Jeff Gorton acknowledges Rangers had toughness issue, now same with Habs

new york rangers
Oct 13, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Rangers right wing Ryan Reaves (75) and Rangers right wing Barclay Goodrow (21) stand on the ice during warmups prior to the Rangers' game against the New York Rangers at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers had a seismic shift in leadership and overturned the bottom six of their roster this past offseason.

Out were President John Davidson and GM Jeff Gorton. Fired for what owner James Dolan classified as lack of leadership but oddly conspicuous happening right after Capitals enforcer Tom Wilson trampled on the team at Madison Square Garden the day before.

Promoted to both roles was former NHL captain Chris Drury. That started a chain reaction that led to veteran and hard-nosed coach Gerard Gallant being hired.

Drury followed that up by trading for and signing Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Reaves. He added tough players like Sammy Blais, Dryden Hunt, and Patrik Nemeth in separate transactions.

Toughness addressed.

Jeff Gorton dealing with similar issues in Montreal

The Montreal Canadiens are an absolute mess. Things are tough both mentally and physically for many of their players. And why wouldn’t they be? This team just played in the Stanley Cup Final last season and have become a bottom-feeder in just one a few short months.

Media in Montreal have been going crazy after goaltender Samuel Montembeault was absolutely steamrolled by Zack Kassian on Saturday. Not a single member of the Habs did a thing to defend him.

Jeff Gorton’s new GM, Kent Hughes addressed that today.

“We had our scout meetings this weekend,” Hughes said. “This is something that we discussed. Jeff Gorton spoke about his experiences in New York, what the Rangers lacked in their return to respectability, they didn’t have enough toughness in their squad to protect the youngsters.”

Gorton understood the Rangers had a problem

new york rangers tougness
Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Gorton was a guest on the Cam and Strick Podcast this summer. Hosts Andy Strickland and former NHL tough guy, Cam Janssen wanted to know just what happened with the Tom Wilson incident. The former Rangers GM told them what he knew, but shockingly isn’t sure if that was the only reason for his dismissal.

“No, I didn’t know it was going to turn into that, it surprised me,” Gorton answered. “Obviously, I lost my job – it probably has to be more than that. I don’t know but it has to be more than that – it can’t be just one thing.”

“You can’t tell me JD who loves toughness didn’t know we weren’t tough,” Gorton revealed. “All the meetings we had with David Quinn talking about getting tougher over time, we also needed some of these young guys who were playing for us to have to deal with adversity – see how they did with it too.”

“Obviously it didn’t go well, and Wilson should’ve been suspended,” he said. “I didn’t think that night was going to be what it turned into – that people were going to lose their jobs.”

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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