New York Rangers: Is This the End for Chris Drury?

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again

At first, I thought that it was rather convenient that Chris Drury found himself sidelined with yet another injury in this, his disastrous 2010/11 campaign. The timing of it could not have been more perfect—a struggling player with an enormous salary leaving for the rest of the season and taking his cap hit with him. But then it was announced that he would be having knee surgery and out for six weeks, and with rehab time thrown in, will probably not be able to crack the lineup even if he gets healthy. Then I thought, this is no conspiracy, the Captain of the New York Rangers really is injured.

I have been a severe critic of Drury’s play, mainly because it has not been NHL caliber since he returned from a concussion against Calgary last season. After he signed in New York, I never expected 30 goals out of him or 80 points or anything like that on a season-by-season basis. His stats in his first year here were what I did expect, and wanted to see him continue. He put up 25 goals in 07/08, much to the dismay of fans who thought they were getting the lethal goal scorer who doused the team’s hopes in the playoffs a season prior. But then the goal total shrunk down to 22, then 14, and now in an injury plagued season which has not given us much to measure him by, he has 0 goals in 23 games.

A concussion last season caused him to miss some time, and two broken finger injuries this season brought his rhythm down to a halt. This knee injury will all but end his year, and though the Rangers will not miss him much, the team really has to take his future into consideration. Drury is a hard-working player—no one is doubting his defensive play or faceoff ability, but the fact that he has zero offense left in his game and is not the inspirational leader a captain should be, should have the Rangers thinking about options other than letting him come back for the fifth and final season of his contract.

Being that he has a no trade clause, the Rangers will not be able to move him that way, so just forget about it. Can the Rangers bury him in Hartford along with Wade Redden? Well, technically speaking yes, but they will not do that, nor should they; there is no reason to embarrass him further. The most logical way to deal with him would be to buy him out, which carries a cap hit of ~$3.7 million for next season, and ~$1.6 million for the season after that. (I would rather pay him to stay away, rather than suit up.)

The other option, of course, is to pray (or force) him to retire. Perhaps not only would that be the best way, because the Rangers would not owe him anything, but it would let Drury leave with at least a bit of dignity. Though no professional athlete wants to go out like this, it is better to retire because of injury than get kicked out by the organization, is it not?

Chris Drury is a player that showed so much promise. He was advertised as “Captain Clutch” and “Captain America” because of leadership abilities he possessed that we have yet to see in four seasons. I am not mentioning that because he is a quiet leader—all captains lead in their own way, and I have nothing against that, but this team needs someone more vocal. On a team where there is plenty of youth that have no experience, they need some direction. They need a captain who will not be afraid to yell. I doubt Drury’s stoic personality will allow that to escape his tight lips. For the rest of this season, should Drury really be done, I would propose that Vinny Prospal take over the captaincy. He is more vocal, has experience, and has actually had offensive success in his brief tenure as a Ranger. I really do not see him having a role beyond this year, unless Sather still cannot find a center for Gaborik, but it would do no harm for the remainder of this season.

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One thought on “New York Rangers: Is This the End for Chris Drury?

  1. Jumbo

    Greg,

    I’ve said my piece about Drury previously. I though he had a “no movement” clause which precludes the ability to send him to Hartford, but I could be misinformed. If the total cap hit is $5.3 million over two years to buy out the last year of his contract at $7 million, I say they should waste no time in doing so as soon as the season is over.

    The Rangers should take this opportunity to start the transition to the post-Drury era and give the captaincy to Ryan Callahan immediately. I believe that would give the team of jolt of energy that they need badly at this time. Maybe Drury would play better (presuming he returns) if he no longer has the responsibility of being captain.

    It is ironic how the three metropolitan area teams have probably the three worst contracts in the NHL–Drury, Ilya Kovalcuk and Rick (Mr. Brittle) DiPietro. At least Drury’s contract expires after next season, the other two have 14 and 11 years, respectively, to runn. I may be a cockeyed optimist but maybe Drury will rebound next year since he will be playing for a new contract. At age 34 he should still have some tread on his tires. If so there is a slight chance some Cup contender could take a chance on him at a much lower salary. He did play well in the Olympics last year and he has historically played at a higher level in the postseason.

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