What ails the Rangers?
The Rangers spent nearly $90 million for the services of two players, paying Gomez $51.5 million over seven years and Drury $35.3 million in a five-year deal. Nice, veteran players, but that is just stupid money committed for 12 years combined.
It's good for the game when stupid contracts are seen to be just that. Ideally, they reinforce the thinking of GMs who don't buy into the hype, and stick to a reconstruction plan.
Not so much for their record, no, but for the fact they can't score. At all.
The Gomez/Drury reinforced club is dead last in the league with just 13 goals, and Jaromir Jagr, he's not happy:
"To answer the question, I would have to give you more questions," Jagr said. "We've played bad because: a. we're not good enough; b. a lack of confidence; or c. trying too much?What I find insane about the Blueshirts is that, after years (and years) of being lost in the wilderness, this team had finally turned a corner by doing exactly what Wayne Scanlan advises in that Citizen piece quoted at the top: Rebuilding.
"It's too many things I don't know," Jagr said. "Right now we don't play good and I don't know the problem."
After seven consecutive years of playoff misses from Gretzky's last year (1997-98) to the first postlockout season, the Rangers had their first 100-point season in 2006 since winning the Stanley Cup 12 years earlier. They did it with a low payroll, necessitated by the $39-million salary cap, and with one of the best young netminders in the league, looked to be on the rise for some time.
This summer, however, it was back to mo' money, mo' problems.
Gomez leads that charge, producing only three points so far after being shifted from Jagr's line to off Jagr's line. Drury's fared a bit better, picking up a goal and five assists. (I've said it before, but here goes again: Gomez and Drury have played 15 seasons in the NHL and had, combined, one season with more than 70 points.)
It's only eight games in, so certainly there's time for this team to put it together (and as shocking as a playoff miss would be, I don't think it's in the cards), but is it any more complicated than saying big free agency buys are, again, sinking the Rangers?
The biggest thing coach Tom Renney's got to worry about is appeasing Jagr, as we've all seen how that one can turn out. He seems to perform the best with an all-Euro all-star cast around him, and the new additions just don't fit the bill.