than Dawes being up in anyone else’s.

      3) Hossa isn’t the worst forward in the lineup. At least he can kill penalties. Orr does nothing.

      And you aren’t speaking for the enitre “unhappy” group. Vinny Pooh isn’t the only one seeking a total rebuild.

    36. Doodie,

      We have both Orr and Hollweg who can hit. In my scenario, they will be part of the Black Aces group and can be used against teams that their hitting is needed.

      I haven’t put any of them on line 3, you have a point about it though. If we play a low scoring, hard (or dirty) hitting team, we could make sure that both Orr and Hollweg are in the lineup and if necessary, sit prucha or Cullen or both for those games. Also Baranka should be in there. Understand he plays hard and can hit. We need some of that.

    37. OK, I admit that I’m not the “unhappy” group spokesman. I lost the election to lenny.

      Why would the coach want to limit Jagr’s ice time a little? How about these stats (stolen from a professor friend):

      The TOI figures and scoring stats below represent JJ’s stats in games in which he played the applicable amount of time. Clearly he’s much more productive in games where his ice time is less than 22 minutes.

      TOI 24:24+ 22:35-24:21

    38. well that cut and paste didn’t work too well. To summarize, last year when JJ played less than 22 minutes a game, he scored twice as many goals (9 vs 18) as when he played more than 24 minutes a game, and more than twice as many points (19 vs 44). When he plays 22-24 minutes, the differences in total points are still substantial (29 vs 44), although his goal total is almost equal (16 vs 18). Compelling argument for keeping his ice time to a reasonable amount.

    39. Three main reasons to why the 4th line does not get a lot of ice time…

      #1. Special Teams- Rangers take LOTS of penalties. Add that to our fair share of power plays and you no longer have a 60 minute pie to divide among the 4 lines.

      #2. Extended TV Timeout- With 2 full minutes of rest, 3-5 times a period, Jagr’s line gets more rest and is ready to go more often.

      #3. Puck Control- Jagr’s line can hold the puck in a zone much longer than our other lines, so their shifts get stretched longer, because why change when you’ve got your opponents trapped and tired.

      Sure, I’d like to see players like Dawes and Callahan get more time, but if Jags is ready to go, I wouldn’t argue.

      Does anyone remember ’94? Keenan played the HECK out of our top players.

      Sincerely,

      Rich

    40. Pemoco is right. It’s 100% about building the corporate image and 0% about the fans. All you have to do is watch 50 Greatest Moments in MSG History. The actual moments are great. What’s not is the pornographic love affair this documentary has with itself and with the Garden. Relentless promotion to the point of nausea and almost making the docu unwatchable. But it doesn’t end there. Every third commercial on MSG is the same noxious promotion festival. Just so much you can take before running from the room screaming. This is a microcosm of how the Dolans operate. To them, the fans are stupid and will buy whatever they’re selling, so “let’s pound them into the ground with it.” Unfortunately, there is no gameplan for winning hockey and basketball. Just sign as many stars as possible and cater to them. And we, all of us, as loyal fans either pretend this isn’t happening and continue to pour our guts into the team or…have a problem with it, like many on this site do.

      To prove my point, just look at who Sather hired as coaches. Ron Low (Edmonton buddy and yes man), Brian Trottier (hated Islander and yes man), Tom Renney (Canadian old boys club yes man). And the Islanders get Ted Nolan, who should have been our coach years ago. Nice, huh?

    41. Twin, Jagr was able to play less time because we already had the lead in most of those games and therefore we could use our 3rd and 4th lines to nuetralize their scoring lines, as oppose to repeatedly sending Jagr back out to pick up the offensive slack.

    42. NYRich82

      No offense, but that sounds like you’re guessing.

      Doodie

      Correct as you may be about Cullen’s best spot being 3rd line center, when he was signed there were several quotes from Ranger officials about how he was ready to step up in class. Same was said for Hall, that he needed a chance to show that he was Top 6 material. That is an indictment of your talent analysis, rather that of Sather/Maloney/Renney. They brought in mid-level NHL talent hoping it would be an upgrade. You can argue whether Shanahan/Cullen/Hall is an improvement over Sykora/Rucchin/Moore – it’s not a slam dunk either way imo. But what is clear is that it signaled that there was no change in the organIzation approached personnel issues: the preferred option is to bring in players from outside than to chance the success of those from within. It’s even moreso when it comes to the blueline, but I can’t think about that stuff before dinner.

