Our sympathy for Shanahan is dwindling faster than his options

If Larry Brooks of the NY Post wasn't already, his piece today on Brendan Shanahan and the New York Rangers cements him as the campaign manager for "Shanny '08."

As the Rangers start 4-0, even after the European distraction in the first two games, Shanahan's name and necessity have been back-burned by all but Brooks, who reports that the veteran UFA "diligently continues to work out and skate on his own at the Rangers' practice rink." That and a fare card will get you on the subway ...

The fanboy suggestions in Brooks' piece -- some sort of chain reaction involving Lauri Korpikoski, Dan Fritsche, Nigel Dawes, Petr Prucha, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and about 25 other factors -- ignore what's keeping Shanahan out of the NHL right now, which is his decision to play only for the Rangers. As is his right, of course; but it's getting hard to muster up sympathy for a player who has chosen this limited career path for himself.

Steve Goldberg of Rangers Ramblings has it right: Focusing on Shanahan, and speculating on what sort of third-line transformation would necessitate his return, is completely misplaced during this hot start for the Blueshirts. From Goldberg:

Please, no more talk of Brendan Shanahan.  This team does not need him. Give Korpikoski, Prucha, Dawes, and the rest of the younger players on this team a chance to develop.  The power play has looked so much better without him taking up space.  Voros and Drury have done a great job in front of the opposition net in setting up screens. 

Tonight in Newark at MSG, it's the battle of Shanahan's former teams. The undefeated New York Rangers meet the undefeated New Jersey Devils for the first time since eliminated them last postseason. The Rangers owned Jersey last season, as the Devils went 1-4-3 in the regular season against their rivals. As always, it should be an interesting night in the cheap seats ... and on the train ride to and from the game. Drink early, fight often, friends.

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