It has never been Tom Renney’s style to call out an individual on his team, so I wasn’t surprised when the coach stated today that the Rangers have the personnel to emerge from their latest crisis.
“You want to do it with who you brought to the dance,” Renney said today. “So if we don’t move a single person, I don’t have any problem with that whatsoever. I believe this team can win. There might not be a team in the league that can improve itself more by how they choose to play than the New York Rangers.”
Make no mistake: that’s not to say the Rangers aren’t snooping around, nor does it suggest that Renney would be opposed to Glen Sather providing the coach some new options.
But the coach, sounding very much like he did a year ago, made clear that the ability to turn things around was within the Rangers dressing room.
“I’m very comfortable with this group,” he said. “I think this is the challenge this team needed. And we’re all committed to rising up to it. It’s not going to happen overnight. A turnaround requires patience and a certain level of composure. I understand the sand is running through the hourglass. We have 33 games remaining and we have to win a significant amount of those to make the playoffs, but our goal is to be better every single game moving forward.
“If that doesn’t manifest itself I truly believe it’s not because we didn’t try or apply ourselves. I think the days of us beating ourselves are over.”
Of course, this is all well and good. I agree with Renney that the Rangers as they’re currently constructed have the most room for improvement of any team in the league (and that’s not a compliment, by the way). And based on what happened last year, there are reasons to think a similar turnaround is within them.
But what makes you worry are three areas:
<li>The team is getting outworked. It is an ominous sign when a team already in such a dire state can point to being outhustled as a reason they lose. There is no greater sin in professional sports than not trying, and while I think the Rangers effort isn’t so much lacking as it is misguided, they simply have to be the more urgent team moving forward.
<li>This isn’t the King from a year ago. We’ll see whether Henrik Lunddqvist emerges from his latest slump and returns to form. He was brilliant on Saturday and much less so yesterday. But the point is, the Rangers problems are either magnified or minimized depending on how well he plays.
<li>There isn’t another Sean Avery out there. Or even if there is, that’s not to say he will have the same affect on the Rangers. It wasn’t so much that Avery on his own answered all of the Rangers problems. It was more how his arrival changed the entire dynamic of the team at just the right time. That’s not something you can count on from one year to the next.
And besides, trades are hard. The prospects you cherish are the ones other teams want. And the ones you deem expendable aren’t going to fetch much in return.
And by the way, if you want to talk about trading the Captain, that’s a worthy discussion when assessing this team’s long-term future. But when talking about this season, despite what Mike Millbury might think, the Rangers are still a much more dangerous team with Jaromir Jagr than they are without him.
And that’s even taking into the account that Jagr has been a shell of himself so far this season.