To Tank, or Not to Tank? That is the question for the Rangers and their fans
“Tastes great! Less filling.”
“Tastes great! Less filling.”
Aaahh, the sheer comedic genius that were the Miller Lite television commercials from the 1980’s. Those passionate beer guzzlers and their jocular, vociferous arguments about what made their favorite adult beverage so appealing is sure to stand the test of time in the annals of boob-tube marketing.
I bring up advertisements from over three decades ago because that is the first thing that popped into my mind when I surf my way around the various social media sites and I see fans of the New York Rangers having their own “tastes great, less filling” debates regarding whether or not the Blueshirts should be tanking.
Tanking has become the sporting world’s newest and most polarizing catch phrase. A team losing on purpose, or, not doing their darnedest to try and win each game that they play would have been blasphemous and sacrilegious to previous generations. These days, large sects, that are growing in size, are pulling for their downtrodden franchises to keep losing with the hope of drafting a potential franchise player – or players – to help accelerate the rebuilding process.
Pertaining to the Rangers, as they get closer and closer to participating in their second consecutive draft lottery, they currently are lacking an obvious elite level young skater anywhere in their organization. 2018 first round draft picks Vitali Kravtsov and K’Andre Miller could eventually end up developing into that elusive franchise forward and cornerstone defenseman, respectively, that the Blueshirts are desperate for. However, there does appear to be one of those “generational talents” that is the odds on favorite to be the top overall pick in this June’s draft and his name is Jack Hughes of the United States National Developmental Program. Hughes, the dangling golden ticket, has drawn comparisons to 2007 first overall draft pick and three-time Stanley Cup champion, Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks. That sound you hear is Rangers fans salivating over the prospect of having a bonafide, elite level prospect.
In order for the Rangers to draft Hughes, they must win the draft lottery. In order for the Rangers to win the lottery, well, they have to be lucky, but they also need to finish as low in the league standings as possible to have the most ping-pong balls in the air-suction machine. The other side of the proverbial token is the jaded, discontented Ranger fans who feel that the scouting staff, led by chief scout Gordie Clarke, are a bunch of clueless, incompetent, imbecilic bozos who wouldn’t know how to draft a great player even if the second coming of Wayne Gretzky was available when the Rangers brain-trust were ready, en mass, to make their way up to Gary Bettman’s podium.
My social media observations have brought me to the conclusion that Rangers fans are divided into two camps. The “tank at all costs” camp and the “what’s the use, Clarke and his staff will mess it up anyway” camp. Based on what I’ve read from both sides, I would like to present a hypothetical, hyperbolic conversation between a “Tanker” and a dissatisfied, apathetic “Long Suffering” Rangers fan.
Tanker: Why the heck did we win last night?
Dissatisfied Customer: Why does it matter? We are not making the playoffs.
T: Exactly! No reason to keep grabbing points. Gotta lose in regulation as much as possible.
DC: I could never root for my team to lose.
T: We have to lose in order to have the best chance to win the lottery.
DC: Oh, please! Knowing Sather, Gorton and Clarke, they’ll win the lottery and select some obscure fourth string goalie from Kazakhstan that no one has ever heard of.
T: You don’t know what you’re talking about. Jack Hughes is the second coming of Patrick Kane.
DC: You mean the second coming of Citizen Kane.
T: I am tired of missing out on franchise players. I am tired of mediocrity.
DC: As long as the current Rangers hierarchy stays in tact, all you’ll get is mediocrity.
T: Even the Rangers couldn’t screw up Jack Hughes. He is a stud, a beast!
DC: So was Jessiman and Brendl and every other alleged blue-chip prospect they’ve had since Brian Leetch.
T: I’m telling you, Hughes is the real deal.
DC: I’m telling YOU, I’ve seen this movie before about a dozen times and trust me, it does not end well.
Now, these types of internet debates tend to get messy and childish. No need to include juvenile insults in my hypothetical dispute, but that is the gist of what I am seeing.
Which side of the fence do you fall on? Which do you see is the best course of action moving forward to help get your beloved Blueshirts back to prominence and relevance?
This is a fascinating, provocative and thought-provoking debate that is sure to unearth and exhume a plethora of interesting and intriguing commentaries. My curiosity is bubbling with anticipation and enthusiasm!
Editor’s Note: Should Rangers fans actively root for the team to lose? You can check out Jeff’s article on the subject here.