Jan
27

The Power of a Promise

January 27, 2018, by

(Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

A pall has descended over Rangerstown, and it’s sucking the fun out of the game. The Rangers are barely winning anymore, they’re doing that thing again where they totally mismanage injuries, Henrik Lundqvist is on pace to play way too many games, Cody McLeod is now a New York Ranger, and AV is still around, up to his old tricks.

The team, seeming lacking in any sense of direction or coherence, is now rumored to be decidedly in the selling camp as we approach the deadline, and likely beyond that to the draft. You’ll have to excuse me for being cynical about whether any of that comes to pass, or whether any of it is well executed, given the state of things. The Rangers have somehow taken a consistently good thing and in one season (but actually over the course of many seasons, which I’ll get to) turned it bad. How did we get here?

To explain myself a little bit before we start, in school I studied political science, with a particular focus on institutions and the way they develop. This meant looking at the big picture in most circumstances, starting at point A, and attempting to determine the dynamics that resulted in point B. Some of the principles involved in this kind of analysis are applicable to the Rangers current predicament I think, in particular the concept of layered development, and the idea of path dependence. The former basically looks at the way things are not always one coherent idea but many possibly contradictory ideas on differing time schedules stuck together into some kind of Frankenstein monster, and the latter has to do with the way that once you’ve made a decision you often foreclose other options you might have down the road.

To apply this to what’s going on with our beloved Rangers, it’s important to start somewhere at the beginning. We don’t need to quite go back to the 1920s, but why not start at the single most important event in contemporary Rangers history: the beginning of the Henrik Lundqvist era. Following the Cup win of 1994, the Rangers were unable to sustain their success for too long and fell into a bad habit of high priced free agent signings, complete with a less than stellar farm system. Things began to change however, when Henrik Lundqvist entered the picture and it became clear that the Rangers had a foundational piece around which they could build.

From there the Rangers began to develop their own talent, sort of. Risings stars who were drafted and/or developed by the Rangers included guys like Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal, but the Rangers were still spending on major free agent signings – Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. This new era mostly began around the same time; Gaborik was acquired in the 2009 offseason, new head coach John Tortorella signed in 2009 as well, Ryan Callahan played his first full season in 08-09 while Dubinsky and Staal played their first full seasons one year prior and Dan Girardi a year before that, etc. Anisimov was a little bit later than those guys, and Richards signed in 2011, but by the end of the first decade of the new millennium the Rangers had a squad on their hands.

The late aughts were also marked by the drafting of the University of Wisconsin’s star center in 2008 and the trade of Scott Gomez to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a package that included an obscure Minnesotan blueliner in 2009. These moves wouldn’t quite pay dividends for a few years, but the seeds were planted as some prior moves came to fruition.

It was around this time that the Rangers made an implicit promise to Henrik Lundqvist and the fanbase: every year the King was on the team, they would make their best effort to contend. Now, I’m not going to get into the merits or demerits of this approach, because it’s worth noting that over the course of basically a decade, speaking only for myself, I’ve had countless great playoff memories that I wouldn’t give up for the world, save a Stanley Cup. It doesn’t change the fact however, that this became a grand strategy of sorts, and it set us on a path that leads to where we are today.

As this first core of players began prosper for the Rangers in the 2012 playoffs (where a certain BC hockey star made his raucous debut, another important inflection point in our story) things would continue to change, with the most notable acquisition up to this point for the Rangers going down in the 2012 offseason. After a moderately successful but ultimately disappointing Cup run (it was a special time, but “Henrique it’s over!” still haunts me) the Rangers came to the realization that their missing piece was on the trade market, and so they sprung for Rick Nash in exchange for Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, and a 2013 first. Here for the first time we really see the floorboards being ripped up in the house of Rangers, all while the framing of the house remains. It’s also worth noting that the Rangers came out of that trade with a third round pick, which becomes important later in our tale.

This was maybe the second or third time the Rangers decided they had obtained their “missing piece” in the Henrik Lundqvist era (Gaborik and Richards being the other two), and the first time they did so via trade. There was of course an incredibly stupid lockout ruining all the fun, and following a shortened season the Rangers made an unfortunate exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Boston Bruins.  It was at this point that the Rangers management began to reevaluate their promise, and they fired Torts just four days following their elimination from the post season, opting to hire the newly available Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, who would hopefully be the other missing piece and would unlock the scoring potential of guys like Rich Nash and Chris Kreider.

I’m not going to go too much more into detail about this time period, because it’s for the most part fresh in our collective memory. I will point out though that the Rangers kept good, or attempted to keep good on their promise throughout the early days of this era, fumigating the house that Tortorella built once again with the trade of Ryan Callahan to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Martin St Louis and finding themselves just this short of a Cup. They would do this twice again in an attempt to recapture that success in the AV era with the trades for Keith Yandle (that included a young Anthony Duclair) and Eric Staal (which involved Aleksi Saarela as well as draft picks), moves that further depleted their farm system.

