The Media & ESPN vs. Sather, the Rangers, and Lindros

Unfortunately, ESPN does not hire people who have brains of hockey. It is a shame, because all the articles and comments the media has done in general, especially ESPN, made them look foolish. Jeff Bradley is a writer for ESPN MAG. He wrote an article on Lindros and the Rangers. If a hockey analyst who writes articles wants to comment on a subject (i.e. trade, player, or team), he or she has to support both the positive side and the negative side. Bradley has zero knowledge on this Lindros trade, which made him write a useless article pointing out his opinion only, an incorrect opinion. Plus, find out what really happened between Sather and Patrick, along with what the circumstances would have been with any of Sather’s decisions. I know this subject has been written so many times, but if you really want to look smart in front of other hockey fans, then it is worthwhile reading this.What is so interesting about this Lindros deal, is the fact that everyone criticized the Rangers. Saying ridiculous things such as “Rangers missed out on Jagr, and had to make a desperate move to get Lindros.” That is just plain ridiculous. If you are a good hockey analyst, then you obviously shouldn’t make that kind of comment, using negative adjectives. Here is the site of Jeff Bradley’s article: http://espn.go.com/magazine/vol4no21lindros.html

His point is well written and simple to understand, no doubt about that. Although, if you want to make a good article on a trade, on a player, or on a team, then you should always write the pros and cons of the subject. You should not write only about the cons of a trade. Bradley does not even list a positive idea on the Rangers in his article, or on Lindros. His main point, if you did not read it completely, was basically on negating the bright sides of the Lindros deal for the Rangers. He made Glen Sather, Ron Low, and even Messier look foolish about the Lindros deal, as if he wanted them to realize that Lindros is a “big” risk. Like they do not know? Like the rest of the league does not know? Like we hockey fans do not know? It is funny because Bradley is making himself look like the smart guy here, who made me laugh in the end; any knowledgeable hockey fan would laugh at it. I think there needs to be an understanding why General Manager Glen Sather did this move. Well, here is a humorous quote by Bradley, “It wasn’t until August, when the Rangers got desperate after their failed bid for Pittsburgh’s Jaromir Jagr ignited a firestorm of negative press, that Lindros to New York became a possibility, and ultimately, a reality.” You know what is so funny about this quote? Bradley is not the only one who said it; many other media made the same statement.

Why is that so funny? Well, first of all, the media would have criticized the Rangers and Sather with whatever move he would have made. Meaning, that if Sather did not trade for Jagr, he would have been criticized, if Sather did not trade for Lindros he would have been criticized, if Sather did land Jagr, he would have been criticized, and if Sather did land Lindros, he would have been criticized. Basically, there was no way out with the media. It is a terrible mistake to make such a comment as Bradley’s because it is simply incorrect.

This is where Bradley and the media in general, make themselves look like fools, and Sather is not the fool. Here is the true story of the Patrick vs. Sather case on Jagr. Yes, Sather was interested in Jagr, now doubt about that since he made an offer. Sather and Patrick were close to come to agreements on the players offered. However, in the end, when Jagr told the press that he would like to play in New York City, where he wanted to be, GM Patrick changed his mind. No, that is not a rumor I heard or read on a cheap newspaper like the NYPost. I read it on the New York Times as well as the Washington Post, the two strongest newspapers in the nation. So then what happened? Patrick said that he wanted a little more, but that little more came to be too much for Sather. At the moment, Sather offered top goalie prospect Johan Holqmvist, Left-winger Jan Hlavac, and one of the best young two-way forwards, center Mike York, and in addition, the Rangers were willing to give the Penguins a bonus check or a draft pick. Evaluate this offer. Holmqvist, York, and Hlavac, and now think of what Hlavac could do with a line-mate like Mario Lemieux. Was it good enough for Patrick? No, not at all, and the pathetic excuse of “We cannot afford those players’ salaries” is not an excuse, it is to the Penguins fans and media. All the salaries of Hlavac and York were under one million dollars. So Patrick called up Sather and gave him a take or leave it request. Remember how the media expressed Sather did the take it or leave it offer? Well, the tables turned around. Patrick requested players, Pavel Brendl, Radek Dvorak, Tomas Kloucek, and a draft pick. At the moment, the Rangers Youth Training Camp was not opened yet, so Sather had no idea if Brendl improved, making sense that in his third year Brendl should have improved. Dvorak is the Rangers future first line right winger and a great penalty killer with an incredible speed. Tomas Kloucek is the Rangers future Beukeboom type player, and Brendl would have been the Rangers future scorer, if he improved. All that for the league’s most talented player, yet the most expensive player, not good in defense, and whose contract expired in two seasons.

