We’re all remembered for something when we leave our jobs after years of diligent work, and logging hours to serve the man. Maybe it’s that time you filed a really good TPS report, or maybe you were that guy who always made sure there was paper towel on the roll in the office cafeteria. Everyone loves that guy.
Chris Drury announced his retirement today, and despite a successful if not spectacular career during stops in Colorado, Calgary, Buffalo, and New York that ended with 255 goals and 615 points over 892 games, the 35-year-old will be remembered for being an obscenely over-priced disaster in New York. But that legacy isn’t his fault.
Thanks, Glen Sather.
After scoring a career-high 37 goals and 69 points with the Sabres in 2006-07 during a contract year (surprise!), Drury joined the Buffalo exodus and signed a five-year contract worth $35.25 million with the Rangers. Even at the time that number seemed grotesque, but we all shrugged our shoulders. It’s New York, we said to ourselves, and buying championships is a cherished tradition in that once spoiled sports city.
Now we laugh at the Drury deal. We laugh loudly, and we crumble to the ground in uncontrollable hysterics at the vision of Scott Gomez standing proudly beside Drury on Eighth Avenue for a photoshoot, with the franchise championing their prize acquisitions.
Yes, that actually happened. The laughter stops and the tears begin when we read ESPN The Magazine‘s re-telling of that day.
It was a happy, joyous time, and Rangers fans were justifiably excited about their team’s two new additions.
Since the two free agents signed with New York, on July 1, the Garden faithful have been in a frenzy of anticipation: More than 96% of last year’s season ticket-holders have re-upped for 2007-08, and those single-game tickets that were available sold out in an hour. And the feeling is mutual for these two American-born and -breds. Says Gomez: “New York is the capital of the world.”
Gomez and his equally absurd seven-year, $51.5 million contract lasted only two seasons in New York before Sather found some sucker in Montreal willing to make a deal. Now it’s difficult to understand why anyone would want an under-producing player with that kind of gargantuan contract on their roster.
In fairness to Drury, he doesn’t deserve the lasting stigma of his paycheque in New York. That’s Sather’s folly, and all Drury did was post a solid and respectable 61 goals and 146 points over his first three years in New York, averaging 48.7 points per year. By comparison, Drury averaged 51.3 points per season over his entire career, showing that he was only marginally worse in New York, and that he didn’t fit the fading veteran label so eagerly throw in his direction.
If we discount Drury’s shortened 2010-11 season due to injury, he was nearly the exact same player his entire career. The problem is that Sather didn’t pay for solid and respectable. He idiotically payed for a player whom he expected to flirt with 40 goals, a mark Drury approached only once in his career.
Drury’s New York tenure ultimately ended when his contract was bought out earlier this summer, and even in retirement the Rangers will still be paying him $3.7 million next season just to remain in his post-hockey bliss.
Don’t think about Sather’s logic too long, because it’ll put you in danger of spontaneous combustion. Just know that Drury had a fine career before the degenerative knee condition that forced him to appear in just 24 games last season. His retirement is largely the result of teams around the league showing a lack of faith in his future production, an understandable position given his injury and advanced age.