The New York Rangers have just taken their most recent steps towards a positive direction this offseason. While last (post) season was a glaring show of the flaws this heart and soul team has, the organization has competed hard this offseason to improve their roster come opening game day. However, despite the obvious improvements and the given flaws that still reside in this organization, does this team have what it takes to make some post season noise??
I'm going to be the realist, the devil's advocate, and the fan when regarding my answer to this question, but i will start off by saying yes- this New York Ranger team will be making some serious noise. Is it enough noise for the cup? Probably not: making it to the Stanley Cup final and winning it is a combination of chemistry, organizational timing, and luck. But alot of the complaints heard by Ranger fans all last season have appeared to be heard by management- and some crowd pleasing moves were made this offseason; with the signing of Richards, the way the rookies are being handled, MSG renovated, etc. Most of the unfortunate headliners for this organization were also the most impactful- Derek Boogard's surprising death along with former captain Chris Drury's early departure have made a profound effect on this team and the organization as a whole; bringing together teammates and colleagues who had to pull together in hard times. While on the other hand, the entrance of recent winning successful players such as number one center Brad Richards and versatile power forward Mike Rupp: both bring some guidance and stable veteran presence in a vibrant locker room that is full of players entering a higher stage of maturity and ability as they enter their primes. After the injury ridden season last year, these Blueshirts have learned more about themselves and what is being asked of them from themselves and their coach on a daily basis- and all the players have spoken about the positive outlook they now have.
The 2011-2012 New York Ranger team will be a different team from last year. Same philosophy, but different members contributing in different ways. In a way, the Blueshirts are still in a maturing stage: learning about each other, where they are on this team, how they interact out on the ice, etc. Each season for the past 3 seasons have had drastic changes going around the team, with the roster, with coaching. From demoting players to letting rookies play high minutes, to getting stable goaltending tandems, to injury bugs and more....and this season is no different. With the departures of players with a spot in the roster to now not knowing who will make it on the roster because of the flow of talent- this season will again show a team nearing the end of a rebuilding stage, struggling to find it's footing in an ever increasing current.
This team is going to be a fun team to watch- but it is still premature to be speaking of the cup or making a deep run in the playoffs, etc. I'm sorry to all the diehard optimistic Ranger fans but in reality, chemistry has to be formed and the roster has to know each other and understand each other. As of now, fans and probably management as well are trying to figure out the roster that will make the bulk of the 2011-2012 season for this team because of all the possible line combinations with the high stock of players capable of playing in the NHL. Yet one of the main qualms about this team, is that there really are no highlight players on this roster; besides the King in the net or Gaborik when he decides to shoot the puck. While i am most certainly not saying you need a team that jumps to youtube everynight- having a highlight player is certainly good for all invested parties. You don't see average teams winning the Stanley Cup- you see great teams winning the Stanley Cup.
Do i want the Rangers to miss the playoffs? Do i want to see the crushing disappointment this team has written all over them when they fail?
No. Of course not.
If you were to ask a true hockey fan why they love the game- they would probably just smile at you and shake their head.
Either you understand the sweat blood and tears, the long days on the pond, the way the arenas shake, how your heart pounds at least a handful of times a game...
For someone who doesn't know hockey or understand the lifestyle of hockey.....its hard to put into words the love for the game and the lifestyle it gives you.
But for the New York Ranger fan.....
We will root for them as they have embodied one of the greatest philosophies you could teach another person: Get back up, put one foot in front of the other. don't give up. don't give in. While this is a common philosophy in the sport of hockey, this Ranger organization has come to rally around "it's just pain" and to "play for 60 minutes" and we as fans deserve to stand for an ovation when the effort is there. While the effort is typically there every night, the consistency on the board is usually a different story. But then again- such is the game of hockey, along with the game of life.