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Tank's take 1/25/04


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Money Is Not Everything

Let the myth be but to rest once and for all that small market teams do not have a chance to compete. Money is helpfully for the large markets in keeping their star players, but in terms of building a team it is much more important to have a good system, a good scouting staff, and team chemistry.

No better example of this is the Florida Marlins who won the World Series with a payroll that was a fraction of the New York Yankees, their opponents. The Marlins did it with wise trades, and players that came up through the system. The Marlins had a team that was built for their ballpark, with speed and defense being considered more important then sluggers.

This type of thinking is starting to catch on, as the New York Mets a team that in the past has spent foolishly, are now focusing on a different type of player, one that fits Shea Stadium, one of the more spacious stadiums in the National League. Like Pro Player Stadium, home runs are hard to come by at Shea Stadium, so the Mets have finally figured out that they are better off with a team that is good defensively, and can score in more ways then one.

Fast teams, are always better then teams that base their offense on the longball, in that speed never goes into a slump. When you play small ball you can turn a walk into a double, and score without the benefit of a hit. However, if you entire team is a group of sluggers, you almost need an extra basehit just to score, especially when these player are lumbering sluggers like Mo Vaughn.

In fact the true reason the Yankees have failed to win the World Series in the last 3 years, is they have begun to rely on the longball too much. A team that can move runners along, and get a runner home without the benefit of a hit is always better off then a team that needs to hit the ball hard, in that their are more ways to score.

Which gives any team a shot in baseball, if they know how to find the right formula. Of course the path does remain easier for the large market teams, in that they can keep key players on their team for a long time, while the smaller markets have a smaller window of opportunity.

On the other hand the idea that a large market team could buy a championship is a complete falsehood. When the Yankees were winning 4 of 5 World Series in the late 90's they did so with nucleus of players that had come through their own farm system. Players like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera were the team's foundation, while players like Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez and David Cone were important, but without the foundation would have made the Yankees just another team.

The fact is without a foundation big market teams just become a collection of names. No better example of this then the New York Rangers, are slowly becoming the NHL's longest running joke, as they continue flail away but come up short for a berth in the playoffs.

A quick glance at the Rangers roster and you see a team of all-stars. However, most of these players are well passed their prime, as the Rangers have not made the playoff since 1997. As of Thursday the Rangers had a payroll of $77 Million, and were averaging a costly $4.3 million per win. The Rangers currently sit in 10th place in the East, and have a losing record.

This is a situation similar to the last 2 seasons, and out of desperation the Rangers have added another big name to a team that hardly ever look cohesive. In 2002 the Rangers added Pavel Bure, who looked good in his brief time with Rangers but could not bring a playoff berth. Bure would go to reinjure his knee the following season, and appears unlikely to ever play another game.

In 2003 the Rangers made 2 deals one to acquire Alexei Kovalev, from the Pittsburgh Penguins and another picking up Anson Carter from the Edmonton Oilers both have been highly ineffective as the Rangers continued to struggle.

Now the Rangers have done it again shipping Carter to the Washington Capitals for Jaromir Jagr, the highest paid player in the NHL, who has been a major bust since being traded to the Capitals prior to the 2001/02 season.

Once again the trade looks good on paper, but on this team it will once again mean nothing, as it does not improve the Rangers in their biggest area of weakness, defense. The Rangers currently have 3 of their top defenders on the injured list, and unless Jagr can find the fountain of youth and return to the form that saw him lead the league in scoring 5 times while with the Pittsburgh Penguins then the Rangers will continue to languish in mediocrity.

Jagr becomes just another name on the Rangers who are just a collection of names. Their is no chemistry on the Rangers, there has not been any chemistry on the Rangers in along time, and they have gone through several coaches now, who all tried to find the right combination, but have failed.

In fact the biggest failure with the Rangers is Hall of Fame Coach and General Manager Glenn Sather, who was supposed to rebuild the team after it had missed the playoff 3 consecutive years under Neil Smith. All Sather has done is continued the same path started by Smith, and that's just spend without concern of the team concept.

