Every summer since I’ve started blogging and writing down my hockey opinions in internet ink, I always try to use the downtime to reconnect with old friends still in the Show, read up on new systems and tactics, or dive into books illustrating important points in hockey history. What can I say? The game is in my blood.
For obvious reasons, this summer in particular I’ve spent a lot of time watching a bunch of tape on the Canucks (more about that closer to puck drop). However, I’ve also used this time to read up on Herb Brooks and how he used a ‘tough love approach’ to mentally prepare those young heroes of 1980. If you saw the movie Miracle, you probably already know what I’m taking about.
A lot of what I’ve read kind of reminds me of where the Rangers are at this stage in their development.
Though 1980 is all but a memory to some and a story to others, the lessons of Herb Brooks are still applied today. Sometimes the coach has to play the antagonist role to unify and solidify the players on the bench or out on the ice in front of him. Once the team concept is established, the players have to dig deep and find it in themselves to take their games to another level.
All of which brings me back to the Blueshirts. This summer I’ve heard just about every excuse you can think of for why certain Rangers didn’t perform to expectations last season. Hagelin couldn’t get it done because someone behind the bench thought he stunk on the power play. Kreider couldn’t meet expectations because he was gripping his stick too tight. Richards believes a new voice or not having a lockout will help rejuvenate his career. Arron Asham thinks…well who cares what Asham thinks?
The common denominator in all of these public frustrations is gone, as is his partner in crime. Yet, already we’re hearing about how the former Blue Jacket players (namely Brassard) and the new assistant coach Scott Arniel were at each others throats in Columbus. This of course is causing many fans to lament Scott’s hiring before the guy has even coached a game here. Excuses…already.
Frankly, I’m tired of excuses. This season the Rangers are expected to challenge for the Cup with pretty much the same roster that left the ice in Boston. I disagreed with this approach at the time, but it is what it is and I’m at peace with that now. However, the pressure is going to be turned up a little higher, as it should be. If Richards can’t find his game under AV, see ya. If Hags can’t pot a few more goals, adios. If MDZ can’t learn to QB a PP, finito.
There’s no untouchables on this team anymore and there’s no coach supposedly holding them back. The Rangers window to win likely closes with the retirement or the departure (via free agency) of Henrik Lundqvist, so we need to win now. Until we get there, remember this quote from former NYG Emlen Tunnell (the first African American player inducted into the NFL HOF) next time you hear another excuse filtered through Larry Brooks.
“Losers assemble in little groups and complain about the coaches and the players in other little groups, but winners assemble as a team.”
Do we have winners on this team? We’ll find out.