Monday, February 2, 2009

Is Vanilla All This Team Can Truly Be. . .?

I'd hope not. But so far this season there just isn't much evidence to argue against that idea.

Vanilla. Yes, there is that word again. Remember Steven Stamkos and I happen to like vanilla as an ice cream flavor. But I however do not - NOT - like vanilla on my hockey team!

Larry Brooks wrote a heck of an article today, with one of his best lines of the year; and he's had quite a few.


Brooks wonders, among other things, why Sather, so long a fan of the big personality, big chance type guy, suddenly finds himself with:

"this class of players that seems more like a busload of tourists determined not to get separated from the group than they do citizens of the city the way Jagr was and Avery was and Messier, Leetch, Richter and Graves were?"

Wow. The "busload of tourists" description is kind of uncanny right?

Name one guy, save Hank, who can be THE guy on this team. I've been saying it all year.

There is no one, no one save mostly bland and vanilla.

And those few that aren't: Valiquette, Prucha, Zherdev, Korpikoski, Mara; they are not in position to be anything outside the favored system, if they even get a chance to play at all. And none of the just mentioned are anywhere near what Messier and the like were. Not that many could ever hope to be.

Argue Avery's inclusion all you want. Surely Brooks is not implying that Avery belongs in the same sentence with all these either current or future Hall of Famers and/or Garden number retirees on their legendary status.

He's merely saying that that guy WAS New York. In his actions on the ice, and his passion for the game while he was here. Yes. That guy was more man of the city than passive observer.

This current team is all passive observer.

And the one guy that can - and does - carry them, is being overused, plain and simple.

It is fascinating though. Who's idea was it? Obviously Sather got the personnel in here (although perhaps Renney pulled for his guys and Pearn pulled for Redden, although one really knows why), but I pondered over dinner and after reading Brooks' article, that if this is not Sather's type of team, perhaps he finally gave Renney reigns to do it his way?

After a few years of letting Jagr and his play make or break this team, maybe Renney finally got to do what he wanted. Make a team as - like the guy or not - bland and boring as perhaps he wants them to be.

I find it suspiscious, still, that Renney got to hand pick his captain and he picked the guy in the room least likely to say anything. Anything when things went right. Anything when things went wrong.


But what do I know?

I know that I still stand by what I said at the end of last week after the Pittsburgh collapse. There is no way that this team, this team that cannot score, will make it past one round in the playoffs if they have to face a team like Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Montreal, or New Jersey. No way. They can win a game or two, but they are not shutting down those offenses for a long series.

And, face it, unless they suddenly wake up and learn to score, this team cannot score enough to make a difference.

And even though it's been said before by Brooks, he again points out just how badly Gomez and Drury are performing compared to expectations. Maybe we as fans can't expect too much out of guys that should be complementary players and not leaders, but if they are being paid to do such, the least they can do is be vocal when it counts and be held accountable when they aren't cutting it.

On the flip side, new/old Journal News blog writer, Rick Carpiniello, wrote a pretty nice argument in favor of Renney.

Assuming for a moment that I agree with the "this is the best he can do with what's given" argument, I still have a few problems with Renney. They are:

-The fact that no one on this team, save those that really shouldn't be, are held accountable when need be. If other coaches, coaches who have been in the league longer and brought their team further in the playoffs (Lindy Ruff, Craig MacTavish, Guy Carbonneau) can sit or publically call out their BEST players when they are having a bad night or stretch of games, why does Renney outright refuse to do the same? He many times refuses to even admit when a player is playing horribly but rather stands by them like a protective father. Is he their coach or their best friend? He can't be both. And he has to be mean when that is necessary to correct a problem!

-The fact that the powerplay has been horrific, not just for this season, but for the last few before it. It's only savings grace, post-lockout, was Jagr and Nylander, who even if they didn't score, still ate up time in the offensive zone wearing out opponents. This year the powerplay not only isn't scoring; it's given up the most shorthanded goals in the entire league. And not only has this coach not answered for it AT ALL, but he's not changed anything AT ALL. Last week in Pittsburgh I saw the same Drury/Gomez/Naslund train wreck that started the first two months on the powerplay. WORST of all - - They weren't even practicing it at practice. They only started when practically forced into it by fans and media. If that's not a joke, I don't know what is.

-The fact that he will hold players out of the lineup with no explaination, and, even worse, give horribly two-faced and hypocritical answers if he gives justification for his actions at all. He's lying or he's lying by ommission. Either way, this coach is lying. And he's doing it to one of the ONLY players that has constantly shown heart and loyalty. It's the biggest mystery of them all!

On that note, Rick has promised to ask Renney about Prucha, as he himself is confused. Add Rick to the one person Prucha support committee in Larry Brooks, and we'll see if he can get any answers for the rest of us.

1 comment:

Kerri said...

Vanilla. I saw Sam Weinman (RIP? lol) called this team vanilla probably a month ago, and I couldn't think of a better word! So bland, so boring, so void of personality. The Hockey Rodent said Tom Renney has "blanded the brand so much that it's almost like crossing the Hudson River." Ugh, that killed me.

These guys aren't big personality types. I think there is more to Gomez than we are allowed to see. I think that's why John Giaonne ignores him now instead of going right back. Lundqvist has some personality, but he's not over the top. They should interview him more, though. Off the ice, Zherdev, Prucha and Korpikoski don't seem to say much, but it's probably because they feel uncomfortable with their English. Dubinsky, Callahan, Girardi... can they have personalities? I think they do, but it's like Lundqvist. Callahan shows spunk on the ice, as does Zherdev and Prucha, but Z and Pru are put down for it because their spunk tends to create offensive chances while maybe getting a little risky on D. Dubinsky used to have personality.

Remember in October, when the Rangers were playing their best hockey of the season, when they looked like they were having fun, when I could still love this team even though I was upset about Prucha being the oddball out? They played a more uptempo game, Dubinsky and Zherdev were soaring and Voros was reaping the benefits. Now that Korpi is more solid, now that we brought up AA, if we play that uptempo, fun game the Rangers can be a fun team again WITH personality. Remember Dubi and Z falling all over eachother after they scored that goal? Remember how the bench erupted after Prucha scored his first? You know how Paul Mara high fives the whole team before they go out on the ice? This team DOES have character, Renney is just purposely drying it out.