This wasn’t so much about past accomplishments as about future intentions. It wasn’t about missing the playoffs this year at all, but rather missing them next year and maybe a year after that on a long and winding road.
Information is of the utmost importance when it comes to the One person’s thought process goes, in this case Garden and Rangers CEO Jim Dolan, who until his moment had opposed something like this intervention on the hockey side of the business.
However, sources suggest that Dolans Future vision, and especially the immediate future, collided with the blueprint of now former team president John Davidson and now former general manager Jeff Gorton, both of whom were fired on Wednesday. Philosophies diverged three years after The Letter and only two years after Davidson was lured out of Columbus to oversee the program.
Davidson, who oversaw bottom-up remodeling in St. Louis and Columbus, which did not come to fruition during his tenure, had continued to preach patience under a slow-walk philosophy. In addition to JD’s acolyte, Gorton was believed to be a true believer. According to a source, Davidson was asked to fire Gorton but declined.
We were told that after four years in the playoffs, Dolan had begun to question the management of the program, its long-term view being inconsistent the squad, whose marquee players Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider will be between 28 and 28 years old when the next season starts and probably decreases until the promise grows together.
Since the introduction of the hard cap, there has been 20 cases where teams missed the playoffs at least four consecutive seasons. Four straight were drawn seven times in at least six straight. Of the 18 teams missing at least four times in a row, only the kings of 2012 and 2014 won the trophy in the sequel, though the Maple Leafs have a shot this season, five years after a seven-year drought ended and 17 years after winning their final round of playoffs.
There’s a B part to that, and that means there’s no question that the gentle way the Rangers were mistreated by the islanders when the playoffs were still in sight added to Dolan’s urgency here. The prioritization of skill boys over will boys was noted. Such was the lack of push-back.
It’s safe to say that Dolan was unwilling to abide by it as part of the process. This position may have been influenced by the unexpected success of his Knicks labor team led by a new regime.
Gorton has done an excellent job of putting together a supply of promising pieces (certainly backed by lottery winnings in 2019 and 2020 that spawned Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere), plus doing homemade deals that spawned Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, and Ryan Lindgren and K’Andre Miller to Broadway.
But the GM – and Davidson – seemed to matter ignoring last summer’s rainfall from beneath the bladder Carolina by not adding grit and strength to the roster to support all finesse-minded athletes. Perhaps the hierarchy was constrained by upper limits. Maybe they’d make it this summer.
But this was a flaw anyone could see before it manifested itself throughout the season and definitely in those games against the islanders. This was the army that was humiliated by the Navy three times in two weeks, although the seeds of Dolan’s discontent had previously been sown.
Again. This represents shock treatment for those who believed the reconstruction was not only on schedule, but well ahead of what could have been expected in March 2018. It might have been a year ago.
But it didn’t seem like it this season, although the team kept adding promising pieces to the mix. A few weeks ago I wrote that you can admire the accumulation of perspectives and still look at the operation from the side. I could never quite see the planned route that would lead the Rangers from here to the promised land. I didn’t feel any urgency in accepting a course correction, which, by the way, does not mean looking for abbreviations.
And of course not Dolan, who has one more voice than me on this matter.
Chris Drury, Gorton’s assistant for five years, remains with the organization and is expected to take on general manager, if not the dual role of president-GM. If Drury did not hold both jobs, Mark Messier would become the leading candidate for the presidency.
Not only is Drury an exemplary ice hockey player at all levels who has earned the universal respect of the industry and competing organizations, but he also has none Track record. But if / when he gets promoted he’ll be the one calling the future of David Quinn behind the bank.
There would be a guiding principle here for Drury and that is whether he thinks Quinn is the right stuff has to lead the Rangers to the Stanley Cup. That’s it. If the answer is no, there is no need to date. This would also be the case if Rick Tocchet from Arizona didn’t show up as a free agent.
This was a day of upheaval in a time of upheaval for the Rangers. The letter is in the past. The past is in the rearview mirror with Davidson and Gorton. Everything here revolves around the future. Development has left Penn Station.
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