Stuck in the middle between two Hall of Fame wings

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I suppose some elaboration is in order for how this whole Jaromir Jagr-Brendan Shanahan thing shook out today, even if it turns out to be nothing more than a curious misunderstanding.

For one thing, as much as I enjoy injecting myself into my daily accounts here, that’s purely for this — a blog, which, while still somewhat uncharted territory, is supposed to be a light-hearted and informal medium for news and insights.

But as a reporter who is still writing objective pieces for a newspaper, it’s not my place to inject myself into a story. And my purpose today when I showed up at the rink was hardly to stir things up. I don’t know if I did that or not. For all I know, the two stars have already sat down and hashed out their thoughts on the power play, and harmony has since prevailed in Rangerland.

But that wasn’t the feeling I got today, and it’s important to understand the chronology.

The starting point, of course, was last week after the loss to Atlanta, when Shanahan went public “with his comments about the power play”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2007/01/20/shanahan-lets-tear-it-up-and-start-anew/. Though Shanahan never said as much at the time, it was clear some of his remarks pertained to Jagr, who is the obvious focus of the power play now, and who has defended that system fairly rigorously in the past. But since Shanahan was the last player in the dressing room after the Atlanta game, the issue had to be put aside until after the All-Star break.

Fast forward to today. Jagr’s walking off the ice, and I harmlessly ask him about what needed to be done to the power play. To be honest, I assumed that if he and Shanahan hadn’t already talked about the issue, Jagr at least knew what Shanahan said, and that he was going to say something fairly innocuous. Instead, Jagr seemed surprised.

“I’m a different player than Brendan,â€? Jagr said. “I don’t play that way. It might be the solution for somebody. I never played that way.”

I then asked Jagr if there is a middle ground where he can play his style but more pucks are still getting to the net.

“I don’t know. I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t answer. I don’t have a clue.”

Jagr chewed this over for what seemed like five minutes. Then he went on:

“The way I see it, if you want to shoot more on the power play you have to have guys in front of the net. They have to know I’m not good at that. If somebody wants a shooting power play, I’d rather stay on the bench because I’m useless.â€?

From there came the subject of having two power play units with Jagr on one and Shanahan on the other. Jagr said it might be an answer, and then he referred to Tom Renney.

“Last year we didn’t always take shots but we always found the open guy,â€? he said. “The coach has to be responsible. If there is some misunderstanding, the coach should come and say, ‘Let’s play this way.’ Maybe some guys like to shoot and some guys don’t. Some guys are good in some ways. Some guys are better in another way.â€?

The conversation lasted a few more minutes and that was it.

Now, a question: why does a reporter then go to Brendan Shanahan and ask him about what Jagr just told him? The answer is to give Shanahan a chance to respond. It’s not to try to blow things out of proportion. It’s merely to make sure everyone’s side is accurately represented. And seeing how Shanahan immediately struck a conciliatory tone, he seemed to understand that this wasn’t something that needed to spin out of coontrol.

“I think results make all players happy,â€? said Shanahan, “I think we have to get on the same page, but I think we have to be open to new looks.”

Indeed, Shanahan mentioned many of the same concerns he invoked Saturday, mostly about the power play being too predictable. And for what it’s worth, he, too, said maybe he and Jagr should be on separate units.

“That could happen,” he said. “I’m not opposed to it. Like I said I’m interested in results. So whether we go with two different looks on two different units or we load up one, I’m really just about results and wins.”

Finally, when he was aked if it was important for him and Jagr to talk this over, Shanahan said that it was (it’s worth noting that while I was talking to Shanahan, Jagr walked by and toward the shower. If I was a marriage counselor and not a reporter, I would have asked them to join hands. Instead, I watched Jagr disappear around the corner).

“He’s our guy. He’s the focus of the power play,” he said. “That’s why we need to talk. I don’t care what we do as long as we get results. And if we’re not getting results, we need to change something.â€?

So there you have it, or at least from my end. Like I said, for all I know Jagr and Shanahan are singing around a piano bar at their Philadelphia hotel, and this whole thing is already behind them.

