Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Grading The Brass 2011-12
Seeing as the players saw the red pen earlier, here are the grades of the men in charge. Their explanations are a little more in depth and, for the first time, Hartford's head honchos are included. For comparison's sake, here are the grades for '09-10 and '10-11.
James Dolan: As usual, Dolan represents upper management, because he himself has nothing to do with the team ... aside from making outrageous, idiotic Cup claims after someone showed him the standings. So this is perhaps more Scott O'Neil and his minions than Dolan but whatever. The Garden made money hand over fist yet again, raising prices across the board and getting suckers like us to pay them. The first phase of the renovation finished with positive reviews: the West Balcony was beautiful - even if it obstructed the views of several rows of blue seats - and fans seemed to enjoy the Delta Club and it's zoo-exhibit glass walkway for the players. Sather was green-lit to make whatever moves he deemed necessary, with the NHL's salary cap being the only limit. I don't know the numbers but surely the Garden of Dreams had a banner year and the Crown Collection of Lundqvist apparel (with proceeds going to the charity) was a hit. B
Glen Sather: As with the old Facts of Life that I used to do here on the blog, you have to take the good and take the bad. Sather signed Brad Richard$; Sather signed Mike Rupp. Sather gave Ryan Callahan a three-year, $12.8m deal; Sather gave Brandon Dubinski a four-year $16.8m deal. Sather added Anton Stralman off waivers; Sather added Jeff Woywitka off waivers. Sather didn't trade Chris Kreider away; Sather traded for John Scott. All that being said, good ole Glen promised victory in the Winter Classic and somehow got Mike Rupp of all people to make his claim come true. As president, Sather is likely the one who signed off on the European start to the season and that was a success as the team played in packed arenas while bonding better than they would have had they stayed stateside. B-
Jim Schoenfeld/Ken Gernander: As GM of the Whale, Schoenfeld made some inspired signings like Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Marek Hrivik. Kelsey Tessier, Scott Tanski, Jared Nightingale and Jordan Owens were solid citizens, if unspectacular. Gernander dealt with the hand he was given by Schoeney (including Aaron Voros and an agitated Avery) and did well with it. The Whale grabbed the sixth seed in the playoffs after a 36-26-14 regular season and made it to the second round of the Calder Cup before being steamrolled by the Norfolk Admirals, the eventual champs. The coach taught the Ranger philosophy to guys like Hagelin, Mitchell and Deveaux, allowing them to jump right into the show and not look out of place. And whether it was Kenny G or Schoeney or the players themselves, the decision to make Wade Redden captain clearly worked out as every young call-up credited the former Broadway Blunder with help becoming a professional. B
John Tortorella: The egomaniacal blowhard yet again helped send his team spiraling to its demise with dubious decision making. Benching the top scorer in a tight game in the playoffs sent one message - the coach's way or the highway, damn the consequences - a repeat of the Avery benching back in 2009. Tortorella's entire idea of accountability was warped as he clearly played favourites, with guys like Del Zaster and Mitchell rarely drawing the coach's ire while poor Stu Bickel was publicly abused time and time again. Torts yelled, he screamed, he couldn't get his team to start playing at puck drop, he couldn't get the power play to work, he screwed with chemistry all the way through the playoffs and he never got them to turn the screw once they took a lead. The entire Avery saga was perpetuated by the coach, and it robbed the team of what would have been a valuable weapon in the playoffs. On the other side of it, his faith in his old friend Ruslan Fedotenko was repaid in the postseason. And, after he threw 'safe is death' out the window, he managed to get the guys to buy in to the shot blocking, counterattacking philosophy that helped get them as far as they did. But Tortorella's press conferences were the worst kind of theatre, car crashes that showed he could care less about the fans as a whole. Individually, his treatment of/friendship with Liam - the handicapped diehard - was really good stuff. C