Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chris Drury: The Time Has Come to Lead and Earn the 'C' Or Give It Up

For much of the last few seasons I have defended Captain Chris Drury from the people who have griped about his contract seeing as how it was not his fault Glen Sather decided to pay him like the superstar he never was and the elite scorer he never will be.  Some have loved to focus on his lack of goal and point scoring which is a valid argument to make seeing as how he was counted on to be a large offensive player in this organization, though I don’t find the contract side valid just because of what I said.  Drury has brought things to the table on the positive side in his tenure with the Rangers particularly his penalty killing, sacrificing of his body to block shots and faceoffs. Yes, all of those things are things you can pay guys like Blair Betts and Brian Boyle to do and do not need to spend 7 million a season for, which I will not dispute for a second.

During the course of the early season I still wanted to take the best side of Drury in how he had supposedly rededicated himself and was in position to have a bounce back season with more offensive opportunities this year based on the early reports.  Then Drury would break his finger on September 20th of this year blocking shots in a scrimmage during training camp.  On the one hand you want to be happy that he and other guys are playing hard in meaningless exercises but on the other you want him to be smarter as the Captain of the club to not get hurt in a scrimmage blocking a meaningless shot.  There is a quote from John Tortorella when he broke the first time that I will come back to momentarily.

Drury missed all of the preseason as expected and made it back in the third game for the home opener against the Tortonto Maple Leafs October 15th.  I worried before the game that they had rushed Drury back just because it was the home opener and before the second period of the season for Drury was complete he would be out again with a break to the same part of the finger and another place.  Injuries happen and all that, and at different points this year the Rangers have shown their need for Drury on faceoffs and on the penalty kill, especially in third periods. 

My problem now with Drury and the reason I just cannot defend him any longer is how he is coming back from this injury.  Now the quote I referenced a moment ago from the coach:
“It’s his hand so I don’t think he’s going to lose his conditioning,” Tortorella said. “You never know what happens with these injuries, how quickly they’ll heal.”
I can respect the second part of the quote without hesitation or reservation; it is the first part that is baffling me in terms of Drury’s response to the injury.  Last week four weeks after the injury was the first time that Drury got on the ice to skate.  You cannot be serious that an injury to a finger means you cannot skate for a month.  I know we all made jokes about how he couldn’t tie his skates and maybe he didn’t want to skate without a stick or all of that nonsense.  I don’t care if he had to duct tape the skates to his ankles because he couldn’t find someone to tie them for him, he should be out there skating on the ice and maintaining hockey conditioning not just exercise biking or whatever else he was doing to maintain his conditioning. 

During the past week the reports have been about how he is now working on his own after practice to get himself back in possibly 2-3 more weeks, which is whatever it will be.  The reports that bother me is reading about how after six weeks he still cannot grip the stick, which while also leaving open many crude joke of another nature feels like a crude joke to every fan of this club and every player busting their ass to keep this season going in the right direction.  Here you have the Captain of the club, or at least that is what the letter on his sweater stands for, out at least eight weeks with a busted finger while Brandon Prust missing zero games after being clipped right by his eye and playing through a charley horse in his leg that wouldn’t allow him to straighten it out or Dan Girardi missing one shift, ONE SHIFT, after getting smashed in the face with a puck and have blood pour on the ice in Pittsburgh.

I have been one who has said that Drury as long as he is here will likely remain with the ‘C’ on his sweater, but now it is time that he start to show some leadership and earn that letter for today and not his past.  It is time to bust your ass and get back on the ice to support your teammates I don’t care what kind of splint or special gloves or whatever you have to wear, it is time to stop fingering around and get on the ice.  Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky have done an admirable job in trying to provide leadership to this club for the first 23 games of the season and have shown they can be leaders on a club now and in the future, but as John Tortorella said last night it is time for those who have helped out to step and give the ones carrying the team a break, so Chris Drury as much as we talk about Gaborik and Frolov needing to do the scoring it is time for you to do some leading.  If you are not up to that challenge or that task then it is your job as someone who was given the honor of the ‘C’ because of your responsibility to lead to show the leadership required by that letter and relinquish it, so people stop waiting for you to do it.  One way or the other it will give the New York Rangers fans something to be thankful for.