I've received a ton of e-mail and tweets lately regarding why the Rangers turnaround has been so dramatic since the Marian Gaborik trade. I've been asked if I thought Gaborik was possibly a cancer in the locker room and there was even a great conversation in the comments section of the Rangers/Hurricanes recap on this subject in response to Henrik Lundqvist's comments on the effect the trade has had on the team (via New York Post)...
“It’s a different atmosphere in the room. Not only did we get some really skill players, but it changed the dynamic in the room. It’s just a lot better feeling in here.”
...i'll start this off by stating that neither any of you nor myself have been anywhere near the Rangers locker room, so this stuff is nothing more than speculation. Which is what this blog obviously does best. ;)
...having said that, based on the Rangers dramatic 180, I think it is a fair question to ask.
...my impressions of the Lundqvist quote is that he's describing how the room has changed based on them winning, not necessarily because Gaborik aka "The Cancer" is gone. As the saying goes, winning cures all ills.
...and sometimes you just need some fresh faces to shake things up. It can get stale with the same guys, especially when you're losing.
...another reason I'm not buying the Gaborik was a cancer theory is that there's never been reports of a problem. No leaks or grumblings about Gaborik dividing the locker room or bringing down morale. If there was an issue, it would have absolutely come out after the trade. Did Gaborik and Torts not see eye-to-eye this season? Probably. But same as my reasoning for why Torts shouldn't get fired, Gaborik was traded just 35 games after he helped lead one of the closest Rangers teams in history to the Eastern Conference Finals. Could Gaborik have destroyed things that quickly? Sure, some players might have begun resented Gaborik's lack of aggressiveness or hustle this season, but I refuse to believe it had that negative of an effect on the locker room. Things sure looked hunk-dory when he was scoring 40+ goals in two of the last three years.
...and besides, this quote from Rick Nash after the trade sounded like at least they were close (via Columbus Dispatch)...
"I was pretty tight with Gaborik — we used to car-pool together — and it’s tough to see him go."
...so in the end, I think Lundqvist is 100% right. The new guys have changed the dynamic in the room by infusing some much needed energy. But, in my opinion, Lundqvist was not condemning Gaborik, merely pointing out that winning breeds a positive environment.
Speaking of Gaborik, he was pointless with four shots on goal in the Blue Jackets 3-0 loss to the Wild last night.
Tension in the room probably came from not winning and not getting the goals.Problem was as everyone says they basically blew up the team from last year for various reasons, money, to get Nash.etc.They had the right bunch of players and needed a bit more. So they made too much change and it didn't work-no surprise in hindsight. Bad management by both Sather and Torts.
Now they have added the depth back -but do they have enough to match last year's team? We have 9 games to find out.If Staal returns and newcomer Moore gets more TOI I think we might be ok.If Dorsett is better at everything than Boyle that would help also.
he def was not a cancer. this trade comes down to a few things...1) torts had given up on Gabby and his up and down play. 2)cap space 3) lack of gritty players
Sather n torts realized the huge mistake it was letting go of Prust, Rupp, n Dubi....lack of toughness left this team vulnerable. This trade did 3 things: unload a struggling goal scorer, free up cap room, and replace the lack of toughness on this team.
In the end, poor planning on Torts' and Sather's part.....picked up Nash n figured they could lose a few players and the rest would fall in place. Gabby comes off a season where he carried the rangers to the conference finals, has shoulder surgery resulting in a struggling year and becomes the ultimate causality. It's a shame because he will be a 40 goal scorer again and we will be playing him in the new division next year much more. Good luck to Gaborik.....he deserved better than this but what can you expect w/ Sather asleep at the wheel.
Completely idiotic premise. Gaborik was loved, NO ONE was scoring and so far the "dramatic turnaround" is a whopping 3 game point streak and a tie for 7/8th with the Islanders. If anything it's the adrenaline of new blood, some un-Tortorella'd spontaneity and an excuse to snap a horrific skid. Has little to do with Gaborik and more to do with the STYLE of play Sather forced upon Torts with these deals.
