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"How the Rangers Got Back to the NHL Playoffs"


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Here's a story about the Rangers rebuild from the New York Times - May 3, 2022

 

 

Mark Reiss has been a Rangers season-ticket holder since 2001, perched high in the blue seats with his two sons, who grew from toddlers to adults under the iconic Madison Square Garden ceiling.

For two decades, they watched their team fail to make the N.H.L. playoffs almost as often as it qualified, and then, on Feb. 8, 2018, they received the famous email from Rangers management. It explained the unthinkable, and was a note of demarcation. Their team, rooted in the heart of Manhattan and able to deploy more financial muscle than any other team in hockey, was rebuilding for the future.

“I was actually ready for a reboot,” Reiss, a coastal marine scientist, said. “But when you read that email, you got a pit in your stomach. It felt like, ‘OK, this is going to be rough.’”

The rough part is finally over. After four years with no playoff games to attend, Reiss, his younger son, Matteo, and thousands more loyal Rangers fans like them will fill the Garden on Tuesday for the first home playoff game there since the Letter.

Reiss said in recent years that he had grown a little impatient with the process, but as arduous as it has seemed at times, the result has come with the impact of an Artemi Panarin slapshot. The 2021-22 Rangers blasted expectations in a breakout season under their first-year coach, Gerard Gallant.

The Blue Shirts won 52 games and earned 110 points, the most since they won 53 and had the league’s best record in 2015. They carried a battle for the Metropolitan Division crown into the final week of the season and earned home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

They did it all as the second-youngest team in the playoffs, with an average age of 26.5 years, according to Elite Prospects, lending credence to the notion that this team is more than a one-hit wonder.

“They’ve brought hope to this city that they are on their way to winning a championship,” said Joe Micheletti, a former player and assistant coach and a Rangers analyst on the MSG Network since 2006. “They are a Cup contender this year, and they are only going to get better. Everybody can feel that.”

When the Nets were swept out of the N.B.A. playoffs last month, conversation turned to which New York team could win the next championship. Many mentioned the Mets and the Yankees. But what about the Rangers?

“We’re a good team ready to take off,” Gallant said recently, “and that’s what we want to be.”

The rebuild that put the team on the runway was an intriguing process from the start. Marquee teams in New York rarely embark on complete roster renovations, and the Rangers, under the team owner James L. Dolan, seemed especially unlikely to do so — and to acknowledge it so publicly.

Veterans were traded, the team bought out the contract of Henrik Lundqvist, the beloved goalie, and traded for key players like Adam Fox while drafting Kaapo Kakko No. 2 overall in 2019 and Alexis Lafrenière No. 1 in 2020. Those two, along with their fellow first-round picks K’Andre Miller, Braden Schneider and goalie Igor Shesterkin, represent the long-term youthful core of an auspicious future. Shesterkin is 26. The rest are under 25.

But the Rangers never lost sight of veterans, either, signing Panarin as a free agent in 2019 and extending the contracts of Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. Things seemed to be moving, albeit methodically, in a positive direction.

But then, in a stunning departure, the original architects of the effort — Jeff Gorton and John Davidson — were dismissed after last season, and David Quinn, the coach, would soon follow them out the door. Perhaps the rebuild was a bit too methodical for Dolan. He promoted Chris Drury, the former Rangers player and youth baseball star from Trumbull, Conn., to run the front office and accelerate the process.

Firing Quinn and hiring Gallant were Drury’s most significant moves, a tone setter that announced to players and fans a heightened sense of urgency under a no-nonsense coach. But Drury also fine-tuned a roster that Gorton had largely built. He added Ryan Reaves and Barclay Goodrow in the summer to provide some snarl, and then, before the March 21 trade deadline, he acquired players like Frank Vatrano, Andrew Copp and Tyler Motte. Since the deadline, the Rangers have played their best hockey.

 

If the current roster is a recipe of various ingredients prepared in phases by different cooks, Gallant is the one who brought it all together for presentation. Micheletti, who will call the first round of the playoffs for MSG Network, along with Sam Rosen, refers to Gallant as “the most unique coach in the N.H.L.”

“He doesn’t overcoach,” Micheletti said, “and that alone is unique in this day and age. He keeps enough distance and lets the players run the team. If they don’t, then he’ll step in. But he usually doesn’t have to because he trusts the players and they take ownership.”

In 11 years with the Detroit Red Wings and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Gallant, 58, played a straightforward team game, scoring, assisting and throwing shoulders and fists when necessary. His direct coaching style, which came out of that somewhat bygone era, seems to have unlocked the Rangers’ potential. Gallant wants the puck moving straight up the ice, not side to side. He wants the players to grapple for possession, and if they lose the puck, to fight equally hard to get it back. He demands contributions at both ends of the ice, but allows players to accentuate their special talents, particularly when they are as gifted as someone like Panarin.

