Mats Zuccarello, the Norwegian hobbit, is the shortest player on the New York Rangers, only 5-foot-7, and is by far the toughest Ranger. With that being said, you know something is seriously wrong.
How can the shortest player on your team be your toughest and most physical?
It sometimes amazes me how the Rangers even win a game. The Rangers are by far the softest team in the NHL, and when you have that reputation or stigma the opposition knows they won’t get hit hard when playing the Rangers which gives them the mental edge before both teams even take the ice.
Now I am not taking anything away from Zuccarello. The heart, will, determination, and toughness that man shows game in and game out with his height disadvantage should make every other Ranger feel embarrassed.
Brian Boyle is one of the biggest forwards the Rangers have and is exactly one foot taller than Zuccarello, yet anyone can give Boyle a simple tap and he proceeds to fall down like a ton of bricks. If Boyle and the rest of the Rangers even had half the heart Zuccarello has then they might actually be a team others don’t want to face because right now teams are absolutely loving playing the Rangers. I mean how could you not love playing a 60-minute game without getting a scratch on you?
It is also really embarrassing that the bigger skaters on the Rangers do not get inspired by the effort Zuccarello shows every game. You can point fingers at many players on this team, but when you step back and look at the big picture really the only one to blame is Rangers GM Glen Sather. For one and a half decades, Sather has put together very uneven rosters with very little balance yet wonders why the team never wins the cup at the end of every year.
There are many things flawed with this current Rangers team, but when you see the little guys like Zuccarello being tougher than the biggest players on the team, that pretty much sums up just how unstructured this Rangers team is and why Sather needs to retire for the Rangers to maybe one day actually be taken seriously.