Monday, June 9, 2008

Recipe for Success. . . ?

Great article by Lynn Zinser (NY Times) that I only wish they placed smack dab on the center of Glen Sather and James Dolan’s desk. Oh wait – they do.

I only wish these men were literate. *sigh*

What is written in this article is not NEW news. But it is written in a simple way with a nice, fun, recipe analogy (and even a supermarket reference!) that even the layman can understand.

To add one particular example to make Lynn’s story have color, despite nauseating color, here you go.

When I was in grammar school, and either hosted or attended a sleepover, somehow a game of Truth or Dare was always suggested, played, and then regretted. And I don’t just mean regretted for the Truth part. It was so often the Dares that caused more of the regret.

I can just think of how many times the dares (we were not the most creative bunch) involved opening up the refrigerator, throwing everything edible (and not so edible) in a bowl, mixing it up, and thus creating a concoction that someone must eat. Imagine for a moment that all these things were yummy (although some not so much so) and were thrown together with the intention of making something equally yummy.

Yeah we all know it doesn’t work like that. So in the world of hockey, the Rangers are this concoction. There is the mustard, the ketchup, the relish, the soda, the milk, the orange juice, the butter, the eggs, the sour cream, the yogurt, the Velveeta slices, the carrots, the broccoli, the cucumbers, the lettuce, the salad dressing….uh, you get the drift.

Now the mustard, ketchup and relish might get along great, if you pair them together, even more so with either a hot dog or a hamburger. But why do I get the feeling the Rangers lines this year more resembled the soda, the milk, and the orange juice. Seriously I’ll give you a minute to stop being ill.

Note to Rangers: food groups make people happy. Compatible hockey players make fans happy. Heck, and even coaches, owners, and the players themselves are happy when they are compatible.

What this article only scratched the surface on was the supermarket reference and the idea of buying everything yummy whether or not it worked. Yummy. Big fancy free agents are yummy. The Rangers for oh so long were very hungry (re: greedy) and went after each and every one of these yummy players. Like a collection of rich dessert and not a well balanced meal representing each of the food groups.

And to think they were expected to win! And thought they had a chance!!

In short, I watched the Rangers do it for years. The Pavel Bure/Eric Lindros/ Alexei Kovalev (part 2)/Bobby Holik/Darius Kasparaitis years of getting the yummiest free-agents with the $9 million dollar paychecks (or $5 in Kaspar’s case). Then, ironically, I watched the New York Yankees try to copy that style (that never worked for the Rangers in the first place) with the Jason Giambi/Hideki Matsui/Alex Rodriguez/Johnny Damon/Randy Johnson/Carl Pavano experiments, which unfortunately are still going on. I will never understand because it NEVER worked for the Rangers when they did it. The Yankees had this great example right in the same city of what NOT to do, and yet they played the “oooo yummy, we must have them,” game. The game of we need to collect yummy players who do not earn their paychecks rather than keep the heart and soul type of guys we all loved, like Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill, etc. And think what you want that O’Neill and Brosius would have retired anyway. The Yankees were within one bloop-single of winning that World Series. If they hadn’t made it so incredibly and nauseatingly obvious that they were going to go in a new direction and that Martinez was going to be shuttled out for Giambi, I think that those guys would have stuck around and maybe it would have been 5 championships in 7 years for the Yankees. Rather, the era ended that night, that cold Sunday November night.

Okay – apologies for the tangent of baseball. That will rarely happen, but it’s still one of the few things that drive me crazy even after all these years. (for the record, not them losing, but the end of that era so abruptly, and the fact that as that ball hit the round and Gonzo fell to his knees that I knew his best friend Tino would be a Yankee no more).

Back to reality. My point in bringing that up though, was that I watched what the Rangers did back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I watched what the Yankees have done since 2002. And then I somehow ended up watching whatever good the Rangers had done in the two years post lockout, dissipate with the singings of Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. In the words of Zinser, the two yummiest players on the market. While I like both players (and for the record I did not like Gomez at all, but about halfway through the season I realized his sense of humor was growing on me), but neither of them are worth $7 million. Get two yummy players, neither of which fit on your team. (Where have you gone Michael Nylander? Even his 4 years at $4 million dollar plee doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?) Your star player, Jaromir Jagr gets lost in a fog for 2/3rds of the season and your young rookie Brandon Dubinsky is the only one Jagr works with as his centerman. Jagr played better when he was on a line two years ago with Brad Isbister. He liked Brad Isbiter. I think (in fact I kinda even know) Jagr likes Colton Orr. But he does not mesh well with Drury or Gomez. Money well spent. Riiiiiiight.

So the Rangers lack of defense (oh boy do they need some help!) and lack of power play production (seriously, at certain points, I’d pray they’d refuse the extra man and just continue to play 5 on 5 to reduce the chance of an embarrassing two minutes where no shots are taken and the puck is turned over a multude of times) suffers because Sather and co. wanted yummy players once again. Or didn’t want other teams to get those yummy players.

Gomez or Drury? Fine. Gomez and Drury. I felt it was 2002 all over again. *sigh* And if the Rangers thing Marian Hossa, in all his $7+ million dollar glory is the solution, without addressing ANY of the DEFENSIVE concerns, goodness help me to make it through the season. The free agent market is paltry at best this year. The Rangers would do good to skip the scorers or at least the ones that will cost more than a few million (and pray someone from the AHL is ready to take the plunge), and focus almost entirely on getting defensemen. A stay at home guy and a power play set up guy if possible. If not, one of the two. But if the Rangers pay $7 million on one player and do not address their other needs, it will be a LONG season.

Oh and for the record, I am not saying I know the perfect recipe for hockey success. I don’t. But…if a power play doesn’t work all year, don’t expect it to magically transform come playoff time. I really don’t care if it was Nigel Dawes, Blair Betts, Colton Orr, Petr Prucha, and Chris Drury on that top power play unit. As long as they score once in a while! If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. If it is broke, switch it up!!

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