“That’s what it’s been,” Gallant said recently. “Let them do what they are going to do.”

Gallant engineered one of the greatest coaching performances in any sport when he took the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, with a veteran roster, to the Stanley Cup finals in 2018, their first season in the league, before they lost to the Washington Capitals in five games. Two years later, the team fired him midseason.

In New York, he has had a rebirth with a much younger team, but without changing his approach. Vatrano, who scored eight goals in 22 games since joining the Rangers, said that when he arrived the coach’s message to him was simple: Be yourself.

“The biggest thing is, he doesn’t restrict your game,” Vatrano said. “He lets you play. If you are an offensive guy, he wants you to make plays, but within that structure he also wants you to play smart. If you mess up, you know you messed up.”

But Gallant is not a yeller behind the bench. That reduced tension when things went wrong, allowing the Rangers to come from behind to win 27 times this season, second most in the N.H.L.

It does not seem coincidental that several players, including Panarin, Miller, Zibanejad and especially Kreider and Shesterkin, have enjoyed career years under Gallant’s tutelage.

Shesterkin’s mesmerizing growth this season is the likely key to any potential success in the playoffs. He has the highest save percentage (.935) and the lowest goals-against average (2.07) in the league. He is the presumptive Vezina Trophy winner as the best goalie, and the reason some see the Rangers as a threat.

“They’ve got a really good mix of skill and young players, and they’ve got the goalie,” said Peter Laviolette, the Capitals’ coach. “The rebuild is over. They are ready.”

Micheletti said that at some point this season, he noticed that the Rangers acquired a belief that they could beat anyone in the league. Fans have picked up on that, too. Some of them, like Reiss, wonder if the Rangers’ lack of experience could be their undoing in the playoffs. But at least there are playoffs.

“It’s been four years,” Reiss said, referring to the club’s promise to fans. “I’m pretty cynical by nature. But from where I’m sitting up in the blue seats, what is there to complain about?”

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@GratefulFlyers

if only the Flyers would admit they see the reality of the current situation and would do something similar.

Today's presser left a lot to be desired, if it is because of the rumored (Eklund* I know ) Dave Scott retirement, the opportunity to make a bold move like that is present.

 

@FD19372

He was right to do it too. Can't have one of the Original 6 looking like a monkey ****** a football. I wish he'd throw that weight around with the Flyers too. They are a cash cow, and right now the milk is rotten.

 

*a stopped clock is right twice a day

Edited by mojo1917
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6 minutes ago, mojo1917 said:

*a stopped clock is right twice a day

Breaking News: Chuck Fletcher has been fired. Stopped Clock has been named new GM of the Philadelphia Flyers. Details are still coming in...

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The Rangers had some great luck in their rebuild . Some of top tier UFA players wanted to go only to NY, so nobody else had a shot to sign them. They signed Trouba and Panarin, while we signed Hayes and Risto. Adam Fox told Carolina, he wouldn't sign with them and will only go to NY. That's three great players right there. Then they hit the draft lottery two years in a row  getting the second and first pick. They drafted Kakko and Lafreniere, both started off slow, but now are looking like real good players. We got the second pick and got Nolan Patrick. The Rangers did a great job rebuilding, but they also had great luck,wile the Flyers had no luck.

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4 minutes ago, RonJeremy said:

The Rangers had some great luck in their rebuild . Some of top tier UFA players wanted to go only to NY, so nobody else had a shot to sign them. They signed Trouba and Panarin, while we signed Hayes and Risto. Adam Fox told Carolina, he wouldn't sign with them and will only go to NY. That's three great players right there. Then they hit the draft lottery two years in a row  getting the second and first pick. They drafted Kakko and Lafreniere, both started off slow, but now are looking like real good players. We got the second pick and got Nolan Patrick. The Rangers did a great job rebuilding, but they also had great luck,wile the Flyers had no luck.

 

Well it's not like we had to sign Hayes and Ristolainen. That's all on Chuck. And if you think they're bad now, wait a few more years.

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Good and informative article!  The Flyer's brass needs to take off the rose- colored glasses and get their collective butts in gear or they'll lose the fan base.  As the Plumber would say, " Geter Done. "

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3 minutes ago, flyercanuck said:

 

Well it's not like we had to sign Hayes and Ristolainen. That's all on Chuck. And if you think they're bad now, wait a few more years.

I know we didn't have to sign them  but , we went after the consolation prizes and the difference in talent levels are huge.

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8 minutes ago, PuckMeister said:

The Flyer's brass needs to take off the rose- colored glasses

 

They're basically implants at this point. In the middle of the worst season in years Dave Scott the "governor" of the Flyers tells fans they don't need no stinkin' 3-5-year rebuild. Fletcher agrees. Just a few tweaks, we'll get some high-end talent (sure you will) and all will be well. "We'll be right back in it next year." In what is my question. Middle of the pack? Yay.