The St Louis trade is important however because it was a sequence that involved the trading of high draft picks – two first rounders – which would eventually help cause their dependance on undrafted free agent signings. That strategy had paid off for them in the past with the development of Dan Girardi and Mats Zuccarello into core members of the team, but the Rangers now desperately needed such a strategy to pan out as they no longer had high draft picks to fill in the gaps of an aging roster. Their last first rounder for several years, JT Miller, luckily panned out despite the coach’s best efforts, and two of their lower draft picks, Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich (he of the Rick Nash trade third rounder) becoming veritable NHLers.

Still, the choices the Rangers made earlier in this epoch forced their hand later on – the constant trading of draft picks and prospects meant they needed guys like Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey to even have a shot at remaining relevant and if Miller, Skjei and Buchnevich were busts then things really would’ve gone south by this point. Their promise to Henrik Lundqvist to remain in contention, and the way they went about attempting to fulfill that promise had begun to fold inwards on itself, with a Stanley Cup becoming less and less likely each year.

These dumb decisions forced the Rangers hand in another way: they wound up trading Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta for the 7th overall pick and Anthony DeAngelo, and given the fact that they had their own first round pick at 21 for the first time since the Miller selection, a double dip in the opening stages of the draft seemed highly appropriate. With the buying out of Dan Girardi and the signing of Kevin Shattenkirk, as well as the re-upping of Brendan Smith (another move that cost, you guessed it, draft picks) the Rangers core shifted once again, all while the coach they hired four years prior would continuously show a total lack of ability to shift with it.

This brings us to present day, where the layered development of these decisions are now obviously holding the Rangers back; unadaptive coaching, the delayed availability of DeAngelo, Andersson, and Chytil (a “rebuild on the fly” looking more just like a pedestrian rebuild), and a core that in some ways bears the marks of the heyday Rangers and in others is completely indistinguishable from those glory days has become a recipe for mediocrity.

At this point, the Rangers now have very few options, because a little less than a decade’s worth of decision making has come home to roost. Now we’re at the point of nearly a full rebuild, with the Rangers attentively listening to offers on expiring free agents Rick Nash and Michael Grabner (thank god he turned into a superstar, or else we’d really be cooked) and apparently listening to offers on Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello, two other holdovers from the sweet spot of the Rangers’ contending days. We’re in the process of watching Jeff Gorton attempting to reconstruct what was once a shining city on a hockey hill that has fallen into disrepair, building around a core that includes few high-end players (Kreider, Miller, and hopefully Buch and Skjei will be the Rangers’ stars as this third or fourth segment of the Henrik Lundqvist era carries on, but that’s about it) and even fewer bluechip prospects.

It is of course simply a reality of hockey that a team’s core shifts over time and is at any given point different colored jawbreaker layers rotting away at a team’s teeth, but what I’m trying to get at is it’s the way the Rangers have lacquered one era on top of the other that has brought us to this point. The decisions of yore have created the constraints of today, and put the Rangers management team in quite the pickle. Hell, even the brain trust is half Glen Sather and half Jeff Gorton, with seemingly no way to tell what’s what.

So again, you’ll have to excuse my cynicism at the news that the Rangers are now intent on being sellers. It could all just be smoke and mirrors to motivate guys into playing better (hard to see how Nash Grabner, or Mats Zuccarello could be playing much better though given the circumstances) but if there is any truth to it I still find it hard to be optimistic about the direction this team is headed in. For the first time in my hockey adulthood I’m not feeling so hot on this team, and as each season in the Lundqvist era passes with a decreasing likelihood of him winning a Stanley Cup it becomes harder and harder to keep that spark of carefree enjoyment alive. The Rangers have all but killed what’s fun about this team by creating a Voltron robot out of mediocre parts, and at this point I’m not so sure they can rebuild it in time for our King’s coronation.

Categories : Analysis

65 comments

  1. Emile the Cat says:

    If it wasn’t for some last minute manipulations by Neil Smith back in 1994 there would have been no Stanley Cups I my lifetime and I’ve been following this team since the days of Wyn Elliott doing channel 9 broadcasts. And it looks more and more dubious as I get even older. Sad.

    • Walt says:

      How about Tim Ryan, he was a good announcer. I’m with you as well my friend!

    • JERRY MALEY says:

      Emile…
      Did you grow up in Queens. I bet you remember the hallowed YMCA roller hockey league with The Jackson Heights Hawks, Astoria Pirates,Astoria Seagulls, and Sunnyside Royals, Teams from Bay ridge and Chelsea..GOOD HOCKEY GOOD STUFF
      Sorry if I’ve gone off topic here.

      • Emile the Cat says:

        Grew up in Jersey, took many bus rides to the Port Authority. Lol

      • Mintgecko says:

        Man anytime I would go down to NYC and specifically Queens, there was zero action to do with hockey. It was absolutely torture as a kid who grew up with the sport being in my back yard.

        • JERRY MALEY says:

          It was ONLY in Northwest Queens, Bayridge (think it still is)and surprisingly, Chelsea, Manhattan. We had three levels of Jackson Heights Hawks….Seniors, Jr and Pee Wee who skated vs the other teams. Even though it was roller hockey, it was extremely well organized and there were some terrific players. We played everyday after school right thru High School. I continued to play every Sunday in pick up games at Eisenhower Park every Sunday. Excellent rink was there by lot 4 if I recall. We graduated to Polyurethane wheels making it much faster.
          Here is my two cents on my beloved Rangers….Get what we can for Nash (I adore his game), Grabs and even Zuc…Go after John T from Brooklyn. There is NO WAY, it seems, that he wants what is coming with the mess the Islanders have going on for the next three years at the very PRIME of his career.. Read today’s NY Post on the fishsticks. What a mess!!!

          • Brendan says:

            I played high school ice hockey in the late 90s… every week we had practice in Flushing. The rink is gone now, but it used to be European size!!! It was so out of place, but we loved it. I think they build a new regular size rink around the same area of the Worlds Fair.

    • Bloomer says:

      The Rangers traded away Doug Weight and Tony Amonte for their one Stanley Cup. Then Zubov and Kovalev to take another shot at it. Keeping all 4 fours of these highly talented players would of made the Rangers legitimate contenders for a generation. Instead they went into suck mode for over a decade.

      • Chris.C says:

        Those’s was some years to watch them boys play however.. Bloomer.

      • Leetchie Nut says:

        Keeping Weight means no Tikkanen…XXXXX….keeping Amonte means no Noonan or Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!…XXXXX!

    • upstatetom says:

      wow a lot of old timers around !!!

  2. wwpd says:

    Great writeup, Pat.

    If Larry Brooks says he knows from inside sources that the head office is ready to blow it up, then I’m skeptical, because that guy has not a shred of credibility.

    At risk of being repetitive, agreed though it’s time for rangers to change the hard way, and realize (three years too late, that probably set them back 4 or 5 years of progress) there is no easy fix.

    That said, I’m also skeptical they can pull it off. NYR front office has never been the head of the class, and with Sather still lurking around, there’s every chance they will bungle such a massive transition. Remember, Edmonton and Toronto both were out of the playoffs for 10-12 years drafting high to get were they are today, and had to rely on waiting it out to pick up franchise-altering generational players to really turn their fortunes around.

    So fingers crossed here, and LGR!

    • Gary says:

      Best case: Gorton and by extension, Dolan use Larry to soften the blow for the non-die hard casual fans. PR. It’s not Larry dealing with Sather and his old school methods.

      Larry sounded to me like he’s firm in what he’s been given. Of course, he and the Post could just be harvesting eyeballs, but being the eternal optimist (lol) I am going to be in the ‘Larry knows something’ camp.

      Let the house cleaning begin. Gorton is a smart enough hockey man to know that a bunch of 28-33 year olds (much though we fans may like/love them) have had their chance and the league as caught up and skated by us. I hope that Larry is part of a well done PR campaign.

      Really, people think Gorton was illogical in trading Stepan last summer and not replacing him. I think he is actually just patient, not giving up assets to plug the obvious hole at Center for this season. He drafted one of 2 Cs that may make the team next year using Stepan as capital!

      People talk about thinking long-term but when it comes down to it many don’t have the patience to see and appreciate what is going on. It’s either that or I am full of $hit and it’s the same old Rangers. So I prefer to go with the ‘rebuild already in process’ theme.

      • HARLEMBLUES says:

        Gary I really like what you said about not forcing a trade for Stepan’s Replacement or a 3C. It seems to me with this last draft Gorton has been given full reign to rebuild. I think he’s up to the challenge see the Stepan trade. This should’ve been done several years ago but here we are.

        Trade McD because he has high value and should return a young stud and a first and second round picks. I love Zuccarello but I love the sweater more trade him. He should return a young player and a 3 or a 2 and 3. There’s high value. Nash gets a 1 and 3 or young skilled talent and a pick. Grabner nets big returns. If Groton plays this smart the Rangers rebuild with be filled with high picks and skilled young players.

        I will say it again think NY Yankees who wisely changed their approach. There’s talent coming it’s few but it’s coming. In goal the Russian kid big time. Graves should be a solid third pair defenseman. Sean Day top pair if not second. Two guys not talked about much Ronning and Gettinger are progressing nicely. With the young core we have and the right moves made the near future could look amazing. Oh yeah Holden has good value. One cup in over 75 plus now that’s patience.

        • Walt says:

          Harlem

          Agree with your post, but there is a major problem, you ask for patiences?????? With the instant gratification crowd, they can’t wait till next week, let along next year!!!

