The Shanny Dilemma


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….

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  1. Its an absolute joke a 24 goal scorer now has to be a checking line winger, but maybe it spreads the offense out? Doubt it. The Rangers NEED a 2nd line center, Immonen was okay, but there are better fits out there. Mabye a more defensive minded approach against the devils will work. One scoring line, 3 defensive lines. Worked last year.

  2. It is a shame, Sam…A pity that Sather have yet to get a playmaking second line center for Shanny…Who could and would help the team even more if he did have one. It is fine and good that he is talking about all the ways he can help the team and he is 100% right. But right now he still has the shot and it is a crime that he has to settle for the two 4th-5th liners he has to play with tomorrow night. Beat around the bush all you want, but it is a joke

  3. the Blueshirts, who visit the Meadowlands tomorrow night, have surrendered 33 even-strength goals in their past 14 games, and Jaromir Jagr has been on the ice for 19 of them. He’s minus-three in that span. . . .


    looks like the Jagr line needs the backchecking improvement.

  4. “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.�

    sounds like Shanny plans on playing a few more years.

  5. WHY WHY WHY WHY???? cant he (RENNY) try moving PRUCHA to the middle, where he has played in Europe on occasion instead of burrying him on the 4th line and making Shanny play with a checking unit… in 94 when KOVALEV was slumping, Keanen moved him to the middle between larmer and matteau… try it for cryin out loud!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Prucha or Straka are better options to center Shanny than Betts for cryin out loud. But, I’m getting used to the personnel foibles of our beloved coach, Supergenius Tom.

    I actually get a kick out of all this. How to screw up a team in several easy lessons.

  7. Doodie Machetto on

    Prucha in the middle isn’t such a good idea. His FO percentage this season is pretty lousy for the times he was put in the middle.

  8. Um….

    There is a center available who is a fantastic passer, wins over 2/3 of draws and is defenisively responsible. Sounds like the perfect pivot for Shanahan. He’s only 24 and the guy has international experience to boot. What would you trade for a player like this? Would you give up Prucha or Tyutin or a #1 pick?

    Well, if this sounds like a guy you’d like to see center Shanahan, the good news is that he is already part of the organIzation. His name is Jarkko Immonen. And all it would take to get him in the lineup is to have one of the aenemic army of Betts, Ward, Hall or Hossa ake way for someone who is clearly beyond the marginal NHL ‘talents’ that stand in his way.

    Too bad the Rangers are saddled with an uncaring scotch swilling curmudgeon for a GM and an overbearing know-nothing upstart for a coach, both of whom are too busy convincing themselves that they are actually doing a good job to actually put any thought into their decisions.

  9. oh, I forgot to mention Krog as another impediment.

    I think I am still in denial that we ever made such a stupid acquisiton.

    Ah, but Slats can’t resist a bargain, especially when it’s someone else’s rotting leftovers.

    The guy is a joke and some reporter/columnist out there with some stones needs to dissect this bozo’s record when the season is over — or do we have to wait until it’s a full decade of incompetence before the press catches up to the reality of situation?

  10. Pemeco: re: Immonen…..When he was 2nd line center we won 5 in a row, but who’s counting when Immo is involved in a positive? His FO% blew away every other Ranger center and most of the NHL, but who’s counting when it’s something positive about Immo? Funny how Renney and Sather, and about half of the Ranger fans on the sites I read have so little regard for Immonen. If calculate how many time Sather and Renney have been right, you’re in the territory of G.W.’s approval rating.

  11. We keep mentioning Immo but why not a look at Dubi? Maybe he can reinvigorate Shanny the way Datsyk did Hull in Detroit when he first came into the league …

  12. Scott

    I am a huge Dubinsky fan, but it’s his first year in the AHL and it took him awhile to get on track. He’s an example of someone who is in the right place in the right time. Next season he should be given every chance to win an NHL job.

    Immonen has nothing left to prove. You can make a reasonable argument that he deserved to be with the Rangers out of training camp last season. A year in Hartford didn’t hurt him, but a second year there is doing him no good at all. At his career will remain in stasis because Sather/Maloney/Renney can’t get over the group of stiffs that are constipating the roster.

