The coronavirus outbreak cancelled or suspended all major sporting events. For the first time in the modern sports era, we will go an entire month without watching a single sport live or on TV. We will not hear a sporting event on the radio. The outbreak has stripped us of one of those singular events that unites.
The timing couldn’t have been worse, as March is one of the best months in sports. March Madness. The playoff push in the NHL and NBA. Season openings for MLS and MLB. All of it cancelled or postponed. Yet the decisions were the correct and obvious ones. There are no complaints. No objections. Just disgruntled acceptance.
Sports have a unique way of uniting populations. It doesn’t matter where you grew up, what you do for a living, where you live. It doesn’t matter what religion you follow, where you went to school, or how much money you have. All that matters is that everyone loves the same team.
The 2019-2020 Rangers were a rare team that unified a fan base starving for a competitor. The rebuilding Rangers were not expected to compete this season. They were expected to be a bottom-feeder, one that would finish with a top-ten pick. They would be a fun team to watch offensively, but they just simply wouldn’t be good enough to make a difference.
Through the first two months of the season, those predictions were on point. The Rangers struggled defensively while proving to be an extraordinarily talented offensive team. But then in December, everything changed.
The Blueshirts all of a sudden figured it out. They were scoring and they were playing defense. By January the goaltending caught up to the Baby Blueshirts and the team started to win games. And boy did they win games. In just one month, the Rangers went from near bottom of the division to fighting for a playoff spot. But as it stands today, the Rangers finished the season on the outside looking in.
The NHL hopes to finish the season. But even if they can’t and the season ends, the Baby Blueshirts gave this fan base some semblance of hope that the rebuild is going in the right direction. Despite all our differences and arguments, the one thing we agreed upon was this team was trending in the right direction. They had talented kids making strides. They had elite level talent carrying the load. They had leadership and goaltending.
Perhaps cancelling/suspending the rest of the season is a good thing, a blessing in disguise, for the Rangers. They saw this team at its absolute worst, then watched them turn it around to their absolute best. This team was fun to watch again. After two years of watching them flounder, the Rangers mattered. They will continue to matter next season too.