I was planning to put together another recap from training camp yesterday but realized everyone has already read all about that. If not, here’s a quick rundown – conditioning skates returned and Brad Richards still has the flu. Think that about covers it.
So in looking for something else to write about, I took to twitter to see what fans were discussing and came across a couple of discussions regarding rookie Chris Kreider. What those conversations told me is how little people understand his situation.
Let me put it this way – Kreider will be given every chance, and I mean EVERY CHANCE, to be on the opening roster and remain with the team for the rest of the season. But he has to earn it. Fortunately, he knows it as he had this to say at camp yesterday:
”I am just excited for the opportunity to try and make this team.”
The more telling quotes came from Torts who basically implied what fans need to realize:
“There better not be any illusions and I don’t think there is. These are processes all players go through and he has some gifts to him and we’re hoping they come to the forefront.
Chris is still fighting for a spot, I’m not sure exactly what the roster is going to be.”
Yes, this is Tortorella talk and he always makes sure not to get his players too high or too low from quotes in the media. But the sentence that followed that was:
“Hags (Carl Hagelin) is more planted into our roster. This is just the 22 we have right now and we’ll see how it all shakes out and what happens down in Hartford.”
I’m not concerned that Hagelin is ahead of him on depth right now. He should be. Hagelin played half a season with the Rangers while Kreider only played a handful of playoff games. I do think Kreider will eventually get a spot on the Rangers second or third line. It could be by this weekend. But if it’s not, fans need to chill.
The kid is still learning. For fans who paid any attention to the Whale this season, Kreider didn’t exactly help himself with his play down there. I’ve said all along that I only listen to the games so if he is doing something behind the scenes, I can’t see it. That said, reviews from those who regularly attend games go along with what I’ve gathered from radio broadcasts – he’s been invisible. For defensemen, that’s a good thing. For power forwards expected to score, not so much.
Back to twitter for a moment, one argument I saw regarding Kreider’s time in Connecticut was “the team is horrible so why would he have motivation to play down there?” Are you serious? First of all, I disagree the team is horrible but that’s a discussion for another time.
In regards to motivation, if he isn’t motivated to play at the AHL level, he doesn’t deserve a spot at the NHL level. He has said all along that he knew he had to earn his spot this season. He wasn’t sent down to the Whale because the team didn’t think he was ready. He was sent down so he could skate and play and learn the “team concept” while the lockout was going on. The fact that he could be sent down was a blessing in disguise. He better be motivated and trying to play the best that he can so the Rangers would know he was ready when the lockout finally ended.
That said, I don’t think motivation was an issue. I have heard a few fans say he’s looked disinterested during games but any beat writers who have attended Whale practices have said he is the first person on the ice and last person off it every day. They mention his work habits being better than any they’ve ever seen. So to say he isn’t motivated – that’s just ridiculous.
Which leads me to his play. If he’s motivated and he’s trying to do everything he can yet still only has 5 goals, 7 assists and sports a minus-6, something else has to give. You can’t tell me it has to do with the competition he was facing or guys he was skating with. If it was so poor, he should’ve been dominating the league like the Oklahoma City and Springfield players were.
So maybe…he just isn’t ready. If that’s the case, I’m okay with it. There is no reason to rush him to the NHL. None. I said the same thing in the playoffs last year. Unfortunately then he wasn’t given a choice. Now he is. Look what happened with McDonagh.
Basically my point in all this is the Rangers know what they are doing. If he’s ready, he will play. If not, fans need to understand that it doesn’t mean he will never see the ice in New York again. And please, for the love everything, stop saying he is guaranteed a spot in the lineup. Cause he’s not and he shouldn’t be.