Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SHES A VEGETERIAN... manny more manny more

Post #34 (i know the last one was labeled 34 but it was really 34, my mistake) Topic: All We Are Saying, is Give Manny a Chance

Boston Fans. Give Manny a chance. Let him prove to you that he is a textbook “play as long as you pay me” type guy. Give Manny a chance to show you that he knows his performance is judged by the latter 1/5 of the season and that beforehand he is entitled to “take days off” and let the green monster do his fielding for him.

Actually Bostonians, whether you decide to give Mr. Ramirez a chance or not, I will still hold my ground that the negatives of being associated with a city like Boston far outweigh the not-but-temporary ecstacyical positives of having a few winning teams.

Manny Ramirez is not the subject of this here post. No, this post involves a Manny that sports fans should appreciate. A kid (still) with a good hockey story that has fought his way up to the “regular day player” status that he at such a young age was destined to inherit.

Manny Malhotra was not long ago, a 17 year old being rushed to the youth-abusing ice of the NHL. Most players from Canada spend at least a year in Juniors. A majority of the remaining spend three years there, and maybe even one in the “A”, the NHL’s wholly owned, minor league subsidiary.

But prospect management is often times directly related to a team’s ability to build a contender. Unfortunately the argument is circular given that in order to win a cup, in an era with no salary cap, a team would often resort to the sacrifice of their entire prospect management program. This would tend to leave cupboards, as they’re so boringly referred to in professional sports, bare and/or dry.

So we have these teams with no top prospects left, a bunch of “experienced” veterans absorbing a majority of the ice-time, and ONE more chance to win a cup before… delaying the necessary and inevitable fire-sale that survives through a Gretzky stint and a Messier Retiring tour. What then is this team to do when their Larmer’s and their Noonan’s pick up their putters and their sand wedges and donate their skates to charity? They panic! They sign any and every free agent “expected” to restore the team’s pride. They fill their lines with players who once occupied very specialized niches in the league, but subsequently found themselves too old to do so effectively (poor Bruce Driver).

What then of the prospects? Well the prospects are, as a result of the WideSpread Panic, immediately labeled as boom or bust and divided and assigned accordingly. The busts fill the farm system and serve as a connection to the team for those poor souls living in what was Binghamton, and is now Hartford. The booms are rushed to the club. They’re labeled as saviors, given 1st line minutes when they’ve never played more than 30 games in a season, and expected to PRODUCE NOW. Then, when the team’s high-priced veteran new-comers fail to anchor (and start injuring eachother… Mike Keane…bastard) the team, the fans start wondering why the rook isn’t in the Maurice Richard race. So management reacts, shipping the “disappointment” out of town in exchange for some more filler roster players.

Its not until the GM’s ass is on the line that he makes the “finally necessary” house-cleaning and is left with no choice but to develop a core of young players. The recipe nearly guarantees success. Case and point, the rangers home-grown talent: Petr Prucha, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Henrik Lundqvist, Daniel Girardi (who was signed as a free agent to the ECHL several years ago. What’s the ECHL? EXACTLY), Fedor Tyutin, Marc Staal, Ryan Hollweg, Blair Betts (sort of), Nigel Dawes, all of whom have played at least 5 games this year. Take away Dawes and they’ve missed a combined total of 18 (3 by lunqvist, and 15 by Callahan due to an injury).

Meet Manny Malhotra. Several months before the draft in 1998, ESPN The Magazine featured an article highlighting Manny’s story. Manny was the 2nd Native American to play in the NHL, and was being hyped as the “the new-age NHL player”.

Manny was the 7th overall pick in the ’98 draft. The remarkably unremarkable draft is responsible for but a handful of NHL regulars including: Vinny Lecavailier, David Legwand, Robyn Regher, Scott Gomez, John Cheechoo, Brad Richards, Jaroslav Spacek, Andre Markov and Pavel Datsyuk, IN ALL 9 ROUNDS.

Manny however, was going to be really really good. He was a two-way forward who could score, back-check, play the power play and work the penalty-kill; guy was a CAN’T MISS.

Oh boy did Manny miss, and missed BIG. But it probably wasn’t his fault. The Rangers fit the above description to a T (they re-wrote the “how not to run a team” bible), and screwed up his development (whether they forever screwed it up we’ll never know but it makes a better story to assume yes).