As Rangers fan, you should at least hope as much.

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77 Comments

  1. I would not be surprised if Shanny leaves after this year. I have definitely enjoyed watching him play – despite him not having a center to play with.

  2. I can’t see Shanny staying around this chaotic zoo.

    “I can’t answer. I don’t have a clueâ€? quoth Jagr.

    boy, ain’t that true.

  3. I think they need to break up Shanny and Jags and have Prucha in Shanny’s spot, That is the best way to do it.
    Two lines Prucha Nylander Jagr, Shanny Straka Cullen

  4. Cullen should be on the point on the PP, where he succeeded last year in Caro.

    but because of Jagr, that ain’t happening.

  5. Straka is a point on PP1 with Rosi, Prucha, Nylander and Jags.

    Cullen plays point on PP2 with Toots, Shanny, Betts (and eventually the Center to be named later) and Hall. Maybe Hall can get something going on the PP with consistant time. At least we all hope.

  6. Sam …I still don’t get the feeling Jagr is on the team page. He’s too much of an “I” guy not enough “WE”. He also sounds defensive & insecure, unless I’m reading too much into his words. As Captain he should go over to Shanny but I guess he wants Shanny to come to him, while he defers to Renney. It sounds like there is alot of politics going on amongst the whole NYR organization. Renney has to step up the most out of everyone, he’s at the wheel….. Are you allowed to play the audio from these talks via a link ?

  7. Yes, Betts, until we get someone better (either through trade or an AHL callup). That is unless you want Hollweg playing center, which I’m sure most would have a problem with due to his 0pts. Or maybe J. Ward. Atleast he has points. But I’d rather have Betts winning faceoffs seeing that Straka and Cullen are on the point and we havn’t called up a second line center yet.

  8. czechthemout!!!!! on

    just watchedthe pack game/4-2 win some thoughts.baranks looked ok nothing great but pretty good.jake taylor looked good only 1st game back.moore easily looked like he could replace hossa,hall,jward tomorrow.would look good playing on the wing with shanny getting him the puck in the corner.korpikoski is a bust.he hasno offensive game whatsoever.has good speed runs around out there,looks like a fourth liner at best in the nhl.great choice by baloney,could have drafed cory perry,mike richrds.lifton looks like he can play, needs some schooloing on his positional play.nothing else there on d to speak about.montoya looks to be a year way at most.now for the really good news.dubinsky looked like he is ready to play up here.good skater,has some nice moves to him very agressive ,sticks up for his team mates.callahan is clearly ready to play NOW,DO yOU HEAR ME RENNEY MORON HE IS READY.we are at the point with him where we are reaching the law of diminishing returns .the kid can skate takes the body ,goes into the corner is nasty at some points during a game bring him up, put him with shanny and dubinsky in the middle.byers looked good to is reay for at least a good shot also agressive and scored again today.

  9. I have been pushing Liffiton for weeks. Bring the kid up, pair him with his buddy Tom Pock. Let Toots and Ward play together, then put Girardi with Rosival. Waive or trade Malik and Rachunek and keep the other as a seventh. There, problems solved.

  10. thanks for the update cto. it is just a joke that Dubi is still in Hartford and Betts is the 2nd line C. and Callahan was ready the last time.

  11. czechthemout!!!!! on

    sorry bklnblue .he played well just like he played here. was good offensively and defensivley,won alt of faceoffs.would much rather see him than krog of sheet.dawes did fine to.i will say it again korpikoski looks like another 1st round bust by pick by this team.

  12. let me tell you folks how I pick my players for the Rangers. I went to get some new tires, and the salesman asked me what kind I wanted, and I said, “I want retreads. gimme all the retreads you got. I love retreads.”

  13. Czechthemout,

    Even though it’s not likely to happen, I LOVE your idea of Dubinsky centering Callahan and Shanahan. We can call them Dubinskahan!

    In all seriousness, although they’re bound to make rookie mistakes, those two kids will skate, hit, play aggressively and go to the net. And they’d have the perfect mentor in how to play that style by being on a line with Shanny, not to mention the perfect sniper they can feed the puck to after digging it out of the corner. Some may feel pairing an all-time legend like Shanny with two raw rookies is demeaning, but I actually think it might give the old vet a shot in the arm.