    43. NYRich82:

      Not surprised that you would say that. I’m just surprised doodie or wildcard didn’t beat you to it. Just kidding guys(gals), don’t get worked up.

      Sure, there are lots of possible explanations that you can apply to those stats, I just found them interesting and would ask that you consider that one plausible explanation is that because he’s fresher he’s more effective. That’s at least as plausible as your theory.

    44. Ok, you caught me, it was just a guess. Sorry, I should have positioned it as an opinion, rather than a fact.

      Without being able to correlate Jagr’s ratio between Points-to-TOI-per-game against win%, making sure to take into account the number of penalty minutes Jagr served during said game, then we are all just hypothesizing.

    45. Reading today’s stuff brings up a few points.

      1…someone in the Ranger front office is reading Sam’s blog (and why not, it’s the place to be)

      2…Renney’s comments come across as an attempt to head off the questioning analytical fans at the pass. In other words, he knows that his TOI is indefensible, so he acknowledges that it is bad, but adds that it is out of his hands, because those guys above him want him to win now.

      3…again, Renney uses the same excuse to claim that he would like to use more youth, but those mean ol’ bosses would can his as-pirations if he loses a few in a row.

      4…what I posted yesterday was confirmed by salesman of the month Tom. I said that the Rangers brass, including him, have a the-future-is-now mentality, and he confirmed that.

      5…Renney says “And if it so happens that it came to pass where they feel they need to make a change, that’s the way it goes. I’ll be on my feet, instantaneously.â€?

      So, if it is no big deal if you get canned Tom, then why don’t you show some brass ones to the brass, and do a little more team play and youth play, and let the chips (Buffalo chips) fall where they may?

    46. I keep reading Cullen 3rd line center. But wasn’t he a winger with Carolina – & hasn’t he been a wing most of his career?

    47. by the way, the rangers yah they are in first place in the division and 3rd in the conference. ownership well there job is to put out a winning team every year looks like this years group is going to also be a winning team. are they going to win the cup? who knows. ottawa was and is a terrific team for years now. not even a finals berth. its a crap shoot when you get to the playoffs. but the rebuilding thing is so silly. teams that go into TOTAL rebuilds are awful teams bottom of the league teams. unfortunately even in the bad years we were always close to being a playoff team so we never rebuilt. last year we were a first place team all year and you expect them to go into a rebuild now? with jagr playing the best hockey he’s played in years? its just not feasible. the best they can do is keep drafting and holding their assets which they are doing and plugging new kids in here and there. last year it was lundqvist, prucha, orty, betts, and tyutin. this year unfortunately no one else has jumped in but its still early. maybe callahan and pock or baranka. next year maybe dubinsky, dawes, staal, and korpikoski. you talk about patience with the rebuild why don’t we show a little patience as well.

    48. From French:
      “If the Sabres let go of Chris Drury, the Rangers should be on him like spots on dice”

      You certainly know everyone in my hometown and I would love for that to happen ;)

      Sam, I’m curious if you’ve considered taping the press conferences (or whatever) with Renney and posting it on here? I’d be interested in that.

    49. Honestly, if there’s anyone out there who can tell me exactly what it is that Jason Ward adds to this team that Ryan Callanhan hasn’t already shown he can replace, speak now, please. Several hits, a decent shot, setting up another, and a nice complement to Hollweg. And get this… apparentlyb the kid not only plays a good, hustling aggressive game downb low in the zone, but he can actually score.

      Im sorry but I really believe that a fourth line of Hollweg, Callahan and Dawes could provide so much spark and energy to this team, plus they’d score a bunch. The notion that these guys are better off playing first line minutes in Hartford instead of getting the 8-12 minutes they should be getting here is laughable, really. A fourth line that can go out there and wear down the opposing defense enough by not only playing aggressively but generating scoring chances (just because Ward and Betts get the puck deep – the opposing D can take a nap while they’re out there because they will never score) so Jagr and company can go out there and score a bit more easily, and at the same time, we’re building for our future.

      The Rangers are just like the fool who saves nothing for retirement and then when the time comes wonders why he has no money to live.

      BTW thanks for the great reporting Sam.

    50. Andy in the UK on

      Peter – regarding your thoughts on a fourth line of Hollweg, Callahan and Dawes:

      I’m not convinced that fourth line roles with primarily defensive duties would be a great education for the likes of Callahan and Dawes but putting that aside they would not get 8-12 minutes in the current Ranger setup.

