“If they did I didn’t know about it. When something like that happens it certainly speaks volumes about how these guys want to play for each other and care for each other in difficult circumstances. We all saw what happened the other night, no one is happy about it and I couldn’t be more prouder of these guys.” – Rangers head coach David Quinn, on 5/5/21, after the Rangers 4-2 loss to the Capitals. Of note, I think DQ is playing coy when he said he didn’t know about the Rangers plans to drop the gloves at the start of this game.
In this game, the Rangers picked six different fights with the Capitals, where as a fan, and like DQ himself – I couldn’t be any prouder. I know the soft fans, who champion the European style of hockey and pound their puds to charts all day long, didn’t like this game. Thankfully, I’m not them! It was nice to see the Rangers play a manly style of game tonight, rather than the millennial one they played on Monday. And to think, prior to this game, you had these soft little stat geeks, suggesting that the Rangers protest and not play in this game. SAD! Go watch badminton and enjoy your shuttlecock! Boom!
“We [Chris Drury and DQ] talked all day for the most part, we never touched on that [DQ’s job status] yet, we talked about a variety of different things moving forward. Obviously at the right time, myself, Chris and Mr. Dolan will certainly sit down and talk about every aspect of the organization and coaching will be one of them.
Chris and I have always had a great working relationship. Obviously we’ve known each other a long time as well and we certainly see a lot of the same things in hockey and have a great deal of respect for each other. Not only do we have a great personal relationship, we’ve also got a great working relationship.
Listen, this is pro sports and when you sign up for a job like this, and I certainly understood it when you get to the NHL everyday, anything can happen. That is how I go about it, I don’t go anything further than that and all I thought about was Jeff and JD and how I felt for them.” – DQ, also on 5/5/21, while talking about his job status and the firings of John Davidson and Jeff Gorton. One could also make the case, that similar to AV three years ago, DQ was stating his case here as well.
Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Father Fink, Father Fink and Father Fink! INSANITY!
In a day that won’t be forgotten anytime soon, the Rangers, as they’ve done all week, continued to dominate the news cycles, the back pages, social media and still remain the most talked about franchise in all of the hockey world today.
I’ll say this – I’m glad I got all of the Tom Wilson and NYR injury stuff out of the way last night, or else this blog would have to be delivered to you in hardcover!
There’s so much to get into tonight, that I don’t even know where to begin. I guess recapping everything chronologically is the best route to go down.
Seriously, and as someone who has studied the history of this franchise intently, is currently working on a book called “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor”, and as someone who can rattle off lines from Ranger teams of the 1920’s without blinking – there has never been a day like this one, in all of franchise history. The Emile Francis Era, the “Trader Phil” Era, the 1994 run, whatever; there’s never been a day prior to this one, where so much high profile Rangers news was broken and that includes the Eddie Giacomin return game too.
Even crazier – there’s no rest for the weary here, as the Rangers return to the ice tomorrow, in Boston. It’s just crazy!
Before getting into everything, and for those who aren’t up-to-date on everything, let me get the PLUGS segment out of the way here first. If you missed those blogs, I covered all of the Tom Wilson stuff and all the NYR news and notes that took place, prior to Wednesday.
And ISN’T IT AMAZING SUZYN, that here on May 5th, 2021, which was “Cinco De Mayo”, that all of this news hit you faster than a tequila inspired hangover?!?!? As I write these words to you now, I’m still spinning and buzzing – and that doesn’t even include the fact that the Rangers and Capitals hit and punched each other in this game, as if they were human pinatas tonight too!
Here are my last few blogs in case you missed them:
BCBS For 5/5: Adam Fox Wins The 2021 Frank Boucher Fan Trophy, Tom Wilson’s Laughable Punishment; NYR Calls For Parros To Be “Canceled” & Removed as Head of Player Safety, NHL Sets a Dangerous Precedent, Rangers Lack of Toughness (Online & On the Ice) a Major Issue; Panarin, Trouba & Lindgren All Finished, Officers vs Enforcers, Geersten Unlikely to Debut & Why, AV’s Rangers, DQ & NYR Alumni Speak Out on Wilson & More
NYR/WSH 5/3 Review: “Turning Point” Tom Wilson and the Depleted Capitals Dominate the Rangers; NYR’s Lack of Response to Wilson’s Dirty Tactics, “Old Time Hockey” vs NYR’s “Figure Skating Hockey”, Caps Delete Pro-Violence Tweet; Social Media & PR Pressure, Panarin Pummeled & Done for the Season, DQ’s Comments/Larry Brooks/Team Captain, Vally’s Hypocrisy & Ode to Orr, Kakko’s Now Forgotten Goal, Lack of Pride on “Pride Night” & More From The UFC Show at M$G
By now, since all of you readers are die-hard Ranger fans, because if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this blog to begin with; you’ve heard the news – on Wednesday afternoon, prior to tonight’s Rangers vs Capitals game, Rangers owner James Dolan fired both John Davidson and Jeff Gorton. As you may know, this news wasn’t expected at all.
As usual, the news was broken in Canada, by SportsNet reporter Elliotte Friedman. After Friedman’s report, Larry Brooks had more intel about this. If there’s anything that always amuses me, outside of the fact that the Canadian reporters always out-scoop the NYR beat writers when it comes to massive news; it were the lesser known NYR beat-reporters, like Vince Mercogliano and others, who then told us that they “confirmed” this news. As if anyone was doubting what Friedman, Dreger, TSN, SportsNet or even Brooks himself was reporting. For what it’s worth, ESPN does this a lot too. No one can just credit someone else for having the story first!
