Another clean slate has been presented to New York Rangers’ head coach Alain Vigneault. Later this year, the NHL will drop the puck again with all 30 teams having equal opportunities to play for the Stanley Cup. For Vigneault, a blend of new and familiar faces will be on the roster. New challenges will present themselves, and the biggest question of them all: Can the Rangers repeat their Eastern Conference Champion accomplishment from last season? As we saw in last season’s playoffs, you don’t have to have the best record in the conference to make it to the end? You just have to survive for another game.
The season has not started yet, and we, Rangers fans, are already making projected line combinations and defensive pairings. The newly acquired players probably have not already settled in, let alone gotten off the plane from their places of residence.
With last year’s team, doubts and the unknown were present in most of us. A new system, new coaching staff, new players, new renovations to Madison Square Garden, and a horrendous West Coast trip to start the season all were reasons not to expect much.
However, look at what happened. The team came together, played for each other; careers were resurrected such as Benoit Pouliot, Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, and Dominic Moore. The team thrived on adversity such as the unfortunate passing of Martin St. Louis’ mother during the Pittsburgh Penguins round two playoff series last year. Last year, the Rangers were resilient when staring losing in the face during the regular season or elimination games in the playoffs. Nothing was foreseen with this cast of put-togethers. But the Rangers exceeded everyone’s expectations, including themselves. It got them all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. That’s a Cinderella story we all could relive multiple times, and it would never get old.
But with winning, there is a price.
Financial demands go up on the bargain players you brought in. No longer are they looking for any opportunity to play, at whatever cost. Now, it’s a matter of how much can I get paid, no matter what opportunity presents itself.
It is not the player’s fault; it is the fact of life in the NHL. Parity reigns supreme. It’s not just said, it’s encouraged. No longer is “loyalty to a team” an attribute for players. Gone are the days where a player stays with one team. On average, players have been with at least three teams in their playing career.
No doubts holes were left in the team’s lineup on Tuesday. The New York Rangers lost some key players that helped in last year’s accomplishments.
However, the organization has already voiced their willingness to bring up their prospects (JT Miller, Jesper Fast and possible notables such as Oscar Lindberg) to help in rebuilding a contender.
I implore you patience, and let this year’s version of the Rangers play out.