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1979 Rangers in an alternate universe where the Esposito trade never happened

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08-23-2012, 09:41 PM
  #1
Zil
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1979 Rangers in an alternate universe where the Esposito trade never happened

I've been thinking a lot about the 70s Rangers and how agonizingly close they came to winning a cup. It occurs to me that if the Esposito deal never went down, the Rangers might've won the cup.

Park and Ratelle were still great at that point. Beyond that, they never would have dealt Rick Middleton for Ken Hodge to make Esposito happy. Middleton had a breakout year in 79, putting up 38 goals and 48 assists for 86 points in 71 games. We might also assume that in this alternate timeline Ulf Nilsson doesn't run into Potvin and wreck his knees.

So my question for those who watched those teams is this: Does this alternate edition of the 79 Rangers win the Stanley Cup?

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08-23-2012, 09:54 PM
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First Zil, you and I have not always seen eye to eye, but want to give full props on an outstanding thread topic!!!

To answer the question in basic overview, the answer is conditionally yes, IMO.

The key to losing earlier in the decade was the singlehanded domination by Bobby Orr, IMO the greatest player ever, especially in the playoffs.

If he fades out as normal, we have increased chance, nominal favorites. If he pulls a rabbit out of his aging/bad knees hat, we're still screwed.

Some really nice teams in the original six.
But only Montreal is a real threat besides Orr. The team from the end of the decade is not quite the powerhouse that Jean Beliveau captianed, but it is still formidable enough to beat us.

Giacomin's reflexes were slower by decade's end, but if you assume he was jettisoned for the same stupid let's shake up the team initiative that Cat Francis undertook with the Esposito trade, and he is still there if that swap does not go through, and we can get EG and Villemure to rise to the occasion one more time, then we should handle it, barring injury.

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08-23-2012, 09:57 PM
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I hate August.

Good topic though. I think the Rangers win the Cup with Park, Ratelle, and Middleton. Esposito

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08-23-2012, 10:02 PM
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Rick Middleton torched the Habs in that conference finals series including 2g, 2a in game 7. Bruins lost 5-4 on a the infamous too many men call against them. Yes, I think the Rangers would've won with Ratelle, Park and Middleton. Oh well.

Edit: Habs were so good that yr though, their largest losing streak was 2 games. I think it would've been a coin flip actually since I believe the Habs 'struggled' for the first time all of that season against Boston.


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08-24-2012, 05:43 AM
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Even though I was only four months old when the Rangers made it to the Semis in 1981, my theory has always been;

If JD was healthy and crazy hot in 1981 instead of 1979, the Rangers win the Cup that season.

They would've smacked the North Stars right in the face.

For the 79 team though, Vadnais really helped those young D. Not sure they go that far without him.

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08-24-2012, 11:02 AM
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That's a strong Ranger's team. But I don't know if they get past that Habs team. it might have been the weakest of their 4 cup run, but that was a talented and well coached team.

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08-24-2012, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zil View Post
I've been thinking a lot about the 70s Rangers and how agonizingly close they came to winning a cup. It occurs to me that if the Esposito deal never went down, the Rangers might've won the cup.

Park and Ratelle were still great at that point. Beyond that, they never would have dealt Rick Middleton for Ken Hodge to make Esposito happy. Middleton had a breakout year in 79, putting up 38 goals and 48 assists for 86 points in 71 games. We might also assume that in this alternate timeline Ulf Nilsson doesn't run into Potvin and wreck his knees.

So my question for those who watched those teams is this: Does this alternate edition of the 79 Rangers win the Stanley Cup?
You can perform the same analysis with the 90s team. With guys like Weight, Amonte, Gartner, Zubov, Nedved, Marchant, Norstrom, etc. Would there be multiple cups rather than one and several failed pushes with Messier's over-the-hill buddy's?

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08-24-2012, 07:37 PM
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I am in the minority but I think the Esposito trade was the right trade at the time. The Rangers had gotten a little stale with their core group of Gilbert, Ratelle,Park, Giacomin, etc and management decided this group was never going to win the Cup as they had Philly facing them in the Division and a Dynasty coming on in Montreal. They cut Eddie G loose and then made the big trade with Boston. The killer was the next year trading Middleton for Hodge. Espo was the perfect guy to bring along Duguay,Greschner , the Maloney,sand JD in late 1970,s NYC. He was a proven Superstar which NY always craves. Then they brought in the 2 Swedes from the WHA and if not for Dennis *** Potvin I think they win the Cup led by Espo in 1979. As a fan who watched the Rangers throughout the 70,s I don,t think Ratelle and Park would have led them to the promised land (what did they ever win in Boston?). The a team from Nassau County came along and haunted us.
No matter what this trade makes for a great debate.

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08-24-2012, 08:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zil View Post
I've been thinking a lot about the 70s Rangers and how agonizingly close they came to winning a cup. It occurs to me that if the Esposito deal never went down, the Rangers might've won the cup.

Park and Ratelle were still great at that point. Beyond that, they never would have dealt Rick Middleton for Ken Hodge to make Esposito happy. Middleton had a breakout year in 79, putting up 38 goals and 48 assists for 86 points in 71 games. We might also assume that in this alternate timeline Ulf Nilsson doesn't run into Potvin and wreck his knees.

So my question for those who watched those teams is this: Does this alternate edition of the 79 Rangers win the Stanley Cup?


Probably not..

Those Habs were a machine. People point to the Bunny Larocque garbage as the turning point, but those were Dynasty Habs. Espo was good for the 1979 team and was still a legit threat. The talent level was super slanted in Montreal's favor which is crazy when you consider it was a soft rebuilding year for the Habs.

No matter how hot JD was that postseason, the Rangers dont beat the Habs with a prime Gretzky. It just wasnt their year.

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08-25-2012, 08:29 AM
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No matter how hot JD was that postseason, the Rangers dont beat the Habs with a prime Gretzky. It just wasnt their year.
I wouldn't go that far. They won the first game in Montreal and were up 2 or 3-0 in game 2. I was only 3 years old, so wasn't watching. Talking to guys who were, including non-Rangers fans, most thought the Rangers would win as they had played much better than Montreal in earlier rounds.

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08-25-2012, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by patnyrnyg View Post
I wouldn't go that far. They won the first game in Montreal and were up 2 or 3-0 in game 2. I was only 3 years old, so wasn't watching. Talking to guys who were, including non-Rangers fans, most thought the Rangers would win as they had played much better than Montreal in earlier rounds.
The Rangers were a one-year wonder. The Habs were a Dynasty.

Anybody who picked the Rangers to win that series was on that 1979 Delancey Street goodness.

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08-26-2012, 11:16 AM
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Topics like this are kinda ridiculous. It's similar to the 94 trade deadline debate. Would the Rangers have won the Cup anyway if they didn't trade Amonte and Gartner?

The truth is that even speculating on this stuff is pointless. I would say that there is an equivalent chance that the Rangers win the Stanley Cup without that trade as there is that they don't even make it to the finals.

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08-26-2012, 12:28 PM
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The Rangers were a one-year wonder. The Habs were a Dynasty.

Anybody who picked the Rangers to win that series was on that 1979 Delancey Street goodness.
Rangers had some very nice teams in the late 70s/early 80s. They won six playoff series between 1979-81 and were a pretty good team consistently up until 1984, they just had the misfortune like all other Patrick Division teams of playing in the same division as the Islanders, who no one could beat in those days.

The sad truth of not trading Gartner and Amonte is that there's an equal chance they win the Cup to that they become an earlier version of the Sens and Sharks and can't close out the deal.

Everything Neil Smith did up until 1994 was justifiable, anything he did after was not.

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08-26-2012, 02:03 PM
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You're forgetting that Esposito was a big part of that team overachieving. He was their leader and had already won two Cups while Park and Ratelle won nothing with far better teams than they had in '79.

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08-26-2012, 04:32 PM
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The Rangers were a one-year wonder. The Habs were a Dynasty.

Anybody who picked the Rangers to win that series was on that 1979 Delancey Street goodness.
Every dynasty comes to an end.

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08-26-2012, 04:46 PM
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I wouldn't go that far. They won the first game in Montreal and were up 2 or 3-0 in game 2. I was only 3 years old, so wasn't watching. Talking to guys who were, including non-Rangers fans, most thought the Rangers would win as they had played much better than Montreal in earlier rounds.
They won Game 1 against a Montreal team that hadn't recovered from playing one of the greatest games of all-time only three nights before. The Habs were gassed. Yes, the Rangers got up 2-0 early in Game 2 after Dryden let in a couple of softies, perhaps understandable since until Laroque took one of the mask in warm-up Dryden assumed he was sitting. Didn't matter, Montreal woke up. Being up 2-0 early in Game 2 doesn't matter much when you ultimately lose by a final score of 6-2.
Sorry but if that great Boston team w/ Ratelle, Park and Middleton couldn't slay Montreal, the Rangers (whether the real deal or a wishful team with those three still on it) wasn't getting past the Canadiens.

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08-26-2012, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by White Plains Batman View Post
Rangers had some very nice teams in the late 70s/early 80s. They won six playoff series between 1979-81 and were a pretty good team consistently up until 1984, they just had the misfortune like all other Patrick Division teams of playing in the same division as the Islanders, who no one could beat in those days.

The sad truth of not trading Gartner and Amonte is that there's an equal chance they win the Cup to that they become an earlier version of the Sens and Sharks and can't close out the deal.

Everything Neil Smith did up until 1994 was justifiable, anything he did after was not.
Yes and no. Smith had his hands tied because of Messier. Messier had more pull in player personnel and development more than any non-coach in the game at the time.

The Robitaille and Kurri trades had Messier written all over it.

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08-26-2012, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by patnyrnyg View Post
Every dynasty comes to an end.
True, but not in 1979. Winning a Cup doesnt end a dynasty. Not winning a Cup does.