Enough already. Throwing a guy under the bus 3 games after he leaves. Was he a cancer last year when he was leading the team in scoring and on a team that made the ECF? I'm sick of hearing Gabby blamed - the guy was having an off year, but he put up 210 points in 220 games before this season. Be a little bit more of a "what have you done for me lately" fair weathered fan, please.
I'm going to copy/Paste here a response below that I left on the comments stream from the Carolina recap in response to an interesting observation from @Melissa (blknblueshirts) Just my opinion but it made some sense to a few of you:
I think this is a very astute observation on your part. You may recognize my screen name and know that I have been one of Gabby's hugest supporters on this board, and I stand behind that. Having said that there are certain intangibles in this game we love, just like life itself. You could call it "dynamics" or "energy" or even "vibes" . I don't think he was being a whiner or a direct distraction by any means, and of course I'm not in that locker room so this is pure conjecture but here's my opinion. For the last 3 years Gabby has been the big money man; the go to guy who at times carried the team on his back.. A team player and a classy guy. This season after shoulder surgery, or whatever a different side to him becomes revealed. A more selfish side. He starts playing scared. Not that he would block shots in the past or put his body on the line much but now he obviously puts his personal well being and his future career ahead of the teams success. The group's perception of Gabby the team player shifts to selfish player. Other players who put their bodies on the line every night start to get resentful because not only will he not take one for the team but he stops scoring as well. Resentment sets in and it effects the feeling in the locker room and it effects the on ice performance of the team. Then add to that the friction between Gabby and coach and the whole dynamic of this team basically goes to shit. I hated to see him go but now that he's gone it became pretty clear to me what was going on with this team, at least in essence and now that we've replaced him with a couple character guys the whole look of this team has changed. Even Richey looks good now, in fact pretty much every player looks better (we'll talk about Pyatt in another stream lol). Perhaps Gabby will fit in better with his new team but here in New York if you're a scorer who's not scoring you better start doing other things to help your club.win or you get run out of town fast.
we will never know. either way, it seems like it was a good move for all involved. no offense to anyone but id hate my life if i had to move from NYC to columbus.
good article kevin. it had to be addressed, that's for sure.
Very hard for me to believe that Gaborik would fall in the same class as Stephan Marbury, Keyshawn Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, or Santonio Holmes. I could see him being part of an overall feeling sorry for yourself attitude that might have really mucked things up, but being a "locker room cancer" seems far-fetched to me. The new guys injected a bolt of energy and excitement, which is probably what Hank meant, I also don't think there's been a complete 180 degree turnaround. 5 of 6 points is sweet for sure, but only 1 of those games was dominant. The others, they found a way to get points, which good teams need to do. If they can string together a few strong games, then I'll be convinced that there's been a complete turnaround. I do think there was a big shift, but the circle is not yet complete, young Jedis ;-)
On another note, I know that McPhee and I have had this back-to-back circled on the calendar for awhile now. I know the Rangers have been playing well as of late, but this little home and home will show you what this team is all about. The Toronto Maple Leafs are by far the most physical team in the NHL, they are big and they use their size to its full advantage. In the playoffs, the type of hockey that is played definitely follows this type of game more, so it will be interesting to see how the Rangers match up, or if they can play just as physical. I believe they can, but after a bad game against Carolina where Hank saved them they have to prove it. We need 3 out of 4 here, going into a huge Saturday Showdown with the Islanders...
Also for anyone that wants to know, January 26th, 2014 Rangers at Yankee stadium lets go.... I bet its either against the Isles or the Devils, with a chance of Boston or Chicago showing up :) http://snyrangersblog.com/winter-classic-2012/winter-classic-ny/buzz-the-rangers-outdoor-game-could-be-on-january-26-2014/
@TheNYRBlog Great article. Nice read man.
Cancer, no. But, a guy who is fighting back from injury who's not have a lot of success could be a downer in the room. Body language was not good. Probably quiet in the room because of his struggles. Bring in 3 guys raring to go and prove something to their new line mates, and yes, the dynamic changes for the positive. My diagnosis would be: non-cancerous, but causing mild depression on contact with others. Prescribed treatment: change of scenery. Voila! Game winner.
