So let’s assign our first penalty of the year to me—a five minute major for “too quick to dismiss.”
All summer long I’ve pretty much scoffed at the notion of Brendan Shanahan coming back because I didn’t see where he fit in. That’s referring to ice time and roster space, but mostly the salary cap, where the Rangers have a mere $715,357 remaining and still have bonus money owed to both Shanahan and Jaromir Jagr.
Of course, nothing is official here, and there is a chance that discussions between the Rangers and Shanahan never come to fruition. But his mere presence suggests it’s obviously more of a possibility than I ever allowed.
“Nothing’s a certainty in sports, but one of the reasons why I really felt that I didn’t want to pursue other teams or accept any other offers is because I really think my greatest value is in helping this team,” Shanahan said.
“I’m pretty good at having perspective. If I reacted like a lot of people told me on July 3 or July 15 or August 1, I would have moved on a long time ago. But I do have perspective. I think I see things pretty clearly. These guys both veteran and young are guys that I care about and want to help in all facets of their career so when I see guys like Dubinsky or Callahan or Girardi or Staal, I see them as my teammates, I don’t think I’ve spent a day this summer where I didn’t feel that way.”
What was interesting about today is the fact that Tom Renney spent a good 45 minutes watching the workout. The coach was reluctant to say much about Shanahan, but he did say he was watching a couple of players in particular, and was taking careful notes. I asked Shanahan if at this stage in his career he felt he needed to prove to the Rangers that he could still play.
“I’m going out and getting myself prepared,” Shanahan said. “I’m not proving anything to anyone else. I don’t think anybody out there is watching me skate.”
I’m not so sure about that.
“If you watch him out there, he can still play the game,” Brandon Dubinsky said. “He can still shoot the puck and score goals and stuff. I don’t think there’s any question that he can help us. It’s just a matter of finding the right spot and finding a way to make it happen.”
Granted, as I said before, everyone looks good at this stage in the season. And a savvy veteran like Shanahan in a minimal-contact early September skate is always going to stand out. The question isn’t if he starts the season well, but if he can sustain the same level into March and beyond.
He’ll turn 40 in January, and is coming off a season in which he hit a significant wall at mid-year—in large part because of a knee injury—and never really recovered. Yes, you can make the argument that the Rangers need his leadership and scoring touch, especially now that Jaromir Jagr is in Russia. And I doubt Shanahan is going to make salary an issue. But it still may end up being more complicated than it looked today.