With the waiving of enforcer Donald Brashear, Rangers GM Glen Sather is attempting to execute the most complex management move of all: the do-over.
Brashear's waiving represents the latest move within the past two weeks to reset team personnel to where they were when last season ended.
Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins, offseason acquisitions, were traded to Calgary and now Brashear is on his way off of the team after demanding a trade.
In essence, Sather is admitting his offseason moves, barring the signings of Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal, weren't successful, and he's now trying to figure a way out of some poor choices.
And to Sather's credit, he's been doing a decent job shedding these ineffective pieces.
Brashear's beef with the team was over playing time. The Rangers' beef with Brashear was over his role as an enforcer. Brashear didn't enforce very much, meaning he was basically taking up a roster spot without contributing anything to the team.
Current Rangers Aaron Voros and Brandon Prust are expected to step into the enforcer role.
If Brashear isn't claimed on waivers or traded, he'll probably end his hockey career in the AHL. Given Brashear's $1.4 million annual salary with a contract until 2011, it's hard to imagine there are any teams that would take such a huge risk on what amounts to an old fighter.
For the Rangers, while Sather is doing a nice job of ditching his ineffective pieces, the other part of the GM puzzle is enhancing a team.
For instance, the Rangers still have quite a few needs: a solid backup goaltender, a shutdown defenseman, a playmaking center, and, in general, secondary scoring.
At the same time, this is a team that's four points out of the playoffs in a very weak—and very tight—Eastern Conference.
Shedding players who haven't worked out is a step in the right direction. It gives the Rangers some roster flexibility in the present and in the future.
But now Sather needs to commit to a direction.
Now, he needs to decide if this Rangers team is a playoff contender. (Hint: It isn't.)
But perhaps, most importantly, Sather needs to do something he has seemingly never done before—assess his previous moves and determine what's been effective and what hasn't.
Sather needs to look at all of his signings and find the patterns in his failures.
For instance, the team has always relied on high-profile free agents. Why sign Brashear when there are dozens of comparable enforcers in the league? Was it because Brashear was a big-name enforcer? Was it worth paying more for a name, rather than ability?
Sather might also look at the construction of his team. Do the Rangers need so many third and fourth line role players? Can a modern NHL defense be effective without any kind of large-bodied, stay-at-home defenseman?
Finally, Sather needs to look at this season and determine why it's been such a fiasco. Are players not responding to coach John Tortorella, or is Tortorella stuck with under-performing players?
By asking, and answering, these questions and looking at these patterns, Sather can truly begin the process of improving the team.
The Rangers are a slightly better team, both in terms of cap space and performance, without Brashear. But now it's time for Sather to try and diagnose and fix the Rangers.