    The management of this team is guilty of long-term wanton incompetence. For years it’s been going on and all they have to show is one winless playoff appearance in a year where the league was turned on its head.

    Such ineptitude would not be accepted by any other group of fans the way Ranger fans are willing to sit on their hands while they’re getting shafted.

    Thoroughly disgusting.

    And where is the competent coverage of this team? I can only assume that they’re hanging out at the pressbox buffet watching how many deviled eggs Larry Brooks can swallow during the second intermission – or otherwise too distracted by Cablevision hospitality to take an honest look at this organIzation.

  13. Not that it solves the problem of who can get Shanny the puck even strength by any means, but why don’t they just leave the lines the way the way they were, and by that I mean Jagrs line, Cullen Shanny and Prucha… and after that you have a bunch of interchangable parts IMO. Betts and Krog are your centers, wingers are Hossa, Hollweg, Ward, and Ortmeyer. Leave hall and orr out of the picture if you ask me. I like the way Betts Hollweg and Ortmeyer looked considering they were responsible for 2 out of the 4 goals in that third period against the Sens…. leaving Krog with Ward and Hossa…

    With Hall out give Hossa the PP time on the second unit and call it a day.

    The problem with the production isn’t the units, it’s the mentality of work ethic. Get the team fired up BEFORE you hit the ice and there shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe this is Rennys way of doing that because last game he had the lines all sorts of messed up then he got the top line back together and they looked a bit better for the rest of the game but…

    Idk I hope we get our act together come playoff time, cause I still think this team is close to being a condtender once we get into post season

  14. who’s next to center the second line kasper? weed to score more goals and renney does this move.the rangers are exposed like they were last year shut down the top line. you win the game any other great ideas tom.

  15. Rob

    The problem with the lines the way they are is that Cullen isn’t a good enough play-maker to be put in that position. He’s been there basically season and is still putting up the same third line #’s he has throughout his career. The first thing Brett Hull noticed the other day when he was in the booth with Sam & Joe was that they needed “someone better” to be out there setting up Shanahan.

    No issues with your call for the 4th line, problem is what to do with the other 5 or 6 4th line talents on the roster. Renney’s solution to take 3 members of that group and use them as the 3rd line.

  16. What do Betts and Hossa have in common?

    Betts has 7 points in 683 minutes TOI

    Hossa has 5 points in his 485 minutes TOI

    That means that they are both averaging a point every 97 minutes they play.

    That is complete and utter offensive inteptitude, and only with the NY Rangers would that qualify them for a bump up to the 2nd line.

  17. There is obviously quite a few “expriments” from Renney in this lineup. Though I think they are interesting.

    I mean if anything killed us against NJD last spring, it weren’t goaltending or defense or the injury to JJ. It were Elias-Gomez-Gionta. Just like stopping JJ for NJ, it would be huge if we could stop that line. Could Hossa, Betts and Shanahan do that? I think its worth a shot. I think its possible that they are able to get the puck down low, and even create some offense against that line. If thats the case I defenitly belives it worth taking away a play making center from Shanahan, in the form of Matt Cullen (who haven’t exactly found Shanny that often), to accomplish that.

    Prucha are playing on the 4th line, he will get a few shift with Jagr though when JJ is double shifted. Krog is thrown into the fire right away, which will make him a part of the team faster. And Ward who, IMO, within his limits aren’t performing well enough gets a kick in the but. Jason could, just like Hall, have more fire in him. For me thats holding a player accountable. Whats the use to do it with someone like Malik who you can’t ask for more from anyway? You can only play so well within your limits.

  18. It seems to me that Shanny is changing his role to benefit the team. Shanahan will prove once again that he is all about winning and not about his own stats. Shanahan, the Rangers on ice leader, is the only reason to watch NY Rangers games for the time being. Without his willingness to help the team, The Rangers would be a snore. In my opinion of course.

  19. Guys, obviously Renney tries not to combine lines to score but to stop Devils 1st line (very good point Ola).
    This is crucial game for Rangers and I’ll be happy if we beat NJ tonight, I don’t care how. If we’ll play defensive game there is a good chance Jagr’s line will produce something.

