Gorton and Sather Hold Press Conference Regarding Current State Of The Rangers

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New York Daily News

Today was a strange day for many in Rangerstown, not just for the team and the brass but for the fans as well. It all began with the news that defenseman Brendan Smith was placed on waivers and Neal Pionk was recalled from Hartford. Obviously, this news delighted many fans as Smith’s play was lackluster as last night’s drubbing seemed to be the final straw in what is now essentially a lost Rangers season.

Soon after, the Rangers released a letter to the fans, which adds to the strangeness.

This all but acknowledges and confirms what we already anticipated as fans, that the Rangers are going to sell assets in order to rebuild. What makes this strange is that usually letters like this are sent out after the season ends, whether it’s regular season or playoffs, but not before the trade deadline. Again, this signals that the Rangers have waved the white flag and are prepared to tear down what pieces this team has in order to build for the future.

Then, it was announced that Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather would hold a press conference at sometime in the afternoon shortly after the release of the letter. This led to wild speculation online that the team was prepared to fire head coach Alain Vigneault.

The live feed, which was streamed on Facebook, began streaming with the camera fixated on the podium and nothing else for eleven plus minutes, which added to the strangeness and tension. Gorton and Sather finally arrived and it was revealed that this was solely to answer questions about the state of the Rangers and what their plans for the future are and not an announcement to fire Alain Vigneault.

Right off the bat, Jeff Gorton noted that the team is in dire straits and although hinted that a playoff run is possible, the team must look forward and see that changes for the long term need to be made and not just patchwork moves to attempt another deep playoff run.

Gorton said that he doesn’t blame bad play on injuries and acknowledges that the team is not living up to usual expectations for this season.

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Gorton then goes on to explain that the moves made will be for future and not to salvage the season, all but confirming a fire sale. When asked about Alain Vigneault, Gorton was vague about his future but called him a good coach and that the organization has faith in him. He did not have a direct answer but its seems like Vigneault will be the coach for the remainder of the season.

When asked about Brendan Smith, Gorton talked about different strategies the team tried to employ like scratching him and putting him with other partners but did not work out. He explained that when Smith was scouted, the team was impressed with his play and was the reason for the trade and the signing. He then explained that he waived him for his poor play and that he did not live up to the expectations the team wanted him to live up to. Gorton maintained that he still thinks he is a good player but did not figure it out. Moving forward, he explained that once Smith goes through waivers and is still in the organization, the team will move on from there on what to do with him.

Gorton acknowledges that the Derek Stepan trade in summer was first part of rebuild but maintained that the team was still able to compete but as mentioned previously, the team failed expectations.

Gorton did not comment on what types of returns certain players can get, including first round picks as pieces in trades coming back to New York. Sather later explained that this rebuild was explained to the scouts, staff and more than likely, the owner and all seemed to be on board. It was also noted that this process will go into the summer months, as the Rangers are looking to take the next few months to evaluate their position and what they can do to bring the team back to where it needs to be.

Overall tone of this press conference was to acknowledge team’s lackluster play and wanted to inform the media and fanbase know that they are working to fix the team and put them back into strong Stanley Cup contention.

Although all of this seemed strange from a fans standpoint, what the Rangers did today was good, not only for themselves but for the fans. Ranger brass is clearly aware of what is going on. The lackluster play alongside the boo’s and hollers at MSG as well as the outcry online clearly have resonated with the higher ups in some way. It’s refreshing to hear that the team is invested in winning and putting a solid and consistent winning product on the ice.

Seeing and hearing that the team not only wants to reassure the fans of this, but also committed into turning the team back into a strong Stanley Cup contender for the future is what all of us wanted to hear. Hopefully, the team can make moves, coaching and player wise, that will bring this franchise back to being one of the stronger teams in the Eastern Conference and hopefully, the NHL.