One of the best parts about SB Nation is that we have easy access to hockey fans from all other teams. Another one of the best parts is that none of us really take ourselves too seriously. This week we are taking a look at how the other members of the new MassMutual NHL East Division feel about the season and the specific situation on their team.
The New York Rangers with Joe Fortunato from Blueshirt Banter
How strong do you think this year’s Rangers team is?
I have no earthly idea. The Rangers have a lot of firepower up front again, and added some more this summer with Alexis Lafreniere. The question, as it always seems to be with the Rangers, is their defense and how they decide to roll their players out. Right now K’Andre Miller appears to be playing himself onto the opening night roster, which would (hopefully) remove any semblance of Jack Johnson on the back end in a daily role. Right now David Quinn seems to be playing his cards the right way. I do think he could push Lafreniere up the depth chart a little, but I do like that line as a whole. And, shockingly, the Rangers appear to be fine between the pipes without Henrik Lundqvist.
That said, this division is a monster, and I’m not sure the Rangers are a playoff team here.
How do you think the new division will shake out?
Oh ... well then. I think the Rangers will be close enough to be in “play” for a playoff spot, but I think the division as a whole is too difficult for them to have any real traction. The Rangers are the youngest team in the league right now, and they have a lot of kids who are going to have to learn their way. This includes rookies from last year who need to take a sophomore step forward. I see Boston taking the division, gun to my head.
Are we in for any surprises with the 2020-21 Rangers? Any new names we should look out for?
Aside from the obvious, I think K’Andre Miller is going to make the team and really surprise a lot of people. That’s not even mentioning Kakko, Lafreniere, Fox, and Shesterkin. The Rangers genuinely have two players in Lafreniere and Shesterkin who should compete for the Calder Trophy this year. How exciting is that? (For us)
Jack Johnson? Really?
Have I mentioned I hate the Rangers yet? I feel like I should do that at some point. It’s almost like every general manager who takes over is contractually obligated to sign/retain someone who provides no value, will take a spot away from a kid, and will make the team tangibly worse every time they step onto the ice. I have no idea what the Rangers thought they were getting in Johnson. This screams a Jacques Martin reclamation project, but if the AV years taught us nothing about those then what will? The good news is it appears Miller is pushing him out of the lineup. The bad news is that rarely seems to last in New York.
So, Tony DeAngelo sucks, huh?
About two years ago I discussed the Derek Stepan trade (which brought DeAngelo — who already had a series of red flags on his resume — into the fold) and mentioned the Rangers either didn’t do their homework on DeAngelo, or were wholly unprepared for what they were getting. Who would have thought that the pre-Rangers incidents like using homophobic language and assaulting an official would have been the start?
With the Rangers, DeAngelo has already had his hand (publicly) slapped by PR twice, invited a fan to meet up with him after a game to have a physical altercation, very publicly announced his support of President Trump, started his own podcast where he discusses mean things people say about him, tweeted about how COVID-19 was a hoax, and finally removed himself from Twitter in a public temper tantrum because of their ban on the President while simultaneously announcing he will rejoin Parler whenever they come back online. That in addition to the seemingly endless hoard of people who will tell you that you’re wrong to have an opinion on DeAngelo for his PUBLIC political views, who don’t recognize the irony that they’re doing the same thing.
DeAngelo also had a remarkably good offensive year last season, and the Rangers elected to kick the can down the road with a two-year bridge deal this summer. Did they try to shop DeAngelo? Reportedly yes, although who knows how hard. At this point, DeAngelo is on his third stop in the NHL, and who he is as a person is all the way out there. Would other teams who don’t have as firm of a grasp on their PR as the Rangers do want to deal with him? I doubt it. I wouldn’t.
And considering DeAngelo had 53 points in 68 games last year that says a lot. This situation sucks for almost everyone involved, and DeAngelo has promised to stop instigating before, but it has never stopped him for long.
Why exactly do you all hate AV so much?
Oh you sweet summer children.
My hatred for AV burns like an enormous grease fire. The more you try to put it out, the higher and hotter the flames get. I genuinely believe there is not a person in hockey I am more resentful of than Alain Vigneault. I could literally write a book about it.
The sad thing is, in 2014 Vigneault was an amazing coach. He always is in his first year when he’s in new surroundings. Then the change happens. Vigneault only knows how to build one machine, and when the pieces don’t fit, or they stop working properly, he just continues to jam them in even as the entire system fails.
He starts doing what he wants, pushing for “his” people and players. He relies on a “sophisticated stats package” you can’t see and he won’t tell you about. He “loses” his best defensive pairing in the third period of a playoff game, loses the game, then does the EXACT SAME FUCKING THING THE NEXT NIGHT AND LOSES THE SERIES. He attacks his generational, greatest player to ever play for the franchise goalie constantly to the media. He sits promising youth for aging veterans who suck in both regular season and playoff games. This is a man who watched the team pay a king’s ransom for Keith Yandle, only to minimize his power play time and use him as a third pairing defenseman. He was handed Eric Staal at the deadline, and played him as a third line center. He was a coach who would come into the room and tell Pavel Buchnevich IN PASSING to be “tougher on the puck” and have that be the ONLY explanation or reason for why he didn’t play and/or would play the next two weeks on the fourth line. His response to any question about his mistakes was “it was the right thing to do.”
He is a black hole, he gives nothing — only takes. He rode generational goalies in both Vancouver and New York and convinced himself and the hockey world he was the only reason his team won games.
I wonder, honestly, how Vigneault doesn’t have a Stanley Cup ring on every finger and toe since he never does anything wrong.
Vigneault is a man who has thirty seconds of sex before finishing and then turns to his unsatisfied partner, lights up a cigarette, and comments that they were terrible. He is a child who touches the hot stove, burns himself, and then does so again. Only he’s using your hand to do it and is telling you that you’re wrong.
The Rangers finally opened a Stanley Cup window and then in the summer, after the Stanley Cup run, Vigneault slammed it shut. He basked in the glow of a media in New York who were so petrified of another John Tortorella that they refused to ask even the most basic of questions. They never pushed back, and Vigneault fell further and further into himself.
It’s fitting that when Vigneault was fired not a SINGLE player had anything to say about it in a positive light. He survived on gum and Lundqvist during his time in New York, and was unappreciative of the latter.
I will never forgive him.