Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Betts Deserves Better

This is ridiculous. In fact, to quote Dr. Evil, this is ri-God-Damn-diculous.

Last year the Rangers had the best Penalty Kill stats in the NHL. It was the one thing we excelled at. And the first unit on the ice when we were shorthanded always included the hardworking forward Blair Betts.

Betts is the classic special teams hero. He quietly made sure that the Rangers could get though countless man-down situations without giving up a goal. He was a perfect team player - nothing flashy - just get the job done - keep the opponents off the scoreboard and keep us in the hockey games - one shorthanded shift at a time. That was a huge part of any success we managed to have last year.

And it was no coincidence that when Betts' season was ended by a vicious cheap-shot by Donald Brashear (and don't get me started here) that the Capitals began hitting on their power play and the momentum in the playoff series shifted away from us for good.

And in a salary cap driven league, Betts is on the cheap side, costing only $615K last year. That's less than 1/10th of Wade Redden's salary (and again - don't get me started on that either).

So someone please tell me: Why hasn't someone grabbed this bargain-priced, team-first, hard-working, penalty-killing dynamo? Because honestly - I don't get it.

The Calgary Sun news agency caught up with Blair yesterday - the 29 year old forward has been skating at a camp in Edmonton to keep his skating edge. And so finally, after weeks of silence, we have few quotes:

"Things have been pretty quiet for about a month now," Blair told a reporter yesterday. "I'm not sure what's going to happen. We'll just have to continue to wait for a couple of weeks and see... Right now, there are a lot of teams that are pretty close to the salary cap and are dealing with some tough numbers right now. It's a tough time for a lot of people right now, but what can you do? You just have to be patient."

Patient? Well, unfortunately Blair has no choice. I can only imagine how confusing and hurtful this must feel to him. He gets head-hunted by the Capitals in the playoffs - injured in the line of duty - and instead of the Rangers standing behind him - they release him and sign the guy that hurt him to double his salary.

And I really don't understand. I'm used to the Rangers making bad personnel decisions - but where is every other hockey club? Somebody get on the phone and get yourself a bargain - a forward who will significantly lower your goals-against. Because stopping a score is just as good as scoring one yourself.

And because Betts deserves better.

1 comment: