Author Archive

Jun
07

Listening to the Ghosts of Rebuilds Past

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The last decade-plus of Rangers hockey has been characterized by stability and relative success.  As summer approaches, the possibilities and paths forward for the franchise are seemingly endless.  Oodles of cap space and a bevy of draft picks mean that basically anything is on the table.

While it can be fun to discuss the minutiae of roster construction and team management, it’s also important to look at the big picture.  The front office and new head coach have spoken in generic terms about youth, development, playing style and team culture, but those are all just ideas.  What’s most important is to take those words and turn them into actions.  In many ways, the Rangers really are starting from scratch.

What’s encouraging is that this franchise has been here before, and it wasn’t all that long ago. Those past experiences may provide a blueprint the team can follow as it begins to write the next chapter of New York Rangers history.  I’m referring specifically to the 2005-06 Rangers, who were tabbed by most experts to finish last in the NHL.  Instead, they surprised the entire hockey world by nearly winning the Atlantic Division, and recaptured the hearts and minds of the city by playing scrappy, entertaining and fun hockey.  In a single season, the culture was completely transformed, and the stage was set for the forthcoming decade of success.

Yes, the circumstances are different, but the Rangers may be able to mimic some of what their 2005 forbears did and establish a new culture and identity upon which to build.  Read More→

Categories : Musings, Offseason
Comments (50)
Jun
02

Why Can’t We Just Enjoy Hockey?

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I’m about to lead this post with the understatement of the century: Twitter can be an interesting place.  I use the word interesting deliberately, because the platform can be, on a literal tweet-by-tweet basis, equal parts hilarious and infuriating.  As an avid sports fan, sometime blogger and someone who’s employed by an independent sports media business, being on the platform is essential, if not addictive.

One of the best aspects of Twitter is how it actually forms communities of like-minded people and provides them a platform to discuss their interests. During massive events – such as the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals – that discussion often turns to quips, quips transform into memes, and much hilarity ensues.

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Categories : Around the League, Rants
Comments (25)
May
26

Can David Quinn Fix Brendan Smith?

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Hey, remember Brendan Smith? All-around solid defenseman, slated to be on their second pair last year, a potentially perfect partner for Kevin Shattenkirk? Yeah, that guy.

The Rangers acquired Smith in a trade from Detroit at the deadline two seasons ago, and he helped them reach the second round of the playoffs. Despite a rough game six against Ottawa (perhaps a portent of things to come), Smith’s play down the stretch was a revelation. He was the embodiment of the modern “stay-at-home” defenseman; he played a reliable defensive game with an edge, but also moved the puck efficiently and chipped in on offense (seen here):

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Categories : Analysis, Offseason, Players
Comments (32)
May
17

A Quick Word on Coaches

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Three of the four coaches still in the playoffs, and Peter Laviolette.

It has been an interesting spring for Rangers fans who have in recent years become accustomed to the hockey season lasting until around Memorial Day Weekend (and sometimes beyond).  Instead, the Blueshirts are at work off the ice, planning a rebuild that will hopefully serve as the foundation for another decade-plus of sustained playoff success and contention (and hopefully, the ultimate prize).

Yet it feels as though that process can’t really begin until one massive blank is filled in: the Head Coach.  But what if I told you that it doesn’t really matter who’s behind the bench on opening night come October?  Allow me to explain.

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Categories : Coaching, Musings, Offseason
Comments (74)

Let’s put aside for just a moment that John Tavares is a New York Islander and that, historically, Islanders who become free agents rarely choose to sign with the Rangers. Let’s pretend that the Rangers actually have a chance at signing him, free of all the potential obstacles and baggage that would come with such a move.  Should they do it?  Jeff Gorton has the unenviable task of rebuilding the Rangers and his answer to this question may very well define his tenure as General Manager.

