I suppose the headline’s a little dramatic, but I like the way it reads. It almost sounds like a psychological thriller:
“In a world where right wings can’t find anyone to pass them the puck….Blair Betts….Marcel Hossa…and Brendan Shanahan as Himself in….The Shanny Dilemma.
“Coming to an arena near you….(Rated R for explicit language from frustrated Rangers fans)”
Anyway, it’s funny that Shanahan could potentially be grouped with two checking forwards tomorrow against the Devils given the veteran’s comments to me a few days ago. True story: I had been asked by our corporate brethren at USA Today to do a short profile on a potential MVP candidate on the Rangers. The name originally suggested was Jaromir Jagr, perhaps in large part because of the Big Fella’s point total and the fact that he narrowly missed out on the Hart Trophy last year. But after talking it over with a few people, I countered that Shanahan was actually the more worthy player so far; and when asked for a reason, I mentioned the sheer number of roles that the veteran has been used in by the Rangers this year.
When I asked Shanahan about his versatility, he admitted it was important because the last thing he wanted to become was an irrelevant goal scorer.
“There’s going to come a day when I can’t score goals like I’m accustomed to on the NHL level, and I want to make sure I’m still valuable and that my game isn’t measured on just goals,” he said. “I’ve watched too many guys who can’t score anymore and they’re discarded. My feeling over the years was to build up the rest of my game so that I wasn’t a marginal player.”
To be sure, Shanahan has obviously been anything other than marginal this year. But if the Hossa-Betts-Shanahan line is a reality tomorrow, he may be getting a headstart on his career as a checking/defensive forward.
And therein lies the dilemma: at least at even strength, the Rangers don’t have anyone who can get Shanahan the puck. Matt Cullen plays the game at 100 miles an hour but is most effective one-on-one. Betts is best equipped to shut down the opposing team’s top center. And Michael Nylander plays with Jaromir Jagr.
Others have been thrown in there — Jarkko Immonen being one — and others will likely follow — enjoy your 15 minutes, Jason Krog — but you can understand why the Rangers continue to explore options on the market.
I’d love to tell you that something is imminent, but I don’t know that it is. And in the meantime, you can expect the Rangers to continue to tinker with combinations for their future Hall of Famer.
And for the record, I am available….