The Canadian reporters and Brooks had this news around 2:30PM on Wednesday. It wouldn’t be until 6:00PM, before the Rangers released an official statement regarding this earth-shattering news.
Here’s how the Rangers covered this, with the following coming from: https://www.nhl.com/rangers/news/new-york-rangers-announce-management-changes/c-324377690
The New York Rangers announced today that team President John Davidson and General Manager Jeff Gorton are leaving the organization, and Associate General Manager Chris Drury has been promoted to President and General Manager, effective immediately. Senior Advisor Glen Sather will work with Drury during this transition and continue to consult with the team.
“We want to thank JD and Jeff for their contributions to the organization. They are both great hockey professionals who worked hard for the Rangers, however, in order for the team to succeed in the manner our fans deserve, there needs to be a change in leadership,” said James L. Dolan, executive chairman, MSG Sports. “Chris is a very sought-after executive and a strong leader, who has proven himself to be one of the top young minds in hockey. We are confident he will effectively guide the team to ensure the long-term success we promised Rangers fans.”
Currently in his sixth season as part of the Rangers front office, Drury rejoined the organization on September 4, 2015. After serving as the team’s Director of Player Development for the 2015-16 season, he was promoted to Assistant General Manager on September 2, 2016. Drury was promoted to Associate General Manager on February 5, 2021.
Drury has served as the General Manager for the Rangers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, since May 16, 2017. In 2019-20, after he helped assemble a new coaching staff in Hartford, the Wolf Pack posted a 31-20-6-5 record in 62 games. Hartford’s .589 points percentage in 2019-20 was the best the team posted since the 2014-15 season.
During his time working in the Rangers’ front office, Drury has also assisted in overseeing and evaluating all players at the collegiate level. In addition to his role with the Rangers, he has worked in an executive role at the international level. Drury served as the General Manager for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, was selected to serve in the same capacity for the 2020 IIHF World Championship and will serve in that role for the 2021 IIHF World Championship.
Over his 12-year NHL playing career, the Trumbull, Connecticut native skated in 892 games with the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, and the Rangers, registering 255 goals and 360 assists for 615 points. Drury captured the Stanley Cup as a member of the Avalanche in 2000-01, ranking second in the NHL with 11 goals in 23 games during the team’s playoff run. In 1998-99, Drury received the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.
Drury played four seasons with the Rangers (2007-08 – 2010-11) after signing with the team as a free agent on July 1, 2007. In addition, Drury served as the Rangers captain for three seasons (2008-09 – 2010-11) after being named the 25th captain in franchise history – as well as the second American-born captain in franchise history – on October 3, 2008. In 264 regular season games with the Blueshirts, Drury recorded 62 goals and 89 assists for 151 points, along with 116 penalty minutes. Over his first three seasons with the Rangers, Drury led the team in goals (61) and points (146), ranked second in assists (85), and tied for second in game-winning goals (10). In addition, the Rangers made the playoffs three times during Drury’s four seasons with the team.
Of the Rangers’ 12 general managers, eight also played at least one game with the franchise (Lester Patrick, Frank Boucher, Muzz Patrick, Emile Francis, Fred Shero, Phil Esposito, Glen Sather, and Drury). Drury becomes the second person in franchise history to play for the Rangers, serve as the Rangers’ captain, and serve as the Rangers’ General Manager (along with Esposito).
There’s so much to get into here, and even hours after this news has become official, I still feel scatter-brained about it. I’ll try not to get side-tracked too much! I apologize for my disjointed ramblings in advance!
On April 6th, 2021, I wrote a blog covering the entire Jeff Gorton Era, where I looked at every draft, trade, acquisition, fart, cough and anything else imaginable. You can read that blog here: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/4621/
I just want to share with you what I said at the end of that Gorton blog, when I got to my final summary. Here’s what I said then:
So, what’s the conclusion here? Is Jeff Gorton a good or a bad GM?
To me, I think Gorton’s near six-year tenure as the Rangers GM has been more good than bad. However, a lot of the good things do deserve asterisks, because as described, a lot of the good stuff fell into his lap. While no GM bats 1.000, Gorton, to his credit, has been able to get out of some of his bad deals and contracts, like the Skjei deal and the Spooner deal. Of course, Shattenkirk’s major dead cap-space money is on the books and with DeAngelo likely to soon take up dead cap-space, that’s not a good thing either. Sadly, Trouba’s deal may be the worst of the three.
I think the biggest issue with Gorton is stuff many of us have said for a while – there’s just too much of the same. The Rangers just have too many players who do the same stuff and not enough ingredients to get a Michelin rating. You can only dress 12 forwards a game. (Or 13 if you want to go with 5D.) There will be roster casualties and players not getting minutes that they should as a result.
For all the belly-aching about David Quinn, I don’t think Gorton has made his job easier either. Gorton has given Quinn a ton of rookies to develop, yet everyone is still talking about a playoff push. And when you have one of the top 5 players in the league in Panarin, along with some heavy contracts in Kreider and Trouba, you don’t want to waste seasons either.