    It’s a real longshot, but I can dream, no?

  14. Lurker – I love the idea. Shanny looked to have a great time with Crosby and Ovei the All-Star Game. They picked his mind and grew a lot.

  15. czechthemout!!!!! on

    hey datsyk did great with him as a rookie,but than detroit was only the defending cup champ at the time how dare they play rookies like datsyk,zetterberg,and others ,rookies are not supposed to play until they get alot of seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeasoning ,right wildrcda?

  16. You people are unbelievable. Sam has point blank told us (or was it Dellapina) that Immonen was sent down basically because Shanahan said he didn’t want to play with him. Shanahan has barely scored in months. Shanahan will leave next year because this place is a zoo. Meanwhile, Jagr says he loves this team and he loves these fans and if the team doesn’t win, we should blame him. He won’t be the one leaving town because things were tough.

    Just so we’re clear:

    1. When Shanahan comes out and rips into the PP and anything at all regarding this team, he is being the team’s real captain. Nobody calls him on it and says “well, gee, Shanny, maybe if you’d just shut up and score more than one goal in the last two months.” No, that is Shanny da man, telling it like it is and we;d better do what he says because he should have been the team’s captain.

    2. When Jagr comes out and says “this is all on me. I’m the caotain, I need to play well and lead by example. My job is to score goals. I owe it to this city and this team.” I am not sure how, but to most of you, that is NOT the definition of someone who bleeds Ranger blue. That is him being whiny and egotistical, and being all talk and no action. As opposed to Shanahan, who is all talk – and pointing fingers type of talk at that, with none of them at himself – and all – oh yeah, never mind.

    3. Shanahan can pick his linemates even if it means a guy we all want to see get a shot ends up in Hartford. Because despite reports to the contrary, its all Renney’s fault. Except:

    4. Jagr decides who plays and doesn’t play in every situation in which he is on the ice because Renney has no control over this team. So it’s all Jagr’s fault we have to watch Malik and Rozival.

    Really guys, its totally ridiculous. Obviously people just dont like Jagr for whatever reason. i think its stupid – he’s one of the best players ever to play for the Rangers, and honestly, for 35 years I’ve wanted a player like him – -a guy who can just flat out dominate and win a game all by himself – on the team. But you guys would toss the guy out like yesterday’s trash.

    I just dont get it.

  17. Guys, I need your help.

    Somebody in one of the blogs here, I don’t remember who, posted a link where Sather as Edmonton coach in 1988, called one of the LA players a fucking faggot during an Edmonton – LA altercation. I saw the video from the link posted and commented on the deterioration of Sather since then.

    I’ve been asked to provide the link but I never saved it and couldn’t find it on previous blogs.

    Anybody got that link? Thanks.

  18. Peter are you the new wildcard? ;) Renney along with Shanny & Jagr now have to put up, but communicating is a part of it.None one should get a pass, alot is expected of all of them. If there are 2 or more camps on this team like there are on this blog, kiss this season GOODBYE! … Can you show me that Shanny quote on Immo from Sam?…SAM… do you remember this quote Peter is claiming?

  19. Shanny never said anything bad about Immonen. Sam can attest to that.

    and you are just in denial if you think that jagr has nothing to do with Malik playing with the first line.

    it’s obvious from your post that you love Jagr, and that is your choice. but you seem determined to denigrate Shanny to try to rescue your boy Jagr. fans know better from the histories of the 2 players.

  20. czechthemout!!!!! on

    tough call bklynblue.i would love to have both of them here .would make immo the third center with jward and byers.would make dubi #2 with shanny and callahan.would put betts with moore and ortmeyer.would trade cullen with hall korpikoski and montoya to the black hawks for seabrooke and vandemeer,would dump malik,racoonhead,for picks.hossa scratch.prucha would be a roving winger between the first and 3rd line .jagr,nylander,straka,line2 dubi,shanny,callahan,immo,byers,prucha,\betts,moore/hossa/hollweg/ortmeyer.dfence seabrooke/girardi/rozy/pock/tyutin,vandemeer.award #7d problems solved.