Since Sather arrived in 2000 the Rangers have gone through 3 Coaches, including Sather himself who took over for Bryan Trottier last February. When Sather arrived it would have been wise to start rebuilding with youth. Instead Sather decided to continue the Ranger string of giving up on prospects early, while acquiring veterans past their prime.

In fairness it is partly Garden Management's fault as team owner James Dolan of Cablevision is worried about TV ratings and worries that fans will not watch a team of rookies. Which is a huge miscalculation on his part. New York fans have a reputation of lacking patience for a rebuilding team. However this is not true.  

New York fans want the truth; they are perhaps the most knowledgeable in all sports. They understand that you need to rebuild when a team gets old and past its prime. Had the Rangers decide to rebuild back in 1999 after Wayne Gretzky retired, chances are they would now be back near the top of the league.

However, the Rangers have not focused on player development, or scouting, and it has left the farm system bare, and caused the team to spin its wheels for the last 7 years. Players like Michael York, Marc Savard, and Manny Malhotra have all had success since leaving the Rangers. None of these players were ever truly given a shot by the Rangers as the team chose to hang in with the veterans while prospects were stuck on the bench or rotting in Hartford.

Weather it be his fault or not the Jagr deal has to be the last straw for the Sather reign in New York. If this does not improve the team, then its time the Rangers go in a new direction, and bring in a General Manager who is willing to take the team apart, and ignore ownerships request for a galaxy of former stars. The perfect man for this job is Mike Keenan. Keenan has the creditability with Rangers fans as he led them to a Stanley Cup in 1994. He also has the expense of rebuilding teams from scratch.

Doing so may make the Rangers a very bad team for the next 2 or 3 years, but its better to be an awful team with a plan for the future then a mediocre team that keeps trying to plug leaks in the damn. If the Rangers continue their path of reckless spending, without thinking how he will fit in with the team, then the Rangers will continue to swim in a cesspool of mediocrity. While teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets take their lumps now, but will still make the playoffs before the Rangers.

If Saturday is any indication at all the deal will be another bust as the Rangers disgraced themselves in every possible way losing 9-1 to the Ottawa Senators in Jagr's first game with the team. The Rangers were sloppy, and looked like a bunch of weekend warriors putting skates on for the first time in months. Sadly Presidential Candidate John Kerry even looked better when he skated in a photo shoot earlier in the day, who know he is famous enough maybe the Rangers will try to pick him up too.

This is why the Rangers need to start from scratch because at this rate even the Washington Capitals will be in the playoffs before the Rangers, as they are doing the right thing by tearing the team up, by getting some team to foolishly take Jagr off their team.

The Rangers are a danger to the sport of hockey itself as talks of an ugly long work stoppage hangs over the sport heading into next season, which could be delayed by a lockout. The main issue of course is players' salary and salary cap.

Most NHL teams spend wisely. The Rangers spend without any fear or consequence. When Rangers high priced players fail they force more deserving players to ask for more money which has the sport on the edge of what could be along shutdown.

While the Rangers spend like a teenaged girl with her first credit card at the mall, across the river the frugal New Jersey Devils have a set budget. The Devils have had to make several hard choices including allowing key players like Bobby Holik sign with the Rangers.

However, it all works out as the Devils system ends up being the key to their success. In fact Holik became the punchline of jokes as he and the Rangers missed the playoffs last year, while the Devils won their 3rd Stanley Cup. Ironically the cup winning goals was scored by a rookie named Mike Rupp, who was wearing Holik's old number 16.

Which is the bottom line. For the Devils the names on the back are not as important as the team's logo on their jersey, while the Rangers are less concerned with the teams name on the front instead focusing on selling to the fans the players names stitched on the back.

Perhaps what the Rangers need is for the NHL to institute a salary cap, if only to protect themselves from more foolish spending, and get them back to focusing on building a cohesive team that is able to gel and work together, because this team of all-stars is not working. Yet like a moron pushing a button on broken TV the Rangers keep trying hopping my osmosis it will suddenly work when it is obvious to everyone else that it never will.

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After a 9-1 loss, now you might think that the Rangers would be looking for some experienced defense. Jagr sure didn't spark any offense, thats for sure.