If the Rangers were like Detroit or Ottawa, two franchises also in a rebuild and without a true superstar/elite player, it would be easier to give everyone time. However, the Rangers do have Kreider. They do have Mika. They do have Panarin. To a lesser extent, they also have Strome and Buchnevich. It’s just hard to work all these kids in at the expense of the “Fat Cats”, fat cats who should be leading the team. Furthermore, young players on the blue line and in net, like Fox, Lindgren, Miller and CZAR IGOR deserve a crack at the playoffs too. Should their playoff hopes be dampened because of young forwards?
I write this blog with the intention of adding to it sometime in the future and after some time has passed. My assessment on Gorton today is that he is doing a good job, but like his predecessor, and like many GM’s across the league, he is prone to giving out some terrible contracts and hasn’t developed a winning roster… yet.
Keep in mind – all of that was written before those three losses to the Islanders and the Tom Wilson game from Monday night. I say this, because from what’s out there, it feels like owner James Dolan must’ve felt the same way.
Before unpacking everything about this story, a story which will continue to present new developments in the upcoming days, let me just hit you with the straight facts, and then get into all of the speculation, the future, and everything else.
Here are the facts:
— Jeff Gorton and John Davidson are out.
— Chris Drury is now the team’s president and general manager. This is official, and not an interim thing.
— Glen Sather will help Drury with this transition, and yes, I do have an opinion on this!
— David Quinn is still the team’s head coach.
— The statement and demand for George Parros of NHL Safety to be fired, did not lead to these firings. It was reported that James Dolan was just sick of the losing. In addition, it was also reported that James Dolan spearheaded the statement against Parros, while JD and Gorton wanted nothing to do with it.
— While DQ talked about the firings in his postgame press conference, as of this writing, Gorton, JD and Dolan haven’t said anything officially. The only official statement is the press release which I posted above.
I have to share one last blog with you that I’ve previously written. On June 26th, 2018, similar to the Jeff Gorton blog shared above, I did a deep look at Glen Sather’s tenure as team president and general manager. You can read that blog here: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/62618/
I share that blog with you, just because I don’t want to rewrite stuff that I’ve previously written. With that said, with all of this news now being official, where Glen Sather for now 21+ years is collecting checks from James Dolan – John Davidson didn’t even last two seasons. Sather’s hand-picked successor, in Jeff Gorton, a Jeff Gorton who had to clean up Sather’s mess after the window was slammed shut in 2015, didn’t even get a chance to put the finishing touches on this rebuild. While JD and Gorton are out, Sather is back in, even if it is in a limited capacity.
I have to ask – what does Senile Sather have on James Dolan? Does Sather have pictures of James Dolan and Steve Valiquette after a night out at the “Ramrod”? Why Dolan has this undying devotion to Glen Sather, I just don’t know.
And let me say this for the 876786787896897678967896th time – after Sather previously said that he’d win the Stanley Cup every year with the Rangers if he were running the team, in 15+ years as the team’s general manager, Sather never won a Cup. In turn, when you look at the entire history of NYC sports, Glen Sather has the dubious distinction of being the longest tenured GM in all of NYC sports to not win a championship. Even the Jets knew when enough was enough!
I just can’t get over this Dolan love affair for Glen Sather. It’s speculated that Dolan talked to Sather before firing JD and Gorton as well, where that speculation has to be true, since Dolan needed a game-plan after making these firings.
Glen Sather, the guy who had Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky fall into his lap at that, yet is celebrated by Dolan as if Sather were Scotty Bowman! The same Glen Sather, who for over 15 years, proved he couldn’t win in New York, but similar to Dolan’s previous goo-goo ga-ga eyes for Isiah Thomas with the Knicks, Sather is still the one Dolan runs to. Incredible! And in Sather’s defense here, at least Sather was never involved in some sordid sex scandal like Thomas, which cost Dolan millions and millions of dollars!
Obviously, the big question here is this – why did Dolan make these moves?
The speculation among the reporters is that Dolan was sick of the losing and had this move planned for a while, especially when watching those listless losses to the Islanders. It was also suggested that both Glen Sather and Mark Messier got into Dolan’s ear too.
Let’s get the Messier stuff out of the way first.
Mark Messier did several media interviews on Wednesday after the news was reported, where he said the following:
“In my opinion, if you’re going to win, you got to be able to win in the street and the alley. I, particularly, would not have built the team that didn’t have answers in this regard.”
Obviously, that’s not a huge vote in confidence for JD and Gorton.
When Messier was asked about his relationship with the Rangers, Messier said that he hasn’t talked to anyone in the organization in years, but did mention that after the Tortorella firing in 2013, he was asked about his interest in coaching. As you know, the Rangers never went down this route and instead hired Alain Vigneault.
It somewhat felt like Messier was championing for any sort of job with the Rangers, especially after he said this:
“I’ve made it very clear that I’ve been standing by ready to help out in any way and for many years.”
After saying that, Messier also mentioned, that despite having no coaching experience, that he thought he “1000%” be able to coach the Rangers, because hockey has always been in his blood.
If you get anything out of this, it’s that while Messier was very critical about the Rangers and seemed extremely open to taking any sort of job with the team – he didn’t force Dolan to fire JD and/or Gorton, nor got into Dolan’s ear. Of course, that’s assuming you believe Messier when he says he hasn’t talked to anyone within the Rangers for years.
