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On Tanner Glass And “Haters”

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NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Tanner Glass was, deservedly, the man of the hour last night.

He had a great game. Glass had two assists, a fight, and seven hits. He made his mark both on the scoreboard and in the “intangible” aspects of the game.

Of course, he was talked about after the game by everyone — beat reporters in New York continue to use him as their shining champion for why advanced statistics have no place in discussing and analyzing the game. The national media even jumped on the band wagon. Puck Daddy offered a column on Glass and his “haters.”

At first I wasn’t going to comment on the matter, but I feel like I have to.

I understand that I am one of the louder voices out there upset with Glass’ continued inclusion in the lineup. So when Glass has a good game (which has happened a few times in the playoffs this year) I’m understandably targeted. I’m not alone, either. It’s the entire stats community. The “fanboys.” “Bloggers.” “Stat heads.” “Nerds.”

Glass sort of talked about it himself (quote pulled from the Yahoo article linked above):

“My game’s not one that’s easy to like at times. People who know hockey. Your coaches. Your teammates. Those are the important people and they’re supportive,” he said.

“You know what? The people who do say those things don’t know much about the game, or being part of a team. Part of a locker room. Especially in a game like hockey. It’s a physical game. There’s so much that goes on, that the average fan doesn’t understand. To me, when I hear that stuff, it seems to be uneducated people.”

I do have a problem with the “uneducated” tag — and not because Glass is saying it. Glass should say it. It’s his career and it’s his life. He feels targeted for something out of his control and he’s not wrong. He’s also got a fantastic degree, makes millions of dollars, and has a wonderful support system in the organization. He’s not losing here, trust me. But if you happen to be reading this, Tanner, it was never about you as a person. I hope you know that.

As always, this discussion isn’t about him even if his presence is the reason it’s happening.

If the Glass we saw last night played every night, I don’t think anyone would complain about him. If that Glass was the norm this discussion wouldn’t be happening. No one would say a word and it would be a travesty if he wasn’t in the lineup -- which is why you didn’t see us complain when he was in again for Game 4.

The sad reality is that’s simply not the case. It’s never been the case. If the Glass we saw in Game 3 and Game 4 was the real Glass, then he wouldn’t have fallen through waivers unclaimed so many times. He wouldn’t have lost a regular spot in the lineup in the first place.

I’m also not arguing against his value to the room. He’s a great guy. It’s clear he’d do anything to win, his teammates love him, and he’s willing to do whatever he has to - no matter the job. Character isn’t an issue here.

But that’s neither here nor there.

The most important thing here is whether or not the Rangers have a better option than Glass available to them. They do. His name is Pavel Buchnevich. Even now I still believe that speed and skill makes more of an impact than rough and tough (and isn’t it amazing that when Glass is tangibly good he’s doing all the things we complain about him not doing?). I run a New York Rangers website that people come to for analysis and opinions. So, yeah, I’m going to write about this when I feel this way.

The point of all that? I’m just as happy as he is when he plays really well. I want the team to win, hence me rooting for him even if he’s in the lineup. Anyone who wants a player to fail simply so they can say “I told you so” isn’t cheering for the team. They’re blinded by hate and unable to let go of their own opinions and ideas. That’s never been the case here at Blueshirt Banter (from anyone). I think the same can be said of most outspoken critics of Glass’ deployment.

If you are of the belief that Glass is better for the team than Buchnevich is, does that make you a Buchnevich hater? Does that mean when he’s in the lineup you’re literally rooting for him to fail? Of course it doesn’t and it would be insane to suggest otherwise. So how is that any different than anyone saying the same thing about Glass?

There will always be players who people think aren’t good enough. This is the NHL, the single most competitive hockey league in the world. To suggest that outspoken criticism of a player or how he is deployed somehow means you’re attacking that person’s character is bananas. That’s where I put my foot down. It’s an insane expectation that’s only being applied to a single player because he’s the focus of a media war around blogs.

To assume that would be to say Alain Vigneault hates Buchnevich, Kevin Klein, or Adam Clendening. (Alright, he might actually hate Clendening). It would be to say he’s actively rooting for them to fail when he doesn’t play them in the lineup. It’s insane.

So enough of the “Glass hate.” Writing about how a player or a coach isn’t good enough or criticizing their play isn’t hating. It isn’t wanting them to fail. It’s never about the man, either.

I’m more than happy Glass had a great game. Keep it up, Tanner. Keep making me put my foot in my mouth about not wanting you in the lineup. But know that when you are out there, I’m rooting for you just as hard as anyone else.