    • Mintgecko says:

      The issue that the fanbase is full of anxiety thinking the rumors are either false or true. All I’m reading is that If it’s true then we must be prepared for tons of draft picks and a couple dark ages and Hanks time in NY is up. In reality I see it as JG having a fat paycheck and good investments from prior years to work with and endless directions to where this teams identity could go for the next 5 or 6 years. I believe there was word that JG got the okay to blow it up since the core is already there. You don’t find the coincidence of Hayes coming back strong as ever and obviously the club is high on him and JT having a bounce back game? That along with guys like Buch and Skjei is what JG had to sell to Sather who also had to sell it to Dolan and then the word spreads from there. Brooks is just a rodent who gets alot of credit for being a face that reports the “news”

      Imagine you’re in a virtual GM world for a NYC sports team and you get the okay to flip DD, Nash, Holden, Grabner, Zucc, Mcd and maybe Vesey? I’m not trying to overrate those names but even with a deep draft I could see JG picking more NHL ready type names who are under the age of 26. We need quality role players so expect that in a package coming back. If the deal is there then maybe Mcd gets included with Nash and Vesey for Klefbom and Nurse. Three way deal for Evander Kane might happen from what I read. Anything is possible but thinking JG will stock up on 1st and 2nd round draft picks while this team burns off a year of a engage Hank will shell shock some fans after they get a true sense in the new direction. The idea had to be that this core is it so that’s why JG gets to retool even more with them on the fly. They probably got wind that Kovy will ditch the KHL and will come over to play with Hayes or something next season. I wouldn’t mind flipping Zucc like Brass was and getting back a winger for JT and Hayes to play with.

      • Mancunian Candidate says:

        Will you shut up about Hayes already? Every single post you make talks about him like he’s Crosby and McDavid rolled into one player. Here’s a news flash—Hayes sucks. He’s soft, slow, dispassionate, passes too much, and has a poor hockey IQ. He has 20 points in 44 games this year, and a mere 32 points in the last 80 regular season games he’s played for NYR. He’s the living embodiment of NHL mediocrity. And guess what? As crappy as he is, he’s still gonna get a raise for his next contract. Let it be with another team, soon enough he’s gonna join his brother Jimmy on a barstool in Boston and never get up.

  3. Walt says:

    Pat

    Thanks for the history lesson. Once again we see a theme develop that has haunted this organization for as long as I have followed them. Instant gratification, at the cost of the future.

    All the draft picks given away for old farts, retreads who never could bring their former teams to the promised land, what made anyone believe that they can do it here? We have suffered at the drafts, for a period of time we didn’t have a #1 for four years in a row, and look where it got us. How many potential kids could we have gotten in exchange for those picks. Where would this team be without Skjei, Miller, Kreider, even Staal at one time, all drafted by us?

    If we are smart, and that’s a big if, we trade for as many #1, #2 picks we can get, and build the team from the ground up. Just look at the two kids we drafted this year, Chytil, and Andersson, and what promise they hold for us in the future. This upcoming draft seems very sound, and we can pick up some quality kids to develop along with some of our future studs, including the Day kid.

    The last key to future success is getting an entire new coaching staff, excluding Aliere. Get a coach who is a teacher, patient with kids, and flexible as a contortionist. We have a stiff, rigid thinking coach, whom I think can’t, and or won’t work with anyone unless they have 40 years experience under their belt, to play for him. His consistent mind games with the likes of Miller, Buch, Smith, while playing stiffs like Holden, and Kemper just boggles my mind.

    Excuse my cynicism as well, because I doubt Dolan will let the GM do the right thing, but I sure hope he does!!!!

    • Mintgecko says:

      That’s not fair to say now because Stepan was a young center who brought the Rangers to the promise lands in 2014. Unfortunately other teams didn’t see it like that so we ended up taking the Yotes 3rd or 4th best D prospect and had to add Raanta for the 1st round pick but still he was a young center who played in the Finals a NYR lol.

      • Walt says:

        Mint

        You and I agree on a lot of things, but unless you’re being sarcastic about Stepan, we are 180 degrees apart. The pussy smells, and not you, nor anyone else can change my mind!!! The boy can’t skate, slow as a constipated mule, won’t get in the dirty areas, soft as jello, show me any redeeming value with that Daisy, you can’t!

  4. Spozo says:

    Personally I think the greatest blunder was the failed fire sale before the lockout in 2004. They completely gutted the team and weren’t able to get any stud youngsters out of the deal. Hell, Brian Leetch’s trade return is highlighted by a 1st round pick that turned in to Lauri Korpikoski! Talk about trading the greatest Ranger ever for a glorified 3rd line checking winger!!!!! They got lucky with Lundqvist by drafting the greatest goalie of the last 15 years in like the 27th round. By having him on the team it pretty much guaranteed this team was never drafting again in the top 15 overall so they added firepower the only way they could, by free agency’s and trades.

    As you said, the last 10 years have been really fun. My personal highlight was being at the Garden for MSL’s OT winner in the playoffs. But they fell short of the Cup. Now we are left with an incredibly flawed roster and an aging generational goalie. Let’s hope they can turn it around and that the upcoming fire sale gets us some stud young talent.

    • Richter1994 says:

      Actually, I have to disagree.

      The cap was implemented, partly, to drive a dagger into the Ranger organization. Why? Because Bettman is a Napoleanic troll and has vendettas against people and teams. Why the Rangers?

      #1 Bettman came in 1994, the year the Rangers won the Cup. Not too long after that, the Rangers started their “spending sprees” on FAs, including the infamous “offer sheet” to Joe Sakic that the Avs matched along with a big “FU” to the Rangers. Because of the Rangers, players’ salaries started going way up. The cap was implemented during the 2004 lockout.