And as far as Messier in some sort of front office or coaching role, in the event that ever happened, like JD himself, there would eventually be a day where he would be fired, which is something I think the Rangers have always tried to avoid.
Literally, if you go online or read any newspaper, you will have 6647364634689367863487678268726 opinions on this story, where in 99.9% of them, you will get that “sky is falling” take in these reactions. As usual, I’m in the minority here.
I admit, I was completely flabbergasted and shocked when I saw this news. It’s funny, I thought I made things easier on myself when I did that blog last night, recapping all of the Wilson and NYR injury news. Wrong as usual!
On Wednesday morning, when I saw that the Rangers canceled DQ’s daily press conference after a pregame skate, I didn’t think much of it. I thought it was a logistic thing or maybe a COVID-19 thing. After going about my day, I took a nap at 2PM. I woke up at 4:15PM or so, and my phone was lighting up like a slot machine paying out a jackpot in Vegas.
Of course, the first missed call I saw was from my 70 year-old dad, who as mentioned in the past, including as recent as the Lemieux trade, broke Rangers news to me. Leave it to “Billy Scoops” to have the news before me! After talking to my dad, I saw that I had 7674834838 texts, missed calls, emails and social media mentions, stuff which I’m still trying to catch up on! (And if I haven’t replied to you yet, I eventually will.)
This news floored me from this stand-point – why now? I mean, you only have three games remaining, and you break this news now? Why not just do it on Sunday or Monday, when the season is over?
Even more perplexing, was that prior to these firings, the Rangers were the “RUDY” of the league, and despite their status as the richest team in the league, had all of this underdog support from the majority of the hockey world. No joke, the Rangers were the biggest blue-eyed baby-faces ever on Wednesday morning. Leave it to the Rangers, who have never had as much sympathy as they did prior to today, to not only shit on that, but to trump themselves and turn themselves into heels too!
Seriously, you had everyone making out Tom Wilson to be this guy that was the NHL version of ISIS, Jared Fogle, Steve Valiquette, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Joe Micheletti, Adolf Hitler and Casey Anthony all wrapped into one, and in one announcement, James Dolan made Tom Wilson yesterday’s news. While that wouldn’t be the case in the game that was played later at night, nobody was talking about Tom Wilson from the hours of 2PM-7PM.
As far as when it comes to the timing of this news, maybe Dolan wanted to “sneak it in”, with other stuff going on. While he had to know how huge this was, and how huge it will be moving forward, had Dolan did this at the end of the season, more attention would be drawn to it. Again, while these firings are the top story, tonight’s game and tomorrow’s game will take some attention away from this story. In other words, instead of having a day dedicated to himself and this story 100%, by breaking the news this way, Dolan only takes up 90% of the headlines, if that makes sense to you.
As mentioned, if anything bothers me, it’s the fact that Glen Sather is still Dolan’s right-hand man here. I think I’ve made this opinion clear.
No one will believe me when I say this, and I don’t blame you if you don’t, but it’s ironic, sick, twisted and a sign that I need a life, that I had a fever dream about JD, Gorton and DQ all getting fired last week. In that dream, Kevin Weekes took over as team president, Drury took over as general manager and John Tortorella took over as coach. And yes, this was a dream after a long night of downing Proper 12. And while these were my wildest dreams, I never expected JD and Gorton to be fired. After all, dreams are imaginary. While this dream didn’t exactly come to reality, some of it did.
Here’s my hot take – these firings aren’t a bad thing. Of course, I get the shock value, as my jaw dropped to the floor so hard that my neighbor below me was banging her broom on the ceiling as a result of the noise; but when you take a deep breath and really think about it – this could be a good thing. Of course, I should tell you, that I always try to find the silver linings in negativity.
I should mention, there are some reports out there that James Dolan wanted Jeff Gorton fired and when JD said no, Dolan canned both of them. I’ve seen conflicting reports about this and it might take a day or two to 100% confirm this. In what’s being reported universally, it’s what I said earlier – Dolan was sick of the losing and didn’t want this losing to carry over into next season.
Again, sorry if I’m all over the place, as I try to gather myself with all of my thoughts!
All season long, Jeff Gorton and DQ have talked about the playoffs as the goal. And really, why shouldn’t they? No coach or GM enters a season saying, “we’re gunning for that fifth place finish baby!” When it comes to JD, he took a much more patient approach, where he’s said repeatedly throughout his tenure, that he doesn’t like to up-sell and will always try to promise to over-deliver, rather than making grandstand predictions. Perhaps Dolan, who is losing money due to the pandemic, wanted those playoff gates. I just don’t know.
I said this when this first happened, I said it afterwards, I’ve said it all season and I’ll say it again – in a season where NHL teams are losing money, I don’t think James Dolan was thrilled with the way the Rangers handled the Tony DeAngelo stuff. I’m not saying TDA is the catalyst for these firings, I’m just saying his situation is probably part of a long laundry list of reasons.
With these NHL owners losing money, and after eight games and a press conference where Gorton devalued TDA’s worth to the entire league; the end result of it was that Dolan would be on the hook for $9.6M to TDA. As talked about repeatedly on this site, this was a horrible case of asset management by a Rangers GM in all of Rangers history, where it felt like Jeff Gorton let his ego get in the way a bit. After all, try to trade TDA first, then bury him if you have to. Instead, Gorton made TDA untouchable and left Dolan to sign paychecks to DeAngelo.