As a rookie Manny played 73 games, and for a 17 year old, put up a respectable 8 goals and 8 assists while compiling a -2 +/- rating on what was a god-awful Ranger team. Taking only 61 shots on net, that equates to a 13% scoring percentage, and given the other numbers, Manny would have appeared like a shoe-in to be a dominant PK’er. In the 1999 season, Malhotra was limited to 27 games. Reducing a teen’s minutes significantly from his 1st to his 2nd year is a cardinal sin in prospect development. Not surprisingly Manny scored zero points that year, and only 12 in his next season of 50 games (coincidentally, Manny’s +/- dropped 8 points and his shooting percentage fell to %8). Manny was officially ruined. Fans began to notice and started talking about how disappointed they were; it wasn’t until several years later that people began to agree he had been rushed. At the time rushing seemed like the only option, given how bad the Rangers’ fortunes had become since winning the cup. But Manny was rushed harder then the ditzy girl with the Prada purse and the Cayenne on rush day.

Several years later, after a stint with Dallas (equally discouraging) Manny was all but gone. In 2004, mid-season, the Stars decided that the experiment had lasted long enough. They shipped Manny out to Columbus. Sorry! Not shipped: released without protection. So Columbus swooped him up and something drastic happened. In the remaining 56 games that season, his ice-time up 8 minutes a game, Manny put up 25 points. 25 points for a 4th liner is pretty damn good anyway you swing it

The next year in the same amount of games, Manny’s time went up, his points went up, he entered the positives, and starting throwing the body around somewhat like he was originally expected to do. Took him nearly 8 years. How convenient that it wasn’t until 8 years later that the Rangers actually needed a player like Manny Malhotra.

Even though none of you readers like Hockey, if you’ve read this far I can assume that you’ve read some of my earlier Hockey posts and have become maybe slightly interested in some of the hockey-related banter that any sports fan should appreciate. If by chance you’ve made it this far, you are among the 1st to witness the creation of the “Get Manny Back in New York” campaign.

Side Note: Henrik Lundqvist just proved he is not human by making a save with some sort of 13th arm or leg or something. What the f*ck are they feeding the Swedes.

The Rangers try to roll 4 lines. Their 4th line gets about 10 minutes a night each (ok sometimes less), but they are often pitted against the other teams top line. Ryan Hollweg has shadowed Lecavailer (league’s 2nd best player). Blair Betts is a penalty kill staple. And Colton Orr mysteriously learned how to play responsible hockey over the summer. The only thing they don’t do is score. If they did score, then there would be a lot less pressure on the top 3 lines to produce, a thus a lot more room for them to do just that. While Hollweg and Orr have done a formidable job so far this year, each one should really have the wherewithal to assume both roles, which although different are not much… different.

So let them fight it out. Winner gets a job and loser gets – well - shipped in a trade to Columbus with either Prucha or Hossa for Manny and a 3rd rounder pick. With Prucha/Hossa (the teams two most expendable parts) gone, Nigel Dawes gets a chance to show that his 5th in the AHL scoring ranking despite playing half as many games as the league leader is no fluke.

Then Manny comes in to the 4th line, hopefully adds some scoring, and resumes top PK minutes giving Shanny and Drury and Gomez some more rest and the legs to log more minutes come crunchtime.

And Manny could fill the role that he was originally nominated to fill. The missing piece that could restore the Rangers to a Stanley Cup Caliber team. Only this time, he would be the final piece rather than the 1st.

Other Notes

The other day I was bored during my test. I had been looking at the same numbing information for days and was outright tired of Federal rules and constitutional controls. Now during the past week there has been a food drive at my school; cans and stuff. So, while sitting there in class, unable to look at another question, I devised an idea. I the followed through. I signed out of the test, went to the food bin, stole a cup of noodles (sorry unidentified hungry Somalian). I took it to the cafeteria, warmed it up in the non-kosher microwave, and sat and had myself a cute little lunch. Feeling refreshed, I returned to the test and failed as originally planned.

People don’t say, “in your neck of the woods” enough.

No one goes to Subway and doesn’t order extra tuna no charge (I’m raising a presumption that everyone orders Tuna and nothing else).

Wait till Otis sees us… HE LOVES US!

Porterhouse for two please. Extra butter. Thanks!

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