Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to my third blog of this week. I can’t believe I found the time to do three of these blogs either! Before getting into “Shattengate”, here are my most recent blogs, in case you missed them:
(NOTE: The “Goalie” Terry Sawchuk movie review blog was posted earlier today.)
Once upon a time and a long time ago, the Rangers lost a playoff series they perhaps should’ve won, when Henrik Lundqvist choked repeatedly against the Ottawa Senators during the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinal. After a throwback performance against the Montreal Canadiens, in those same 2017 playoffs, Henrik Lundqvist would eventually fall apart to an unlikely Ottawa Senators team. In that series with the Senators, after some bad goals allowed by Lundqvist, Derek Stepan would tell King Nothing to “calm down.” A few weeks later, Stepan was shipped out of town. In hindsight, Stepan’s trade to the Arizona Coyotes would be the first move of the eventual Rangers rebuild.
The Spring of 2017 was an interesting time in Rangers history. The expectations weren’t as high for the Rangers as they were in previous years. It was painfully obvious, even to the most casual of Ranger fans, that the peak of this Rangers era/core were during the 2014 and 2015 playoff runs. After the failed 2015 playoff run, the Rangers and Lundqvist himself, would be thoroughly embarrassed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2016 playoffs.
During the 2017 playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins were still considered the “king” of the NHL. However, the Rangers, due to the wild-card seeding, wouldn’t have to meet the Penguins in the first round of the 2017 NHL Playoffs. The Penguins, looking to defend their crown (and they eventually would) could only potentially see the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final, should the Rangers make it that far. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Rangers & Lundqvist flat-out choked to the Senators. To this day, Henrik Lundqvist goes into the fetal position whenever the name Jean-Gabriel Pageau is mentioned.
Perhaps the Rangers, despite losing in the second round of the 2017 NHL Playoffs, weren’t dead yet. They were right there from making another Eastern Conference Final appearance. Heading into the off-season, the Rangers would be players in free-agency. As they have done so many times before, the Rangers would get the crown jewel of that off-season, when they announced the signing of Kevin Shattenkirk, on July 1st, 2017.
On July 1st, 2017, the Rangers announced they signed Kevin Shattenkirk to a four year deal. The deal was worth $26.6M overall, which broke down to $6.65M per season. At the time, Kevin Shattenkirk was being offered six and seven-year deals, and for significantly more money, by other NHL clubs. However, Shattenkirk, a Rangers fan growing up and as a hometown boy, took less years and less guaranteed money with the Rangers. Shattenkirk did this because he wanted to play for his favorite team. Furthermore, Shattenkirk would be signing with a perennial playoff team and was thought to be the latest “missing piece to the puzzle.”
Not even six months after signing his deal with the Rangers, Kevin Shattenkirk’s NHL career would be turned upside-down. Now, today, here on August 1st, 2019, just over two years after signing his deal with the Rangers, the Rangers are now popping Shattenkirk from their roster like he’s a bad pimple.
What was once a happy story of a hometown kid looking to win a Cup for his favorite team growing up; this story has now become a story of regret, despair and as I’ve said all along – a huge case of “Murphy’s Law.”
For Kevin Shattenkirk and the Rangers, you can sum up their partnership with one image. Welcome to “The Twilight Zone”:
To be fair, when Shattenkirk’s deal was announced, there was a large portion of Ranger fans groaning. One of my “BFF’s” on twitter, in a one Greg Rutherford, aka the filterless @FIXXSER, was dead-set against this deal. On the other hand, yours truly, was all for it. I bought into the hype. I thought Shattenkirk could be that power-play QB, a term that would be later driven into the ground repeatedly by the Ranger broadcasters. While I thought the Rangers got Dan Boyle way too late into his career, I thought Shattenkirk was coming at a good time. Plus, as a hometown guy, Shattenkirk knew the city and what came with playing for the Rangers. Unfortunately, it was just never meant to be.
Fan-wise, going into the 2017-2018 season, Adidas took over the NHL jersey contract from their sister company, in Reebok. The second Shattenkirk jerseys went on sale, I bought one immediately. Fast-forward to today, I’m now wondering if I should get the jersey re-lettered at Cosby’s. Maybe I can turn this Shatty jersey into a Nick Fotiu throwback!