And let’s face it – TDA isn’t the only one. Whether it was Kevin Shattenkirk, Henrik Lundqvist or others, James Dolan is shelling out millions and millions of dollars, for guys not to play for his team. If the end result of all these buy-outs was winning, it’s easier to accept. When you’re bleeding money left and right, as an owner, you’re going to be pissed. When you’re losing, it makes it worse.
I also want to say this – one of my takeaways here is that James Dolan gives a shit, especially after those losses to the Islanders. While Dolan and George Steinbrenner don’t belong in the same sentence, I find these firings to be “Steinbrenneresque”. Had the Yankees been swept by the Red Sox or Mets, Steinbrenner would’ve thrown a fit. Perhaps these three losses to the Islanders, by a cumulative score of 13-1 and where three Rangers had their seasons ended in, was the last straw. If Dolan comes out and says this, I’ll applaud him. As a fan, I do want an owner that cares, even if Dolan hasn’t displayed this mentality previously.
And begrudgingly yes – this is the cherry on top for the Isles, when it comes to their dominance over the Rangers this season.
Jeff Gorton, like any GM, had his hits and misses. At the same time, the Rangers have been grooming Chris Drury for sometime now, the same Chris Drury that has turned down offer after offer, to be a GM elsewhere. As talked about previously, Drury has turned down GM offers from teams such as the Penguins, the Wild, the Panthers and others, because he wants to stay close to home. I even wrote a month ago, how I only saw Drury leaving the Rangers, should the Devils or Islanders make changes. Instead, Drury bid his time with the Rangers and now he succeeds both John Davidson and Jeff Gorton.
From all reports, whatever you want to say about his Rangers career, Chris Drury is considered to be a valuable front office guy and he was always destined to be a GM. He’s well respected, well liked and has a good head on his shoulders.
In what we don’t know yet, is when did Dolan first decide to make these moves? Was it when Drury was behind the bench during the time DQ had COVID-19? Did Dolan talk to Drury? Did Drury undercut his bosses to Dolan? We just don’t know. All that is known is that Drury was always built up and even promoted to associate general manager. That said, no one knew that he’d be the general manager this season! (The Drury era, as a result of tonight’s loss, is now 0-1.)
Obviously, the firing of JD comes with bigger consequences and push-back. Dolan fired a fan favorite not even two seasons in, after making us suffer with 15 years of Sather. Whether the reports of JD standing up for Gorton are true or not, what is true is that JD always preached patience, and Dolan had seen enough.
While I’ve said it, you’ve said it and others have said it, I really don’t know what Dolan’s hockey IQ is, as I just can’t see him sitting in his office and saying, “my team lacks toughness, grit, size and snarl.” I think someone must’ve fed him that and maybe that was Sather himself.
And while this rebuild is a process, I’m sure that JD and Gorton knew what had to be done this off-season – they had to acquire a center who could win a face-off and some toughness. Perhaps Dolan is pissed off that these two didn’t do so already. After all, you can have 20 BMW’s sitting in your garage, but if you have no insurance on them, what’s the point?
At the end of the day, hockey is a business and everything always comes down to dollars and cents. For the last two years, Dolan has been shelling out big money to Panarin and Trouba. In return, all Dolan has to show for it is his team being the biggest embarrassment during last year’s bubble playoffs. With both Panarin and Trouba being beat-up by rivals, and with no one on the Rangers being able to answer the bell, perhaps Dolan had just seen enough misery.
The firing of Jeff Gorton doesn’t surprise me, but the timing does. The firing of JD most certainly surprises me, but as I reflect, I can understand it. After all, JD’s previous two teams did their best work AFTER he was fired, in both Columbus (biggest upset in playoff history over TBL) and the St. Louis Blues (Stanley Cup winners in 2019.)
And let’s face it – if JD wasn’t a fan favorite, this news wouldn’t be as impactful as it currently is.
I know the majority of the opinion is that Dolan ruined the rebuild, pissed on a fan favorite and blah blah blah, but I don’t think the Rangers rebuild, which is pretty much over, (and it most certainly is after today) will be effected. If anything, this puts more pressure on these guys to win and I’m all for that. You saw that tonight, even with the loss.
I have to put my faith in what people around the league say – Drury knows his shit. And with Dolan firing a heavy fan favorite, Drury knows he has to turn things around too, or else he’ll be next.
What also shocked me, was that we didn’t see a full sweep of firings here, as DQ still remains as the team’s head coach.
With a rowdy bunch of people that make up the “FIRE DQ” crew, a merry lot that have been begging the Rangers to fire DQ for two seasons now, it’s DQ that’s left standing right now. It looks like DQ will finish out the season, and then who knows what’s next?
As I’ve been saying for a while on this site, I’m indifferent on DQ. If they fire him, they fire him. If they retain him, they retain him. In other words, I wouldn’t be pissed off if the Rangers fired DQ, like I was when the Rangers fired AV and Torts before him. Conversely, if the Rangers kept DQ, I’m fine with that too.