      #2 I do not remember the year, but it was around 2005 where the Rangers sued Bettman and the league because they wanted to their NHL marketing “their way.” Bettman being the psycho that he is wants all the NHL teams to do things exactly the same way.

      #3 Bettman’s goal for the league is complete parity. The Rangers, being who they are, always try to throw their extra weight around to gain advantages that other small market teams may not have.

      Proof of all this? The last lockout, the talks were right here in NYC, and James Dolan was not permitted in the negotiating room, while Bettman’s buddies from Boston and Philly were front and center there.

      So, the Rangers did what Bettman never thought they would do: Get rid of everyone and start all over. The result? If you look at regular season only, the Rangers have to be near the top of the league in wins from 2005 to 2017. Now, we all know it’s Henrik but it’s still a result that Bettman never expected.

      So, I disagree.

      The real mistakes? Getting rid of Stralman and Hagelin and keeping stiffs that can’t keep up on the ice. That’s where the mistakes are. And of course, I won’t say it.

      • Spozo says:

        My point is that they emerged from their only true fire sale in team history as a team led by a 30 something Jagr, Marty Straka, a flash in the pan rookie in Prucha, and the dumb luck pick of Hank in net. They sold every asset on the team for draft picks and prospects to only build a team around mediocre home grown talent, rejuvenated veterans, and Lundqvist. They never developed a core with elite players. Lundqvist single handedly kept them at least a playoff team for long enough to not draft in the better half of the first round. So they did their best finding “pretty good” talent in later rounds. The only way to get a Marion Gaborik or Rick Nash, i.e. 40 goal scorer was through free agency or trades.

        Let’s look at the two best Rangers post 2004 lockout. Lundqvist and Mcdonagh. Hank was a dumb luck draft pick and Mcdonagh was a product of a moronic trade with Montreal.

        My point is they blew the fire sale, got lucky with drafting Hank and this kept them a “pretty good” team long enough to a) think they were close enough to a cup to “go for it” and b) kept them drafting in a position that didn’t give them access to elite top 10 talent.

        So in my opinion in the grand scheme of what this team has accomplished in the last decade and where they are now, it all stems from that failed fire sale before the lockout.

        • Richter1994 says:

          Good, valid points. No argument.

          Sather still firmly in charge at that time, with his out dated thinking.

          Where I disagree is that you’re saying that they don’t have a Cup now because of that fire sale failure, and I do not believe that to be true.

          Take the 2013-14 team, keep Stralman and Hagelin, jettison G and Staal, and fill in with competent players, and they could have won a Cup.

          Instead, they went with stiffs and the team went backwards. It has zero to do with 2004. We can’t pin 2017 failures to 2004, IMO. Vegas is in their first year of existence and have a better chance of winning the Cup sooner than the Rangers at this point.

          Eagles went from stiffs to SB participant in one year. With salary caps, team fortunes, both good and bad, change quickly.

          If the Rangers are going to do this fire sale the right way, then the people who put them in this mess cannot be the ones to try and fix it. That would be the first step of doing what you and I want them to do: Make this count.

          • Blueshirt in Paris says:

            I see what you both are saying and both are right. I always thought Hags and Stralman were critical errors.

            And spot on about Betman and how it was an active move to stop the Rangers from “buying” the cup.

            Not to be forgotten in all of this is the period of draft busts.

            But that is the point of the article, showing how everything folds onto itself and how we got to where we are. I dont think the question now is what the Rangers should do, its are they going to do it and if they do it, will it be well executed?

            • Richter1994 says:

              Hey pal, hope all is well.

              Spozo is correctly pointing out that while “blowing it up” is all well and good, they have to execute that plan the right way or it’s all meaningless and a total waste that could set the franchise back years.

              • Blueshirt in Paris says:

                Hanging in there….you?

                Oh yeah, make no doubt this is a critical time. Past performance tells us it won’t be handled very well.

      • Walt says:

        Richter

        You mentioned the very people that disgust me the most in the NHL, Buttman, Jacobs in Boston, and the biggest ass Snyder in Filthadelphia! Those two tight wods are the reason for the cap era in the first place, and forced the lock out to take place. Great post my friend!!!!

        • Richter1994 says:

          I hate Bettman more than I can describe in print. He’s a success in spite of himself. He has a great product and it could be even better with any kind of leadership from him.

          Hockey to Bettman is the same as Henrik to the Rangers. One drives (the first one) the success of the other.

  5. Peter says:

    Pat, thank you for a thorough and well written history if the club.

    However, I do not see a pall hanging over the club. Rather, I see an opportunity for them to make bold moves that will make the team a contender for years to come. Sure, I am an optimist. I have a high regard for Mr. Gorton. If he has actually been given the authority to make trades to bring in young talent and draft picks, then I am hopeful for the future.