      Needless to say it would be great to see them given signficant roles on the second line with the Rangers but I cannot see that happening with the current coaching philosophy. I’d rather see role players like Ward and Orr stifled in the system than potential top-six guys ruined when they could continue developing in Hartford.

    51. Sam, did Straka get hurt? Hopefully not seriously since he left on his own but he seemed to be favoring his hand .. I got the BUF feed and they made no mention of it, in fact, they thought he was still out there although he wasn’t …

    52. Andy –

      Points well taken. But who says the fourth line has to have primarily defensive responsibilities? That’s part of my point.

    53. I thought it would have been nice to see callahan on the 2nd line, even if only a few minutes as an experiment. He gets first line minutes in Hartford, he cant be expected to produce much with 2 minutes of ice time on the 4th line with 2 “snipers” such as Hollweg and Orr.

      Why are the rangers so afraid of trusting youth with big minutes? So many teams around the league are really successful doing so, and It cant hurt,…how many goals has the 2nd line netted in recent games?

      By the way, I personally feel the problem with the 2nd line is Cullen, not Prucha. Put him back on the 3rd line where he belongs.

    54. Tom Renney jr. on

      even when Buffalo has an off night, and makes lots of mental mistakes, the Rangers still can’t beat them

    55. Tom Renney jr. on

      what if they don’t WANT to play in Hartford??

      from Dellapina***

      Though Kasparaitis has tried to remain his usual upbeat self in the dressing room, it clearly is wearing on him to remain out of the lineup.

      In contrast, Pock recently opted to remain with the Rangers rather than go down to Hartford for a conditioning stint when Tom Renney asked him what he’d prefer to do.

      This was unlike last season, when Dale Purinton angered management by refusing a conditioning assignment. Rather, Renney was concerned about Pock’s development and decided to leave it up to the player. Pock said he thought he was getting more out of practicing with the Rangers than he would playing in games with Hartford.

      Of course, that could change if Renney can’t find a way to get Pock into the lineup soon. Then, the conversation might change from offering Pock a chance to play in Hartford to forcefully suggesting that he agree to go.***

      I guess that “development” in Hartford ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Especially financially.

    56. Tom Renney jr. on

      I guess Jagr ain’t in the mood to be a leader.

      ****from Zipay**

      both Martin Straka and Jaromir Jagr were unavailble for the first three rounds of the shootout, Straka because of injury, Jagr by choice.

      Jagr, said coach Tom Renney, “is not completely comfortable shooting in the top three right now. We’ve discussed it. He was going to be No. 4″ Jagr is 0-for-2 this season in shootout attempts; he was 2 for 8 last season.

      Straka, who scored his 15th goal of the season to tie the game at 2 in the third period, strained his right hamstring on a shift at the tail end of the period, getting his skate jammed between the ice and boards on a turn.****

      Just boo Jagr and he folds like an accordion.

    57. If Renney is so concerned about keeping his job (via winning), then why didn’t he use HL for the shootout?

      To quote Michelletti during the middle of the first period: “Sam, looks like Adam Hall has found a home on the 2nd line.”
      End of game Hall, Cullen and Shanahan totalled a -7 for the night.

    58. “chardkerm December 2nd, 2006 at 2:42 am

      If Renney is so concerned about keeping his job (via winning), then why didn’t he use HL for the shootout?”

      1. He made his goaltender choice in Kevin Weekes. Good coach trusts his tender especially after he played a good game to get them to OT

      2. Bringing ANY goalie off the bench to face the SO is a very risky move. Cold unstretched groins, tendons, hammys. Not fair to either goalie.

    59. Cliff, agree on #2, disagree on #1. 3 goals on 19 shots not exactly “a good game”. Esp. when his snoozing led to Buffs 1st goal.

      My point being, that Renney’s excuse for mismanaged TOI numbers is that he had to win to keep his job. If he’s as desperate as he made himself out to be with Sam, then he should have gone with unscored-upon shootout goalie HL.

    60. chardkerm/lennyNYR, your anti-management rants are tiresome already, give it a rest. Just because they don’t follow the plan laid out in your displaced isolated perspective or win every single game doesn’t mean the whole structure of the Rangers needs your rant for an overhaul.
      Renney is as much an idiot as you are a bona-fide hockey analyst, which is not at all on both counts.