It should be mentioned, that it was Chris Drury that suggested DQ to the front office when the Rangers fired AV. These two have a solid relationship. While I’m not saying DQ will be here next season, what I’m saying is that it wouldn’t surprise me if he was. I’m completely 50/50 here, as really, I don’t know what happens next. Based on the facts that DQ wasn’t fired today, and his previous relationship with Drury, I’d say DQ is back next season, but at the same time, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was canned. I know, I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth here!
And for people who have said – “well, they couldn’t get a coach to replace DQ if they fired him today”, that’s malarkey. The Rangers very easily could’ve had Jacques Martin run the show for the final three games or ask Kris Knoblauch to take over. I just think it’s telling that DQ remained with the team. I guess we’ll know what’s up for next season on Monday, as I think one way or the other, the Rangers will make an announcement on DQ. I just don’t see the Rangers waiting until July or August to weigh in on this.
In another wrinkle, the exiled by management Tony DeAngelo may have gotten a reprieve here. It was Jeff Gorton that had all the vim and vigor for TDA a few months back during his press conference when he banished TDA. While Drury has been here for the duration, maybe he will look to repair that relationship, rather than putting another buy-out on Dolan’s books. And if DQ is fired, I would reckon to guess that a return of DeAngelo is even more likely. In other words, I wouldn’t write off DeAngelo just yet, even if his chances of staying are still minimal.
I still have about a million thoughts on this, but as you’re reading these words, this is now word 7000 and I haven’t even gotten into this game yet! I just wish Dolan broke this news on Monday, and gave us stuff to talk about, rather than overloading your favorite beer-bellied blogger!
I’m sure more news and notes will trickle out in the upcoming days. I know optically, this looks horrible, especially since JD is involved with this, but I truly feel the Rangers will be fine. Drury is no schlep. I know many people say, “it was never about the playoffs”, but again, that’s BS. No team has that outlook and you don’t pay all this money to big guys not to win. The Rangers record and failures against the top teams was extremely telling. Dolan didn’t want to wait any longer and he went Hiroshima today. Of course, if the Rangers don’t have success next season, similar to all of his follies with the Knicks, Dolan will be blamed for all of it. That said, I see the Rangers as a playoff team next season, no matter who the coach is. The talent is there. I just wish Sather wasn’t!
The 2021 New York Rangers. Never a slow news day! (I think I’ve said this a few times before!)
Let’s get into this game, as I pull a Jessie Spano and pop a caffeine pill while trying to finish this manifesto!
Tonight’s game was on NBC rather than on M$GN, and both the NBCSN and NHL got what they wanted here.
I’ll try to get this information tomorrow, but I expect this game to be the highest rated Wednesday night game of the season.
As far as the pregame show went, I thought NBC did a great job, where it really shows you how bad the M$GN really is with their coverage.
What was good, is that you have two real ex-players, in Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp, breaking down all of the Wilson stuff, rather than this guy, crying for his mommy:
I mean really, what did this mean? Was Colton Orr going to go into a time machine, get back into his prime and play in this game? That said, the hypocrisy here shouldn’t surprise anyone.
In a story that is completely swept under the rug, due to the news of today, was that Kenny Albert and Pierre McGuire had the call tonight. Prior to the game, it was announced that Kenny Albert, along with Eddie O., will be the lead voices for TNT next season. Congratulations to both of them, where I hope one day, these two also make the move to the M$GN. Then again, JD is now available, and who wouldn’t sign up for one more season of JD & Rosen? (Yes, this will not happen, but some of my dreams have come true before!)
And I’ll get this out of the way now. Both Albert and McGuire mentioned 75667957656767857657 times, that the 100 penalty minutes that the two teams drew combined in the first period, would’ve never happened had Wilson been suspended. Both Albert and McGuire were correct with this opinion and it truly was the story of the game. After all, you had six fights within the first five minutes of the game, including one with Wilson himself, and had Wilson been suspended as he should’ve been, none of this happens. Of course, this is what the NHL and NBC wanted, because fights always draws ratings.
Speaking of drawing ratings, did you see the ticket prices for this game?
$418 for this game. $418! That’s even more shocking than the firings of JD and Gorton! Even crazier – these tickets sold! So if you want a reason why Wilson wasn’t suspended here you go – just like how people root for good guys in the movies, wrestling or whatever, people will always pay to see bad guys get beat too. Every great hero needs a better villain. Every Batman needs a Joker. That’s storytelling 101.
While on the topic of money, let’s now go to the GAMBLING SEGMENT.
Here’s what I said before the game:
Season over-under record: 22-29-2
Georgiev v Vanecek in a oh yeah, the Tim Wilson stuff too, game.
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) May 5, 2021
With an empty net goal followed by a Morgan Barron “A-Rod” goal, what was looking like a loss turned into a push. The money goes back into the wallet and will live to fight another day. As a result, my over-under win-loss record is now 22-29-3, and with two games remaining.
BOX SCORE time.
The following information and graphics come from the new world-wide leader in NHL coverage, in ESPN.com. Of note, take a deep breath, get a beverage or do whatever do, as the penalties in this game will take up half of tonight’s blog alone!
TEAM STATS: (Look at the Penalty Minutes!!!!)
Going into this game, I thought we wouldn’t see much action or fireworks. I thought the Rangers, due to their roster, would play another ho-hum game while the Capitals tried to avoid any controversy. How wrong I would be and I’ve never felt so good about being wrong on something.