The Habs entered the 1979 Finals on a three-year Cup winning streak. They were the clear favorites and the outcome proved it.

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08-26-2012, 08:30 PM
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How many of you commenting about 1979 are actually old enough to remember it?

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08-26-2012, 08:34 PM
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Yes and no. Smith had his hands tied because of Messier. Messier had more pull in player personnel and development more than any non-coach in the game at the time.

The Robitaille and Kurri trades had Messier written all over it.
Not necessarily on Robitaille. Remember it was him and Ulfie for Nedved and Zubov. Nedved was HORRENDOUS in 95 (actually, all but one season here he was a disappointment) and Zubov was abused by the Flyers and Devils that season. Was seen as being a little too soft for the more physical Eastern Conference at the time.

The 94 trades were more about what Keenan wanted. Keenan wasn't into Amonte or Gartner. Gartner had a history of disappearing in the play-offs. Anderson was a player who had a tendency to step it up in the play-offs.

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08-26-2012, 09:02 PM
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Yeah, I always think of the Robitaille deal as being more of an Ulf Samuelsson deal that was a direct reaction to getting swept by the Flyers.

And Nedved led our forwards in scoring 3 of the 5 seasons he was here in his second stint. Granted, that's because those teams sucked and yes, he could be a bit of an enigma. I've never been as down on him as others were though.

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08-26-2012, 10:27 PM
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Nedved fanned on that wrist shot at least once a game during his second stint. The Zubov trade was part one of the beginning of the end for the 90s Rangers. The Norstrom trade was part II.

To bring up 1981 again as opposed to 1979; the 81 run intrigues me and I'm surprised isn't more highly regarded in Rangers history. That fight against the Kings is one of the funniest things I've ever seen and funny how guys like Jay Wells and Jim Rutherford were in it. They also beat a STL team with Mike Liut who was in beast mode that season. He'd get his revenge on the Rangers nearly a decade later with the Caps.

If the 81 team has a healthy Maloney, Johnstone, and JD..do they at least take the Islanders to a deep series? Rangers would have destroyed the North Stars in the Finals that year. Shame JD was finished.

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08-27-2012, 07:52 AM
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Not necessarily on Robitaille. Remember it was him and Ulfie for Nedved and Zubov. Nedved was HORRENDOUS in 95 (actually, all but one season here he was a disappointment) and Zubov was abused by the Flyers and Devils that season. Was seen as being a little too soft for the more physical Eastern Conference at the time.

The 94 trades were more about what Keenan wanted. Keenan wasn't into Amonte or Gartner. Gartner had a history of disappearing in the play-offs. Anderson was a player who had a tendency to step it up in the play-offs.
Messier wanted Nedved gone from the start. Even before the Robitaille trade, Nedved and Zubov were offered for Selanne but Smith nixed it because of the car crash Selanne got into that summer.

Therefore, Smith had to "settle" for Robitaille, who was coming off a 40-goal pace with the Penguins.

And Zubov was traded more because he was lazy, showed up to every camp out of shape and liked to party. Every Ranger was abused by the Flyers that postseason.

Rangers management and coaching staff involved Messier in every player decision in one way or another. He was the De facto GM, and everybody at the time knew it.

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08-27-2012, 08:16 AM
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Nedved fanned on that wrist shot at least once a game during his second stint. The Zubov trade was part one of the beginning of the end for the 90s Rangers. The Norstrom trade was part II.

To bring up 1981 again as opposed to 1979; the 81 run intrigues me and I'm surprised isn't more highly regarded in Rangers history. That fight against the Kings is one of the funniest things I've ever seen and funny how guys like Jay Wells and Jim Rutherford were in it. They also beat a STL team with Mike Liut who was in beast mode that season. He'd get his revenge on the Rangers nearly a decade later with the Caps.

If the 81 team has a healthy Maloney, Johnstone, and JD..do they at least take the Islanders to a deep series? Rangers would have destroyed the North Stars in the Finals that year. Shame JD was finished.

What about 1982?

That was my favorite year as a young Rangers fan. The team had horrific injuries -- Vickers had a career-ender, Hedberg missed the whole season, Ftorek missed half the season, Maloney missed time and Greschner missed 3/4 of it.

They would have been a 100-point team without the injuries.

They beat the Flyers in four games, then take Game 1 in the Mausoleum after Ruotsoleinen scored a few minutes after Eddie Mio and Sutter got into a fight. They get blown out in game 2 (expected), and then in game 3 blow a 3-2 lead in the 3rd on a BS goal by Bob Bourne and lose in OT to Trottier on one of the weakest OT goals in NHL history.

1982 was a crusher. That was an excellent, young team.

That's why I will never, ever, ever, ever feel "sorry" for the Islanders. I hope that franchise continues to rot like they have for the last 28 years, whether it's in Hempstead or Quebec or Butte, Montana. I hate the Isles and I always will.

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08-27-2012, 08:23 AM
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Nedved was expected to overachieve in NY. He was a great second line center who we expected to put up first line center numbers, then we got mad at him when he didn't put up a point per game.

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