While I can agree with the majority of Ranger fans on the statement that Shattenkirk and the Rangers didn’t work out, when I see fans trashing the guy relentlessly, it gives me a rash. My hemorrhoid flares a bit too! Let’s take a look at the Shattenkirk timeline and things from his point-of-view.
Let’s rewind to the beginning. When Kevin Shattenkirk signed with the Rangers, he turned down better deals. Shattenkirk signed this deal with the Rangers during the prime of his career, at 28 years old. At no point in Shattenkirk’s career was he ever able to make this type of money or command such stability. Furthermore, Shattenkirk will never be able again to make the kind of money or try to get the stability he could’ve got, like he could’ve got, during the Summer of 2017.
Obviously, for regular Joe’s like us, $26.6 million dollars would set us up for good in life. For a pro athlete, they have short working careers and need to maximize their income during these peak years. In other words, Shattenkirk could’ve got $30M-$40M guaranteed. Additionally, as a man about to get married, he could’ve also commanded a no-trade/no-move clause, which would’ve given his new family stability and roots in a town. Instead, while of course Shattenkirk was still paid handsomely, he turned down millions & family life stability, just to play for his home-town team. Two years later, that loyalty was met with a knife to the back. Perhaps if he was a Swedish goalie with pedestrian numbers, Shattenkirk would’ve been treated better by the Rangers.
When Shattenkirk signed with the Rangers, he said two things that are worth repeating now. He said he couldn’t wait to play alongside a fellow American, in Ryan McDonagh. Shattenkirk also expressed his desire to play some meaningful playoff hockey. Within 8 months, both of those dreams would be shot up in smoke.
I’ve said it countless times here on this site/blog – Shattenkirk’s Rangers career was Murphy’s law.
After signing with the Rangers and sacrificing money & stability, Shattenkirk suffered a meniscus tear in his knee. Rather than opting for surgery and starting his Rangers career mid-way through the 2017-2018 season, Shattenkirk put some dirt on the knee and would grind through the pain.
Shattenkirk was no dummy. Knowing the NY sports climate, Shattenkirk knew it would look bad if he started the season on the injured reserve/disabled list. He didn’t want to be the Carl Pavano of the Rangers. Instead of doing what was best for him and repairing his knee, Shattenkirk played through his injury. In turn, the Rangers never got a 100% healthy Kevin Shattenkirk in Shatty’s first season with the Rangers.
Right after the 2018 Winter Classic, Shattenkirk, whose play was being questioned, finally admitted the truth about his injury. He would miss time and eventually have the much-needed surgery on his knee. His Rangers career and the Rangers themselves, would never be the same again.
With the Rangers in an up-and-down 2017-2018 season, Jeff Gorton embraced the inevitable – it was time to blow up the team. What followed next was the “infamous letter”, perhaps a letter that us Ranger fans will soon one day embrace after a Stanley Cup parade in the streets of New York City.
During that 2017-2018 season, the Rangers were a middle-of-the-pack team. Sure, they could’ve made some trade deadline moves to bolster the squad, but in all reality, could they beat Pittsburgh? While Washington would later go on to win the Cup, it was after a brutal series with the Penguins, a Penguins team that may have been shot, after two deep playoff runs that produced two Stanley Cup victories.
With Shattenkirk recouping from injury, the Rangers committed to “the letter.” Gone was Rick Nash. Gone was Michael Grabner. Gone was JT Miller. And of course, gone was the Rangers captain, and the person Shattenkirk wanted to play with the most, in a one Ryan McDonagh. By trading the captain and arguably, the team’s best skater & defenseman, the Rangers threw in the towel on the 2017-2018 season while Shattenkirk was out with injury. A rebuilding Rangers team is not what Shattenkirk signed up for. This rebuild was the last thought in Shattenkirk’s mind when he signed with the Rangers. Not even six months after signing with the Rangers, the game had changed. No longer were the Rangers that perennial playoff team. They were now a franchise taking a time out and looking to take a step back, in an effort to take many steps forwards. When it was all over, Shattenkirk would not only be stepped over, he would be stepped on.
After the last game of the 2017-2018 season, the Rangers fired their head coach, in Alain Vigneault. Coach AV, statistically & playoff wise, is easily a top 5 coach in Rangers history. You can argue that Lester Patrick, Frank Boucher and Emile Francis were more successful. In fact, in my opinion, Patrick & Boucher were 100% more successful. Francis was definitely more beloved than AV, but both had similar success & failures. AV’s Rangers were basically a team that was the Emile Francis 2.0 era – a great run, but could never win the big one.
