Another Day, Another Dollar
General Thoughts For Day 1 of the 2017 NY Rangers’ Off-Season
Another day, another dollar.
Or is it same stuff, different day?
Whatever the case: here we find ourselves. There will be no Canyon of Heroes, nor ticker tape parade. Heck, there be not even a Conference Final participant representing the Tri-State. A perennial rite of passage for Rangers fans, where there is only frustration, questions and a long summer to pasture.
What was the organization missing this time? What was the degree of luck? Where the hell do we go from here?
My friend and editor Joe Fortunato penned an impeccable essay a year ago, likewise from the ashes of an abrupt postseason exit. I know better than to attempt a written venture better than his, yet I thought I’d re-visit a few aspects of where we the Rangers faithful stand, for better or worse, as compared to twelve short months ago.
"The Rangers have an opportunity to fix their problems this year, but they'd have to do it quickly and efficiently. They'd have to toss out dead wood contracts that are attached to loyal players who gave a lot to this organization in the past. They'd have to either bring Vigneault up to speed on which players he needs to start grooming and adjustments he needs to make to his system or jettison him for a coach who will.”
Honestly, if I plagiarized Joe’s exact thoughts from April 2016 to pass off as my own thoughts in this article, right now, would anybody have noticed? Are Joe’s words any less diagnostic of the static we feel ~ we know ~ to be, in large part, to Broadway’s missing link(s)?
Do we trust Madison Square Garden’s bench boss any more, or perhaps more accurately any less, than we did a year ago?
"I understand it's easy to sit back and say "I told you so" when a team doesn't win a Stanley Cup. One team wins every year, and since only 16 teams make the playoffs, there's a raw 6.25% chance to see your name engraved on The Cup. Not very high odds. But there should be a fundamental difference between going all in and going in to do your best. The Rangers dished out steep payments to go all in [2014, 2015 & 2016], with no payout.”
While the acquisition of Brendan Smith proved relatively fruitful, if less costly than deadlines past; need this passage be updated with any significance? Is the impending future ~ of both theoretical amendment and practical application ~ not screaming for a better blueline? Or at the very least, a means to extract more from less, whether it be deployment or employment?
Is Joe clairvoyant? Or have the problems simply lingered from then ’til now, staring us in the face, another year taxed and taken?
Fact: the Rangers benefitted from a deep, group of young forwards for most of the regular season.
Yet once the post-deadline salary cap and NHL standings became all but meaningless, March’s reintroduction of Glass represented a new approach to a dynamic that simply did not need tinkering.
Was it not the introduction of Pavel Buchnevich that, among other things, served as a critical turning point in Round 1 against Montreal? Was it not a lesson to be learned on who to put on the ice in the waning moments of a 1-goal lead?
Lessons learned usually mean lessened burns, but look no further than Game 5 in Ottawa to figure out where the coaching staff remained lured.
Fact: the Rangers paid for prioritizing Marc Staal & Nick Holden over Brady Skjei & Smith. Again. And again. And again.
#NYR blew 2 games in this series because of poor deployment and poor execution in the final minutes. That's simply all there is to it.— Nick Mercadante (@NMercad) May 6, 2017
Sure, there will be ample opportunity to make, I daresay, bold moves this offseason. If anything, the Las Vegas Expansion will serve as a catalyst for activity, well beyond the “normal" summer vacuum. Yes, there are ways for Gorton to maneuver through the cap with extreme and cunning benefit. Of course, Kevin Shattenkirk signing with the Rangers in early July remains very possible, if not downright probable.
But even the most ideal stable of horses and the most ideal army of men just can’t always put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
At what point does the very mechanism of allocation spoil even the most optimal basket of resources?
Even the best possible assortment of cogs and gods can be wasted by fumbled strategy.
Are we not at the point where required action transcends buyouts and trade-ups? Have we not seen enough with our own eyes to distrust the very fabric of how one even wields a Stanley Cup threat in the first place? Much less move asset anthills to create such?
I say all options be on the table.
I say no aspect 2016-17 be left uninspected.
I say “what could have been done differently?”
… or, now more importantly, “will the same stuff be attempted any differently tomorrow?”