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15 minutes ago, RonJeremy said:

I know we didn't have to sign them  but , we went after the consolation prizes and the difference in talent levels are huge.

 

A smart GM would be signing pieces the team needs or that are good long term solutions. Fletcher and Homer sign whoever they can that is UFA and on the downswing.

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24 minutes ago, RonJeremy said:

I know we didn't have to sign them  but , we went after the consolation prizes and the difference in talent levels are huge.

See, that’s not luck.

 

Also Rangers made trades for more assets that allowed them to make deals/take chances.  Hayes, Brassard, JTMiller, etc.

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12 minutes ago, SCFlyguy said:

See, that’s not luck.

 

Also Rangers made trades for more assets that allowed them to make deals/take chances.  Hayes, Brassard, JTMiller, etc.

..the luck was that the best players wanted to sign with the Rangers and hitting the lottery twice  the incompetence was us signing mediocre players to absurd contracts.

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44 minutes ago, RonJeremy said:

..the luck was that the best players wanted to sign with the Rangers and hitting the lottery twice  the incompetence was us signing mediocre players to absurd contracts.

 

But that doesn't support his argument so he will ignore it...don't worry someone of us understand your point.

 

 

Edited by OccamsRazor
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31 minutes ago, SCFlyguy said:

Funny that the competent teams keep getting lucky.

 

No one anywhere said ONLY the competent teams get lucky.

 

The bad teams do too.

 

But you are in denial that no good luck is easy and falls to you everything is earned otherwise?

 

Am I rite?

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28 minutes ago, SCFlyguy said:

Funny that the competent teams keep getting lucky.

The Rangers are proof that even the most incompetent regimes can change. They were a joke for 25 years after their Cup in 94.That moron Dolan must have finally  decided to mind his own business. They have finally made the right decisions and its paying off . Fletcher has to hit big in this draft, hire the right coach, make the correct trades , our younger guys have to take the next step and there has to be a big improvement next year to all aspects of this team like PP, PK, etc. . Fletcher has made some good draft picks, but most of his trades and FA signings were bad. I believe if the team isn't alot better by the halfway point,he will be gone.

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18 hours ago, RonJeremy said:

I believe if the team isn't alot better by the halfway point,he will be gone.

 

Yeah, I think so too. I honestly wouldn't have been surprised to see him gone after this season, but it's equally unsurprising to see him getting one last chance. His rhetoric definitely bothers me though. It feels to me like he's being tasked with doing something that likely can't be done by anyone. He's talking about it in media like it's possible, but I'd be curious to know if he really believes it behind closed doors.

 

As far as I see it, this team is not going to be significantly better next season. I can't see how they would be. If they get a ton of luck, they could potentially return as a bubble team, but that's about the most I'll give them. And to be honest, I wouldn't put money on that either. The safer bet is this team ends up in the bottom ten next season again.

 

I'll be curious to see if Giroux comes back. That would be a possible way for them to get back into the bubble picture. I don't think Giroux gets them any further than that though, and whose to say he can even do that anymore. With him maybe they go from bottom ten to bottom fifteen. I'm not sure I'd give them any more than that. There's just too much missing from this team.

 

Fletch has run this team as if it's one that only needs 1-2 key pieces to compete, and now he's talking aggressive retool. Either he believes that to be true, or those are the marching orders he's been given from on high. Either way, that doesn't bode well for us fans unfortunately. The last decade has been awful for Flyers fandom, and it doesn't look like we're out of the woods yet.

Edited by elmatus
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26 minutes ago, elmatus said:

It feels to me like he's being tasked with doing something that likely can't be done by anyone. He's talking about it in media like it's possible, but I'd be curious to know if he really believes it behind closed doors.

This is an interesting theory.

I thought Chuck sounded beaten in that presser.

Whether it was firing a guy he's fond of, or relaying the Samuel Morin news, he seemed pretty downcast.

Truly there is not much to be "happy" about.

 

Fletch has run this team as if it's one that only needs 1-2 key pieces to compete, and now he's talking aggressive retool. Either he believes that to be true, or those are the marching orders he's been given from on high.

 

I think when he came in, he thought the players were better than they have turned out.

He was thinking Couturier, Patrick, Hayes Frost down the middle by now.

He was thinking he had an embarrassment of riches on wing and a strong young core on defense.

The reality he's had none of those things, I think it is an instance of looking at a situation from the outside and thinking it's one way but the reality is different.

 

Chuck looked like a guy that has had a serious reality check.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by mojo1917
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1 hour ago, mojo1917 said:

This is an interesting theory.

I thought Chuck sounded beaten in that presser.

Whether it was firing a guy he's fond of, or relaying the Samuel Morin news, he seemed pretty downcast.

Truly there is not much to be "happy" about.