(And yes, this is where you can argue about guys like John Tortorella, Fred Shero, Mike Keenan and perhaps Roger Neilson. However, AV is in the Top 5 argument as well.)
With AV out the door (another person who didn’t get a fair shake in my opinion) the Rangers hired David Quinn. Things were looking up for Shattenkirk again. After all, Shatty had a history with Quinn. In fact, Shattenkirk considered Quinn a friend and invited Quinn to his wedding, way before Quinn took the HC job of NYR.
For Kevin Shattenkirk, while the circumstances changed in New York, not only would Shattenkirk have a friend in the head coach, Shattenkirk would also have a coach that believed in him. Perhaps winning again wasn’t so far off. However, the Rangers weren’t done rebuilding.
The 2018-2019 Rangers season is a funny one. If we are fortunate, one day, as Ranger fans, we will look back at that season as the final move of the rebuild. It was a long season where Ranger fans had to accept the inevitable – more moves were necessary for the future and the rebuild. However, as I write these words, heading into the 2019-2020 season, the Rangers have a slew of talent, with such guys as Kaapo Kakko, Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, Vitali Kravtsov, Igor Shestyorkin and many other young names with promising futures, now on the roster. This should be the new core of the Rangers future. Now all the Rangers have to do is cut the cord on the constant of losing, in a one Henrik Lundqvist.
For Kevin Shattenkirk, he was one of the few veterans that would have to endure the growing pains of the Rangers rebuild. It was well-known that the Rangers weren’t competing for the Cup in the 2018-2019 season. They were competing for a high draft pick. Despite Alexandar Georgiev defying the odds and outplaying Henrik Lundqvist, at the end of the season, the Rangers wound up with second overall pick in the draft. Rebuild accelerated.
Whether it was the lack of talent around him or the fact that was returning from a serious injury, Shattenkirk wasn’t the same player that he once was in St. Louis. While Shattenkirk was positioned as the QB of the Rangers power-play, it wound up being in the same way that Mark Sanchez was an NFL QB. More times than not, Shattenkirk, while on the PP, butt-fumbled his way throughout the season. In fact, it was a younger right-hand shot that was picking up all the assists on the Rangers PP, in the much younger Tony DeAngelo. In a way, TDA made Shattenkirk expendable.
The 2018-2019 season was a long 82 game grind to the NHL draft for the Rangers. Again, Shattenkirk signed up with what he thought to be a perennial playoff contender. Instead, aside from the first few months of the 2017-2018 season, the Rangers were a team thinking about the future, sans the goalie position. And really, in what world does it make sense to rebuild around a 38 year old goalie with the worst contract at his position in the league? Only the Rangers would rather lose with one player than try to win without Lundqvist. SAD!
Nothing was ever easy or worked out for Kevin Shattenkirk during his stint with the Rangers. Even his departure was met with some fuzziness.
When the Rangers gave out long-term deals to both Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba this summer, the Rangers went over the salary cap. Someone had to go in order for the Rangers to be under the salary cap for the 2019-2020 season. Of course, buying out Henrik Lundqvist would be the smartest thing to do, as it would give the Rangers cap-relief, in addition to moving on to the next chapter of Rangers history. However, when it comes to Lundqvist, the Rangers treat this guy as if he’s won 10 Stanley Cups.
It truly is amazing how the Rangers will coddle Lundqvist with kid gloves, yet spit in the faces of the families of such Ranger HOF’ers such as Frank Boucher, Bill Cook, Bun Cook, Ivan “Ching” Johnson, Lester Patrick, Bryan Hextall, Edgar Laprade, Chuck Rayner and the list goes on-and-on. For an Original 6 team, it will always baffle and puzzle me how the Rangers will ignore legendary Hall of Famers that were once under their employ. SAD!
Knowing that the Rangers will continue to ignore the Swedish elephant and his contract in the room, the Rangers were most likely to move/trade/buy-out the contracts of either Kevin Shattenkirk, Brendan Smith, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ryan Strome or Chris Kreider. Of the names listed here, Chris Kreider’s future is now the one that brings the most intrigue to Ranger fans. More on CK20 at a later date, as it’s not clear what the Rangers will do with him just yet.
When it comes to the names listed above, a buy-out is easily the last resort. After all, who wants dead-money against the cap, especially with the Rangers having a chance to be a perennial playoff team again? And yes – it is of my opinion that the Rangers are trying to make the 2020 playoffs. You don’t sign Panarin and Trouba to big deals, just to rebuild.
