New York Rangers: In Win-Now Mode, More Than Ever


Not too long ago I was madly in love with a person believed to be the love of my life. Then it came to an abrupt end. It became largely the proverbial battle of what someone wants now and what someone will wait for in spite of prior flirtations of noble action.

It was a wonderful seven-year love, but produced nothing of sustenance. Just precious memories, good times and summer haze. Separately we were two wonderful people, but together we couldn’t make it work. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her.

There have been great philosophical debates on the issue: How is greatness defined? Must the “ultimate goal” of the endeavor always be achieved to, in fact, be remembered as something great.

New York Rangers
New York Rangers /

New York Rangers

Last week, Derek Stepan signed a six-year, $6.5 million per year contract. If you look ahead to next year six crucial players to the makeup of this team – Keith Yandle, Dan Boyle, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Dominic Moore and J.T. Miller – all have contracts expiring.

If you look at the way Stepan’s contract is structured, there are no guarantees of no movement till year three, and that guarantee is confined to year three and four only.

Under the win now circumstance the New York Rangers find themselves in, it would seem that this is a “one-year, bring me my cup or you’re gone deal” disguised as a “very fair, thank you for all you have done for us, six-year, 39 million dollar, let’s try it again contract.”

If you look at the scenario the Rangers are in combined with how GM Jeff Gorton structured the Stepan signing, it would seem that Gorton would at least have the power, if no Cup is produced this year, to scrap this team and embark on the rebuilding process that, as in hockey as in love, is always painful.

If the Rangers don’t win the Cup this year, you will hear no protest at least from me if Jeff Gorton would take this route. Start from the highest paid players and work his way down.

Three out of the last four years, they have been to the Eastern Conference Final – one year making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Much like the story of my relationship, how many times are we going to kiss only the cusp of greatness until we finally make history?

No matter how great these Rangers look together they can never seem to get it done. No matter how much they profess their undying goal to carry Lord Stanley’s Cup together across the ice, they collectively always seem to drop the ball.

While they certainly have marketability and look sexy together, what they don’t have – at least up until this point – is substance. No Cups, no marriage. I’m even surprised they stood together this long in New York City. All that paparazzi.

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But alas, they are. I’ve spoken about identity. What I failed to mention is identity of anything is only as good as the fruits it produces, that is, how something is perceived is generally vacuumed into its final acts of production.

This year will judge the difference, the substance of this team. How much this team not only wants to stay together by proving how much it truly can accomplish together. The bounds of hell they are willing to go through TOGETHER to FINALLY, FINALLY get it done.

Will they be the 70 million dollar team that everyone is rooting for and all the friends will show up to the party if they finally win? Or will they once again succumb to superfluous grandiosity of something that looks good on paper?

Because people, we surely don’t look at a seven-year relationship to have been as successful as a 20 plus year marriage. And we don’t look at Eastern Conference Champions as prominently as we do Stanley Cup Champions. The difference between a hot burning flame that blew out all too quickly and a blazing fire that burns forever in the minds of people.

The differences between the 90’s Dallas Cowboys and the late 80’s early 90’s Buffalo Bills. Rose and Tony (my grandparents who said till death do them part and meant it) and Tony G and Debbie. The Blue Bullets of Broadway and the Broadway Blueshirts.

Life as in love as in hockey surely is a game of precious inches.

Next: The Rangers' Top Five Forwards to Watch this Season

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