I got up early today and watched the Rangers play the Bruins on NBC and what I saw was a New York team that is lost. They have no identity as a team, there is no ‘Rangers style’ of hockey and there is no consistency from one game to the next. The lines are not working, the defense is terrible and the team seems to lack a spark at the beginning of games. Since January 1st the Rangers are 2-6-2. They are currently in last place in the Atlantic Division at 22-20-6 and if the season were to end right now they would not make the playoffs.
All of this is unacceptable considering the roster that the Rangers have. Jaromir Jagr, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Henrik Lundqvist, Brendan Shanahan…no team with that many offensive stars and a goalie that’s been a Vezina Trophy finalist in each of the last two years should be in the position that the Rangers currently find themselves. Something has got to change and the sooner the better.
The Rangers, like every team in the NHL other than the Anaheim Ducks, are looking for help on defense. Since there are very few, if any, defenseman on the trading block that would actually help them and since the competition/price for those defenseman will be sky high it’s unlikely that the Rangers will get that help this season. Therefore, the only thing they can do right now that can affect their season is to fire head coach Tom Renney.
I believe that Renney should be fired during the All-Star break and that the Rangers should hire Pat Burns as the interim head coach. Burns is a three-time Jack Adams trophy winner who has a 501-350-161-14 record as a head coach in the NHL. He’s won a Stanley Cup and is the best man available to get the Rangers to play better right away. Burns last coached with the Devils in 2003-2004 and left the team due to cancer. According to reports Burns’ health is good enough for him to return to coaching and I think the Rangers would be a perfect fit. He could finish out the season and then determine this summer if his health allowed him to continue coaching or not.
The Rangers must make a move soon before the Leafs have a chance to hire Burns and New York must do something now while there is still time for the move to make a difference. A few years ago the Kings waited until March to fire Andy Murray and by then it was too late to turn things around in time for the playoffs. John Torchetti came into Los Angeles and the losing continued. The Rangers, though, have a chance to make a move over the All-Star break which would give their new coach a chance to get his staff on the same page and get a few practices in to get his players back on the right track. Now’s the time, Rangers. Make the move or else kiss your promising season goodbye.