In the case of Kevin Shattenkirk, the Rangers were trying to move him for a while and asked Shattenkirk to submit his list of teams he would allow the Rangers to trade him to. From reports out of Toronto, Shattenkirk did not want to be traded to a Canadian market. This sucked for the Rangers, as it is evident that the Ottawa Senators do not want to spend any money right now and will take bad contracts just to get to the salary cap floor. That’s why the Senators traded for Ryan Callahan, just so his cap hit would help get the Sens to the cap floor. On a side note, what is the NHLPA doing here? They have to fix this. They are allowing non-active players to take roster spots/salary cap money from active players. Wake up NHLPA.
When the Rangers avoided arbitration and re-signed Pavel Buchnevich last week, all the NY reporters reported that the Rangers had until 5PM Wednesday to complete their buy-outs. The top NYR reporters in the area, in Larry Brooks, Brett Crygalis, Rick Carpiniello & Colin Stephenson, all reported this. The biggest plagiarizer in the area, the copy & paste king himself, in Sean Hartnett, also went with this story as well.
However, it was egg on the face of all of these reporters, especially when it comes to the two reporters from the NY Post, in Larry Brooks and Brett Crygalis.
Let me get this out of the way first – the NY Post is the only big media outlet in NY that dedicates two full-time reporters to the Rangers. We should be thankful for that, even if Larry Brooks reports his opinions as facts. After all, the Post’s biggest competitor, in the NY Daily News, doesn’t even have a hockey reporter. SAD!
With the Post’s duo reporting that the Rangers had until 5PM Wednesday to make a buy-out, Larry & Brett realized they were reporting fake news. Even worse, these two reporters that are paid by the same employer, couldn’t even get on the same page:
If you go to the twitter accounts of both Brooks & Crygalis, providing they haven’t deleted anything, both reporters reported conflicting reports and they did this multiple times. It’s pretty hilarious that neither could get the story straight and how they reported opposite information from each other. Perhaps Beavis and Bretthead should pick up a phone, get on the same page and then tweet. However, both seemed hellbent to report on this Shattenkirk story, truth be damned.
While the Rangers and Shattenkirk have yet to officially comment on this story, (as of this writing) from all reports from the professional NHL reporters, the Rangers will be buying out Kevin Shattenkirk. The boyhood dream just took a JFK bullet hole to the dome.
This is how the Shattenkirk buy-out plays out, courtesy of @CAPFRIENDLY:
#Rangers buying out the remaining 2 years of Shattenkirk’s contract would result in 4 years of buyout cap hit broken down as follows:
*It would save NY $5,166,667 in cap space this season. pic.twitter.com/0pG9p5leTO
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) July 31, 2019
While the Rangers will save $5,166,667M this season on Shattenkirk, look at the 2020-2021 cap hit, the season where Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist both come off the books. $6,083,333M!
In comparison, here’s what a Lundqvist buy-out would’ve looked like:
If the Rangers would’ve bought out Lundqvist, it would’ve been under a million dollar difference for this season. In other words, that would mean you could send Brendan Smith to Hartford and be under the salary cap. More importantly, in the 2020-2021 season, where in theory, the Rangers should be better with an extra year of experience under their belts for their young talent, the Rangers would’ve saved $300,000 in dead-space money.
And realistically, not one Top 5 Paid Goalie has won a Stanley Cup in the salary cap era. Two rookie goalies have won a Cup though! Roster wise for NYR, it would’ve been easier, would’ve been more fiscally responsible and would’ve been better for the roster make-up for the Rangers to buy out Lundqvist than Shattenkirk. Again, you know the drill – the Rangers would rather lose with Lundqvist than try anything else.
I’m not trying to do an “Ode to Shattenkirk” here. I understand why the Rangers did what they did. They won’t cut the cord on Hank. Salary wise, buying out Shattenkirk was their best option. Furthermore, roster-wise, the Rangers have two sure right-handed defensemen in both Jacob Trouba and Tony DeMAGAngelo. If Adam Fox pans out, that’s a third right-handed defensemen for the Rangers. All three of these players are offensively-oriented and have more of an upside than Shattenkirk as well. In other words, Shattenkirk is expendable and the Rangers have better & cheaper players at the position.
