(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here is New York Islanders blogger B.D. Gallof of HockeyIndependent.com, fondly recalling the New York Rangers. Again, this is not written by us. But you're probably not reading the intro anyway.)
By B.D. Gallof, HockeyIndependent.com
Ladies and gentlemen... and fans of Mike Milbury... we are gathered here today to eulogize this years New York Rangers on behalf of Puck Daddy, New York Islanders fans and the NHL blogosphere in general, which had said for years that Glen Sather's UFA work post-Edmonton would only lead to perpetual and perennial disappointment for Rag fans.
Oh, where to begin? Let us start with another car wreck of a playoff showing by a team who almost looked like they wanted to hand off the postseason to a more competitive team as the season wound down. Maybe Carolina have brought a bit more than just conveniently laying down like a doormat for Ovechkin and … well... Ovechkin.
Let's be honest here. The only real passion was the prideful Ranger faithful in the stands chanting to the Caps coach that MSG was not quite THAT bad when Nassau Coliseum is only 10 miles away.
What a chant that must have been for MSG fans, in-between paying for $12 beers and $10 hot dogs.
The only real fight was between the hilarious thin skin prickliness of NY Rags coach John Tortorella and ever-curmudgeonly NY Post writer Larry Brooks (hey, you'd be curmudgeonly also if you had to write about the Rags each day).
For all the press that chant received, it was the Washington Capitals who came to play, without contracts for fourth-line 2-minute men that top $6.6 million (Derek Boogaard for 4 years … enjoy!).
Instead the NY Rags faithful cite the loss of Ryan Callahan, and that most things rode on Dubinsky for the playoffs. Two correct assessments that are fraught with bigger issues: Like the UFA money just tossed to players who are not even top line worthy.
The hapless Rags have never committed to a solid full rebuild, instead toying with one for a year, and then going back to window shopping.
Let me tell you, if the Rangers UFA's are any indication to Glen Sather's tastes, god knows what sits in his own closet.
The UFA contracts and choices the Rags make have constantly left them ultimately shortchanged on the ice, almost always smashed near or against the cap with no maneuverability. How does a coach work with such little and high priced tools?
Look, let me head off the usual Rags fan knee jerk retort at the pass. Rick DiPietro's contract is not just the worst in hockey history, it might be the worst in sports history thanks to the hubris of a hockey business handicapped owner in Charles Wang. The Nassau Coliseum is an old dilapidated wreck with a parking lot that looks like Edward James Olmos's face. We haven't sniffed the playoffs in years. So let's get the defensive Isles/Rags thing just out of the way, shall we?
But honestly, there is something seriously wrong with the Rangers, and has been for quite a while. It isn't the coach, despite the laughable press conferences.
Anyone who can take that motley group that has zero chemistry and push them, even backside in, to the playoffs is a guy you need. Pompous and prickliness is a NY institution. I look forward to when he joins Earl the Pearl and Keith Hernandez hawking Just For Men commercials.
Your team is stuck in mediocrity. There are a bunch of 2nd-3rd line forwards, nothing at Center, and one star player in Marian Gaborik who is NEVER your best player in meaningful games. Your defense is mostly made up of second-pair D, generally overrated.
Meanwhile, you have an elite goalie who must steal games for the team to be a factor. So you have, at heart, a team that is neither rising or sinking with GOOD, but not outstanding prospects with not a whole lot of cap space. How long can your team continue to house their mistakes? First Redden, clearly Drury, and probably you can eventually add Gilroy.
In truth, your team is what the last two-year record indicates, folks...pure mediocrity with no clear path forward. Just enough to scrape into the playoffs depending on the year, but once there, shown in many ways in what they are lacking.
But, let us go back a few years...
It seemed that the Rags were turning a corner when Sather finally pushed out the vets and got all those draft picks back about five years ago, letting Don Maloney handle the development and drafts. That's right, Don actually was the guy who picked Callahan and Dubinsky. And look who now has gotten Phoenix teeming with kids and to the playoffs as well … good old Don.
But the focus of the Rags is to buy, buy, buy since Don's departure. Is it no wonder they have floundered with high priced free agents who have not been the answer, and lost a lot of years of development from an about face.
Flash forward to this year, after a summer when Sather just was basically throwing money away, look at those players who are shouldering the load for the Rangers and where those Sather has brought in are languishing...
(Hat tip to HockeyDB.com for screenshot)
Rags fans should be thankful besides heartened that the kids are carrying that load. But this team is constantly dis-serviced by a GM who hasn't gotten much output from most of his choices for quite a few years now, most of the time meeting exorbitant prices or competing against themselves paying top dollar. Ottawa fans knew Wade Redden was a car wreck in handling just the Ottawa pressures. Yet, here rode in Sather, ignoring common sense, all other dmen and setting a price that was stratospheric. Who else was chasing Redden in the same fashion or piling up an offer? That's right, nobody. Not at the high price. The damage done has been catastrophic, and this short-sighted philosophy continues to be done is mind-boggling.
So how is it we hear each year from some fans that somehow the Rags are going to go far? That they are going to go all the way!
Oh wait... nevermind, that was just Stan Fischler.
Anyone with half a braincell who has watched the Rangers struggle most of the season knows that something is wrong. Why can't the Rangers themselves?
Having two Ranger fans brothers in my family, I went to one for this piece...
BD: Give me 5 reasons for their playoff death in your opinion
Scott Gallof (semi-retired NYR blogger):
1: couldn't score goals
2: couldn't stay out of their own zone
3: lack 60 minute work ethic
4: got manhandled physically
5. Micheal J Fox would have had a better chance on the power play
In summary, outclassed
So it's not just me folks.
But don't worry Rags fans, you will convince yourselves it will all be different next season. That Sather will buy smart, for once, and suddenly all things will come up roses. Or Tortorella, the man with a hair trigger who can barely hold off a freakin' NY Post reporter, can then throw a water bottle at a fan in frustration to an ownership and GM that is keep handing him a pile of crap.
Maybe he'll continue to then work his magic into creating first round playoff doormats for teams with far more prospect talent and UFA contracts that haven't hamstrung their organizations.
Word is it is has been Torts himself preaching patience and trying to get the kids to fill in roles. But unless they and he can finally get the GM and owner just to get out of the way, they will only be raising this in the near future in NYC …