While Ranger fans are enjoying that for the 3rd straight season the team is playoff bound there is another side that Ranger fans just might be overlooking.
What we are talking about is how much the Rangers have changed since the 2003-04 season. Of the current roster only Jagr, Tyutin and Valiquette (only 2 games) played on that team so really the majority of the roster is untouched by the 7 year stench of losing.
What is different now is that the Rangers are brining in players who are used to winning. It does not matter whether they are playing for the Rangers or at Hartford, or anywhere else; the players are used to winning.
Nigel Dawes won a gold medal as part of Team Canada in the World Juniors as did Marc Staal who won 2 of his own. At age 22, Henrik Lundqvist won a silver medal in the World Hockey Championships before joining the Rangers.
Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Ryan Hollweg, and Dan Girardi all played for winning programs in the Canadian Juniors before joining the Rangers. There are players at Hartford who have medals or also played for winning programs prior to joining the Rangers.
The point we are making is that one of the reasons why we tell Ranger fans to believe in the Ranger future is because success can breed more success. Whether it is the Rangers, the Hartford Wolfpack, the Halifax Mooseheads, the Rimouski Oceanic or even the Michigan Wolverines, winning brings the desire for more winning.
Ryan Hillier is about to play in the QMJHL quarterfinals right after signing his Ranger contract, the further he goes in the playoff the more he is going to learn about playing under pressure situations. Those are lessons that you have to experience as they are not something a coach can draw up on a chalkboard.
A coachable young man like Hillier will soak in the lessons he is learning and that will only help the Rangers in the long run.
Carl Hagelin already has a World Junior Championship's Silver medal this year on his resume. Now the Freshman from Sweden has an excellent chance to earn an NCAA Championship as Michigan will be playing in the Frozen Four next week.
Not to mention that Hagelin is also playing for a coaching legend in Red Berenson who only has 2 NCAA Championships and 18 straight appearances in the NCAAs under his belt. Did we forget to mention that Michigan is also the top ranked team in US College Hockey?
And we will not leave out David Skokan of Rimouski who has repeatedly shown himself to being a big game player whether it was helping the Ranger prospect team win the Traverse City Tournament, playing for Team Slovakia or as he is currently doing playing for the Rimouski Oceanic as they try for their second straight playoff series upset.
If Skokan does return to Rimouski for the 2008-2009 season then the Rangers will already be assured that at least one prospect will be playing for a chance to win the Memorial Cup, The QMJHL announced on Thursday that Rimouski will be those host for the 2009 Memorial Cup.
One of the perks for being the host is an automatic bid into the Cup tournament.
The more these prospects win the better we believe the Ranger's future will be as we said earlier success breeds more success and that is a nice road to travel.
Before we go, we got a report from our friends at the IIHF on the Ranger's visit to the site of the Victoria's Cup and the quick word is that the Rangers are happy with the way things are looking.
We will expand on this next week during.
(Pictures: Hillier/Halifax Mooseheads, Hagelin/Michigan Wolverines, Skokan/Rimouski Oceanic)
2 days ago