I think Gaborik is too "silent" to be a locker room cancer. Besides, remember the All-star games last year when he was joking with scoring on Lundqvist. That looked like camaraderie, not bad atmosphere.
I think many players feared for their job on the team (like Boyle) and that had its influence on the locker room atmosphere.
You know, its like people forget very quickly in this town... He scored 40 goals twice for organization, and last year basically was our offense. When he get hurt last year our offense dried up in the playoffs. He has been a fan favorite for years, and was one of my favorite players. Not only is he talented, but I think its fairly easy to see that he is a nice guy off the ice with the 24/7 process and his interviews. It was just a need for different scenery, from both teams perspectives and it worked out.
Honestly, that makes more sense than him being a "cancer". I found it hard to believe but as you said, it's a fair question to ask with the quotes coming out of the room. (I think I even said in my comment yesterday that it didn't make sense but it was strange hearing the quotes.) That said, winning does cure everything so who knows what would've been said if they weren't winning. (I don't care to find out, to be honest lol.)
I liked Gabby, but he time was over with us. He didn't mesh with anyone on the ice anymore and I wish him the best over in Columbus. He is with people he knows and he should do well there. As far as him being a "cancer" I think that is a weak co-out from angry people who want to blame the losses on one person. There is no I in Team. Hockey is a team sport and we now have a team that is hungry and wants to win. The new guys inspired the old guys and we can move on from there. Glad their positive. Sometimes that is all it takes.
No, not Gabby...he was just having a bad luck year...how many near misses? Maybe the shoulder is still a little bollixed...I wish him well in Columbus, and I am grateful for what he did, and what we got for him in the trade...thank you Big Johnny D!
This is all I know. Gaborik was a great scorer but if he wasn't doing that his game was lacking. Lets loot at the PP. When he was on the team it seemed like when he got the puck everyone would stop skating and wait for him to do something. It was almost like they were playing isolation. With the new guys now, the puck is moving, more shots are coming from differnt angles and the passes are beautiful. Richards and Zuccarelo def have chemistry going on PP and it was worked out. Keep it up. LETS GO RANGERRRSSSS
@TheNYRBlog things like Gabs being a "cancer" come from angry fans who care about certain players than the team and want every1 else angry
Lets hope we can move up to the 6th Spot... would be nice to play washington/winnipeg in the first round...instead of Boston or Pissburgh
Im still not sold on them making a "180 degree turnaround" after the 3 games I just watched. Dominated that first game - no question there. Game 2, they didn't show up til the 3rd period when they went down 1-0. Game 3, the Canes got 48 shots and controlled play in the 1st and 3rd. If it wasn't for absurd play by Lundqvist, they lose.
Their upside looks much better than it did 2 weeks ago, but still below expectations at the start of the year.
Don't think he was a cancer at all, but like you said, new team, new dynamic. Nobody epitomized the struggles and "woe is me" attitude of the team like Gaborik had been, so to send him away and bring in 4 different guys who haven't been part of the struggle and are excited to be here... it brings a fresh look to the team and a fresh start as well.
I'm not buying the Gaby as cancer theory. We *definitely* would've heard about it. We heard about issues with Christensen and Avery all the time... but ESPECIALLY when the Rangers weren't winning. I'm not even convinced that Gaby and Torts had such a "terrible" relationship - that seems more media-driven than anything to me.
I think it's easy to blame Gaby because 1) he gets a huge paycheck and is therefore expected to put up huge returns and there's a huge disappointment when he doesn't live up to those huge expectations; 2) he's European, which in some people's minds automatically puts him in the moody/enigmatic/lazy category; and 3) he's more of a quiet guy (at least in front of cameras), so you don't see him effusively clowning around with the other guys (a la Boyle, Biron, etc.), so some people take that reservedness to be a lack of chemistry, which I don't think is necessarily true.
@TheNYRBlog Gabby who??? move on son.....he is gone. wish him well........