    61. you know z1ny, just because the end results are decent – and that’s all I’d ever call 3 OT losses in a row, ever, despite the standings – doesn’t mean that all’s well. The team’s defensive corps is worse than last year with the exception of Ward and Tyutin (despite his horror show of a game last night, Weekes made Fedor pay for every mistake), and the approach of way overplaying 4 of the league’s best players while wearing them into the ground in early December while burying any possible future contributors to the team is one the Rangers will pay for later this year and next. And alot of what keeps happening is going to wear on Jagr, Shanny, and Ljundqvist (see Jagrs comments to the media over the last few weeks), who I would assume are really starting to get sick and tired of watching the defense give pucks away and play matador all night long, not to mention they would probably love for someone else to score a goal once in a while.

      And just as Rucchin wasno second line center this year, Cullen is not this year, and as a result of him trying to constantly generate offense that he just doesn’t have the skills to generate, he’s become a huge defensive liability (that line it seems is always on the ice for goals against). He should be returned to line #3, which then might actually score once every 10 games.

      Again people, stop applauding mediocrity. The Rangers are a .500 team right now. I recognize that so are many others, but I want my team to be the best one. Is that asking so much?

    62. chardkerm “Esp. when his snoozing led to Buffs 1st goal.” are you talking about weekes??? the guy who was tripped by straka accidently…yeah snooking..more like knocked on his butt and lost were the puck was…trying to hard to blame one player. Weekes had a good game…the fisrt one had help, in the tripping, the second was a great shot, and the 3rd was a good move and shot, of all of them I would say the 3rd one is the one I would like him to have saved….but its not like he didnt keep the rangers in the game with big saves. ALSO you will talk about TOI like Renney is giving the top line to muchm, and they will wear down, but you want to keep riding Lundqvist…contradicting there a bit…King looked tired in his last start, the Islanders game is MUCH more important that teh Buf game, by a LONG shot….so it was VERY smart to rest Lundqvist for the agme last night so he is ready to go agins the NYI on sunday. Give up on +/-, Hall Shanny and Cullen had Nothing to do with the gaols scored, thats why +/- is such a bad stat, shanny was ont eh ice for a Rangers goal…but it was a PP goal so he dosnt get a plus, and none of them could ahve really stopped teh goals scored…so be real, Hall had a god game on the 2nd line, and PP had more chances than usual on te 3rd line last night, had 2 shots and was set up for a few more and teh D stopped the puck from getting to hima few times. Cullen/Hall/Shanny had a good game, got the puck deep and made some good plays. SO did the 4th line, and teh 3rd, and the 1st line was great.

    63. Peter: you have to admit the Defense is coming around for the most part. Malik/Rozsival have improved 100% over earlier inth e year, and are just about were they were last year. OZO is the weak link on D, would Liek to see Pock in there for him, but Rachunek has played well, he plays teh body and rides guys into the boards, if not hard at least he nutralises them…more than most of the d were doing. Ward Tyutin area good pair, and only one goal woulf I get on any about..the 3rd, Tyutin stopped mving, focused ont he puck caririer and forgot that the puck could move to Drury, a little mixup cost the rangers…but he is still young..and ward ALMOST made up for him mistake…but oh well. he rangers could play so much better, and I think they will start to get better soon. A prob with the 2nd line IS CULLEN, he should be on the 3rd line spot, call up Immonen for eth 2nd line spot, at least than MAYBE they woudl win a fe more draws, and maybe score a bit more…but I dont know if that would mes up what the rangers have with a good 3rd line…

    64. “snooking” Hmmm I made up a new word LOL…should have been snoozing…jeesh…my bad…

    65. Ziny, you sound like a Rodent/Bird disciple. So you think my views on management are isolated? Have you been reading the posts here and other places where the members aren’t always trying to suck up to their exalted leaders?

      You, my friend, are the one who is disillusioned and as long as fans like you buy this mediocrity crap from this organization since Dolan took over, will result in it continuing indefinitely. Thank you very much and you can bet that my management rants will continue on just like your acceptance of this non-ending mediocrity.

    66. LENNY, PETER…I guess we should be thankful that this place is a bastion of democracy. Otherwise a few of us might have already been exposed to the horrors of polonium. Or beheadings. Or stonings. Or even a weekend with Al Trautwig.

    67. The more who disagree here the better. That goes for both sides. Everyone agreeing on everything isn’t going to happen. Disagree, its good, which is something Renney’s ice time is not.

    68. Count me as one who thinks that Renney is a pretty good coach. He has achieved good results so far. He has benched players for poor performance. Compare him to Ron Low and Bryan “Mr. Essay” Trottier and you can see the improvement. Does he frustrate me at times, yes (Hossa, the useless Colton Orr) but overall he is doing a very good job.

