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TheNYRBlog 12-Pack: Now What?

Here we are Rangers fans. Just 12 games into the 2017-18 season and somehow, according to history, it may already be over.

The Rangers have 8.

So now what?

1. The easy answer is to dump Vigneault. Is it AV’s fault that Miller, Kreider, Hayes, Zuccarello, Nash and Vesey have COMBINED for 12 goals in 12 games this season? No. Is it AV’s fault that Lundqvist is allowing goals from behind the goalline? Nope. And is it AV’s fault that McD, Smith and Shattenkirk have forgotten how to defense? Hell no. But guess what? The fish rots from the head down. I’m not going to rehash all the mind-numbingly insane personnel decisions AV has made over the course of his tenure as the Rangers head coach, especially this season, however, with every slow start to a game it’s becoming more and more apparent that his message isn’t resonating with this group.

Reports have Tuesday’s contest vs. Vegas as AV’s last stand. Why bother? One win vs. an expansion team, albeit a good one, doesn’t suddenly change things. Since upper management obviously questions the head coach’s ability to the lead this team, they should just cuts ties now. Give Ruff or Arniel the interim title till the end of the season, hope it sparks the team, then clean house this summer and start anew.

There’s been some historic Rangers moments during AV’s time on Broadway, but as Glen Sather says: every coach has a shelf life. And sadly it looks like AV’s is about to expire.

2. The worst thing the Rangers could do right now is make a panic trade. Since history suggests that the Rangers aren’t likely to make the playoffs, mortgaging the future for Matt Duchene seems foolhardy right about now. And while I’ve mentioned trading Kreider in a previous post, if the Blueshirts decide their best course of action is hanging on to young assets to build for 2018 and beyond, at 26, the Massachusetts native can be someone to build around. While I don’t think Kreider will ever become that 35 goal scorer we all envisioned, 25-goal guys don’t exactly grow on trees these days and that’s precisely what he is.

3. Instead, what the club should probably be doing is selling off their older assets for picks and/or prospects. And the biggest fish in the Rangers pond is Rick Nash. In the final year of his contract, he could be a very attractive option for a team with Cup aspirations. To get the most value out of Nash, the Rangers GM will probably have to wait until closer to the trade deadline to prey on teams’ desperation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Gorton was able to negotiate a first round pick for Nash. It won’t be easy to move Nash as he possesses a no trade clause, but since he is in the final year of his contract, I assume he’d be willing to waive it for another chance at the Cup. Plus, if he really wants to continue playing in New York, he could always look to re-up with the Rangers this summer.

While I’m sure no one wants to say it, another tradable asset is Mats Zuccarello. What do you guys think about the idea of moving The Hobbit?

So I guess that’s a no?

4. Another elephant in the room if the Rangers decide to look towards next season is Henrik Lundqvist. How does he react to the team pulling one of the few remaining chances for the Cup out from under him?

Does he ask for a trade? Hell, does the team ask him if he’d be willing to waive his no trade clause? If the Rangers still employed Talbot or Raanta, I’d fully endorse moving on from Lundqvist while the team retools, but with the club’s current instability between the pipes after The King (at least until Shestyorkin’s KHL contract ends in 2019), I’m not so sure it’s the right call.

5. If the Rangers are able to unload some of their veterans to build for the future, I have to guess recalling guys such as Chytil, Lettieri, DeAngelo and Pionk would be a given. Get these guys some valuable NHL experience in a non-pressure environment, while also injecting some youthful enthusiasm into the lineup. Yes it’s a move with an eye towards 2018-19, but I also think adding fresh blood makes the team better this season as well.

6. The only hangup with a Chytil promotion is whether the Rangers are willing to burn a year of his entry level contract during a lost season just to get him experience at the NHL level. Financially, it makes a ton of sense to keep him in Hartford, while allowing him to develop at his own pace. However, the 18-year old might be wasting his time in the AHL as he’s dominating the competition with 8 points (3g, 5a) in his first 6 games with the Wolf Pack.

It’s a small sample size, but I’d hate to see the Rangers potentially stunt his growth due to playing inferior competition.

7. If the Rangers are going to continue being one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL, it really makes zero sense to have Staal and Holden in the line-up. While I give Staal a ton of credit for his renaissance this season, he still shouldn’t be manning the blueline of a 3-7-2 team when there’s good, young talent waiting in the wings down in Hartford. Sticking Staal in the press box for the remainder of the season won’t be an easy decision for the organization, but it’s a necessary one if this team wants to build for the future.

8. It’s also officially time to start worrying about McDonagh. With possession anchor Dan Girardi gone, it was supposed to be the Captain’s time to flourish. Instead, the Minnesota native has started the season with a thud as AV continues to search for the right defensive partner for his All Star defenseman. McD has logged big minutes against the toughest competition the NHL has to offer for the last 7+ years. Eventually his body was going to start breaking down, so you have to wonder if this is the beginning of the end for McDonagh.

9. Another knock on McDonagh is the team’s lack of leadership. While never a vocal leader, it’s beyond time the Captain and his alternates rattled some cages in the locker room. Similar to McDonagh, the newly designated alternate captain Mats Zuccarello seems to be weighed down by the burden of wearing a letter. In the past he was a source of energy and inspiration, now he’s become passive and non-combative. The effort and execution haven’t been nearly good enough, so by any and every means necessary the leadership must provide motivation for this team.

10. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks the status quo is unacceptable as there were a number of high ranking Rangers officials at the Canadiens/Senators game tonight:

Kreider for Galchenyuk? Kreider for Pacioretty? Maybe they’re looking for a new head coach. Marc Crawford is an assistant in Ottawa.

Larry Brooks at the New York Post seems to think the Rangers like Andrew Shaw and his much needed sandpaper.

Also, why no Gorton? Is it merely a scare tactic for the players? Or maybe it’s the Rangers announcing that they’re open for business. Who knows, but I can assure you this: we’re one loss to the Vegas Golden Knights away from finding out.

11. This morning, while publicizing his new book on WFAN, Sean Avery weighed in on the Rangers struggles (H/T to reader Bill McNeal for the link)…

Man, the Rangers could sure use an Avery type player on the team right now.

12. I’ve thrown a ton of shit at the wall in this blog post. I have no idea if any of my suggestions would be effective or if the Rangers are of similar mind on any of it, but all I know is something has got to give. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. And sadly, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think insanity is the Rangers current strategy.

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22 thoughts on “TheNYRBlog 12-Pack: Now What?

  1. I hear you Kevin, though no Way they give up on this year now and start building for the future. After all, it’s a biz they run and it would be bad for biz to rebuild now.
    but I agree something needs to change. I would strip all of them of A’s and C’s and let them know that one C and one A will be awarded after the next 5 games solely based on who steps up and leads this team out of this funk. No other criteria applies.
    And yes, they need to acquire one pain in the @ss player that can rally the emotions around this team. And they need it now.


  2. These upcoming 3 games will undoubtedly make or break the season for this particular cast of Blueshirts. If they don’t come out with at least 4 points AV will be gone. The question of which players go is the interesting one. I am a diehard Henrik fan and I think he still has some great hockey left in that broken down old body of his (where did I put that underwear video?), but he may be at a point where a trade is an attractive option for both him and the team. I hear Vegas needs a goalie… The bigger issue is what to do with Nash, Kreider, And Zuccarello. The short answer in a cap constrained business environment is they are all sellable. So sell them and start over but you need to have a coach in place who will develop the young players and that certainly is not Lindy Ruff. Next week will be HUUUGE.


    1. They have no choice but to get 4 out of next six points with both Vegas and Florida on the schedule. But that might be window dressing as opponents getting significantly more difficult after that.


  3. Got my copy of Icecapades in the mail yesterday. Maybe I’ll just slowly read thru it during Ranger games to numb the pain, and send my mind back to a time when players who pulled on this jersey gave a shit. I agree, Kevin, canning AV doesn’t directly address any of the issues, but in indirectly addresses one of the biggest ones. It isn’t on the coach to be ready to go when the puck drops, or to remember to continue to play thru the last 30 seconds of the period. But his vanilla personality has infected this team. Like Avery said, if these guys can’t get excited to be stepping out on to MSG every night, that’s on them.
    AV trusts his players to get motivated themselves, and this group just isn’t capable. They either need to make a trade for a Brad Richard, MSL type player who’s going to run the room and then back it up on the ice, or they need to go find the next Tortorella to get rid of the country club mentality in the locker room.
    I remember being at the game last December against Ottawa when the Rangers were down 2-0 three minutes into the game. After, it was reported that Derek Stepan said what needed to be said on the bench to wake the guys up, then went out and backed it up, scoring 2 of the Rangers 4 goals that night to win 4-3. So what do the Rangers do? Oh let’s trade him and keep Mr. Dull-Predictable-Answers Nash.
    I also think what Avery said about Hank is very interesting. You can definitely tell in his post-game Q&A that he’s answering on issues about the entire team and structure, almost like he’s another coach. And his body-language when he lets one in? You can watch him look right at whichever skater blew his assignment. A) I bet that’s not a lot of fun to play with for the rest of the guys, and B) JUST WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF! Feel free to get on everyone else when you’re standing on your head, but as long as Sidney Crosby is banking multiple goals off of you from behind the net, stop making this into everyone else’s problem. Just worry about your own game!


  4. I guess this season is gonna be like watching an older cubs team: if we know they’re gonna lose, we can at least enjoy the train wreck? I dunno.


  5. Very interesting observations Kevin, it is hard to argue with any of them. One move I would immediately make is to strip McDonagh of the ‘C’ I never approved of him being the captain. Now that his play have deteriorated, I’m even more skeptical of his leadership but it is only my opinion. Maybe it would lite a fire under the rest of the team’s butt and start playing better for 60 minutes per game instead 40 minutes.


  6. We’re what 12 games in..70 to go? History doesn’t always repeat itself and this group isn’t as bad as its record. I can’t argue with anything said and you can’t blame AV for mental errors and bad goaltending but it is the coaches job to get the most mileage out of a team in a sport where chemistry is king and making the right personnel choices paramount. The leadership structure sucks here from top to bottom and we do need to rattle the core. Does anyone know what Mr. Messier is up to these days?


  7. Let’s not forget how bad we were at home last year. We have become a road team for whatever reason. This early batch of games at home could easily be camouflaged in last year’s result. If we don’t look any better when we take some road trips, I will be really worried about keeping this roster going forward.


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