Mon 16 Feb 2009
No, my proposed trade is not one fans would expect to read about.
With the Rangers have little wiggle room under the salary cap, and needing to find cap space for the eventual return of Sean Avery, Glen Satherâ€™s trade options are limited. However, there is one â€œtradeâ€ that he can make to try and inject some life into the moribund Blueshirts.
Sather needs to have Tom Renney and Jim Schoenfeld trade jobs. Renney would be re-assigned (that sounds so better than saying he is fired) to become the Assistant GM, Player personnel while Schoenfeld would take over behind the bench.
Why not just fire Renney outright?
Because, like him or not (and like it or not), the Rangers freefall is not completely his responsibility. He has not forgotten how to coach from the time the Rangers shot out of the starting gate at the beginning of the season â€“ a fact the anti-Renney faction conveniently forgets when they rail against him. In fact, when it comes to coaching decisions, most coaches are pretty much all the same. It isnâ€™t as if there is one coach who has come up with any earth-shattering strategy.
Instead, a coachâ€™s number one job is to get his players to play hard and play up to their capabilities â€“ dare I even say â€“ motivate his players. The problem for the Rangers is that there is a disconnect between Renney and his players. For whatever reason, the team has tuned him out and is not responding to him.
Why the disconnect?
That is an answer that every player (and Renney as well) needs to answer for themselves. As for me, I think it stems from the fact there really is no leadership on the ice. Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund are not the fire and brimstone type of captain that Ranger fans are used to (see Mark Messier). That isnâ€™t even the problem because not all captains are created equal. If you are not going to be an in-your-face type of captain they you have to be a captain who leads by example. Anyone think Drury, Gomez or Naslund are doing that?
Back to Renney. Much of the rebuilding job done within the Rangers organization came when Renney was the teamâ€™s Vice President for Player Development. He could help the organization by going back to the front office and replacing Schoenfeld as the GM of the Hartford Wolf Pack.
The main concern in firing Renney is the misguided belief that Sather would hire a John Tortorella, Peter Laviolette or Bob Hartley as coach. I would be surprised if Slats did given his underwhelming history of hiring Ranger coaches. Rather than bring in big names, Sather hired the likes of Ron Low and Bryan Trottier.
Besides, would Sather even hire Tortorella? He had the chance to hire him when he took over the Rangers but passed on him in favor of Low. Hire Bob Hartley? You mean the same Thrashers coach whose Renneyâ€™s Rangers swept a couple of years ago?
Laviolette would be a great hire and bring him full circle, so to speak. Laviolette played is only 12 NHL games with the Rangers in 1988-1989 and spent five seasons playing with various Rangers minor league affiliates. He turned the 2003-04 Carolina Hurricanes (who missed the playoffs) into the 2005-06 Stanley Cup champions.
So what is the problem?
The problem is Sather going away from his game plan of not hiring strong coaches. While Renney was the best of a sorry lot, no one was breaking down Renneyâ€™s door to hire him. As a result, Schoenfeld might be the best choice to finish out the rest of the season.
The question is would Schoenfeld take the job. When Sather fired Trottier in 2003, the GM offered Schoenfeld the job. Schoenfeld did not accept the job so Sather had to finish the season out behind the bench. According to John Dellapina in an August 1, 2007 Daily News blog entry, Schoenfeld turned down the job because he promised Trottier that he would not take his job if Bryan was fired. Not only did Schoenfeld not take the job, but according to a January 30, 2003 article, Dellapina wrote that Schoeny turned down a chance to interview for the head coaching job during that summer.
With the Rangers needing an infusion of lots of things (goals, grit and heart and the top of the list), Schoenfeld would be an interim answer. Any coach who would tell a referee to go have another doughnut is not going to be afraid to ruffle the feathers of underperforming veterans (can you say Wade Redden). Also, as GM of the Wolf pack, Schoenfeld would be more inclined, and more comfortable, turning to the likes of Artem Anisimov, Bobby Sanguinetti or Corey Potter for a fresh legs and a badly needed shot in the arm.
With the Rangers chances of making any significant deals by the trade deadline, the Blueshirts best bet would be to look to Hartford â€“ and the best coach to accomplish that might be Jim Schoenfeld.
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