  21. Anthony (Abev) on

    Peter: Well written and well thought out. Although maybe a little over the top considering Shanahan, I agree with where you come from.

    I can only assume Shanahan is given more breaks because: 1)He has fought and will fight and 2) He’s not from Europe.

    Sam W: Well put together piece. Good quotes.

  22. I’m not trying to denigrate Shanahan at all – I think he;s a great player and am happy he’s on the team as well. I’m just trying to point out what appears to me to be a complete double-standard on this board when it comes to these two players.

    And don’t even joke about me being the new wildcard. You will never hear me supporting and of this team’s joke of a management. And I’m just as disgusted – probably even more so – about the line combinations, the continued reliance on other teams’ dreck, the abject failure of this organization to incorporate youth in a meaningful way or plan for the future, to rebuild in the way that’s had to take place for years.

    I don’t even love Jagr. I just don’t see how everything is his fault.

  23. czechthemout!!!!! on

    wich roster do you think looks better the current one or the in my previous post?i think my trade proposal is very doable.

  24. Lets waive Malik and Rachuneck and bring back Brian Leetch and Jeff Beukeboom, and how about Steve Larmer. And we can trade with Edmonton to bring back Lowe and MacTavish and suit them up with our own Adam Graves.

  25. Peter sorry about the joke, besides I can read your posts, his I need an interpreter. The double standard seems to be the norm for the NYR. Renney is the queen of it, the king is sather the genius, with maloney & dolan as the jokers. They don’t seem to be a team from the top down, just a group of individuals playing CYA. They needed a 2nd line center since day 1 & they’re still floudering. That is part of why Jagr gets the disrespect, he wants Nylander & Straks. Right now Shanny needs one of them until they do something. Otherwise they have to go back to Cullen & Prucha or Immo NOW!. At least Shanny was scoring with them, even though he’s carbon copying last year in how he scored. I wonder what his line did last year, and if there was a similar pattern.

  26. Just got back from the wolfpack game and a few things that I noticed. Dubinsky, although I really like him and think that he is gonna be a good NHL player could use the full season in Hartford to refine his game. I also think that he could add a little more muscle. Montoya played well as did Baranka. Purinton still handles the puck as well as he did when he was with the Rangers. The officiating was as good as it is in the NHL. Byers scored a nice garbage goal (ala Adam Graves) and got into a fight although he was face planted into the ice.

  27. Jagr says,”If somebody wants a shooting power play, I’d rather stay on the bench because I’m useless.â€?

    If that is not a pouting, selfish attitude I don’t know what is.

  28. refine my butt. tell me about Betts refined qualities. we just had cto at the game say the exact opposite.

  29. czechthemout!!!!! on

    meshuggah-seasoning is not a bad thing however there you can also get it in the nhl as well ,especially when your senior team has nothing on the second line.byers lost his balance during the fight.

  30. czechthemout!!!!! on

    you can’t choose the perfcect time when you say everything is perfect,lets bring up the kids.there will always be some growing pains .what we have with this team is stomach pain,it hurts to watch this mess of a team play.

  31. Im not saying I know everything, it was just my opinion. I agree that he (Dubinsky) couldnt do worse than Betts. But we still need to cut/trade someone for that to happen. The Byers incident looked nasty and he didnt move for a few seconds I thought that he was really hurt, but hes a hockey player and he came back.

  32. I would love to see the Byers-Dubinsky-Callahan line come up and play for us now. But seeing as Jagr and Shanahan are our top two RWs I dont see Calahan comeing up.
    I would like the young kids to spend time and learn a few things from Shanahan

  33. czech I don’t think that trade will happen. I’ve got no problem with your roster, it’s better than the present. Those kids are just what the Dr. ordered, but the genius won’t pull the trigger. If he really believed his own competitive rebuild BS, he’d do it. They’d be more competitive than what he has now.

