Since everyone, their mother and grandmother is going to put their 2 cents in on how to fix the Rangers; we decided that we hate being left out and since this is our dime to chip in our own POV.
See we did not buy into the marketing fluff from those folks who operate the Rangers at Madison Square Garden and think it was a legit run for the cup. It has always been our view that this was another year in the rebuild and that it would take time.
According to our own time line, the season that just ended was the 4th year of the rebuild and next season is the one where the Rangers need to move into the area of championship material. In our eyes it is also the "make or break" year for Tom Renney and his staff which is where we will begin.
We will start with the positives as we will hand it to the coaching staff for being able to take so many young players like Dubinsky, Staal, Dawes and even Girardi and turn them into key parts of the team so quickly.
We will not question that when it has come to developing the youth that Renney and his staff have done a better than expected job given how empty the prospect pipeline has been. In fact we salute Renney for finding Girardi himself, for developing the developmental program that the Rangers currently use and for the increased investment in the Ranger future.
The development camps, the decision to become a part of the Traverse City Tournament, and the hiring of Reg Grant all have paid huge dividends towards restocking the Ranger system. Perhaps the one move that so few know about but is perhaps the true stroke of genius was to use Adam Graves as a super scout/teacher.
What a lot of people do not know is that Graves goes around to some of the prospects during the season to talk to them, to offer advice and in the case of a couple prospects so rather interesting tools to help them improve as both players and as people. Think of it this way, if one thinks about how much Ranger fans think of Graves then picture the teenager who grew up watching him getting help.
That message gets learned in a way that few others can teach. When an Adam Graves talks everyone stops and listens. Ranger fans will reap that benefit for a long time. All of that is what Tom Renney has done for the Rangers.
We will expect that the Rangers continue to work the prospects onto the roster next season as we believe there are as many as 4 deserving rookies who should earn roster spots come next training camp.
Perhaps the biggest thing that the Renney staff did and never received their proper due for was turning Sean Avery from a locker room cancer as he was with the Kings to one of the more popular teammates on the roster. Avery will never win a Boy Scout badge for manners but as a Ranger he has gotten the job done, so we credit the Renney staff for that.
We also like how no matter what happens that Renney in the public eye remains a picture of calm, that he has never used the media to belittle his players or question them. How he handled team business out of the glare of the NYC media earns some respect since sometimes not even Ranger fans have the right to know what goes on during team business (IE Malik's refusal to shake his hand).
While we really at times found his always calm mannerisms frustrating and even wished that just once Renney would go ballistic when a clearly bad call went against the Rangers; we respect his choices. This is how Renney chooses to run the direction and he has earned the right to do so.
We applaud that Renney has found a way to get the entire team to embrace playing defense something that those non-playoff Ranger teams never did . To see such players like a Jagr coming back on a rush given his reputation says more than anything else.
Now while we have remained supportive of the coaching staff; at the same time there are some causes of concern that we feel must be addressed prior to next season. The very top of our list has to be consistency as the Ranger team that we just witnessed was frustrating to watch.
Sure the argument that major changes were made to the lineup but this team never got going nor did we see the team peak as a team should. Next season it will be unacceptable for the Rangers to play an outstanding game one night and then turn right around and lose to a cellar dweller like they did on that lost weekend late in the season.
We are going to demand a level of consistency from the players and that will fall on the shoulders of the coaching staff. There is not going to be any acceptable reason other than a devastating injury that will allow us to let the coaching staff off the hook if they beat a first place team on Tuesday and lose to the cellar dwellers on Wednesday.
We also want to see an end to all those games where the Rangers took 20 minutes off. It is not going to be acceptable to watch a Ranger team give away periods, we do not think it is too much to ask for a full 60 minute effort.
Nothing was more frustrating than to know that when the 2nd period came in the playoffs that Ranger fans knew the team would not be there. It was a major part in what doomed the team and must be addressed.
We also did not see a killer instinct from the Rangers and sorry but that is a reflection of their coaching staff. We never saw the Rangers put a choke hold on another team and put them out of their misery. Too often teams could trail by 2-3 goals and the Rangers would not finish them off.
Next season we want to see the Rangers have some laugher wins, we want to see them take a team and blow them out of the arena. Laugher wins are the kind where you can rest some regulars, get some playing time in situations for those who normally never see it.
If anything what happened in Montreal will not be acceptable in the future as we never want to see any Renney coached Ranger team blow any kind of 3 or more goal lead again. If it happens again we will point the finger at the coaching staff and we will hold them accountable.
We do not think anyone will argue that fixing the power play is one of the top priorities for next training camp. To see a roster that had the kind of firepower that the Rangers had fail to develop a working power play will not be acceptable next season.
It does not matter if Jagr returns or not, the Rangers can not expect to be viewed as a contender if their power play never rises higher than 22nd as this year's team was. To become an elite team and we believe there is the makings of one must have a power play ranked in the NHL's Top Ten. You will not cut it with a power play that only works on 16.5 % of the time.
We also want forward progress, despite the loss to the Penguins in the second round we believe this franchise is pointed in the right direction but at the same time this is also a franchise that should have won a division title which has to be a goal for next season.
It is not sour grapes but talent wise the Rangers from top to bottom of their roster should beat the Penguins. Yes they have 2 franchise superstars but they did not have much else when they beat the Rangers.
We also expect the Rangers to remain players in the free agent market as we do not believe that Jagr will go anywhere. Both the Rangers and Jagr have a lot at stake come next fall when the Rangers open the 08-09 season in the Czech Republic.
We expect Jagr back, we expect the Rangers to give Renney the tools on the blueline that he lacked and the one solid scoring winger. That being said then Tom Renney and your staff will have to make it to the conference final or should be fired.
Yes as much as we support and respect the Ranger coach and the job both he and his staff have done there comes a time where you either move forward or be replaced. We feel that the 2008-2009 season is that crossroad for the Renney staff.
They can no longer say the team is barren on the farm system as they themselves proved that the kids are developing. They can not point to any issue that remains (provided the Rangers do actually address needs like the defender and scoring winger) and say that Sather and HIS staff have not given him the tools to win.
2008-2009 will be the season for Tom Renney to spit or get off the pot. Ranger fans have a right to expect more from next season and if this team fails to show forward progress or even falls back then we are sorry to say this but Tom Renney will have to pay with his job.
We hate to say this but sadly 3 straight playoff seasons, several high profile players and some very talented young players are telling us that Ranger fans have every right to set their sights higher next season.
Tomorrow we talk about who we would keep and who we will not miss when they leave.
6 days ago