If Sather made that kind of a deal, the media would have destroyed the Rangers, especially Jeff Bradley would have. All in all, the media, especially ESPN, did not even bother criticizing Patrick for trading Jagr to the playoff rival team (Capitals) for just three prospects in return. It was a good guess to say that Sather is not a Jagr fan, because he is not. What hockey fans, surprisingly even hockey analysts, do not understand is that the Rangers NEEDED a number one center, with size and strength, who could put up points. This is where everyone missed the main idea of Sather’s reason to land Lindros, Bradley especially, and Bill Clement as well. Compare the roster the Rangers have with Lindros, to the one they could have had with Jagr. The centers would be a weak position. Messier does not have the ability to be the number one center, and Nedved has too much pressure as the number one center. Where is the strength with Nedved, Messier, and York? Only Messier is the tough guy. Would Jagr have helped the Rangers defensively, with Kloucek gone? No is the correct answer. Does Lindros with Kloucek on the line-up in two weeks? Yes is the correct answer. Now, the Rangers are known to be one of the strongest teams down the center positions. You get power from Lindros and Fleury. You get power from Messier and Dvorak. You get power from Nedved and possibly Ciger, and you get power from York. Jagr would have only made two strong lines, and a weaker defense. This is the positive aspect of the trade, which everyone missed.

Are the media done though? Unfortunately, no they are not. It is not enough to criticize the Rangers missing out on Jagr. So, they criticized by stating that the Rangers gave so much, or “too much”, for Lindros. Well, compare this: Hlavac, Brendl, and Johnsson to Dvorak, Kloucek, Brendl, and money. Sather gave a lot less than what he could have given up for Jagr. This makes the media look stupid, because Rangers did not give up “too much”, and if they did, knowing the price of Jagr was more, then why did they even bother saying “missed out on Jagr”? Again, Johnsson is replaceable. What do you do when you have a player who is trade bait and you have another player to replace him? You trade your original player and it is pure common sense for a general manager. Jan Hlavac was great with Nedved, awesome skater, and a great team player, but Hlavac did a poor job most of the times in defense and only scored 3 goals without Nedved playing by his side. He is a loss, but if you can make an attempt to recover that loss, then you might as well take a risk. Brendl failed for the third time to show any signs of improvements. He was ten pounds overweight, and made the ignorant quote: “Why ruin my summer by working too hard?” Brendl always played well in preseason, as he did this year, but he showed signs of “I am too tired”, so Sather decided to trade him, since Brendl did not want to be on the Rangers.

The only thing the media can criticize on Sather is the “oft-concussed” Lindros. I agree 100% that Lindros is a risk, no doubt about that. However, two of the six concussions were considered minor, too minor for them to be called concussions. That is a medical fact, not a press fact, so no one can argue that, it’s a fact. What the media does, to act as anti-Rangers, especially Bradley, is forget about common sense. Here is some common sense. Any hockey players’ next shift could end his or her career. It does not have to be in the NHL, but it is in any leagues. How many times were kids and teenagers reported of accidents that ended their hockey dreams? I suppose many. An example is Chris Drury’s friend, by the last name of Roy, who is remained paralyzed, and this is not in NHL. Want a NHL example(s)? Montreal Canadiens McCleary ended his career from a slap shot puck that hit his throat and nearly could have died. Another one? Bryan Berard with the eye injury, and fortunately he made a come back to the NHL. Paul Kariya is on the same boat as Lindros, one more concussion to end his career. What about the great Super Mario? One tough crosscheck on his back and that ends his career, as he is highly injury prone. Here is another good example for you all, and I wish Bradley could read this. When the Rangers acquired Mark Messier, back in 1990, many analysts said that Mark Messier was a high injury prone player, and that his career could easily end any time. Did that ever happen?…My point exactly.

So, to the media, especially Bradley, Clement, and ESPN in general, it is a good idea to use your hockey knowledge, if there is any in those brains, and make the correct statements. You have to look at the negatives and positives, pros/cons. Lindros is a good addition, yet Lindros is a risk. That is the main idea in one phrase, and yes, it is that simple. Not simple enough for the media to find out though…right Bradley?

Micki Peroni


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