Report: Why Brendan Smith Is Missing Time

USA TodayWhile the Rangers have been on their current five-game winning streak, a lot has been made about the decision to take Brendan Smith out of the lineup. Many have faulted Alain Vigneault for not letting Smith play through his struggles, citing that a struggling Smith is still better than Nick Holden or Steve Kampfer.

On his Podcast “Game Misconduct” today, Don LaGreca was asked the following:

LaGreca, who is the New York Rangers radio pregame and postgame host, and part-time play-by-play man, explained the following;

“Word on the street is that he came in out of shape and that he’s trying to work his way back in to shape. but mores than anything else has been the emergence of holden who actually started off the season with the flu and I think got off to a little bit of a slow start and Kampfer has played so well that you don’t want to take him out of the lineup so it’s a combination of Smith having his problems but also the fact that Holden and Kampfer have played so well that it’s been hard for Smith to be able to crack the lineup.”

What does it mean?

This makes plenty of sense to me. We recently discussed the lineup decisions on defense on The Tilted Ice Podcast, and I speculated that Brendan Smith is playing while trying to do a little too much and that sometimes, sitting out isn’t the worst thing, especially considering Holden and Kampfer have done a decent enough job. I’m pretty sure that Don LaGreca knows what he’s talking about when he goes on to say that Smith came into camp out of shape, as he spends a lot of time around the team and executives.

It explains his absence from the lineup as you really can’t trust a defenseman who came into camp out of shape until he’s in shape. There are many reasons why he may have come into camp out of shape, so this isn’t necessarily a knock on Smith by any stretch of the imagination. Guys can get injured in the off-season and it isn’t disclosed to us, but it holds them back from training and conditioning in order to prepare themselves for the season.

Smith’s agent told The NY Post “Smitty’s no dummy. He knows this is a performance-based industry and he hasn’t been where he would like it to be or where it needs to be. He’s just working hard to get back in the lineup.”

I really don’t see this as a huge deal to be completely honest. Kampfer and Holden have done a good enough job to remain in the lineup and to give Vigneault the comfort to be able to give Smith the time he needs to get his conditioning up to where it needs to be to play 20 minutes a night on the NHL level.

To hear more of our take on Brendan Smith, be sure to give a listen to this Tilted Ice: North of Penn Short.

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