Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grading The Brass 2010-11

As I pulled out the 'red pen' for the players, it would only be proper to do it for the front office as well. Last year I wrote that "we don't really know what Dolan, Sather and Torts have done - all that can be judged are the public actions and the results of the behind-closed-doors actions. We're not in the boardroom, office or locker room. Two of the three rarely talk to the press so what they are thinking and doing is unknown and the third, well, his loathing of the press clouds everything just a shade."

A year later that still holds true. I am going to combine memes here and do this the Facts of Life way - take the good, take the bad and take them both and see what we have, then assign a grade.

John Tortorella:
Take the good: The Rangers improved six points from 09-10, going from 38-33-11 to 44-33-5. Tortorella gave more kids shots to play in the NHL and several rewarded his faith with solid seasons. He found several good lines and shockingly stuck with them as long as he could (Cally-Dubi-Arty, Feds-Prust-Boyle). Torts managed not to publicly embarrass the organization in the playoffs against Washington again.

Take the bad: The Rangers lost in the playoffs against Washington again. Tortorella couldn't motivate the team against lesser opponents like Florida. He couldn't ignite Marian Gaborik no matter what he tried. He couldn't find a solution to the power play. He completely mismanaged Sean Avery. He stuck with MDZ and MZA longer than he should have, although that is hard to attack. His petty public battles against Larry Brooks were unprofessional and ridiculous.

Take them both and then we have: If teams do indeed adopt the mindset of the coach, then Torts looks good as the boys bought in and became the hard-working, shot-blocking team that we loved to watch. Could they have finished even higher in the standings and lasted longer in the playoffs? Probably. But they were arguably more than the sum of their parts and injuries and disappointing veterans doomed them to their fate. Final grade: C

Glen Sather:
Take the good: Sather dispatched Donald Brashear to Atlanta and buried Wade Redden in Hartford. Sather opened the July 1st festivities by signing Marty Biron, who proved to be the perfect backup until he got hurt. He tied up Girardi and Staal long term and re-upped Mike Sauer. He lured Mats Zuccarello over from Sweden and Step and McD from Wisconsin. Sather invited Ruslan Fedotenko to camp back in the fall and Feds became one of the hardest working Rangers. He managed to rid the team of Michal Rozsival's contract and dealt the disgruntled Dane Byers to Columbus for Chad Kolarik.

Take the bad: Sather signed free agents Alex Frolov and Derek Boogaard and extended Erik Christensen. Frolov, who failed his way out of LA, brought his brand of disappointment to New York before getting hurt. Boogaard himself admitted to letting everyone down with his performance. Christensen rested on the reassurance and was invisible most of the season. Tim Kennedy very well could have helped the team down the line but he was buried in the minors before being traded away. Speaking of such, Sather's gamble to bring in the old failure Bryan McCabe at the deadline did not work out.

Take them both and then we have: In this day and age where youth is taking over the NHL, not a single player drafted in '09 or '10 has played a single game for the Rangers. Now that is either a very good thing - they don't have to be rushed - or a bad thing - none are ready or simply have the ability. I am going with the former as the first wave of home-grown kids are beginning to establish themselves. Sather is admitting his mistakes and is correcting them. Final grade: B

James Dolan:
Take the good: Dolan doesn't meddle in the affairs of the Rangers, at least publicly. Because the team did not make the playoffs the season prior, ticket prices were not raised for the regular season. CDs by his band JD & The Straight Shot are just $4.99 - but a guy born into a family worth $3.3 billion singing the blues, that's just priceless ...

Take the bad: Dolan is a money-hungry businessman with no regard for the people who are making him even richer than he already is. Despite ever-increasing merchandise revenues and a salary cap limiting costs, ticket prices were still extravagant. The Garden renovation got underway and inconvenienced those fans willing to pay to show up. The 85th Anniversary 'celebration' was just a shameless money grab - who the hell celebrates 85 years (outside of senior citizens)? The team has won one Stanley Cup in the last 71 years and yet the team ranks fourth in the NHL in Fan Cost Index. MSG Network was dropped by Dish Network, screwing the fans who didn't want to pay ticket prices and those who still had the network were still subject to Joe Micheletti.

Take them both and then we have: Dolan made $15.33 million during a down year in the economy where most Ranger fans were hamstrung. For him, that's fantastic. For us, notsomuch. Now Garden president Scott O’Neil is likely the cause of everything above but Dolan signs the paycheques and reaps much of the benefits so the complaints fall upon him. One redeeming factor to keep him from failure? The team isn't moving to Winnipeg. Final grade: D

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