  20. we have beaten jersey 4 times this season already…and the top line for jersey isnt doing as well as they did lsat year. the problem with jersey isnt their top line, we’ve done a good job shutting them down thus far. the problem is finding open ice for our top guys. Pandolfo is all over Jagr like stink on poo. i say put shanny on the top line so he can take some shots at pandolfo.

  21. Pemoco – as many have said before, point production ain’t everything for guys like Betts and Hossa, although I’ll add this caveat, there’s no way Betts is or ever will be the type of playmaker Shanny needs(then again he seemed to like skating with Cullen, who seems like the type of player Betts might eventually become). Hossa makes a bit of sense, because he can battle in the corners and can hold the puck well, giving Shanny some time to get open.

    I’m not understanding why Renney isn’t giving JJ-Nylander-Prucha and Shanny-Straka-Hossa a shot. Prucha could easily jump into marty’s place, and Martin is a speed-demon with agility, who might just benefit with a couple of big guys on his wings. I still like the idea of Shanny-Immonen-Prucha, but I guess that’ll never happen.

  22. Bauer : ALl I have herd this year is GM complaining about not being able to get trades done, the only thing stopping them is the cap and the other team dosnt want big money comeing back,. they want top prospects….I really think that Sather HAS been working the phones, but ALOT has been said in the media and other websites that teams have been asking for top young players. Another thing…whoever suggested that a players like immo would be worth Prucha and Tyutin…I am glad that you arnt running the office…IMMO ISNT THAT GOOD, I am tired of hearing about the 5 games teh Rangers won with him at center…yeah…I am SURE that Immo is teh reason that even Malik and Kasper were palying well…get past it, Immo wasnt the reason that the LINE was even doing so well, was he part of it…sure, but Shanny and Cullen had grerat INDIVIDUAL games as well…Cullen was playing the best hockey of the year, and it wasnt becasue Immo was doing anything special. HOWEVER, I like Immos faceoff ability, but it seems to be the ONLY thing he tries hard ot every night and every shift. HE isnt consistant with his efforts, even in the last couple game she palyed he looked so disintrested…look past the team reconrd at why Immo isnt there. I tihnk they SHOULD do like someone said. Prucha/Nylander/Jagr and Cullen/Straka/Shanny I tihnk that would be good. AND if they NEEDED to win a draw, and they wanted Shanny out there, and even cullen, or they could switch straka to wing, and a good faceoff guy liek Krog could go out and win the draw, and than that would be a beter option than Straka on the draw, he goeshot and cold in the circle…but in any case, I think those lines would give the Rangers more options….but again…I dont run things, or know whats going on in pratice…so…my ideas are just…well guesses..

  23. 1 point every 97 mins on the ice and they get to play with Shanny. That isn’t coaching its playing favorites.

  24. While there may come a day when Shanny can no longer score goals and so needs to be an asset in other ways if he wishes to continue playing, presently it would appear that Brendan is quite capable of scoring goals. When his line isn’t scoring – and how could it be when Cullen and Prucha are unable to set the guy up at all – they’re giving up goals in bunches, so I guess Betts helps that problem. Personally I think they should put Shanny on the first line with Jagr and Nylander. How will teams be able to double team Jagr when that will leave a guy like Shanahan open? They won’t. The Straka could center Prucha and whomever else and our combos wouldn’t be such a complete mess. Heck, you could even try Cullen as a second line left wing.