This stint tho sure soesn't do any favores for Slater's legacy, the man who built the Oiler dynasty can't make a half decent team with unlimited resources. It is quite amazing to see some fot he players who have been brought into this team int eh past 5 seasons, names like Gretzky, Bure, Messier's return, Lindros, JAgr, plus a handful of other who have vanished into obscurity to the point that you can't remember them

. I'm surprized the Richter returned after the Rangers actively tried to sign anyone else, and then came to him after there were no takers

It's almost time for the Rangers to cut their losses and start from scratch...build with some home grown talent. Obvisously trying to buy a win in hockey hasn't worked yet...but you never know. the Rangers COULD turn thigns around and amze everyone till season's end...right...

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Money is fairly irrelevant if you have a badly run franchise. It takes good management and good coaching to build a succesful team. It makes it easier to succeed if you have the cash, but it isn't down to the money. A good well run franchise can succeed without masses of money.
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and a poorly run franchise could lose with all the money in the world.

ain't that the truth...as i can attest to, the Cubs in the early-mid 90s...horrible management, only damn thing they did right back then was trade for Sosa and draft Wood.

i'd say the same thing about the Brewers during the same time, so i will.  the Brew have a decent pitcher wasting away in Huntsville for no reason, and are just now getting it as far as teh farm.  and it's not like they can afford a bad draft like, say, the Yankees or Red Sox.  case in point, we're still waiting for J.M. Gold, and he ain't showin up in Milwaukee anytime soon.

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Sather traded away all the prospects for aging superstars. The Rangers looked for the quick fix and got burned.

i gotta hope saintsfan swoops in and backs me up on this, but i think in england Leeds did the same thing and got demoted to Division 1 a couple years ago, although they've returned to the Premiership (where it looks like they're gonna get demoted again as they're dead last after 22 matches)

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I know teams get demoted in Italian League soccer. The top league is "Serie A", or A League. I'm not sure if it happens every year, but the worst teams in SerieA over one or a few seasons get demoted or dropped down to Serie B. It would be like an NHL team being demoted to the AHL or a major league baseball team getting sent down to AAA. Not just a few players, but the whole team.

I'm not sure where teams in the Premiership get sent.

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The budget does make a difference, but there are other factors--

How you spend the money?

Did you draft any players other teams didn't see the potential in, that pan out at the right time?

Does the team have chemistry?

And a few intangibles.

One thing as well is similar to the baseball reference to building a team for the park--in the NHL it's building for the conference.

Before the salaries rose sharply in the NHL this applied as well.

The Flames had some very good teams, but got nowhere in the playoffs as they couldn't get past the Oilers--then they hot on the idea of constructing a team designed to beat the Oilers, and it happened--and for awhile in the late 80's, early 90's they had just that and won a Cup in 1989 based on that principle.  That said, however--in today's market they couldn't have affoorded that team (but then again neither could the Oilers)

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Wow that seems strange, could they get back to the big leagues?

Yes! Often do go down and come up again, usually we use the term relegation/ relegated. I don't recall the exact time Discrim is talking about but for a relatively big club, Leeds are often being relegated and promoted. The really big clubs, Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal, Southampton, very rarely ever go down.

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When you make a winner, you need to be both smart and lucky. You need to get key guys up front, and get some young blood growing in your own system. The Rangers are buying up big names, but they needed to do that about 7 years ago. these guys are no good, and they have no good young guys that i can see whoa re going to step up and help the team.

sad truth, i think the Rangers need to cut their loses and start over. As much as I respect Messier for all he's done, it's time for him to go. he's 43, he is having a good season, but he has to realize that his ship is sinking, and that its time for the other, younger players to step up and right the Ranger's ship

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The Rangers have had the young talent, but they just let it practically die before shipping it off where the players come back to life (it takes a while to recover from these events).

Manny Maholtra, and Marc Savard are two prime examples... everybody and their mothers knew these two kids had skill, but the Rangers shipped them off for nothing.

Look at what happened to Roman Lyashenko after he was traded to the Rangers... the young guys know, a trade to the Rangers = your career is over.   Lyshenko I guess chose not to go through all the crap and just end it right there and then.

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The Rangers need to change their whole philosaphy its all screwed up.

They never give rookei s achance they either let them rot on the bench, in the press box as non injured non dressed players, or in Hartford.

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