Sunday, June 2, 2013

Big Decision, Big Decision

Lost amid the celebration that followed the firing of John Tortorella is the fact that these are dangerous times for the New York Rangers. We sit upon the very precipice of long term success or long term failure and the replacement bench boss will have a big say in which way the franchise heads.

Failure, by the way, includes mediocrity - the malady that infected the Blueshirts for season after season in the post-94 era. Sure the team has at least made the playoffs in recent history but, as Vin Scully has said, "good is not good enough when better is expected."

And better is expected. The bar was raised last season and, despite Dolan's virtual disinterest in the Rangers, he does care about his wallet. It is a fat wallet he opened to rebuild the Garden after his mouth ruined hopes of a new building. Nearly a billion bucks have been spent on an aesthetically pleasing, physically uncomfortable remodeling and now it's time to start making money again. They expect to recoup all of that cash in the next five years so where will that revenue come from?


Nothing sold the Rangers and nothing sold the sport of hockey like the lone New York championship in the last 73 years. They made it to the Finals three times in the 54 years between Cups and have yet to get that far in the last 19. So there are veeeeerrry narrow windows for success in this town and, for all of the flaws and holes in the lineup, the players that make up the current core of the Big Apple are in or are entering their prime. Either they will take the next step toward Stanley, or they will wither on the vine.

There are no blue chippers coming to camp this fall, no saviours waiting in the wings. Glen Sather cut short the rebuild by buying Richard$ and selling three True Blue and a top pick for Nash, among other moves. Recent draft selections have been projects and are still years away. The kids contained in the current lineup are pretty much all that is in the cupboard and the new coach will have to look through it to figure out what he can make of the shattered pieces left by the last bench boss.

That being said, for all of Glen's failures - and there have been many over the dozen-plus years of his tenure - he has been accommodating of his coaches. Renney took the Czechs as far as they could go and wanted a more North American north-south team so Sather signed Drury and Gomez. Torts wanted familiar foot soldiers he could order around so Sather got Fedotenko and Richard$. So it can be certain that the new shot caller will have the mercenaries he wants to implement his philosophies.

Glen shouldn't hire an old buddy or someone who has some impressive hand writing. Taking someone off the coaching carousel brings expectations and baggage and the best of those candidates haven't had the best history when it comes to the Cup, i.e. Ruff and Vigneault. Speaking of history, it is easy to see Sather going the Gretzky or Messier route - not only are they old friends who had some success in a former life, but they also are 'names' that can sell Dolan on the thought they can sell tickets. Because fans pay to watch the guys behind the bench. /sarcasm

Dave Tippett has a nice track record, and everyone knows Glen's relationship with Phoenix. But who knows if the former Star is interested in leaving the desert.

The rebuild is over but that doesn't mean that young blood can't build this team into a winner. Just as Jeff Gorton has helped refresh the Rangers front office, someone outside of the OBN (Old Boys' Network) needs to bring new ideas behind the bench. Davis Payne and Guy Boucher weren't bad before being undone by abominable goaltending and the AHL guys out there - Dallas Eakins, Mark French (just went to the KHL), Willie Desjardins - have shown signs they can succeed in in the show.

But whoever Sather selects will have little time to implement his strategy. This team needs to win, and soon.

Or else. 


Dave W said...

I am kind of getting annoyed with how you keep going on about how we lost so much when we traded "3 True Blue" for Nash. While I agree Erixon was a big loss, we're not hurting by losing a C and F from our roster. Prust was a bigger loss than the two of them combined.

Scotty Hockey said...

I'm actually more broken up over them trading the first round pick than Arty.