Adam Herman at Blueshirt Banter broke this down in significantly more detail than I can, and you should 100% check out his post here.
When you think of a rebuild, you immediately think of prospects, developing those prospects, and putting these prospects in a position to succeed. It’s the only way a rebuild works. Sure, the elite level players don’t necessarily need a whole lot of grooming, but that’s a small percentage of the players that make a rebuild successful. Development is key.
The majority of players will need at least a full season in the AHL before they get brought up to the NHL. And therein lies the biggest problem with the Rangers as an organization and the biggest question mark and wild card when it comes to this rebuild. The Hartford Wolf Pack are an absolute disaster. It goes beyond results on the ice. It’s a culture thing.
”We had a coach who just yelled at me. I wasn’t allowed to play my game be offensive or creative. The message they beat in was ”Use the boards, it’s your best friend””
Calle Andersson in an interview about his nightmare in Wolf Pack
— Tobias Pettersson (@ManUtdTobbe) March 1, 2019
Tobias’ tweet here is in reference to Ken Gernander’s days. It may be old, but there is a key line here that is frightening, and it was “We had a coach who just yelled at me.” Yelling isn’t teaching. Yelling is yelling. There is no actual coaching there. There’s also no evidence to show that the culture and environment created by the Gernander days has actually left the Pack’s locker room.
But beyond the obvious, there’s a North American hockey culture preference that is ingrained in the coaches and front office staff. For the Rangers, it’s –meaning the inability to adjust to highlight a player’s strength, and forcing conformity– a key culprit in perhaps why the Rangers have lost several Euro players back to their respective Euro leagues. Calle Andersson is just one example. Michael Lindqvist is another. Perhaps we will see this happen again with Ville Meskanen, who by all accounts deserves a call up but hasn’t received one. Naturally this doesn’t apply to every prospect that goes to Hartford. The Blueshirts have seen their fair share of players get to the NHL.
It’s also interesting to see Rangers prospects perform better in the NHL than in the AHL. Clearly LIbor Hajek is one example –albeit through one game– but we’ve seen Lias Andersson have significant questions about his game in Hartford, only to show he belongs in the NHL in his most recent stint. Tony DeAngelo is another who had “glaring holes” in his game in the AHL but has shown he belongs at the NHL level (took him a while though). Kudos to David Quinn and his work with DeAngelo, and Pavel Buchnevich.
Players like Ty Ronning, Sean Day, and Ryan Lindgren have had significant struggles in the AHL. While they are not a guaranteed part of the future, all three have been looked at as potential depth players to fill out the roster. Their development, even into key AHL players to help grow an improved culture, could be critical to the future success of others that pass through.
The Rangers seem to be content with ignoring glaring issues in Hartford. Did you know that as of 2017, the Rangers only had one goaltending coach, and that was Benoit Allaire? They’ve since hired a goaltending coach for the Pack. That’s just a microcosm of the issues noted above.
This now falls on Keith McCambridge and Joey Mormina, the only coaches in the AHL right now. This is on Chris Drury to address their need for coaches who develop players and create a non-toxic environment.
Because that’s what it is in Hartford right now. It is toxic. It needs to change.