The New York Rangers Season, A Retrospective
The 2018-19 New York Rangers season ended as most thought it would with the Blueshirts missing the playoffs for the second straight year while jockeying for position in the all-important NHL Draft Lottery that saw them walk away with the 2nd overall pick.
The Rangers now will land either Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko and finally be able to obtain that premiere forward that has eluded the franchise, seemingly, for eons
A fun year
In September, 2018, I was fortunate enough to become a contributor for one of the Web’s top Ranger blogging sites. In October, 2018 I was blessed to attend my 26th consecutive Rangers home opener when the Blueshirts kicked off the home part of their schedule against the Nashville Predators. In December, 2018, I was in my perch in section 227 row 16 when former Ranger Captain Vic Hadfield had his number 11 jersey raised to the Garden rafters.
In February, 2019, I had the privilege of witnessing my heroes and my last team to deliver a championship, the 1994 Rangers, honored with an unforgettable ceremony that will assuredly last a lifetime. Also in February, I released my second book, “Long Suffering-The Trials & Tribulation of a Mets, Jets and Rangers Fan” which the good people at ForeverBlueshirts were kind enough to help promote.
Ranger hockey is my passion. Ranger hockey is my solace. Ranger hockey continuously occupies my thoughts and, much to the chagrin of my wife and my friends, from September through April (or whenever they get eliminated from the post-season), if my beloved hockey team is playing, the television must be tuned to MSG and my behind must be planted on my sofa. That’s the way it’s been since I was a teenager and that is the way it will always be. I cut my finger recently and as the blood started to trickle down, I noticed there was a little white and blue mixed in. That colorful metaphor was hyperbole at its best my friends, but I think you catch my drift.
Being able to put my thoughts and opinions and perspectives on paper-or the computer screen in this case-for ForeverBlueshirts is a terrific outlet and I am so very grateful for the opportunity to do so. Being able to have season tickets for as long as I’ve had them and keep my opening day streak alive for all this time is certainly a blessing. One that is not taken for granted.
The Rangers entered this past season with low expectations as far as the standings were concerned. Virtually no one outside of the Blueshirt locker room felt this year would be anything but a developmental year as the team continued to work youngsters into the line-up under first year coach David Quinn. There was a glimmer of hope that perhaps, these Rangers would defy the critics and naysayers and make a push for the playoffs in November when the team was in the midst of a 9-1-1 stretch. Then came the Black Friday 4-0 loss to the Flyers in which the Rangers were dominated in every sense of the word and the season seemed to then spiral out of control.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, whose early season turn-back-the-clock performances earned him his fifth All Star game selection, seemed to crumble under the cumulative weight and pressure of carrying the franchise for the previous 13 years. Neophytes Brett Howden, Filip Chytil and Neal Pionk, after getting off to surprisingly outstanding starts, all slammed into the proverbial rookie wall going 100 miles-per-hour.
The Rangers would spend the remainder of 2018 falling out of playoff contention. Once the calendar flipped to 2019, qualifying for the post-season became nothing more than a pipe dream and which veterans would be jettisoned as a sequel to last season’s roster purge began to dominate the conversation.
Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes and Adam McQuaid were this year’s rebuild casualties as Jeff Gorton and his staff added more prospects and high draft picks to his already impressive array of young talent. By the way, my Stanley Cup Final match-up prediction is the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning with the squad from Florida’s Gulf Coast capturing that beautiful silver chalice *wink wink*.
Over the next several months, through the entry draft and free agency period, the 2019-20 Ranger roster will begin to take shape and Rangerstown will have a better idea of how much longer this rebuild will be, Some teams, like the Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes, seem to be in perpetual rebuilding mode. The Ranger brain trust are certainly doing everything in their power to ensure that the Blueshirts rebuild ends sooner rather than later and playoff hockey returns to the World’s Most Famous Arena.
“You have to take two steps back in order to take five steps forward.”
“You have to learn how to lose before you learn how to win.”
Pick any cliche that you want, folks. This is what a rebuild looks and feels like and it is long overdue in my book. “Better late than never”, as I add to my list of cliches.
The New York Rangers will not play in another meaningful hockey game until the beginning of October, 2019. A full six months away. Until then, keep visiting this website for organizational updates, player bios and some really cool historical stuff. On a personal note, I want to thank all of you who read my articles and take the time to leave comments about the subject matter. It is greatly appreciated and before you know it, the 2019-20 season will be upon us.