UPDATE, 12:22 p.m.: The Rangers just announced that Michal Rozsival will play for the Czech Republic in the World Championships, joining Fedor Tyutin (Russia), Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden), and Brandon Dubinsky (USA) in the tournament.Â
You’re right. I did say I’d be back with more yesterday but never returned, and for that you can blame Tom Renney, who didn’t finish up his exit interviews until late and thus didn’t meet with us scribes until shortly before dinnertime.
And then for me there was a newspaper deadline, and kids to feed…and let me guess, no one’s interested in my excuses.
But with a night to sleep on it, there’s still no shortage of questions surrounding the Rangers heading into the offseason, particularly in the wake of Jaromir Jagr’s quasi-declaration that “he wanted to be back with the Rangers.”:http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080507/SPORTS01/805070384/-1/SPORTS.
It was certainly the most light Jagr has shed on the subject to date, but there’s still a long way to go before a deal is struck. For one, having never been a free agent before, Jagr may need to be dazzled by a contract offer from Glen Sather. And given Jagr’s age and the team’s salary cap constraints, Sather might not be in much mood for dazzling.
Plus, while Jagr saying he only wants a two-year deal could be perceived as a break for the Rangers, only a one-year contract can be used for the one-time only 35-and-over contract that was used this year for Brendan Shanahan.
Finally, even if Jagr indicated yesterday he wanted to stay in New York, that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have questions about his role on this team moving forward. And while Renney yesterday said Jagr would return as the team’s No. 1 forward, that doesn’t mean the player is going to completely love everything he hears. So in other words, it’s complicated.
Meanwhile, some other thoughts:
<li>When Brendan Shanahan said yesterday that he thinks he can still be a productive NHL player, I asked him if he would be open to having a different role with the team next year. Because in my mind — and apparently in Renney’s as well since the coach touched on the same subject later — the only way the Rangers can consider bringing Shanahan back is if the veteran agrees not only to less money, but also less ice time. Here was the player’s response:
“I’ve never been a player to complain. I have always done what the coaches have asked me to do. I’ve always tried to set that example, long before I came to New York. But I do feel the eyes of our younger players on me, so I feel a great responsibility in being a professional with all things that come toward me in an NHL season.
“Sometimes the biggest thing you can do for your team is sometimes step back. It’s happened to me this year. You can talk to Tom and talk to anybody and whatever they’ve ever asked me to do I have always done with great determination.”
If Shanahan would agree to a diminished role — fourth line maybe, with most of his ice time on specialty teams — the idea of bringing him back no longer seems so absurd. But even then, a lot has to hinge on whether he can return to the player he was before his injury on Jan. 5. Because if he can’t, it may be time to say goodbye.
<li>When Tom Renney was asked what the difference was in the Penguins series, the coach predictably pointed to himself, specifically when it came to the Rangers’ shortcomings on specialty teams.
“Any honorable coach looks at himself,” Renney said. “Could I have been a difference? I’m on Page 2 of that little novel.”
Here’s what I’ll say about Renney. I know many fans are divided on him, and that’s fine. For all I know, he might not be the best tactician to lead this team. But the mere fact that the coach will recognize his own failures and strive to improve them is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Because there’s a lot of coaches out there who are not only wrong in certain areas, but who are not even willing to recognize as much.
There’s a word they use to describe coaches like that: unemployed.
Renney, meanwhile, isn’t going anywhere.
<li>As for the next generation of Blueshirts, I asked Renney how many players out of Hartford he thought could compete for a job next year.
The coach said five, although he wouldn’t specify who. I would have to assume one is Lauri Korpikoski, who introduced himself to the NHL with flair on Sunday. But don’t count on Bobby Sanguinetti. Renney wouldn’t rule the former No. 1 draft pick, but he did say the team would more likely err on the side of giving Sanguinetti another year of seasoning.
OK, that’s all for now.