After last night’s loss to Montreal in a crucial four point game, the often quiet captain Chris Drury let loose on his teammates, saying that “immaturity is the reason for the inconsistency”. When asked to elaborate, Drury said that the Rangers “need to grow up fast or watch playoff hockey”.
It has taken two years for Drury to be outspoken, and I must say, it’s about damn time. For the team to be playing this badly that it warranted an outburst from a lead-by-example captain says a lot about the makeup of the team. There aren’t enough players that want it bad enough to play 100% every night, and give the effort that they did against Philadelphia day-in and day-out. It really is sad to see that, after all the debates we have had as fans, it’s the effort that is the true reason for this teams’ inconsistency.
Since the effort is called into question, you have to wonder what the Rangers can do to fix this next year. Does it start with the coaching staff? Is John Tortorella’s immature relationship with the media the example that the Rangers follow? No one knows for sure, and one can only debate that. What we do know is that the coaches do not play the game. The players do. The players are the ones responsible for their efforts on the ice. So the players are the ones that either need attitude adjustments, or need to be sent on their not so merry way.
The Rangers only have four UFAs going into the offseason: Olli Jokinen, Vinny Prospal, Alex Auld, and Jody Shelley. Of those four, you can bet that Jokinen and Shelley will be gone. There’s a chance that Prospal will be re-signed, he isn’t one of those players that takes games off. If he was, he wouldn’t have the ‘A’, which came at the recommendation of Drury. Maybe Auld will be re-signed, if he can be had on the cheap, as the backup goalie. Doubtful though.
In addition to the four UFAs, the Rangers have five RFAs (Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Enver Lisin, Erik Christensen, Brandon Prust). Of these, Staal is the only lock to be re-signed. I would guess that Prust and Christensen will be given short deals, while Girardi and Lisin are let go, either by trade or just simply released like Nik Zherdev.
So the Rangers aren’t going to have the major roster overhaul they had last season, or at least it doesn’t look that way yet. Unless some trades are made the shake the foundation, we are looking at a good portion of these players again next year. Maybe the young kids will come in next year with a new fire, after having been through the jitters of their rookie years. Maybe some of the veterans will come back and realize that this may be their last shot at a winner. That’s an awful lot of maybes.
What isn’t a maybe is that the Rangers, as currently built, are not a team that is going to work hard game after game. If the current roster can’t provide the effort, then identify those that do, and if possible, dump the rest. Easier said than done, but hey, the Rangers are used to massive roster changes. What’s one more to us anyway?