There are good arguments on both sides of this debate.  Tavares was the first overall pick in the 2009 Draft.  He will be 28 when next season starts.  His pedigree and career statistics (272-349-621 in 669 games; 2.89 all situations P/60 over the last five seasons, which compares favorably to Steven Stamkos) speak for themselves.  In a word, Tavares is elite.  The Rangers have not had a player like him on their roster since Jaromir Jagr, and haven’t had a center with Tavares’ ability since Mark Messier.

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Categories : Offseason
Comments (72)

With the dust settling on Saturday’s lottery, the long wait for the 2018 NHL Draft drags on. As Dave and Pat have noted, the ninth overall pick that the Rangers possess is by no means a death knell.  Trading up is a possibility, but conventional wisdom holds that unless Jeff Gorton can maneuver into the top three, it’s better to hang onto the pick and see if some classic #HockeyMan folly results in a very good player falling into the Rangers’ laps. Being an optimist, I’d be fine with this strategy.

However, there’s a counterargument, which in my mind starts starts here, with a tweet from noted smart Rangers fan and friend to the blog @HockeyStatMiner:

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Comments (35)

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Last night, Rangers fans were treated to the final “It’s a power play goal!” call by Sam Rosen of the season, as the MSG broadcast signed off for 2017-18.  Game 82 on Saturday in Philadelphia will be broadcast by NBC.  Even though this season’s fate was sealed long ago, and no one will miss this particular version of the Rangers, the end of a hockey season is always a tad upsetting.

The Rangers couldn’t muster much against the Islanders and were swept by their intra-city rivals this season (0-3-1, -10 GD).  The Rangers have now failed to win at Barclays Center since the Islanders moved there three seasons ago (0-5-1).

Kevin Hayes scored in the first period on the power play, but that was pretty much it.  Filip Chytil had some noticeable moments, in particular when he set up Paul Carey for a golden opportunity in the second period, but Carey’s shot was stopped by Jaroslav Halak.

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Categories : Game Wrap-ups
Comments (14)

Pictured: Third line scoring winger Cody McLeod!

The Rangers continued playing out the string last night, losing to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. The game was an entertaining affair, and featured strong performances from Jesper Fast, Alexandar Georgiev and Chris Kreider. The Blueshirts put forth a solid effort, but lost due to the lack of talent and depth that playoff teams like the Flyers boast. It was a game very much in line with what we’ve seen from the Rangers over the last few weeks, and likely what we’ll continue to see as the season winds down.

But if you came here expecting a full game recap, I’m sorry to disappoint. Instead, I’d like to talk about Cody McLeod and Vladislav Namestnikov.

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Categories : Analysis, Game Wrap-ups
Comments (73)
Mar
17

Alain Vigneault Still Looms

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Being a Rangers fan over the last few weeks has proven to be a strange existence. A lot of what we’re experiencing has the feel of Seinfeld’s Bizarro World: scoreboard-watching for repercussions on the draft lottery (as opposed to the playoffs), knowing that wins – while often fun – are not the best medicine, and still getting strangely upset at the Blueshirts’ glaring deficiencies while knowing that they’re an objectively bad team at present.

One key thing that remains is the presence of Alain Vigneault.  Indeed, there has been a lot more speculation about AV’s future than one would expect given the situation the organization is in.  A lot of people have pointed to Jeff Gorton’s non-committal comments last month as a sure sign that Vigneault would be fired at season’s end, but other than that, there seems to be a somewhat strong possibility that he may stay.  As Bob McKenzie noted on Wednesday night on NBCSN, the coach’s contract runs through the 2019-20 season at an estimated $4 million per year.  The Rangers would likely have to fork over a lot of that cash up front if they were to let him go.

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Comments (19)

Yesterday, Dave touched upon the necessity of continuing the tear down until it is full and complete.  That involves, first and foremost, firing Alain Vigneault and installing a head coach whose strength is developing young players.  It also requires patience from management to stick with that coach through some rough patches.

But hockey is ultimately about the players.  The Rangers have fallen short in the Henrik Lundqvist era because they never had a truly elite skater (or two) to build around. With a glut of draft picks this summer and beyond, the Rangers have significantly increased their chances of landing that player (or players).

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Categories : Musings
Comments (144)