While Trouba is making more money than Shattenkirk, Trouba is also five years younger and theoretically, entering the prime of his career. With a major knee injury history, Shattenkirk may have peaked. For $300,000 more, Trouba seems more “worth it” than Shattenkirk.
Simply put, if Shatty was to stay with the Rangers, the Rangers would either have odd-pairings or Shattenkirk would sit. As mentioned, Shattenkirk refused trades to Canadian teams, which hurt the Rangers from trying to trade him and retain 50% of his salary.
At the end of the day, after his “Murphy’s Law” run with the Rangers, does Shatty owe the Rangers anything? Of course not. He lost millions and stability, even if it wasn’t 100% his fault.
It’s only a matter of time, at least if you trust any of these NY scribes, that the Rangers will make the announcement that they have moved on from Shattenkirk. If that’s the case, Shattenkirk becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign anywhere. When that time comes, Shattenkirk instantly becomes the most talented unsigned player left of the 2019 off-season. You would have to think, after the way this all went down, Shattenkirk has something left to prove, especially with everyone laughing about how Shatty’s last two teams won the Stanley Cup. (Caps in 2018, Blues in 2019.)
I don’t know Kevin Shattenkirk personally. What I do know about him, at least off the ice, is that he’s a great member of this community. Since arriving back home, all he’s done is countless charity events, in an effort to raise money in the battle against cancer. He’s raised money for kids with cancer as well. He’s also been a great teammate and ambassador for the Rangers as well. As a well-spoken man, perhaps he has a future with the MSG Networks one day. However, that day, at least in Shatty’s mind, shouldn’t be anytime soon. That said, perhaps Shattenkirk can still remain a player that is featured on the MSG Networks.
Again, I don’t know Shattenkirk. I’ve never spoken to the man. I’m a blogger with an opinion, which means I’m like everyone else reading this, except I write a ton of words on a topic when I’m riled up!
In his two years with the Rangers, Shattenkirk has bought a home in this area, got married and had a kid. While his child is less than a year old and wouldn’t know if he was uprooted or not, Shattenkirk’s wife would know. I don’t know if she cares about this topic, but as a wife with a newborn, who wants to go through the process of moving again?
When you look at the NHL landscape and Kevin Shattenkirk, two major factors have to be considered. Does Shattenkirk value a Stanley Cup more than anything else in the world? If that’s the case, with guaranteed money coming in from the Rangers, Shattenkirk could sign for cheap with the Tampa’s, Pittsburgh’s, VGK’s and other top teams of the league.
If family life is Shattenkirk’s number one priority, Shattenkirk could fit in easily with either the Devils or the Islanders. If you’re the Devils, you had a hell of an off-season, an off-season that is only rivaled by the Rangers. Wouldn’t it be something if Shattenkirk wore the Devils red next season?
Conversely, the Islanders have been ho-hum and haven’t done anything but announce they will one day be playing in an arena that will have an aroma of horse shit around it. Signing Shattenkirk on a team-friendly deal would bolster the team. After all, the Isles have to do something, because as of right now, they haven’t done much this off-season, while many teams in the Metropolitan division have been bulking up.
I really envision Shattenkirk remaining in the Metro area. I think the Devils are the better fit and would give Shattenkirk the best chance to win. However, the Islanders may be able to guarantee more money, even if they are a team without a home until the Belmont arena comes to fruition.
Then again, maybe Shattenkirk fulfills a dream he once had about playing with Ryan McDonagh and sees what the Tampa Bay Lightning are all about?
At the end of the day, Shattenkirk joins a long-list of much heralded and insanely hyped players, that just didn’t pan out for the Rangers. Unlike the Bobby Holik’s and Wade Redden’s of the world, while Shattenkirk & NYR didn’t work out, I can’t put 100% on the blame on Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk’s Rangers tenure was a myriad of issues, with most of those issues not being self-inflicted.
In closing, I wish Kevin Shattenkirk, the man, the best. If he winds up with the Devils or the Islanders, I get it. That said, if he does remain in the Metro area, fuck him!
Make sure to check out the “Goalie” Terry Sawchuk movie review that I posted today. It’s linked at the top of this blog.
I don’t think the Rangers are done yet. I have some other writing projects I’m working on, but if something major happens (hint-hint Chris Kreider) I’ll return with some thoughts.
Until then, as always, thanks for reading and…
“LET’S GO RANGERS!”
@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter machine