    The club has been stuck at a level of talent that is not quite good enough to win it all. Now that injuries have seemingly forced their hand, it is time to go for it and build a team that will be exciting and truly competitive in the future. Us fans have been fooled by the teams they have fielded the last few years. Aside for the club that made the finals, none really had the pieces to bring a cup. It is time now to get on with it and finish the rebuild so they may bring a cup in the next few years. 1994 is a long time ago.

  6. lv says:

    Look, some bad trades led to lower round draft picks, especially getting Eric Staal and Yandle. We could have had a few 1st and 2nd round picks plus kept Duclair and we would have been in much better shape. We got screwed by trading Stepan on the value received. It was a salary dump because we overpaid other guys. We could have avoided that by trading Nash 2 years ago. We still have some talent but wasted Lundquist years with questionable moves. AV not the right coach for sure. If players like Miller get sent to the bench then either they are not personally motivated or the coach can’t motivate. Changes needed. Trade every player who is not giving 100% every game whether we are in first place or last and look for a coach who can light a fire but less abusive than Torts.

    • Mintgecko says:

      You theory doesn’t hold up about it being on the coach. I know most on here started a bandwagon that was meant to think that the player’s were turning on AV but this season we have seen everything but that! I hate it when AV has those moments when he looks like a genus by putting Vesey or Fast on the top line and they pull through with a victory. Then the new lines always being the front center to that circus train. That along with a game like JT had tells me a different tune was being sung on the bench. Go read JT’s post game interview, he was basically giving his coach credit for needing that wake up call. He did the same to Hayes and look at how he returned. I know some will use the defense that they have to play that game to earn ice time or imo my that AV’s a hypnotist but either way when you get results like that then don’t be to shocked when AV gets another extension. JG/Sather might like that kind of teacher/hard love. I have inside info from a experience with my ex and a NYR getting drunk with her in the offseason and let me tell you it’s a mutual respect with him and the team.

  7. Stuyvesant says:

    Most of the teams that win championships building around one franchise player usually win that championship within the first few years. The Rangers had that chance when they lost to the Kings. Lundquist deserves better and the Rangers would never have been close or made the playoffs without him these years… notdoubt…but some of our other players and the fans deserve better as well..I feel its “we have to win the cup for Henrik…we have to contend for Henrik”…I love the guy but he makes almost $ 9 million..some people have followed the NYR, paid for seats, suffered as fans for 30 plus years..Its not all about him. Dont get me wrong…I feel for the guy…but I think the Rangers relied to a fault on Henrik all these years-he has performed greatly but cant do it himself…and its played itself out now…

    • Leetchie Nut says:

      Nash scores more than a whopping 3 goals all spring, Hank carries his elusive Cup. Done.

  8. Al Dugan says:

    First, to Pat, the author, it’s not a history of the club, but a history of your lifetime as a Ranger fan.

    The history of the club is littered with trades that devasted the fanbase. The sweaters that hang from the rafters som’t have many who ended Their careers as Rangers.

    I cannot imagine what this site would have been like back in the day when they traded the original Hank, number one, Eddie Eddie Eddie!

    And I can safely say, that trading Brad Park and Jean Ratelle for Espo would have lit this site up like nothing else. And then, NYR compounded that by trading Middleton for Ken Hodge. Look that one up kiddies.

    And it probably would have been great if Sergei Zubov played a thousand more games for the Rangers instead of with PIT and DAL.

    Suffice it to say, I have seen this movie before. It has only ended happy once in my now long life. But, I still want to watch the movie over and over.

    • Pat says:

      Since you decided to address the first part of your comment to me, the author, I feel it necessary to respond. Nowhere in my post (unless you care to cite something that simply isn’t there, which I’d be excited to watch happen) did I claim that this was a history of the club. Quite the opposite in fact – early on in the piece I stated “We don’t need to quite go back to the 1920s, but why not start at the single most important event in contemporary Rangers history: the beginning of the Henrik Lundqvist era.” Implicit throughout the post is that this club has had many subdivisions in its long history, and I delineate a few of them on a micro level. I also explicitly use the phrase “my Rangers adulthood”, indicating that I know, as you were so kind to explain to me, that it is indeed not a history of the club, but a history of my lifetime as a Ranger fan.

      I don’t mean to get testy, and I apologize for the edge in this reply, but I have a particular problem with people putting words in my mouth and the notion that I was somehow lacking in self-awareness or perspective when writing this post.

      As to your other points, the implication that this site would’ve been overly dramatic (“I cannot imagine what this site would have been like…”) and the overall condescension (“Look that one up kiddies”) are simply unnecessary. Thanks for reading.

      • wwpd says:

        Right on.

      • Mintgecko says:

        If you really wanted to show up then you would get rid of the political voting bs. There was a time period where you disabled it last year but I guess since you have your certain regular’s on here it doesn’t make much sense to get rid of it (cough, cough)

    • Dave says:

      Al – you seem to lament about Zubov. But how do you feel about Messier? Did you know he was the one that requested Zubov be traded?

      How about you not be condescending to the authors here. Yes, we are younger than you. It doesn’t make any of us less of a fan than you.

