Report: Why Brendan Smith Is Missing Time

USA TodayWhile the Rangers have been on their current five-game winning streak, a lot has been made about the decision to take Brendan Smith out of the lineup. Many have faulted Alain Vigneault for not letting Smith play through his struggles, citing that a struggling Smith is still better than Nick Holden or Steve Kampfer.

On his Podcast “Game Misconduct” today, Don LaGreca was asked the following:

LaGreca, who is the New York Rangers radio pregame and postgame host, and part-time play-by-play man, explained the following;

“Word on the street is that he came in out of shape and that he’s trying to work his way back in to shape. but mores than anything else has been the emergence of holden who actually started off the season with the flu and I think got off to a little bit of a slow start and Kampfer has played so well that you don’t want to take him out of the lineup so it’s a combination of Smith having his problems but also the fact that Holden and Kampfer have played so well that it’s been hard for Smith to be able to crack the lineup.”

What does it mean?

This makes plenty of sense to me. We recently discussed the lineup decisions on defense on The Tilted Ice Podcast, and I speculated that Brendan Smith is playing while trying to do a little too much and that sometimes, sitting out isn’t the worst thing, especially considering Holden and Kampfer have done a decent enough job. I’m pretty sure that Don LaGreca knows what he’s talking about when he goes on to say that Smith came into camp out of shape, as he spends a lot of time around the team and executives.

It explains his absence from the lineup as you really can’t trust a defenseman who came into camp out of shape until he’s in shape. There are many reasons why he may have come into camp out of shape, so this isn’t necessarily a knock on Smith by any stretch of the imagination. Guys can get injured in the off-season and it isn’t disclosed to us, but it holds them back from training and conditioning in order to prepare themselves for the season.

Smith’s agent told The NY Post “Smitty’s no dummy. He knows this is a performance-based industry and he hasn’t been where he would like it to be or where it needs to be. He’s just working hard to get back in the lineup.”

I really don’t see this as a huge deal to be completely honest. Kampfer and Holden have done a good enough job to remain in the lineup and to give Vigneault the comfort to be able to give Smith the time he needs to get his conditioning up to where it needs to be to play 20 minutes a night on the NHL level.

To hear more of our take on Brendan Smith, be sure to give a listen to this Tilted Ice: North of Penn Short.


  • Everyone is so quick to criticize Holden. He plays with grit and heart on both sides of the ice. However that lazy predictable second line center,Hayes always gets a pass. That $5000.00 bench misconduct penalty he got was total Bush league. Be half as tough ON the ice. How much longer do we have to deal with his uninspired lackluster performance?

    • C. Thomas I couldn’t agree with you more! Kevin Hayes has dogged it for years on this team and fans want him getting more ice time. At the time he was a huge get for the Rangers but he hasnt come close to living up to his potential. Even this year David Desharnais has blown past him with his play on ice, that’s completely unacceptable. And we haven’t even talked about his gutless, let’s get honest, play during the playoffs. The Rangers CANNOT afford to resign him if he continues with his standard play.

      • Thanks Mike, I was beginning to believe that I was the only one who feels this way. I have great respect for the MSG ) NYR broadcast team but it seems as if all Hayes has to do is touch the puck and they make him out to be Bobby Orr. I do give Dave Maloney credit, something I didn’t do much of 40 years ago, he calls out Hayes in his own way. The powers that be have tried to sell us on this guy. It is just painful to watch him. He gives the impression that he believes the hype around him and that that should be enough. I will take heart guts and passion any day. He doesn’t seem to care.

  • B/c he hasn’t earned it. Not rocket science.

    • I loved the deal last year to bring Smith to NY and was a big fan of his physical play in the playoffs. But he hasn’t come close to repeating that this year. Now you have to read in the newspapers that he came in out of shape. You are 100% correct he hasn’t earned playing time this year and the Rangers will need his physical presence if they want to turn around their very pedestrian defensive zone play. I still think he can be a very productive player for them but he has to step up his olay big time.

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