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03-17-2013, 08:58 AM
  #341
alkurtz
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Mahopac, NY
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There is another factor at work here: the relative parity that exists in the league. There is just not that much difference talent-wise (with a few exceptions) between the top and bottom of the league. It allows Montreal to go from last to first without changing much of their roster. It allows the Rangers to go from first to possibly not making the playoffs.

Each season takes on a life of its own with teams rising or sinking seemingly for no apparent reason. Winning breeds winning and becomes contagious. Losing leads to more losing. Fans are left scratching their heads in bewilderment.

As for the Rangers, it is hard to fault what they have done. They build a young core and tried to supplement it with high end talent that would get them over the top: that is the classic way to build a championship team in most sports. It hasn't worked out. Who could have foreseen that Brad Richards would age so quickly (no, I don't think it is the system, his conditioning, or his motivation). Perhaps the same thing is happening to Gaborik (who, until the last game or two, got a pass from me as far as his performance). Aging is athletes is strange and cannot be predicted. Some guys seem to be able to perform at a high level well into their 30s, others can't. We seem to be on a negative streak with big time free agents who lose it over 30. Does that mean you stop signing them? Perhaps.

I am not a Torts fan: never was. I much prefer a Renney type coach. But I sometimes think that teams fire coaches to quickly, particularly those who have had success. As much as I don't like him, I'm not ready to fire him. I don't think he has lost the players and don't think they have stopped listening to him. Yet. But there is a danger of that happening soon. I think he is as frustrated as the rest of us.

From a talent point of view, the thing that stands out to me is our lack of speed, especially at center. Other teams seem to have gears that we lack. Richards is slow. Stepan, for all he brings to the table and all he does well, is slow. Boyle is beyond slow. JTM is not really ready to play regularly at center yet.

If the Rangers miss the playoffs (part of me still is hoping for an LA Kings kind of season: underachieve, just barely make it into the playoffs, go on a run, win it all) they will come to a turning point that will influence the next few years.

Do they give this group (including Torts) one more year, writing off this year as just one of those years (remember 1992-1993)?

Or does management decide that this is not working and decide to start over? That would include buying out BR, attempting to trade Gaborik, and contemplating plugging Kreider, Miller, Hrvik, Thomas, McIlrath, Fasth, Lindberg, et al, into the lineup next year.

These next two days and game are crucial. Lose to the Canes and Devs and things will certainly get interesting around here.

But hey, my Ranger memories go back to 1958. Think of all the pain and grief I've suffered (but as all long time Ranger fans say, at least I have 1994, and that might have "to last a lifetime"). Wow, I hope not.

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