      We have all experienced pain as a result of being Rangers fans. I can assure you of that. And as younger fans, I can assure you we know of the history of the team.

      Would you like it if we classified all older Rangers fans as stubborn and unable to adjust to the evolution of the game? Probably not.

      This wasn’t a post about the history of the club from when you were born. It was a post about how the Rangers wound up where they are today when they realized they had a generational talent in net. It would be great if you recognized that.

      • John B says:

        “Al – you seem to lament about Zubov. But how do you feel about Messier? Did you know he was the one that requested Zubov be traded?”

        Exactly Dave. People who say that he’d be the best coach for the Rangers forget that his fingerprints were all over many disastrous moves made by the NY Rangers, Zubov, Kovalev, Nedved…acquiring McSorely, Churla and Kurri, his insistence to be the 1st line center when he was 40 over younger Rangers, etc.

        People need to remember that. He might be a great person off the ice, he might have been a great Ranger in 94, but he was a large part of spiraling the franchise into the dark ages.

  9. Leatherneck says:

    No sense in looking back, I think the fall started as stated by Nash trade however the nail in the coffin was the St Louis trade and not trading Stralman and Boyle et al.
    Let’s face it….we are what we are which is nothing. So time for a massive change and do everything possible to fall into the Dahlin sweepstakes.

    The culture has to change and this also means parting ways with Lundqvist. This failed promises to Lundqvist stuff needs to be shelved

    Time now to look forward. Best rebuild is home grown talent, not free agent acquisitions

    • Bloomer says:

      The more moves the Rangers management made (trading future draft picks) in order to win the Cup during the Lundqvist (window) the further away they got.

      Castaways Callahan, Stralman and Girardi will likely sip out Lord Stanleys Cup while Henk and AV are fishing on the lake. New York has a long history of trading away their future for wash up veterans. It has never panned out before and never will.

      • wwpd says:

        Only one on that list at sound have kept was stralman though. Cally and G are just lucky to be on a team whose top 6 skaters right now are probably better than all but 1 or 2 rangers.

        • Odielishous says:

          There is no luck in them sipping out of the cup. Yzerman was one hell of a player and is one hell of a GM. He knows better then any one in the Rangers organization what it takes to win a cup in today’s NHL. Sather is riding his triumphs of yester year all the way to the grave with this franchise. How hard it is to ride the coat tails of the Great Edmonton Oiler’s teams of the 80’s. But this same man traded THE GREATEST PLAYER IN NHL HISTORY! And got nothing for him.
          Ask the Bergervin how well he feels about the Drouin trade today?(Remember that deal is between 2 division rivals) Ask Sather how he feels about the Callahan deal today or how much he would like Stralman back.

          • wwpd says:

            I wouldn’t want Cally for this year or the next 2 years at almost $6M a year and the NMC only makes it worse. the only thing regrettable about that trade is the draft picks we sent over with him. trading a guy like that before he cashes in with an overblown contract is exactly the right thing to do. I loved him as a ranger in his prime but $6M for his 2 goals this year? I say TB is winning in spite of that contract not because of it!

    • wwpd says:

      Rangers won’t get a sniff of the top three choices in the 2018 draft, unless there’s a Stanley Cup Contender that also controls some other team’s lottery choice I’m forgetting about. I don’t recall the coyotes Sabres or senators trading away their first-rounders recently.

      • HARLEMBLUES says:

        If the Rangers make smart deals they can come away with a number of first round picks. Which along with their can possibly net them the top pick or 2/3. You accumulate assets picks and players and then move assets for better assets. Always staying young, fast, skilled with edge and a eye on the future. All Cup winners foundation is built thru the draft.

        • wwpd says:

          it would be nice but everybody knows what’s at stake in the very high draft slots this year and it will be shocking to see those picks trade hands. I think rangers are playing a numbers game this year hoping to stockpile enough mid-round picks that hopefully a couple of them pan out above expectations.

    • Dave says:

      Usually I agree with not looking back and finding a good path forward. However in this case, with the way the 2004 fire sale wound up and how some of the recent “sell” trades (Stepan, Hagelin) have turned out, learning from past mistakes is important.

      • Leatherneck says:

        I totally agree with your sentiments Dave. Repeating the same mistake is insanity. I don’t see this situation being the same as you can as the management hit full stop and begin the process anew.

        This time the rebuild should have a tenure….(If I was GM 5 years) with a goal of drafting 3 times in the top 5.

        Sign free agents that you can trade at the deadline, not as building blocks but asset management, In this period you are looking for 6 top 9 players, a 4th line identity and development of 7 D.

        Defenseman should not be looked at as #1 etc types but as 3 D pairings that compliment one another. {1 puck mover and 1 crease clearing D man per pairing}

        Goalies we have to replace Lundqvist it’s the back up that is going to be 1B.

        Get the team to play as a unit

        Coach who will be tough but fair
        A Coaches who will identify the PP units and PK units

        A farm team that coaches the parent club system.

        They key to this all is drafting the players with the attitude of the team in mind and buy into it. Team comes first and if you perform you get rewarded.

