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Lost at sea without a skipper: The plight of the NY Rangers

Mar 21, 2010, 10:45 AM EDT

drury.jpgBoston Bruins vs. New York Rangers
12:30 p.m. EST – Sunday, March 21, 2010
Live on NBC

Join us for a live chat during today’s game at Noon EST.

When Sean Avery is the only player on your team that shows any
personality, that has any sort of ability to muster up the motivation to
raise his level of play when it counts, then perhaps succeeding in the playoffs is the least of your worries.

The New York Rangers, in March and in the
middle of a playoff race, are searching for an identity as a team.
What’s more, as soon as any of the players start to show some life or personality towards the media and the public, coach John
Tortorella is quick to squash it and calls his players out for speaking
out of turn.

Is it even possible for a team like this to actually
make it to the playoffs?

No future without any life.

Yesterday I gave my reasons why the Rangers would find a way to pass the
Bruins for 8th in the East, but I have to admit that was a tough task to
tackle. I’ve watched a number of Rangers games this season — full
games, not just skimming through on Center Ice like I have to do each
night — and one thing is becoming extremely clear as the playoffs near:
the New York Rangers don’t care.

I’m not convinced this is a team
that even wants to make the playoffs. Thanks to some major issues that
the Boston Bruins have had of their own the past few weeks, the Rangers
have had the chance to not only catch up to Boston in the standings but
to actually surpass them.

The way they’ve played in these big
games lately, you would have guessed they were trying to tank the season
for the number one draft pick this summer.

Will the real,
overpaid and outdated leader please stand up?

I can only
imagine how Rangers fans felt watching Chris Drury in the Olympics. As
an American, I couldn’t have been more proud of the veteran who was the
heart and soul — aside from Ryan Miller — of Team USA; selling out his
body to block shots, giving it 120% every shift. It seemed our doubts
as to why he had been chosen for the team were not applicable this time.

Drury
has just one goal and six points in the nine games since the Olympics;
not… bad, but certainly not what you’d expect from your captain
while the team is in the midst of a playoff race.

He at least tried to be a bit of leader
this past week, as he called out his team as being ‘immature’, until
coach Tortorella was able to stuff the muzzle back over his mouth and
put him back into the locker room closet.

So if Drury can’t step
up as the leader of this team, who then? Marian Gaborik? He’s more
concerned about just scoring goals and protecting his injury-prone body
than actually winning and leading a team. Ryan Callahan perhaps, but
Torts would probably put the kabosh on anything he tries to do. Perhaps
being a leader is overrated; it seems that’s the way Tortorella sees it, at
least.

Just go out and play.

I can see Tortorella’s point
in one regard; the players should just shut their mouths and actually
produce on the ice. We have all this talk and consternation about locker
room leadership and the perception in the media, what about actually
winning once the games start? If you are as intent on winning and being
successful as you claim; show it in the games.

We all know there’s
one player on the team who can actually muster the motivation to raise
the level of his game, but those are for purely selfish reasons. The
rest of the team is just content to skate through each game on their way
to the golf course in April.

The good news? They play a team with
very similar issues today on NBC.

  1. Craig - Mar 21, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    You are completely clueless. I highly doubt you have watched any ranger games this year. I have watched every single one and for you to complain about Drury is completely absurd. I dont care about his point totals, he is not talented enough to score 20 goals a year anymore, and he wasnt even on the powerplay the first 2/3 of the year. But every single night, even if many Rangers dont care, you will always see Drury’s heart. He plays like its the olympics every single night, and he is not responsible for this team falling apart. Yes, hes overpaid, but to hold that against him is absurd, that is Glen Sather’s fault, all Drury did was accept the deal just like any other human would. What you wrote about him in the olympics:
    I can only imagine how Rangers fans felt watching Chris Drury in the Olympics. As an American, I couldn’t have been more proud of the veteran who was the heart and soul — aside from Ryan Miller — of Team USA; selling out his body to block shots, giving it 120% every shift. It seemed our doubts as to why he had been chosen for the team were not applicable this time.
    This is what we Ranger fans see every night

  2. dennis boyle - Mar 21, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    teams have learned to stop them at the blue line.having more emphasis on better passing and puck control will put less pressure on their already amazing goalie.i mean just throwing the puck in hoping for something to happen does not work.they are not fast enough.the canadiens prove that the other night!

  3. dennis boyle - Mar 21, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    we need smaller and faster players

  4. dennis - Mar 21, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    I do not question Drury’s heart..he lays it out there every night…but this team and town does njot need a quiet leader. I personally would have slapped the C on Callahans chest, and maybe even an A on Avery and perhaps Boyle as well…grinders, who play with emotion every shift. This team has been very passive at home (losing record) and has not shown any passion down the stretch in big games. Yet, management stood pat at the trading deadline,while leading teams such as Pitt & Washington bolstered their rosters. Very curious.

  5. dennis - Mar 21, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    I do not question Drury’s heart..he lays it out there every night…but this team and town does njot need a quiet leader. I personally would have slapped the C on Callahans chest, and maybe even an A on Avery and perhaps Boyle as well…grinders, who play with emotion every shift. This team has been very passive at home (losing record) and has not shown any passion down the stretch in big games. Yet, management stood pat at the trading deadline,while leading teams such as Pitt & Washington bolstered their rosters. Very curious.

  6. Wings or Hawks -vs-Caps this year - Mar 21, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    For an original six, the NYR are pathetic. The Red Wings are simply the best of the original six, Chicago is very close to knocking them off, Boston is better than the Rangers all day long, Toronto is a joke but the fan base there is the best in the world, The C’s have what….30+ cups? The Rangers, led by legendary GM Sather are the only consistently mediocre underachieving group of the six. What players on the NYR could find a job at their current salary on one of those teams? Maybe Gaborik? Lundquistat how manymillions -vs-Jmmy Howard at far less han 1MM, yu b the judge. Stay in NY Sather so we can count on this teams mediocrity forever.

  7. Craig - Mar 21, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    Slap an A on Avery and Boyle because they are grinders that leave it out there on every shift? You are saying Drury doesnt do that?
    And Boyle is a fourth liner that is pretty useless, while Avery is not respected nearly enough to get an A, and imagine him talking to refs during the game trying to get calls? The refs despise him. The rangers would never get another call.
    Drury is THE perfect captain. Unfortunately he is not captaining the perfect team

  8. Pete - Mar 22, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    There are very few Rangers that play with any heart. Drury is not one of them. I watch every single Rangers game as well. The team as a whole, with few exceptions, play lathargic, uninspired hockey. Drury is, or was, a good hockey player, but is not a leader. He is playing like he has given up and the majority of the team is following his lead. The only team that Drury could captain successfully, is a team that doesnt need a captain.

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