For the first time in five years, the Rangers will have a new coach behind the bench. Alain Vigneault was let go at the end of last year’s train wreck, which capped a fire sale and a letter to the fans stating the organization’s intent to rebuild from the ground up. That meant stockpiling youth, generating from within, and learning from mistakes. In came David Quinn, and his job will be to guide the youth.
There’s a good amount of youth on this team too. There are five kids on this roster today who weren’t on the opening night roster last year. Yes, I’m including Tony DeAngelo in that count. There’s two promising talents who are looking to take the next step into top pairing/line billing. There’s a pair of potential elite level talent kids looking to show why the Rangers have invested so much into them.
That doesn’t even include the deadline acquisitions and kids sitting in Hartford, waiting for an injury to get their first chance. Quinn will be in charge of allowing these kids to play, guiding them to be better NHLers and helping them realize their potential.
It should be a stark contrast from the Vigneault era. That was a win-now team where mistakes were costly and learning took a back seat to competing for a Cup. Winning is still the goal, but it isn’t the only goal now. Turning these kids into a team that will win in the future is the primary goal now.
That new direction is the first time in recent memory the Blueshirts will be headed into an open rebuild. The 2004 fire sale was the first time I remember seeing something like that, but then a pair of Swedes and a pair of Czechs changed that direction in 2006. It wasn’t an extended rebuild. On what we are about to embark is just that, and it will take time.
I, for one, am excited about the new direction. It’s something I’ve never experienced as a Ranger fan. I’m petrified they are going to screw this up, but I’m excited for the possibilities it can bring. One of the five first rounders the past two years is already on the team. The second is just waiting for a top-nine spot to open up (spoiler alert: it will before the new year). Three more are waiting in the wings. A Russian invasion is coming with two elite level prospects.
The David Quinn era is upon us. It’s going to be a bumpy ride for the first few years. But should it work out, the outlook is very positive.