Michael Del Zotto is in a love/hate relationship with the New York Rangers fan base on and off the ice, but the situation off the ice is a whole different story along the team and fans (see Twitter). Del Zotto has been the whipping boy the past couple season by earning a nickname that goes by “Michael Del Zaster”.
Del Zotto was heading into the 2012-2013 lockout season as one of the moved improved players on the New York Rangers. Things were looking up for MDZ and hockey season finally began in January and it did not take long too realize Del Zotto did not look like the same player as he did in the 2011-2012 season. He chased the puck into the corners at the wrong time. He followed forwards around the net instead of guarding the line next to Lundqvist. He tried to make stretch passes at the wrong time and pinches too much in the offensive zone usually causing a 2 on 1 breakout play for the other team. All these things were frustrating and sometimes led to the other team scoring. He made rookie forwards look like superstars when it came to 1 0n 1 defense. MDZ has basically forgot all basic fundamentals of how to play defense.
The situation with MDZ is interesting though. You would think a player who has played this badly would have been traded by now. There are teams out there who probably like MDZ and see him as a good player in his future career. You have to think that he is being kept for a few reasons. One could be that with Marc Staal’s future is uncertain. Yes, his eye has improved, but he has said it will never be 100% healed and Staal also stated he did not feel comfortable playing with an injured eye so it is unsure when exactly he will be ready to play a NHL game without second guessing his game. You could also say our defensemen prospect(s) are not ready and with a limited salary to sign our restricted free agents there was definitely no room to sign any off-season free agents on defense.
This season has been interesting alone. You can say players will be getting a pass do to the lock-out and may be given a second chance just like teammate Brad Richards is being given. With a new coach who has a more offensive system planned for New York, will Del Zotto strive here? Will he finally show what he is capable of? Alain Vigneault has stated that he likes to let his skilled players play their own game. This can only hurt or help MDZ and it’s only a matter of time before we find the answer.