Nuclear winter settled over the hockey rink at Madison Square Garden with the sudden firing of John Davidson as president and Jeff Gorton as general manager of the New York Rangers, both victims of owner James Dolan’s terrible swift sword.
That left coach David Quinn as dead man walking and less than a week after Davidson and Gorton were dismissed, Quinn and the rest of his coaching staff were shown the door.
And so, the soap opera that masquerades as an NHL franchise winds its way through another directional wilderness. Call it As The Rangers Turn.
They actually seemed to have a plan three years ago when they sent a letter to their fans announcing the start of a rebuilding effort. Davidson, a beloved former goaltender and television analyst, was imported in 2019 to oversee the operation along with Gorton as GM. They would accumulate draft picks, get younger and faster. The Glen Sather era was over.
Or was it?
Sather, who had been GM and then president, retained a senior advisor’s role and he’s never been shy about sharing his opinions with decision makers. There are those around the Rangers who suspect that Dolan decided to clean house after Sather whispered in his ear.
The Davidson-Gorton version of the Rangers followed the rebuild blueprint, They recruited Quinn from Boston University to groom the young team. The nucleus featured kids like Kaapo Kakko, Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere , Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren and K’Andre Miller. He had some veterans like Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich too, It was an interesting, rather diverse roster. They played classic hockey, not the rough and ready to rumble brand that the senior advisor once favored.
Under Quinn this season, the Rangers played decent hockey, maneuvering though hot and cold stretches and remaining in contention for a playoff berth. Then came back-to-back shutout losses to their crosstown rival Islanders, games in which the team seemed listless, almost disinterested. Shortly after that, their playoff fate was sealed. Unless you count the hybrid play-in COVID-19 inspired tournament last year – the Rangers were swept out of that affair – they have missed the playoffs four straight years.
Dolan and probably Sather as well, were outraged and Davidson and Gorton paid the immediate price with Quinn allowed to finish the season as coach and then joining them on the unemployment line.
Chris Drury now wears both president and general manager hats and will hire a new coach and the party line is he will shop for a tough guy or two, enforcer types to add to the roster. Glen Sather remains senior advisor.