2006-07-14 / Sports

Signing Shanny Makes Too Much Sense For The Rangers

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

Former Detroit Red Wings player Brendan Shanahan raises his glove after scoring the winning goal on Vancouver Canucks goalie Alex Auld in the third period in their NHL hockey game in a January 26, 2006 photo. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, file)Former Detroit Red Wings player Brendan Shanahan raises his glove after scoring the winning goal on Vancouver Canucks goalie Alex Auld in the third period in their NHL hockey game in a January 26, 2006 photo. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, file) Getting marquee names has always been a Ranger forte, especially when they are past their primes.

So yesterday's signing of left wing Brendan Shanahan shouldn't surprise anyone, but unlike years gone by, this inking actually makes sense for the Ranger team at hand.

Yes, the former Red Wing is 37 and he is no longer the presence he once was, but a 40 goal scorer last year in the new NHL, still makes him a lethal threat.

And that is something the Blueshirts definitely need.

Going into this offseason, it was clear the Rangers needed a second line scoring threat to go along with Jaromir Jagr. After the Hart Trophy finalist went down in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Devils, it was obvious to everyone the Rangers relied on No. 68 a little too much.

And if the organization was to take a step in the right direction, something had to be done.

Even if Jagr was healthy in the playoffs and the Rangers happened to beat the Devils, it would be foolish to think that next season, the future captain would be able to duplicate a year where he broke decades-old scoring records. Yes, it could happen, but it's not probable.

So besides bulking up on the blueline, president and general manager Glen Sather had a plan.

"We were really looking for someone that could share a leadership role on our team," Sather said. "Someone that could play on the power play, someone who was going to be able to move people around in front of the net and someone with a great shot."

An attempt at Patrik Ellias was made, but the Devils' leading scorer chose to stay in New Jersey. After that, the free agent pool was rather thin.

So when Shanahan - who the Rangers assumed was staying in Detroit - came knocking on the Garden door, Blueshirt management couldn't let him get away.

"He's big and he's strong and he's a great team guy," Sather said. "As we got closer to the end of the season, we found that maybe we needed a little some more size up front, and his experience in the playoffs would be a huge help for us."

A three time Stanley Cup champion with 598 career goals gives the Rangers insurance on the second line. If Jagr goes down or slumps, Shanahan's offense will be able to pick up the slack. He makes the power play deadly and adds some physical presence in front of the net.

Also, he bring locker room leadership and will be able to relate to many of the young North American players on the team.

And with only a one-year, $4 million commitment, the Rangers are not on the hook if Shanahan's age catches up to him and becomes another free agent bust.

It just made too much sense, so Sather made sure it happened.

Because Shanahan was not courted, but came to the Rangers, it also shows the league, the Garden is a viable destination again. The forward spoke about coach Tom Renney's professionalism and direction, which influenced his decision.

"I saw them as a team that made tremendous strides last year," he said.

The Rangers probably won't ink any other high profile names this offseason, but with the signings of Matt Cullen, Aaron Ward, Karel Rachunek and now Shanahan, the Blueshirts made steps to build upon their surprising rebirth and possibly will take the next jump in the playoffs.

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