  34. “needed to spin out of coontrol.”

    coontrol? Racist! :P Gotta love typos. Maybe Shanny should be placed on the 2nd PP where they actually shoot and charge the net. Move Prucha up to the 1st line PP where he was last year and bury those rebounds, or the threaded passes from Jagr.

  35. I’m sorry but this is JAROMIR JAGR’s TEAM. Shanny better decide by Feb 27 if he is WITH him or WITHOUT him. If he’s not, ship him out.

  36. Jagr needs to be told who is the boss here… and that it’s NOT JJ.

    But Renney doesn’t have the cojones to do that. Neither do Maloney or Sather.

    So basically, it’s up to Shanahan to get the point across to JJ. While he’s at it, he should make up the lineup too, because Renney has been fielding the worst possible lineup with the personnel we have. Deliberately, if you ask me.

    Does anyone STILL think this team is going to the playoffs? Bwaaahaaaahahahahhahahahahaha!!!

  37. Sam, love your blog. great stuff.
    I’ve always thought Jagr and Shanahan would be put on two different units. The Prucha-Nylander-Jagr-Straka-Rosival unit was quite successful last season. I would be interested to see a second unit with Hall screening the goalie, Cullen blasting bombs from the point, Shannahan in the high slot, Hossa working the corners, and perhaps Pock playing QB. It’d be much easy for our team to play 2 different power plays than it would be for the opposition’s PK units to have to think 2 different PK schemes to counter what is normally a one-look PP strategy.

    Anyways, the quotes further confirm this. Jagr says “i don’t know how to play any other way” and Shannahan says “we need to try something else like shooting.”

    “I don’t know.” Does this quote have anyone else thinking of Ron Low or Bryan Trottier?

  38. czechthemout!!!!!: ALL I ever said was that a year in the minors wont ever hurt a kid, except in rare cases…even a gut like Crosby wouldn’t be hurt by it so to speak…it wouldn’t help him either, that’s why its pointless. But to say that Callahan wasn’t helped by it, or Dawes, or others, well that’s just not true. Dawes was probably even helped by it this season…same for Immo last year, not so sure about this year. on Dubinski: One of my friends how watches the games says that he thinks he should make the Rangers for the 2nd line spot, over Immo, the only thing he thought might hamper him in the NHL right off the bat was that he still needs to bulk up a bit…but I think, unless it would be really bad, it would be worth a kid getting pushed around a little….but I would like to see him called up first, or next rather. The Rangers are fairly strong on wing no the top 2 lines…so Dawes would be out of position…I mean that is if Prucha can get his spot back (please Renney give him his spot back on the 2nd line AND the top PP unit) than Dawes would be on the 3rd line, and guys like Byers and Callahan seem better built for that role…or even Moore, but I don’t know much about his play, but Dawes it would seem is in the unlucky position of not being a 3rd line guy, but not having room on the 2nd line. On your trades/lines…I like them…the hardest part wouldn’t be deciding to make the trades…but getting the other teams to trade that way. Even if Sather WANTED to do exactly what you said, some GMs just don’t want to…it could end up costing more, or maybe the players won’t be available…or whatever…but if it could be done, I think that would work. The D would look really good…and over time as the Rangers prospects developed t would get only better and better…and than there would be good defenders who were young up for trade and that in turn could help get younger top 6 forwards to bolster that area. All in all it would be good for the team…but it would be hard to do AND most likely won’t happen…but it nice to dream isn’t it

  39. baron34 : this team could very easily make the playoffs…its not like they are 10 points out…and other teams could falter…I am not saying that this team would go far, but they are not so bad that its easy to say they wont make the playoffs…that’s going a bit to far.

  40. Just wanted to leave a note on Darius in Hartford.

    After the game he personally lead the team in the center ice salute they adapted after the first time he was sent here.

    Good to see him in good spirits.

  41. Mike: It is good…I dont think he will ever be a Ragner again, but hopefuly he lands on his feet. Or, if he decides its not worth the trouble, maybe he can stay in hartford and help teach the young Defenders teh beauty of teh hip check :)

  42. Sam… why has Renney used J Ward on the 1st line but not the 2nd? That shouldn’t be too hard of a question for him to answer, straight I hope.

  43. bklynblue::Perhaps Ward is just on the first line there because Straka is sick…and he is just the warm body in hopes that at game time Straka will play…and either Ward or someone else will be out of the lineup. I don’t know if Renney really wants Ward there or not…but the lineup dose have its mysteries…so maybe that’s how it will be if Straka cant go.

  44. Prucha should be on the first line. And that second line is awful. Betts is a third line center at best

  45. RENNEY stinks, according to survey of NHL players:

    QUESTION 3: WHO IS THE BEST COACH IN THE NHL?

    Ruff
    • TOP VOTE-GETTER: Lindy Ruff (41%).
    • Jack Adams Award winners | Sabres page
    • Lindy Ruff has coached the Buffalo Sabres since the 1997-98 season, but his most successful campaign came in 2005-06. Ruff led the Sabres to a 52-24-6 record and 110 points, both franchise records and a 25-point improvement over the previous season. He won coach of the year honors in 2006, as well.
    • OTHER MENTIONS: Randy Carlyle, Ducks (13%); Jacques Lemaire, Wild (10%); Barry Trotz, Predators (7%); Guy Carbonneau, Canadiens (6%); Peter Laviolette, Hurricanes (4%); Dave Lewis, Bruins (4%); Bob Hartley, Thrashers (3%); Ken Hitchcock, Blue Jackets (2%); Marc Crawford, Kings (2%); Dave Tippett, Stars (2%); Wayne Gretzky, Coyotes (2%).

  46. Too bad there isn’t a second-year minor league assistant coach handy who could explain it Jagr:

    “We always want to establish point shots and a net-front presence,” Pack assistant coach Ken Gernander said. “We had guys not reluctant to shoot from the points and good traffic that the goalie had to keep his eye on…”

    (As quoted by Bruce Berlet this AM)

  47. It’s disgusting to be quite honest… it all sounds like South American drama. I don’t give a s*%@ if they talk to each other or not, they look like two ballerinas, not hockey players. Shanny better shut up and start scoring some goals! Be honest – his scoring drought didn’t come off only because of not-having-playmaker, realize that. We have few fantastic players (Jagr, Shanahan, Straka, Nylander, Lundqvist) in this team but then there should be coach to put it all together. If I hear something like in Sam’s story I’m certain that Renney is too weak to coach great players. I’d blame him first then players…

  48. czechthemout!!!!! on

    it is obvious that rebbey is in over his head.if you read on of sam’s posts yesturday,you can clearley see that slither is a micro managing buffoon.he tells renney to get out of his office before he makes a personnel decision without much rgard to what renney thinks.i actually think renney is ready to bring up more pack players,the problem is slither is stuck with all the crap that he has collected over the last two years and cannot find any one to take it off his hands.he cna’t just put them on waivers because he would look like an idiot for giving such lrage contracts to what are fringe players.so he tells renney to keep rearranging the deck chairs on the ss rangers.all renney is trying to do is try anything at this point to get this team going ,he has just run out of options with the current players here.i am no fan of renney, but the more the season goes on like this it is clear that slither is the real problem here and renney does not have the will or clout as a head coach to take slither on behind closed doors.

  49. czechthemout!!!!! That’s a good point. What a lot of people forget is that the garbage this team has no one else wants. And sending them down to Hartford is just piling bad trash on bad trash. Eventually, it will clog up the system for guys down there that DO need minor league time(Jake Taylor’s name comes to mind).

  50. I said this in the beginning of this year that watch Jagr because he has a history where when things go wrong his attitude changes in a negative way. Why do you think washington got rid of him. If anybody should be shipped out it’s Jagr. I take 5 Shanahan’s if Sather was smart enough to get them.

  51. Sam

    Great job on outing the 2 playing style philosophies on the Rangers. That was a great sports article in Saturday’s Journal. Your ability to put both the opinions of Shanahan and Jagr in the same article was superb. I commend you as an avid reader.

  52. Its apparent to me that none of you have any faith or knowledge of our team. Please jump ship to Long Island or NJ, the less whinney fans NYR has the better.

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