To become a winning organization, it takes much more than just icing the best team for one year. A well run organization starts years before finally winning a championship, building a team identity and a strategy that goes beyond the on-ice product. That’s what is lacking in New York, as the Rangers need an identity. It’s the behind the scenes work that takes years to come to fruition before you’re able to lift hockey’s holy grail.
While the Rangers are in search for a new leader behind the bench, we still don’t know exactly what Chris Drury’s plan is to win a Stanley Cup. So far it just seems like the idea is to ice the best collection of players they can and watch what happens. Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, and us as fans, this idea hasn’t resulted in winning the final game of the year yet. There was no identity this year, and the Rangers need an identity to be true contenders.
If we learn anything from history, this lack of a plan won’t result in a Rangers Cup anytime soon unless there’s a shift in philosophy. The Rangers need an identity, and it starts with this shift in philosophy.
Right or wrong, Jeff Gorton and John Davidson had a plan and we all knew what it was. James Dolan got impatient, and half measures were taken following their dismissals. Now here we sit in the middle of May, looking for a new bench boss after two of the most successful regular seasons in Rangers history. Teams can fake it in the regular season, but the Rangers need an identity to be successful in the playoffs.
The Rangers should look at the successful franchises that have won multiple Cups. The dynasty Oilers and Islanders had plans and systems in place all the way down to their scouting department for how they’d find players and mold them into what they needed to win. More recently, the Blackhawks, Kings, and Lightning followed that mold even when things got rough and didn’t veer off their organizational structure. It yielded multiple championships for all 3 clubs.
The current iteration of the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t have this kind of structure. While they’ve amassed quality talent, it hasn’t resulted in playoff success. Unfortunately, the Rangers are closer to being the Maple Leafs than they are to the Blackhawks, Kings, or Lightning, and it’s a shame.
Given their resources, the Rangers’ inability to draft and develop high end talent is a problem. Lias Andersson and Vitali Kravtsov have already joined the likes of Hugh Jessiman in Rangers lore, and unfortunately Alexis Lafreniere is well on his way to joining them.
How can this keep happening to a professional franchise? It’s because this team isn’t truly invested in finding, developing, and nurturing young talent. This is what separates the Rangers from the three clubs mentioned above. The Rangers need an identity, and it starts with setting the right tone from the draft table.
It’s part of the reason why the coaching hire for this Rangers team is so crucial. This franchise needs to win right now. If you hire Peter Laviolette, you’re telling everyone that you believe your contending window is the next two years. The Rangers need an identity, and hiring Laviolette is just another half measure to build a win now team instead of a sustained contender.
Could the Rangers and Chris Drury luck themselves into a Cup, like the 1994 Rangers? Sure, but the likelihood of doing that in today’s NHL is highly unlikely with the salary cap. The Rangers need an identity, and Chris Drury needs to find a way to get Dolan on board with being a bit more patient and copying the plan that other successful team have to build a sustainable winner.