Former Rangers captain Chris Drury announced his retirement yesterday after twelve seasons in the NHL, quietly bringing a disappointing close to an injury plagued season that ended in the buy-out of the final year of the five-year contract he signed with the Rangers back in 2007.
As a player in the league and for his country, there were many highs. A Stanley Cup in 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche and three Olympic appearances, including last year’s silver medal loss to the Canadian team in overtime among the best. But ultimately as Ranger fans we’ll remember a player in decline.
Signed, along with Scott Gomez in the summer of 2007, neither of them ultimately lived up to the 7+ million dollar contracts they were rewarded with. Neither player excelled in New York, and both were exposed as being support players rather than the stars that they were being paid like. Drury was an effective second/third line two-way center who could chip in 20-25 goals and contribute in all situations, but he wasn’t nearly as good as his post-season record would suggest. In fact he only managed four goals in twenty one playoff games with the Rangers, though he carried injuries through his last eleven.
In the end it was Sather’s mistake to offer the contract, not Drury’s choice to sign. By not contesting the buy-out, Drury perhaps thought he might be able to attract interest from another team. His declining skills, and perhaps his injuries ultimately taking the decision out of his hands. Ultimately the Rangers are better off without the final year of their former captain’s contract, but perhaps if things were a little different, there still would have been room for Drury somewhere in the league.