Roman Lyashenko

A Summer Of Many Things

by Jess Rubenstein

The Summer of 2003 will most likely become one of the most frustrating summers that Ranger fans will have had in years. Sadly but perhaps rightfully it looks like the apparent suicide of Ranger farmhand Roman Lyashenko is going to the biggest news to come out of it. For most of July it had been mostly non-news that was happening for Ranger fans.

Slats was going to return as coach wasn’t a real story as most knowledgeable Ranger fans already knew he was going to be the coach based on the combination of Slat’s own words and the real lack of true coaching candidates for the job. The players wanted him back, Junior wanted him back and for many Ranger fans they wanted him back as well but not for the reasons the Rangers would like to hear. Many Ranger fans wanted Slats right behind the bench so he would be in a sink or swim situation with the team next year.

They wanted him so there would be no more excuses about injuries, no more blaming Ranger fans and mainly so that if things go south they would have him right where they could boo him out of the Garden once and for all. Count me in as one of those fans because it is way past time for Slats to be held accountable for the direction (or non-direction) that he has led the Rangers on.

There has been very little movement regarding the resigning of Brian Leetch but in his case one could call that bad news for several reasons. For one thing not having Leetch under contract leaves open the possibility of him signing elsewhere. Sure Leetch has said that he wants to return to the Rangers as his first choice but the longer he remains unsigned sooner or later the stalemate might get to the point where Leetch starts to look at other offers.

If Slats remains too stubborn or does one of his worst tricks (which is the “take or leave it offer) he risks alienating a player who everyone in hockey knows will be the best hope for next season for the Rangers. Lose Leetch before the season begins and you might as well skip the season as they will go no place without him. Leetch showed in the second half of last season what kind of affect he can have on a game for the Rangers. He also showed that at the same time they will need to keep him fresh all season long not burn him out by playing 26 minutes a night.

It has also been the summer where the biggest UFAs on the market for the most part weren’t even interested in the Rangers. Kariya and Selanne choose the Avs while Hatcher choose the Stars. It wasn’t about money for these players it was about who offered them the best chance to win a cup. None of them gave the Rangers any kind of serious consideration despite the reported better money offers made by Slats.

This Ranger fan got the message loud and clear that players who want to win the Cup don’t consider the Rangers to be anything close to a cup contender. He also got the message that players who are looking for money first winning second are as based upon reports that Fedorov was interested in the Rangers after not getting the kind of money he wanted from the Wings.

Here is a hint to the ownership: If a player only wants the money pass on him as he really isn’t interested in winning. After all these years one would pray that the Rangers would have learned that lesson. Further evidence came from Marchant signing with the BlueJackets for less money that he reportedly wanted from the Rangers.

If someone choosing the Blue Jackets over the Rangers isn’t a sign of how bad NHL players are viewing the Rangers I don’t know what is. While there remains several mid level free agents who could help the Rangers still unsigned with each passing day the list gets smaller and smaller. If the Rangers don’t address needs like a couple of real LWs or a true stay at home defensemen then even with Leetch making the playoffs next year will be almost impossible.

Then of course there is the most recent of stories which involve Cujo of the Red Wings. Hasek returns so Cujo is now expendable with his fat contract. Of course when players with fat contracts are made available the first place people tend to think they are headed is to the Rangers. So far Slats says he isn’t interested in Cujo and let us hope that lack of interest remains that way.

The Rangers don’t need to tie themselves up with a goalie who carries such a fat contract with the unknown of the next CBA staring them in the face. Not to mention that the Rangers already have a goalie who clearly proved that he could carry the team even with the kind of non-defense the Rangers play. Cujo is that kind of goalie so let someone else trade for him

The Rangers also have other free agents of their own both restricted and unrestricted to sign which needs to be addressed. For the unrestricted hearts won’t break if Mironov (wants 4 million), McCarthy (made 1.3 million but doesn’t fight), Donato (nice heart but 4th liners are easy to replace) aren’t resigned. Messier will resign once he tells Slats how much to pay him so he will be back despite the rumors of the Panthers wanting him.

As for restricted free agents Kovalev, Poti, Carter, Markkanen and Pisa there really isn’t much to say except the odds are they will eventually all sign one year contracts. Being an RFA is really a joke in the NHL so unless something really drastic happens they will all be in uniform come the start of training camp.

Finally we get to the sad and tragic passing of Roman Lyashenko who took his own life earlier this week. While it is so hard for people to try to understand why a 24 year old who was getting to get paid for something most of us dream about doing, what needs to be said is that when all is said and done it was a tragedy. What we can’t do is point any kind of finger of blame at the Ranger organization as they were caught off guard by this just like Ranger fans were.

Instead of looking for why he did it or anything else we fans should hope that some good will somehow someway find a way to come of it. Maybe teams like the Rangers will take a closer look at how they are prepared to look for the signs of players in trouble and improve on them. Maybe the players themselves will take a look inside themselves and see the kind of pain that the Lyashenko family is going though right now. Hopefully they will learn how to reach out for help so their families don’t ever have to suffer the pain the Lyashenko family is.

More importantly as fans we can learn from what happened also as we can see right in front of us how nobody saw this coming from Lyashenko. We can realize that we too need to learn to spot the signs that might prevent someone we love from taking their own life. We can also realize that instead of thinking nobody cares or whatever reasoning one uses to commit suicide that it is a selfish act. It is an act that does nothing except bring pain to those left behind and hopefully we will seek help to spare those who love us the same kind of pain.

Roman Lyashenko is gone from us and while we can wonder why he did what he did instead we should offer our thoughts and prayers to his family. They need it more than Roman does anymore.

Roman Lyashenko Born May 2nd 1979 Died July 7th 2003 Rest in peace and may whatever pain you had be gone

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