    69. nobody is happy with being .500. We just disagree with what to do about it. While they have people like JJ and Shanny it is difficult to blow up the foundation and pull a Penguins to get the next generation of superstars – and Dolan etc will not allow it. That would be the easiest way to be cup contenders down the road. I just don’t think our youth is that good (and for that we can blame the organizational mindset as well as Smith and Sather (Maloney). Given the choices, I would rather they make the playoffs then play those some are touting on the 2nd line or even the 1st line. Missing the playoffs and getting the 10th overall pick is not the way to build a championship team. Missing the palyoffs and getting the 1st pick (2 or 3 years running) on the other hand could eventually lead to a parade or 2 down the canyon of heroes.

    70. I do think some of the lower picks have been clever but not being developed properly in the Ranger system. I can’t buy that there is no one in the system that can play better than some of the fringe NHLers on the roster now.

      I would love Renney and company to prove me wrong by giving a decent chance to the top prospects to play up here and show me that they all suck. I might then change my mind about the lack of bringing up prospects. Unfortunately, I don’t see Renney having the balls to at least try so until he proves me wrong, I’m right!!

    71. If you have the viewpoint that Renney is right on the money for thinking that there is no one on the farm who can do a better job, then you should ask yourself the question,”If they don’t think their prospects can cut the mustard in the NHL, why the hell did they sign them?” If in fact that is the case, which is a mystery right now, then the Ranger managment has also shown gross incompetance for making the pick. Can’t have it both ways.

      My opinion is as I stated in my previous post.

    72. remember I’m talking about 1st or 2nd line minutes. Putting a young player on the 4th line for 4 minutes will quiet some (but doubtful) but hardly accomplish anything other than saying we have xx rookies in the lineup. The so called prospects (I’m talking forwards) are mainly 3rd and 4th liners – they were signed as cheap alternatives to fill out the roster down the road in a salary cap era.

    73. “””I just don’t think our youth is that good””””

      Oh really? then what would you call the performance of Lundy and Prucha last season before the Olympics?

      And, incidentally, for those who are calling the Rangers a “winning team”, they now have won 22 of their last 54 games.

    74. 4Rangers – I guess I have to be more specific for you (I did not mean Henrik, Prucha or Tyutin) – geared more to the extra players on the Roster (Pock and Dawes when he was up) and the usual forwards suspects mentioned from Hartford.

    75. and my point is we’ll never know, unless and until they get the same chance to play that Lundy and Prucha got last year, but only because of injuries, not mgmt. desires

    76. true and I would encourage them to play young players especially when the vets are banged up (J Ward being out is a perfect example).

      Of course 4 minutes playing on a line with Orr will not tell us much or add to the players development. I would love to see young Rangers becoming the next Leetch, the next Messier etc. – but just because someone is young does not make them good (or as good as Sid the Kid and his Pens mates or some of the players on the Sabres.

      Rangers need to draft forwards with speed and passion who can finish, pass the puck and be reliable on the defensive end. I think more of the problem is on the drafting end and it seems like so far the players traded for at the time of the purge were not “A” prospects but rather 3rd and 4th liners.

    77. from CBS sportsline…

      “””
      Track This Team
      Team News

      Sabres sweep season series against Rangers with shootout win

      Rangers report: Notes, quotes
      –Rangers coach Tom Renney switched to a neutral-zone trap early in the game and it enabled his team to nullify the rush speed with which Buffalo had singed it in the previous three meetings. “”””

      Oh, boy. Now we can watch the Rangers trap as desperate Renney tries to cling to his job. Now we know why the 1st period slowed to a walk after the first 10 minutes. I guess we can now call them Renney’s New York Devils.

    78. “new NHL” my fanny. now we’ve got the Rangers charging fans big bucks to watch them play the trap. what a friggin’ joke.

    79. and for anyone wondering why the Rangers don’t shoot from the PP point, and why Rosival and Straka are almost always there…

      from dellapina…

      “””No, the two don’t see eye-to-eye on everything — remember last season when Jagr told the Daily News that anybody who thought more point shots was the solution to improving a power play was “stupidâ€?? But Renney, who was the guy calling for more point shots, took that for what it was —

      Jagr was calling the strategy stupid, not the coach. A fine distinction, but one that Renney was able to make because he isn’t wrapped up in his own importance or infallibility.”””

      Hell, why not just call Jagr coach too? He is running the show, calling the shots, and Renney is just his waterboy.

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