Okay, okay. I know it's not really fair to read a quote, any quote, and use what I know, or think I know, about a situation to put meaning behind something that isn't there. But I read this quote, given upon his arrival in Minnesota, by Dan Fritsche, a player, not by any means the world's greatest player, but a player nonetheless who used to play an every day role in Columbus, and I can't help but think what I think.
"I've been hoping and waiting - no, praying - for this day to come," Fritsche said. "I don't think excited really even describes it. I can think of a million different things in New York. Coaches have their guys. It's been a long year for me up to this point."
"I was very bummed out," when I was not claimed off waivers, he said.
The player "quickly fell out of favor with coach Tom Renney."
There's a lot in the above, but I first center on the "coaches have their guys" part.
Again, it is unfair and I feel biased in even writing this here. But you know what? This is a blog, not a newspaper held to any sort of journalistic standards. If I want to share my perhaps biased, perhaps skewed thoughts and opinions, I have every right to.
I see those words and I read them to mean it didn't matter what he did or didn't do, coaches play who they want to play. They have their favorites.
No, Fritsche didn't say "favorites," but that's how I'm taking "their guys" to mean.
And gosh, every person at some point in their lives - among friends, in professional work situations - has seen some form of favoritism going on. It's a world we live in. I am surrounded by it. I have often felt cheated by my opportunities or rather the lack of opportunities in my ownlife. But as I said the other day, in regards to Prucha, life isn't fair. I get it.
Well I'm not claiming it needed to be fair. I'm just saying if I didn't think so before, I really, really, REALLY, now think that there is nothing - NOTHING - some of the guys currently on the Rangers team could do to fall out of favor with their coach or their GM, or whomever is making those calls. Not take endless penalties, cause endless goals against, not be liabilities on the powerplay, not fail to score, not fail to make smart passes. Not anything.
I also really, really, REALLY now think that there is nothing - NOTHING - that guys like Fritsche, or Prucha, or anyone else that gets the short end of it, can do to fall INTO favor with their coach or their GM. Bring speed or energy. Score. Draw a penalty. Not give up a goal against. Check someone.
There is simply nothing they can do about it.
Try to ignore my liking Prucha. For his energy, his enthusiasm, and the excitement he brings to life and to the game we love. Ignore that for a minute.
Did he honestly do anything at all to warrant being taken out of the lineup.
On Opening Night at the Garden after he had played the first two games in Prague?
On 10/17 against Toronto, after playing 10/15 versus Buffalo?
On 10/30 against Atlanta after the 10/27 game against the Isles?
On 11/10 against Edmonton after the 11/8 game in Washington?
On 12/10 against Atlanta after the 12/7 game versus Calgary?
On 1/20 against Anaheim after the 1/18 game against Pittsburgh?
Did he really do anything that made him the WORST player on that team? The FIRST one in line to take a seat? Did he do anything to cost them the game?
Have we, as fans, seen other players do things wrong? Do things that jeopardize the team? Do things that warrant a seat on the bench?
And yet, did anyone really sit? Dawes for a handful. Voros for about 7 or 8. Fritsche for all but 16 games. Rissmiller for all but 3? And Prucha for the rest.
But it really always came down to the guy that "fell out of favor with his coach" and the other guy that Renney somehow started to dislike.
We've seen other coaches around the league call out their TOP players for not performing. In public and with the intent to embarass them and wake them up!
Not so in Rangerland. It's easier to ignore it altogether, keep the same culprits in the lineup, bench the relatively "innocent" and steal "confidence" from those that once had it and deserve to have it back.
Look. This isn't meant to be more than it is. I'm not implying that Fritsche or Prucha should have had a spot on this team automatically. On effort, I still think Prucha has deserved one and done nothing to have it taken away. Fritsche's case is harder because he was the last man in and hadn't had past experience here to draw on.
However, I'm merely trying to play with the notion that by any "favoritism" shown towards others, a guy like Fritsche never really had a chance in New York. I don't think anyone can deny that. He, like Prucha, really did nothing wrong while he was in the lineup. And perhaps, I think, if given the chance to utilize the type of player he is - speedy, a natural center, who can hit - with the right type of other players, it might have been different. (We saw it briefly with Korpikoski and Dawes for two games).
But again asking this from the coach that has refused to put the guy with the most career goals for the Rangers actively (Prucha) or the guy with the moves (Zherdev) on a line with the only true assist > goal guy on the team (Gomez).
We'll never really know what could have been, will we? In hockey, as in life.
Look, I've already gone on longer than necessary. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on it. These is merely mine.
I'm only saying this. After reading that statement, there is no way someone will convince me that the coaches have been making decisions based on performance rather than on who they wanted to have play. Who they liked. Who they favored.
Perhaps some people always thought so. Others may disagree. Many others may not care at all or say, well, the coach is the coach, he can do as he pleases.
Fine. That's all fine.
But do you still think there is no favoritism going on in New York?
Ask a guy who was "hoping and waiting - no praying" to be taken away from New York, the once number one sought after place in all of the NHL.
He just might tell you a different story.
Links to the above article:
And to Andrew Gross's Ranger Rants blog where this was brought to my attention: