Wed 24 Mar 2010
With the New York Rangers hitting the home stretch seven points behind eighth place Boston and eight points behind sixth placed Montreal and Philadelphia (with a game in hand on both of those teams) , fans of the Blueshirts need the team to continue its losing ways. Yes, you read that correctly. The Rangers need to continue losing games.
No, it has nothing to do with the Rangers finishing so poorly that President/GM Glen Sather is fired by James Dolan. Given Dolan’s track record, we all know that is not going to happen. It took years of a truly miserable New York Knickerbockers team AND a sexual harassment lawsuit for Dolan to fire Isiah Thomas. The bottom line is Slats will not go anywhere unless it is on his terms and when he is good and ready.
Frankly, I want to see the Rangers win just two games the rest of the way as long Henrik Lundqvist gets the victories. The King has 28 wins and needs the two victories to reach the 30 win plateau in each of his first 5 NHL seasons. I know it isn’t exactly an Earth-shattering reason, but let some good come out of the misery we call the 2009/2010 season.
By now you are wondering why I want the Rangers to continue tanking the rest of the season if I do not expect Sather to get fired. The answer is simple. If the Rangers do not finish among the five worst teams, they do not have any shot at acquiring the first overall pick in the NHL Draft Lottery – which will be held Tuesday, April 13 at 8pm. NHL rules permit teams to move up only four spots if they win the lottery. Anything lower than fifth and the Rangers are out of the top spot.
As things stand now, the Blueshirts have the eighth worst record in the NHL. If everything stayed the same, the highest they could pick is fourth. However, the Rangers could have a chance to end up with the third worst record this season.
Edmonton has pretty much locked up the worst record in the NHL as they have 55 points with nine games remaining. With a seven point lead on Toronto, it looks like the Maple Leafs will edge out the Rangers as well. However, the remaining teams that trail the Rangers are all within three points – a lead that the Rangers can easily squander.
I know it is difficult to root against your own team (especially when a front office shakeup is extremely unlikely), but what is the best course of action for the tenth place Rangers. Doing just enough to squeak into the playoffs or continue their nosedive in the standings? Do you want to face the best team in the Eastern Conference – the Washington Capitals – or put yourself in the best position to have the first overall pick in the Draft?
Let’s be honest, should a team (as of March 23, 2010) that has a losing record at home (15-17-6) deserve to make the playoffs? In fact, the Rangers are the only team in the Eastern Conference with a losing record at home.
To me the answer is simple – show me the Draft pick! I know that Sather’s draft record has been spotty at best during his years with the Rangers. That is the precise reason why the Rangers need to finish as poorly as possible so that they can draft as highly as possible.
Even someone as inept as Glen Sather couldn’t screw up the draft this year if he owned the first (or even second) overall pick in the Draft. While there is no Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby on the horizon, it would be worth the losing for the Rangers to get the chance to draft either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. Both players are ranked one-two by Central Scouting (Hall #1) and the International Scouting Service (Seguin #1).
Even if the Rangers didn’t land the first or second overall selection, the higher they draft the better the chance they have of snaring a sniper like Kiril Kabanov (Moncton-QMJHL), World Junior Championship sensation Nino Niederreiter (Portland-WHL), or even Brett Connolly (Prince George-WHL). Both Kabanov (wrist) and Connolly (hip) have been slowed by injuries this season.
I haven’t had a chance to take a long look at the 2010 Draft, but those are the five forwards that are on my radar at this time. There are also three blueliners who will get a lot of attention come June 25 in Los Angeles (Cam Fowler, Brandon Gormley and Erik Gudbranson), but I am not so certain I want to see the Rangers draft another d-man in the first round.
So let Cablevision “entice” us all it wants with 3-D broadcasts as they look for yet another way to take Ranger fans to the cleaners. The bottom line, whether the Rangers are broadcast in 2-D, 3-D or No-D (Which I guess would be called Redden/Rozsival Vision), the product they are broadcasting is still not worth the promotion Cablevision and MSG are putting out.
Perhaps if Cablevision spent as much time studying the job the Rangers President/GM is doing as they have in producing a 3-D broadcast, maybe the Blueshirts wouldn’t be in the same position they have been in the last four years – having to fight tooth and nail just to make the playoffs.
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