Down Goes Davidson! Down Goes Gorton!
In the type of Wednesday afternoon shocker not seen in years, Rangers CEO Jim Dolan axed Team President John Davidson and General Manager Jeff Gorton ahead of the team’s 7pm game against the Capitals that already had the hockey world buzzing thanks to Tom Wilson’s antics on Monday night when he assaulted Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich.
The potential revenge factor of the Rangers going after Tom Wilson has become almost an afterthought in light of Dolan’s smashing up of the team’s hierarchy.
Many believed the Rangers’ rebuild was going in the right direction. Since February 2018, the Blueshirts have gone from selling off a majority of the team’s NHL assets in exchange for prospects to beginning to reap the rewards for accumulating one of the deepest prospect pools in the entire NHL.
No, the Seventh Avenue Skaters aren’t going to the playoffs this year; which makes it four-straight seasons of no-playoff hockey for New York’s Original Six team. But by and large, this was an organization headed in the right direction and Davidson and Gorton were leading the charge.
So, pardon my french, but what the hell happened?
Longtime NY Post writer, Larry Brooks, was the first to report on the news and the chaos that was unfolding.
There were rumors, again addressed by Brooks, that there was a disconnect between the top stars (Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, etc) on the team and Head Coach David Quinn. But guess what? Quinn wasn’t fired!
There are rumors there was growing dissension between Dolan and Davidson/Gorton, regarding the direction of the team. So maybe that’s part of this.
There’s also the not so subtle fact that the Rangers were exposed for having a lack of grit over their past several games as the Islanders and Capitals physically had their way with the Blueshirts. That evidently is something Dolan is unhappy about.
But again, why now? There’s only three games left in the season!
Could the Tom Wilson situation have exacerbated the situation? Maybe?
Until shortly before 3pm(EST) on Wednesday, the big story surrounding the Rangers was how and if the team was going to exact revenge against Wilson or one of his teammates for ending Panarin’s season with as violent a bodyslam as you’ll ever see in an NHL game; especially after the spineless NHL Department of Player Safety decided to only slap a $5,000 fine on Wilson for his punches to the head of a defenseless Buchnevich and did not punish him at all for his actions against Panarin.
That was all bad enough and more than guaranteed a volatile game at MSG for tonight. But then the Rangers went and released a statement in which the team called out Wilson for his violent behavior and said DoPS Head, George Parros was derelict in his duty and unfit to continue in his role.
That amplified the situation a hundred-fold ahead of Wednesday night’s clash. Then, again this is all speculation and rumors, evidently Davidson/Gorton attempted to distance themselves from the statement, which drew the league’s ire, behind the scenes; which would not have sat well with Dolan and others.
Again, we are in the dark as to why Dolan chose to fire the successful Davidson/Gorton tandem and why now. Until Dolan addresses the media, which we don’t yet know if he will, we won’t have anything concrete to hang our hats on.
And in the immediate aftermath of firing Davidson and Gorton, word came out the team had elevated Assistant GM, Chris Drury to the roles of Team President AND General Manager. We do not know if that will be an interim decision or a permanent one, but we do know, again going to Brooks’ reporting, that former Rangers’ Captain, Mark Messier is likely atop Dolan’s wishlist to join the management team in some capacity — likely as President with Drury remaining as GM.
There will be more to come and we will be keeping an eye and ear on the situation, but for now just know this, Davidson and Gorton are out at MSG and an already electric Wednesday has become bat sh*t crazy.