The first five minutes of this game featured six different fights, fights that the Rangers started. Later on, Barron would try to pick a fight with TJ Oshie, only to be denied. In other words, the Rangers responded.
To fast-forward a bit here – I don’t care about the final score at all. I don’t care if the same things that have plagued the Rangers all season were apparent in this loss. Yes, the Rangers power-play was bad. Yes, the Rangers got their asses kicked at the dot. Yes, Mika went missing as usual. Yes, the Rangers can’t buy goals. Yes, the Rangers couldn’t move the puck. However, here’s the biggest yes, as in a Daniel Bryan from WWE “YES, YES, YES” – the Rangers showed they gave a Father Fink. I don’t care if the Rangers lost some of these fights, the fact that they gave a damn and were willing to go; and as they did – well that was all I needed to see.
Of course, no one is thrilled with a four-game losing streak, a losing streak that most likely will hit six come Saturday; but this game is completely independent of the other 55 games from this season. In a game where the Rangers had to show they had testicles too, they more than delivered.
I know the people who hate fighting are all upset, and I do understand that Tom Wilson not being suspended created all of this; but the fact of the matter is Wilson wasn’t suspended. The Rangers had to deal with that, and deal with that they did. I’ve never been prouder of my team after a loss.
As far as the line-up tonight, Bitetto replaced Reunanen in this contest, since this was going to be a physical game. Kreider remains out, where as I said last night, I don’t see him returning this season. PDG remains in the line-up, where he is with the fourth line
Lastly, when it comes to the line-up, due to all of the penalties, there’s just no way of keeping track of all of the lines and pairings. Just five minutes into the game, you had both team’s fourth lines in the box, and the Rangers also had two of their defensemen, in Smith and Bitetto, in the box too. Then, when you add all the 10 minute misconducts that were handed out, as if these misconducts were like literature given out by Mormons, it was a never-ending task to patch-work lines. Surprisingly, with all of these mixed-mash lines, and from both teams, we didn’t get a “too many men on the ice” penalty from either side, as each team received on Monday night.
One last thing before getting into this game. While I was happy with what I saw tonight, where was this after the Wilson incident from Monday? I was thrilled with the Rangers response tonight, but we should’ve seen some of this stuff on Monday too. It shouldn’t have taken a statement, Panarin being confirmed as done for the season or anything else, to ignite a spark.
This first period featured 100 PIM, a season high, and really the first period was all about OLD TIME HOCKEY and the Rangers getting their revenge. There wasn’t much hockey being played here, nor should’ve there been, no matter who hates this stuff. (I love it.)
After puck drop, and in shades of 2012 during a game between the Rangers and the Devils; history repeated itself, as we had an all-out fourth line brawl:
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) May 5, 2021
I give every player involved in this, and on both teams, credit for doing what they had to do. This is hockey, not the ballet. If you don’t like it, go watch golf or make a chart with Vally.
After this, there was one thing left to do – get Tom Wilson. Brendan Smith more than obliged, the second when Wilson took his first shift:
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) May 5, 2021
All the kudos in the world goes to Smith here, as not only did he take on an elite fighter – he held his own too. (Of note, just check the penalty section of this blog, as I’m not going to recap each penalty, as it’s too much and this blog is long enough already.)
These four fights took place within the first 50 seconds of the game. Less than four minutes later, we had two more fights, as Bitetto and Raffl traded hands and then Strome beat Lars Eller in a fight. In other words, not even five minutes in, each team had 5+ players in the box. (Smith was sent to the locker room.) When all of these players came out of the box after a TV timeout with nearly 10 minutes remaining in the period, it looked like a clown car. And yes, these penalty boxes didn’t look very “social distance” friendly either!
With all of this action, I half-expected DQ and Lavy to go at it. And hell, with “Iron” Alex Georgiev sucker punching a teammate this season, I’m surprised he didn’t show Vanecek a thing or two either!
Really, there’s not much hockey stuff to talk about in this period. While watching this game, you wish you had a full house, especially when the Potvin whistle led to “WILSON SUCKS!” chants. I’ve been saying this for years – I wish the Potvin whistle would go the way of the dodo bird, but if you’re going to do it, I rather see a new heel featured. Wilson is that guy.
Speaking of Wilson, on his first shift back out of the box, he skated by Meekly Mika and Buchnevich. However, Buchnevich, who valiantly defended the honor of his fallen comrade all game, in Artemi Panarin, would slash Wilson. Wilson would then leave the game and never come back, as the Caps said Wilson was out with an upper body injury. As friend of the blog Shawn S. said, “I didn’t know the vagina was above the waist line!”
On Wilson, who was the biggest draw of this game, I thought him not returning was a classic pro wrestling 101 heel move. He did his thing, and then powdered out like a coward, as if he was a 1980’s Ric Flair.
Also injured in this first period was Julien Gauthier, after TJ Oshie nailed him. Gauthier wouldn’t return to this game either, where his status is unknown for these final two games with Boston.
It should be mentioned that later on in this period, the Rangers had an ample 5 x 3 power-play, but couldn’t score. Mika broke a stick on one shot and then continued his usual act of shooting wide. Mika was a ghost tonight, as he usually is against top competition. As talked about last blog, I don’t expect Mika to fight, but I do expect him to make the other team pay while on the power-play. Here, NYR has a two-man advantage and your star player was a failure again.