  25. Peter: SHanny on the top line AND Cullen at wing has been tried…Cullen at wing is good…I dont think it would matter what side he is on…he can use his speed on the outside, and his speed is teh BEST and BIGGEST part of his game. Shanny on the top line dosnt work so well…the styles contradict so mcuh that its never worked…hell it hardly works on the PP….I dont think there is any REAL answer unless a trade is made. Immo might do OK on the 2nd line, but I tihnk the Rangers can get a trade going for a younger, not very young, but 27, 28 year old center, I am affraid of who would have to go the other way, but if the cost isnt to high that go for it. OR draft another center aor 3 this upcomeing draft, and jsut deal with a team that dosnt have true 1st and 2nd line centers untill they see what a kid liek Anisimov can do…perhaps he becomes the 2nd line guy, or maybe even a 1st line guy. WHo knows…but I would rather have .500 season and barly make the playoffs and lose int them, or just miss the playoffs, that tradew youg kids, and jsut be patient with the ones that are in the system. Thats what I would like. I DO however like winning some games, so I do like the players the Rangers have for now, but next year the team needs to get younger YES, but I dont think a purge will do much anymore, palyers arnt worth as much IMHO…but I tihnk its going to be a team in Limbo for a few yeras unless the Rangers give up good young palyers for other young players.

  26. so Shanny on the top line has been tried. For how long 5 minutes? And if they don’t work good even on the PP, why not put Shanny on unit 2. Sounds like some contradictions or saying Renney is confused. Either the #1 PP unit is good or not , and Shanny should be on it or not. You can’t have it all ways to be a Good NYR fan.

  27. Kovy —
    Yes, I realize I left myself open for that. But for all outward appearances, it was simply a matter of looking for something different on a fairly slow news day.

    Updates from the morning skate in a bit…


  28. Peter – I’d rather see the talent on first line split up and dissemenated(although a certain Czech winger probably doesn’t agree). Problem is, JJ’s line is usually contrasted by the other team’s top checking line(pun not intended), meaning all their flashy passing and stickwork falls prey to good coverage and a few good hipchecks. With Straks on second-line with Shanny and a guy like Hossa, you’ve got size on the wings, play-making in the center and an equally dangers second line to complement the first. The only question I’d have is if Hossa could consistently play as well as he has the last month or so and continue to log points. It’s kind of a stop-gap move, but I think Straka is the only guy that’s got the qualifications at this point to be a 2nd line center.

  29. bklynblue: IMHO Shanny will not work on 2nd PP unit since again there is no decent passer on that unit… The only Rangers that have a good passing ability are JJ, Straka and Nylander. But if you take either Straka or Nylander it renders that line useless since the best checkers and Ds are always play against JJ. Rnagers are in desperate need of a playmaking center – this trnasform 2nd line into offensive line and will bolster our 2nd PP unit since all they do now is throw the puck on the net – which is not bad but they do need a guy who can set up others with decent scoring chances.

  30. So Jason Ward sits again … Chris Holt (3rd goalie) was called up to Hartford while no goalie injuries have been reported… Anybody else senses a trade coming?

  31. Holt is up because the ECHL is on its all star break nothing more. He can practice and get paid NHL money for a few days.

    Prucha gets to center Hollweg and Orr while Shanny gets to play with betts and Hossa. renney is really reaching.

  32. Gratton – that’s a thoughtful argument.

    tdchi – I recognize that with Betts, Hossa and the rest of the Lost Boys that the strongest part of their game is not putting up points. If you want to go ahead and look at them as defensive specialists that’s fine. But when over half your forwards are ‘specialists’ in not scoring you have an imbalance where anytime the Big 4 + Prucha aren’t on ice there is almost no chance that we are going to score.

    You need gritty guys on the roster and guys who can shut down opponents scoring lines, but you don’t need to saturate the roster with this type of role player.

    If you are going to pick and choose among that crew, there are some who contribute more than others. An academic friend ran some numbers a week ago:

    “Forwards who do good things on the other side of the puck, and the length of time between those things (i.e. hits/blocked shots/takeaways taking ice time into consideration):

    1. Ryan Hollweg 2:24 (127 hits)
    2. Ryan Callahan 2:45 (1 blocked shot, 2 hits and a takeaway in 2 games totaling 11:02 of ice)
    3. Jed Ortmeyer 2:47 (2 hits in 5 plus minutes)
    4. Colton Orr 4:22 (18 hits in 25 games)
    5. Blair Betts 5:06 (50 blocked shots)”

    Obviously there is some variation in the sample size here, but you can tell who the more active defenders are as opposed to guys who are just out there ‘not scoring’.

  33. Doodie,

    As it says right above the stats, it’s how much TOI occurs between those plays for that player.

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