The Rangers brain trust.

Larry Brooks did what Larry Brooks does earlier this week, when he penned a State of the Rangers column in the New York Post.  Brooks took a fair approach to examining the team, but towards the end of the piece, he wrote the following in regards to the Rangers potentially trading Ryan McDonagh:

“If Gorton could create a bidding war between the clubs that appear the East’s elite, perhaps the Rangers could come back with Mitch Marner from Toronto or perhaps Mikhail Sergachev from Tampa Bay in exchange for the player [McDonagh] who for a half-decade has been the Rangers’ most important athlete other than Lundqvist and who still would have another year and another playoff remaining on his contract.”

As expected, this touched off a firestorm on #RangersTwitter, and the takes began to fly.  Team Sell-Everyone and Team Go-For-It-While-You-Still-Have-Hank formed quickly.  Of course, Brooks knew this would happen, which is why he included buzzy names like Marner and Sergachev.  It’s what makes him a successful columnist, but also what drives the collective Rangers fan-base crazy.

The point of this post isn’t to decry the current state of the Rangers’ media coverage, or to rip on Larry Brooks, who I enjoy most of the time, and is actually one of the more open-minded “old school” members of the NYR beat.  I graduated college with a major in Journalism (the print kind), and I sympathize with the challenges that writers today face, with many media companies pivoting to video and successful writing often judged by clicks and engagement as opposed to quality.  Well-paying jobs are very hard to come by for writers today, and it seems like every week we hear about a major publication shutting its doors and laying off hundreds of great journalists.  It sucks, but I digress.

The point of this post is to remind everyone that we don’t actually know anything about what the Rangers are planning to do, which is why the “trade McDonagh” conversation this week was so absurd.  The value Larry Brooks and the rest of the Rangers beat is supposed to provide is access.  Their almost daily press conferences with Alain Vigneault yield very little insight, and the coach is rarely challenged on the dodgy decisions he makes in regards to the Rangers lineup.  And when was the last time we heard from Jeff Gorton directly?

Do we have any idea what the Rangers think of themselves at the quarter-pole of the 2017-2018 season?  Are they actively exploring the trade market?  Does the team use any analytics in player evaluation (I have still seen zero direct quotes either confirming or denying that they do)?  Was Alain Vigneault’s job ever really in jeopardy earlier this season, and is he safe now?  I realize it’s not as easy as calling Gorton up and asking him these questions, but that’s what reporters are supposed to do.

While I have no doubt that the return for Ryan McDonagh would be substantial, the reality is that – simply based on recent results – the Rangers are more likely to be buyers than sellers at the trade deadline.  So at this point, I feel relatively confident in stating that Mitch Marner is probably not going to be a Ranger.

But maybe we’ll hear differently from Jeff Gorton at some point soon,


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