In a game that featured penalty-after-penalty, with 7.5 seconds left in the period, Raffl scored, but only after hitting the puck with a high stick, a high stick that also connected with Georgiev’s mask. This goal was ruled no good right away, so crisis averted, as the Rangers are always prone to giving up these early and late goals. And as we’d soon see, they’d give up an early goal in the second period.
I know I’m breezing through this recap, as it’s late and this blog is long, but really, this first period, which was 0-0 after twenty minutes, was all about the Rangers responding, and as they did. Unfortunately, it would be Washington scoring the goals in this one.
While we didn’t get “SECOND PERIOD, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR HERE PIERRE?” <did I ever tell you about this six year old from Flin Flon Kenny?> we returned to fight night at M$G.
As Kenny and Pierre talked about the recent loss of “Coach Oshie”, who was TJ Oshie’s father; while the Caps were still on a power-play, and with one second remaining on it, TJ Oshie scored. 1-0, bad guys, and just 12 seconds into the period, after another Rangers face-off loss. This time, with Eller flanking him, and with Fox as the lone man back, Oshie scored on this two vs one chance.
And yeah, this was TJ Oshie’s “Brett Farve” game, as just 48 hours after losing his father, Oshie had a hell of a night, picking up a hat trick. It was a hat trick everyone saw coming, especially after Oshie scored his second goal and with the Rangers net empty in the third period. I will say, while I express my sympathy and condolences to TJ Oshie, I thought he was fair game tonight, especially after he hit Gauthier and knocked him out of the game. Watching Oshie back down from Barron was a sight to be seen too.
It should also be noted that K’Andre Miller was on the ice for this goal. Once again, he has hit a rookie wall and he’s been awful more times than not lately. I know he’s a rookie and what the upside is, but with a new GM, I wouldn’t be shocked if Miller is moved this off-season either. The guy is huge, but he never uses his size. I know you have to be born with a killer instinct in order to fight, but in a game like this, to see Miller shy away from hitting and fighting, I do think it’s telling, especially if Dolan wants a more physical kick ass roster. And I completely get that Miller over-performed this season, including in just making the roster alone. However, you can’t ignore his lack of physicality in these games.
4:39 into the period, Buchnevich earned a $5000 fine like it was a badge of honor:
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) May 6, 2021
Yes, this cross-check to the face was dirty, doesn’t belong in the game and had evil intentions, but this is what the NHL asked for when they didn’t suspend Wilson. If Buchnevich gets a suspension, the NHLPA has every right to appeal, since the precedent has been set. And as mentioned, Buchnevich was a man on a mission tonight, and I’m fine with this dirty play.
With 11:34 to go in the period, and with the Caps on a three minute power-play as the result of Buchnevich’s five minute major, TJ Oshie scored again. 2-0 bad guys. K’Andre Miller just sat there and watched this one go in. This is all surprising, especially after the great start he had this season.
As the penalties continued, Pierre started talking about Drury’s pizzerias (this is a real thing and not a code word for some sex act) where I wouldn’t be shocked to hear that Pierre likes pineapple and a tossed salad (this is a code word for a sex act) on his pizza!
After a Rangers icing, with 5:12 to go in the period, Strome lost a d-zone face-off. Carlson then bombed a shot from deep and Dowd deflected it. 3-0, bad guys. Again, I would’ve normally been pissed about this and done my rant on face-offs here, but this game wasn’t about that.
With under five minutes to go, Fox took the second NYR SOG of the period, where prior to this point, Vanecek could’ve had a pina colada and been caught out in the rain.
After two periods, we remained 3-0 bad guys, where the SOG stat also read Caps 25, Rangers 14. Again, I’m not worried about that tonight.
Let’s breeze through this third period, as I’m starting to get callouses on my fingers!
1:16 into the period, Chytil fired a shot at Vanecek, got his own rebound and fed a wide-open Lafreniere, a Lafreniere who scored on an open net. 3-1, bad guys. The funny thing about this goal was that Lafreniere seemed stunned that he scored it. Perhaps he was still reeling from the Gorton/JD news!
The rest of the period was penalty after penalty, with neither team being able to score a power-play goal, and that includes your elite center in Mika Zibanejad.
With 3:00 remaining, Georgiev was pulled and you knew the TJ Oshie hat trick was coming, because Mika never scores during a 6 x 5 attack. With 1:40 remaining, Oshie got his hat trick. 4-1, bad guys.
As you were about to call this game a wrap, 24 seconds later, Morgan Barron scored his first ever NHL career goal, where both Hajek and Jones picked up an assist on. During a normal night, this would be big news, but this will be forgotten because of the news from today. 4-2, bad guys and 4-2 your final, ending the craziest day in Rangers history. And just to think, the Rangers play again tomorrow!
Over 10,000 words and I still feel like I’m short changing you tonight. That’s how huge Wednesday was. However, with a game tomorrow and more news coming out of the JD/Gorton firings, I’m sure tomorrow’s blog will cover the rest of the fall-out.
Programming note, our friends at “The Blueshirt Underground Show” covered Wednesday’s madness too. You can watch their show here:
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Back at it tomorrow, as this crazy train makes its way to the end.
Stay FABULOUS my friends.
Until then, and as always here, thanks for reading and…
LET’S GO RANGERS!
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