 

Fletch has run this team as if it's one that only needs 1-2 key pieces to compete, and now he's talking aggressive retool. Either he believes that to be true, or those are the marching orders he's been given from on high.

 

I think when he came in, he thought the players were better than they have turned out.

He was thinking Couturier, Patrick, Hayes Frost down the middle by now.

He was thinking he had an embarrassment of riches on wing and a strong young core on defense.

The reality he's had none of those things, I think it is an instance of looking at a situation from the outside and thinking it's one way but the reality is different.

 

Chuck looked like a guy that has had a serious reality check.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well if we try and look at this fairly.

 

Pretend we aren't talking about Chuck.

 

Show me a team that loses it's 1st and 2nd line center and their number 1 defenseman and still stay a float after even more injuries crop up.

 

One of the key forwards they are counting on is still trying to work himself back into shape from Cancer.

 

And your top goal scorer isn't scoring (JVR).

 

So basically down those guys and half your team is full of kids/AHL guys.

 

Maybe not the best example but how good would the Avs be without McKinnon and Kadri as well as Makar because they are out pretty much all year and your top goal scorer Raatanen can buy a goal to save his life.

 

And without Makar Toews struggled all year?

 

How would Sakic look and how would the Avs look in the standings?

 

And this in no way is to exonerate Chuck but to just judge it all fairly and at face value?

 

Point being when this happens well it seems the results would be obvious.

 

Anyway about the only 2 cents I want to add to this all because well I am exhausted by it all.

 

Not an excuse but like just an explanation.

 

Take from it what you will. Feel how you want to feel about it.

 

:BrownBag:

 

 

Edited by OccamsRazor
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58 minutes ago, OccamsRazor said:

Not an excuse but like just an explanation.

 

Take from it what you will. Feel how you want to feel about it.

I'm not leading the charge to Chuck's house with the pitch forks and kerosene.

Your take, it is fair. The social medias don't really do "fair" very well. Not enough outrage, but that's a chat for another time.

He never got to see what last offseason would have brought had the team not had the comically bad luck with injuries.

 

Turning what's left of the team around is a tall task and will require a near 100% reversal of fortune. 

But as Dr Jerry Buss says about luck in Winning Time, "I'm *****' due".

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27 minutes ago, mojo1917 said:

He never got to see what last offseason would have brought had the team not had the comically bad luck with injuries.

 

Compared to the best in the NHL even a healthy roster (incl Ellis) doesn't exactly scream "elite" or Cup favorite. Maybe if we're talking career years...I've heard that anything can happen!

 

But seriously signing Hayes and Ristolainen - never mind the contracts - means the team is forced to play down to them. That sets the Flyers back in a big way. I see it in Sanheim's game most of all.

 

edit: btw I didn't mean to suggest your quote is untrue. It's obviously true. I was just pointing out that it probably wouldn't matter that much.

 

 

Edited by GratefulFlyers
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@GratefulFlyers

 

no that's fine and it could be you're right as well.

The difference between winning and losing is pretty slim in the league, pre Giroux trade as bad as the Flyers played, they had opportunities to win games, but folded in the 3rd period. Maybe a confident team that plays in the opponent's end and neutral zone more than their own zone wins more of those games.

I never thought the moves made the Flyers championship caliber, I thought they would make them better and would then be able to build upon some of that success. 

I didn't see this roster (OG summertime excitement version) as a finished product or a "this is the best it can be" cup contender. I did think it would be a back to winning a round in the playoffs (and maybe better if Hart played well} team.

 

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8 minutes ago, mojo1917 said:

I did think it would be a back to winning a round in the playoffs (and maybe better if Hart played well} team.

 

I think I felt about the same last fall. They wouldn't set the world on fire but they should be well over .500. The injuries took a toll but I don't think we can overlook the huge mistakes Fletcher made hiring Hayes and Ristolainen. Because they both get big minutes they're part of who the Flyers are, the Flyers' identity. That might've been fine years ago but these days it's not at all what you want if you're (supposedly) transitioning to a younger, faster, smarter team.

 

I don't mean to lay every failure at their feet but they really do muck up the Flyers' game on the ice. Every night.

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3 hours ago, mojo1917 said:

I'm not leading the charge to Chuck's house with the pitch forks and kerosene.

Your take, it is fair. The social medias don't really do "fair" very well. Not enough outrage, but that's a chat for another time.

He never got to see what last offseason would have brought had the team not had the comically bad luck with injuries.

 

Turning what's left of the team around is a tall task and will require a near 100% reversal of fortune. 

But as Dr Jerry Buss says about luck in Winning Time, "I'm *****' due".

 

And I will not lose one second of sleep if he is axed.

 

Just a Devils advocate view so to speak on it.

 

:BrownBag:

 

 

Edited by OccamsRazor
#Bourbon up
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