By Lenn Robbins
There’s a perception across the country that New York franchises either don’t want to rebuild or believe they can’t afford to. If you don’t build it fast, not rebuild, there are plenty of other options for the New York sports fan.
Regardless of which is more accurate, every time a New York franchise doesn’t see a rebuild through, that perception is reinforced. And we know few mountains in life are harder to climb than changing perception.
Thanks to the Rangers, our status as the City That Never Rebuilds, has been reinforced because their stated intent to do so was so refreshingly transparent. They published The Letter in February of 2018 and it seemed as something revolutionary could happen here:
A New York franchise, and an elite one at that, said for the record that a rebuild was to be undertaken. They acknowledged, “While this is a part of the game, it’s never easy.”
No, it isn’t. But deciding to speed up the rebuild is never, ever smart. No matter the sport, successful franchises are the ones that have continuity in coaching and management. It’s the closest to a guarantee a franchise has of continued success.
Yet James Dolan, Mr. I’m the Smartest Guy in Any Room, decided the steady improvement that was the Rangers under the eye of team president John Davidson, GM Jeff Gorton and coach David Quinn was not happening fast enough to his liking. He saw the Rangers bullied by the Washington Capital and their resident thug, Tom Wilson, and outworked by the Islanders and decided to follow The Letter with a bunch of pink slips.
After firing Davidson and Gorton a week ago, new president Chris Drury fired Quinn and his staff on Wednesday.
So here we are again, another New York franchise that had the temerity to announce a rebuild finds itself in the most tenuous of positions. What if the new management and new coach are so determined to transform the Rangers into the Broadway Bullies they ship out too much of that tremendous wealth of talent that Davidson and Gorton assembled and Quinn did a fairly good job of coaching?
Yes, his Quinn’s mantra of being close to the players might have worked at Boston University but not in the NHL over the long haul. And for certain the Rangers need to add some players that will extract immediate revenge on the likes of Wilson and win their share of battles in the corners.
But as Knicks fans can tell you, Dolan’s fingerprints are in the Owner Interpol Book of repeat offenders for meddling. As Knicks fans can tell you, he’s more thin-skinned than either Cuomo brother, which is a shame because his father was such a beacon of humility.
The search for a new coach has begun and with the exception of former Rangers coach and bugged-eye temper tantrum waiting to happen known as John Tortorella, any successful veteran coach with NHL experience (The Post’s Larry Brooks reports that former Panthers and Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant is the frontrunner) should be considered. Maybe an edgier voice and grittier team will end this playoff drought at three seasons.
But the first hint that the Rangers are considering moving Adam Fox, Chris Kreider, Alexis Lafreniere, Artemi Panarin, Igor Shesterkin Jacob Trouba, or Mika Zibanejad will only reinforce the perception that those who own and run New York franchises are impatient fools. And they’d be right.