OK, not really, otherwise this whole Q-and-A business would be a waste of precious cyberspace.
Truth is, though, that a lot of the questions submitted fall into the ambiguous, “What the heck?” department. Like I said, I have theories. But I continue to be mystified as well.
So let’s start right in….
Sam, is trading Jaromir Jagr a real possibility? Would trading him really do anything for this team one way or the other? What kind of package would we even expect to receive for him?—RifÂ
I don’t think a team that is currently outside the playoff pictureÂ and that has a potential unrestricted free agent as intriguing as Jagr can close its ears to any offers.
The problem is, and I think this applies to any type of seller situation for the Rangers, is that their season is still likely to be hanging in the balance by the time the Feb. 26 trade deadline comes around, just as it was last year.
In other words, if the Rangers were definitely out of it by then, then trading Jagr makes all kinds of sense. But given how tightly bunched the Eastern Conference is, and given the late run the Rangers went on last year, I doubt they want to risk leaving themselves depleted when a playoff run might still be a possibiliity.
So as a fan, if you’ve truly given up on this season, then you probably want this team to pack it in as early as possible. Otherwise I don’t see this team as sellers.
Hey Sam, first time poster. You do a great job with the blog. Hereâ€™s my question: In regards to the power play, why have the Rangers been so predictable the last two years? I mean if I was coaching the other team I would just tell them to get in the shooting lanes and passing lanes, and its that simple because the Rangers dont move around on the PP—XV
You’re right, XV, given this team’s personnel, it’s mind-blowing that its power play is as anemic as it is. But why stop there? The Rangers’ lack of offense in general makes no sense given their abundance of talent.
First of all, I think power play success is at least somewhat arbitrary. A puck goes in off a skate now and then and the power play is considered a success. A couple of passes bounce over sticks, and the power play is incompetence personified.
But having said that, I believe there’s an issue of chemistry. One of the real drawbacks of thee Rangers being in such a dogfight right from the start of the season is they haven’t been able to be patient. This means switching up the power play combinations too often, and it means panicking when things go even slightly awry. I agree there’s not enough movement in the power play, particularly down low in the zone. But in general, I see a lack of confidence from a group of players who are pressing too hard.
Success begets success. And failure? Well, we’ve seen what that’s produced as well.
Sam, of course this time of year rumors are heating up. Two I have heard of, Malik on the trade block, but Sather wants a top four defenseman. Is this possible? And the other is Forsberg possibly signing with the Rangers. Would this be worth it. Would it really help or just hurt this team?—Tim
Rumors are an inevitability at this time of year, but especially for a team in as precarious as a spot as the Rangers.
Let’s start with Marek Malik. As Larry Brooks reported, Glen Sather is entertaining offers, and may be looking for a top four defenseman in return. I made a snide remark about that the other day, and I maintain that given Malik’s salary and on-ice struggles this year, Sather may have to lower his price if he really wants Malik out.
But even then, as hard as this may be to believe, Malik does have value. For one, his plus-60 rating the previous two seasons was attributable to more than just playing a lot with Jaromir Jagr. For another, I think that if you got him out of New York, where’s obviously he’s getting in his own way this season, he can return to being an effective puck-moving defenseman.
Whether other teams are willing to take that leap is another story. But I do think it’s in the best interest of both the Rangers and Malik to move on.
As for Forsberg, come on already. The last thing the Rangers need is another big-name star who will only increase the pressure on the players around him.
Sam, in my mind, Jagr is not the right player to be captain of this team. Given his personality, would it be possible to remove the â€œCâ€ from him and still have him perform as an effective player on the Rangers?—VT Ranger
The short answer is no, just as it wouldn’t have been possible for any other player to be named captain at the start of last season.
Look, I understand the temptation to pin a lot of the Rangers’ problems on Jagr, especially given his complicated history. It’s true, his personality is such that he does not fit the mold of your typical hockey captain. He appears to get easily frustrated, isn’t as outspoken as he may need to be, and as a player, hasn’t been the indomitable force he was two seasons ago.
And you’re right if you think ripping the “C” off his chest or even sitting him down for a shift might have negative repercussions. But just as an aside here, how do you think that would have gone over with a 35-year-old Mark Messier? Or even Brendan Shanahan?
The reality, though, is that Jagr is still the Rangers’ most dangerousÂ player, he really does work his tail off, and he really does have a strong desire to have this team succeed. If he sulks on the way to the bench or takes an ill-advised penalty, I see a player who’s trying to do too much to help the Rangers win. That might not be an excuse. But it is a reality.
Sam, is this team worse than the Knicks? And I mean at hockey. Iâ€™d love to hear your thoughts on Hank, since we have all assumed he would be the true premiere player on this team for years to come and he seems to have regressed. Physical? Mental? Merely a sign of the crapola in front him? Lack of backup competition?—Chris F.
Are the Rangers worse than the Knicks? When the mass protests start outside the Garden, then we can talk.
As for the King, there’s a couple of moving parts at work here.Â I think the most important factor is the Rangers are indeed exposing him far more than they were either last season or at the beginning of this one. Just look at the three Carolina goals last night. All three were instances when Rangers skaters were caught up ice and the Hurricanes capitalized on an odd-man rush.
With that in mind, though, the Henrik Lundqvist of last spring was making at least two of those saves, if not all three, suggesting that he’s set his own bar too high.
I go back to confidence.Â What little I know of goaltenders (other than I can’t score on them) I know they get into a rhythm when they’re seeing the puck cleanly and making a string of saves in a row. Take that away, and every shot suddenly becomes more elusive, which is why Lundqvist appears to be fighting the puck on occasion.
Sam, at what point is Renneyâ€™s job on the line? Or is it already?—Rich M
There’s no way you can look at a team that has underperformed to this extent so far and say the coach is immune.
A lot of the disappointment of this season falls on Tom Renney because it has to fall on someone; and yes, if the Rangers wither away over the season’s final months, then a coaching change may well be in play.
What I don’t see, however, is the Rangers making any sort of move to salvage this season because, to be honest, I don’t think it would do anything. You fire the coach either when the team has tuned that coach out or when he’s no longer proven himself competent.
But Renney still very much has his players’ attention, and heÂ continues to hammer away at ways to get them playing more consistently.
Is he too soft on his players on occasion? Does he make moves that leave you scratching your head? In both instances, a yes is unavoidable. But a new coach isn’t going to suddenly have Chris Drury break out of a season-long slump, nor is he going to turn Lundqvist back into a stone wall.
OK, folks, good stuff from all you, and I apologize that I didn’t get to more questions. I might be back later…