        I want a team that if they are down 5-0 they don’t stop hustling or up 3-0 they don’t hit the breaks. They will protect each other, weed out malcontents within the roster and play for each other.

        This can be done, it takes a system from top down to create it.

        Let’s begin calling the Rangers a team, not this Lundqvists team bullshit. We are the NY Rangers not Lundqvists Rangers

      • Odielishous says:

        Greatest compliment a person can get is having someone copy him. Thanks dave!
        It is like you guys recycle my ideas and reword them to sound better. And then pass them off as your own…I figured it out dave…. you really are Larry Brooks! LOL

      • Blueshirt in Paris says:

        Yes, they were mistakes (hags, stral) but they took the risk of keeping players too long in hope that they would deliver in Henriks prime. The further you get away from his prime, the sooner you need to trade assets. Otherwise, you are at the mercy of the current market + a bad trade and it compounds.

  10. Richter1994 says:

    If the Rangers are truly going through a fire sale then the Rangers also need fresh new thinking as to the players that #1 they are going to bring back in trade and #2 picking the right players with the draft picks they are going to accumulate from these trades.

    That’s why the coach has to go and so does Sather. They both have to be out of the rebuilding process completely. I have faith in Gorton, Drury, Leetch, etc. to do the right thing here.

    • Odielishous says:

      it will never happen. It didn’t happen when Sather had these insane contracts for aging players that never made the playoffs and in the modern decade just look at the b. richards, w. redden, and giardi deals. Non of these players are bad just at the contracts sather gave them it was horrible.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Lots of “chatter” on a potential fire sale, so we can only hope that it will happen.

  11. roadrider says:

    So if the “implicit promise to Ludqvist and the fan base” to contend every year is what “set us on a path that leads to where we are today” why is there so much hand-wringing on this blog by both writers and commenters about “wasting Lundqvists’s prime” and about him ending his career without winning a Cup?

    Periodic tear-downs would likely result in years of non-contention and also “waste” years of Lundqvist’s prime without any sort of guarantee of success. I can’t blame the Rangers for trying to be perennial contenders. When you have a player like Lundqvist you either choose to build around him or trade him to improve the overall roster before the financial commitment gets too large. And if they had done the latter every Ranger blog in existence would have imploded with rants about how they didn’t get a good enough return and how it was an organizational disaster.

    The only “shining city on a hockey hill” in recent Rangers’ history is the 1994 team. The 2012-2015 period is more a saga of an overachieving group of skaters and a generational goalie. And I don’t think Gorton is trying to rebuild that. Why would he? He’s probably just trying to work within the constraints of prior commitments, the salary cap, the expectations of MSG management and the fan base.

    Everyone loves to scream about cap hits for guys who aren’t worth it and “playing the kids” but when a veteran headed for a big salary and a NMC is traded for a top-ten draft choice that nets a very promising young player and a prospect (OK, an aging prospect with a troubled history) that’s a future-oriented move centered on young players that might not pay off for a season or two. Yes, the Stepan trade left the Rangers without center depth and Gorton can be criticized (as I have done myself) for not having a good enough temporary plan. But one can argue that he did exactly what you want – why do you claim that this was a bad move that Gorton was forced into?

    You can either prioritize the future or the present but not both. If you want the Rangers to rebuild then accept what goes along with it.

    • Odielishous says:

      So true. People on here are a very fical bunch. Most people are only interested in their own point of view and if you differ from it then they won’t like it. GO HANK! !!!!

      I just don’t see the Stepan trade as enough of a move toward a rebuild. Draft picks are nice and might pan out but you had a know quantity in him and you took a pick and a problem child and then signed an overrated defensemen to 6m for 4yrs. Why take the problem child and if the problem child came first then why take the 6mil defenseman? Stick to your guns and deal with the problem child and use fill in’s like Kampfner til he is ready. Don’t sign away another 6 mil you didn’t have to begin with or could be used to sign RFA’s like miller and hayes and vesey and skjei.

      I said it when that deal went down that this trade was totally about punishing stepan for dogging it and telling hank to calm down that series against ott. No matter what anyone says Ottawa had no business beating us and yet they took the penguins to game 7.

      Why arizona as the trade partner? Why not any other franchise with a high pick? I mean no one but Sather and Gorton really know why they did it but no mater how I look at that trade it makes no sense.

  12. avsucks says:

    i hope they read this site, sell wisely, go young and get a coach
    with the initials MM he brought us one cup he can get us another.

  13. tanto says:

    We’re still dealing with issues stemming from Sather’s last ditch effort to get us a Cup. I don’t blame Gorton, although he inherited a pretty good team with a pretty good coach the decline was inevitable.

    I don’t see the point of a total rebuild and/or blowing this team up. Fire the coach and breath new life into a solid club, move the UFAs that will cost too much and continue drafting — build on what looks like a good draft last year. Tackle the blowing up issue next year when McD’s contract comes up.

  14. CTfan says:

    I agree with the entire article, but it could be summed up in one sentence. AV is clueless and Gorton is Sather’s stooge.