As good as Gaby is, unless he's scoring highlight reel goals, he's not bringing energy to the team. I can't imagine him as being vocal in the room. He's a nice guy and people liked him, but he was by no means a "leader" on the team.
Clowe on the other hand seems like a guy who's mere presence can get his teammates psyched up. The dude's big and full of energy on the ice and off it. People on the team feed of of that.
Also, I think Brian Boyle had been really worried about getting traded and now that he wasn't, is playing a lot looser and better.
the guy struggled,and he never stopped trying,hes gone now,wish him luck and leave him alone, its weak to blame all those crappy games on gabby.
Now we have a team that "GASP" actually likes to SCRUM!
Before when a scrum started this team just wanted to go to a corner and squat to pee!
Think about it, as a FAN, I felt differently about this team starting on the first night with the game against Pittsburg. Imagine how amplified that feeling must be in the locker room.
@trazjaxor Keep in mind tension /stress comes from people's reaction to circumstances, not from the circumstances themselves. Check back on Gaborik's history he has had many run-ins with Lemaire when Lemaire coached The Wild.........no character toughness. Remember when we got Gaborik we were competing against ourselves.......no team was willing to give him a big contract. Publicly everyone talked about his injuries. Privately everyone recognized his lack of character.....like Semin (Carolina is taking a big chance with that character guy!).
I like your assessment of our chances of winning. If Staal comes back it will take a little time for him to get up to speed. We still need a nasty crease clearing defenseman and we most definitely need Richards to be a Factor, rather than blending in!
Brilliant synopsis. Now add salary to the mix.....cap situation and next year's contract and ask yourself was Gaborik bad, de-motivating, uninspiring energy? If Messier was captain how would he have dealt with Gaborik? Do we recall why Gardner (over 700 NHL goals) and Tony Amonte (over 400 NHL goals) were traded before The Rangers won the Cup? @Betweentheworlds @Melissa (blknblueshirts)
@IcyCup As a native new yorker and someone who still lives here, I gotta say I'd move to Columbus for about $7,000,000 a year to play hockey.
@gravey94 Spot on assessment, or, at least, I agree with you. ;)
I don't think Gaborik was in any way a "cancer"; he is a good guy and he tries. He's just a bit weak-willed and one-dimensional on the ice -- probably from all the injuries and just trying to stay healthy. Funny thing is, he's a damn strong guy (legs) and could have been a lot more effective along the walls if he had the stomach for it.
@dsclaw88 6th yes - 5th no or we wend up with one of those teams anyway :)
@dsclaw88 beh, I'd hate to face the caps again... an unpredictable and dangerous team and in my eyes also a little boring... :)
@dsclaw88 Boston does seem to be falling apart towards the end, especially now without Bergeron
@EHBIGAPPLE @Betweentheworlds @Melissa (blknblueshirts) It's Gartner, not Gardner, and he was traded so the Rangers could bring in a 5-time Cup winner. He was also 2nd on the team in goals with 28. It's arguable whether or not it really affected the Rangers winning the Cup. The Amonte deal was the one for size & grit and that certainly affected the Cup run as Amonte was having an "off" year at the time. Gaby was getting traded, period. The Rangers were not signing him after next season, so they were going to get rid of him sooner or later. Sather probably figured why take the chance that he gets hurt again and trade him for some decent assets while he can.
@_Jack not me. id stay here and make 7 mil a year.
@gravey94 @EHBIGAPPLE @Melissa (blknblueshirts) Agreed Gravey - I got the Gartner trade, he was older, past prime - tough loss but I understood. The Amonte trade was the one that hurt, and yes the guys they brought in help them win the cup but it was a short sighted move IMHO - predictably Amonte went on to be an All Star and just as predictable the Rangers steadily free fell after '94. It was 43 yrs. the pressure was on and it was now or never so they made the moves they had to to win the cup that year but sacrificed the next 10 in my opinion, and this is not just in hindsight - I knew at the time. I think Doug Weight was also dealt? Maybe that was another year. Anyway I loved Gabby but he had to go - we need tough new faces here and his history of injuries made him high risk - hats off to Slats
@IcyCup Heh. Touché.