Kreider and Fast playing through injuries, but is it the right thing for the Rangers to do?
In the last few days questions about Chris Kreider being invisible have been answered with the reveal of a hamstring injury. Also coming out today is news that Jesper Fast will be out due to a lingering upper body injury. Playing through injuries in hockey is just what players do. This is nothing new, but does it make sense?
A tough question to answer
Why do players do it? To be fair, we are talking about injuries that we don’t know the extent of their severity. This isn’t someone playing though a concussion. Chris Kreider isn’t 100% and it could be nothing more than soreness. The problem for Kreider is the majority of his game comes off his the speed his legs generate. Thus making him less effective and causing people to jump to conclusions such as; “we should’ve traded him at the deadline.”
“Maybe you and I look at it differently, but I look at this as a guy trying to gut it out through an injury, which is part of being a professional hockey player,” No. 20 told The Post. “I didn’t do as well or contribute as much as I thought I could and while I don’t think I hurt the team, I didn’t help, either, so I probably shouldn’t have played.NYPOST
Still, should the Rangers be playing these guys in what is a season that will not see a playoff game? The answer is a tough one because I am inclined to say yes if the injury can not be made worse by playing. The question becomes more difficult in years that have playoff implications and even the playoffs themselves.
The Ryan McDonagh Example
McDonagh is the prime example of what can happen when a player is playing through an injury. For the better part of a few seasons, Ryan McDonagh played though a myriad of ailments. Ultimately, that drove his body and his play into the ground.
McDonagh was ridden like a mule by Alain Vigneault and the Rangers until he was packaged and dealt to Tampa. His only rest came when they held him out to trade him.
This year, McDonagh looks like a different player and has more jump to his game. The last time he looked this good was 2015. He explained that this is the healthiest he’s been in years and that it’s had the biggest impact on his play.
Hindsight is 20/20
The Rangers should’ve handled McDonagh better, I think we can now look back and agree. However, the truth is they were considered a contender and were fighting for their playoff lives while he was here.
Another issue and one that Gorton must rectify is this, the Rangers had no quality depth to give players like McDonagh a rest. Going forward, the Rangers must improve the talent level in Hartford so that there is a pipeline of legit options to call up to give players a rest.
Like I said, there is no easy answer and circumstances dictate a lot in these situations. Professional athlete’s play through injuries, that’s just the way it is. It is up to the general manager to build the organization from top to bottom in such a way that you have the luxury to give those players time to heal.