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Upheaval City - Another Rangers Eruption Costs Quinn
Drury cleans house in New York. Taylor Hall Staying in Beantown? A Toews update. How to stop McDavid...
"How To Gain Headlines Without Making The Playoffs."
That could be the title of Hockey-Publicity 101 taught by the Rangers high command.
You want headlines; fire the esteemed President John Davidson and his acclaimed g.m. Jeff Gorton. That should do the trick, shouldn't it? Well, it did for starters.
For finishers, the heir apparent, the new Presidient-g.m. Chris Drury, whacked coach David Quinn all the way to the unemployment line. And his assistants, the legendary Jacques Martin as well as David Oliver and Greg Brown with him while Quinn cleaned out his desk.
Now that the headlines are all dead-lines, what does it all mean? It means that hard-nosed Drury would not be swayed by any sentimentality. After all, it was Drury who in an earlier Rangers role had recommended Quinn for the Rangers gig in the first place. Guess, that turned out to be a mistake after all.
Actually it didn't take Drury very long to figure out that Quinn would not be the best man to guide this young and potentially very good hockey club.
What's more there were hints galore that Quinn would have been canned by previously dismissed John Davidson before JD got his pink slip. After all Quinn had not been a JD hire.
So, with the exception of retained goalie coach Benoit (Benny) Allaire, Drury has cleaned house and will bring in his own Dr. I.Q.'s of hockey.
Just so that credit is given where it is due, hints were provided that Quinn had to go.
1. The New York Post's Larry Brooks' column dutifully noted that there was a "disconnect" between Quinn and certain important players on the club.
2. Or, there was this critique from another regular Rangers beat man, that Quinn was "overrated and overbearing." But that's small potatoes compared to the real issue; the genuine rap against David.
3. He could not rouse his team to an ultimate performance when it most counted. Specifically the three huge losses to the Islanders including the final pair in the homestretch proved fatal to the club's playoff hopes.
While the official Rangers press release lists Drury as the man pulling the chute on Quinn, one has to believe that the club's prime advisor -- former boss Glen Sather -- at the very least had to okay the move.
Which brings us to the final question of the day -- was the firing of Quinn fair?
Not if you check David's record and consider that his bosses were in an admittedly "rebuilding" period and Quinn was foreman on the job
While other coaches might have fallen under the .500 mark, Quinn posted a 96-87-25 record in 208 games. And that under difficult conditions.
And the fact that some disgruntled Rangers vet or two whined about a "disconnect," so what? That happens on every team. Leafs coach Punch Imlach holds the world's record for "disconnecting" and he wound up with four Stanley Cups.
Me? I would have kept David but, then again, neither Chris nor Slats bothered to call.
Then again, neither did Jimmy Dolan and he could be the Wizard behind this Oz kind of circumstances more than anyone.
Stan’s Java Jive
HEADLINE: RANGERS NEED A NEW COACH, LINE FORMS AT THE RIGHT
THE JIVE: If it was up to me, I'd have kept Quinn for another year. So now, whO? There are a lot of fancy-schmancy names out there, starting with Mike Babcock and ending with John Tortorella -- with Rick Tocchet stuck in between. My choice would be none of the marquee, money-mad men.
If I'm Drury, I'd go with the guy I know and trust best -- a fellow who paid his dues from coast-to-coast, on both sides of the 49th parallel and, yes, even as a player with the Bisons de Neuilly-sur-Marne in France.
My guy would be none other than the guy no Rangers fan knows but Drury does: And that, or course, is his Hartford Wolf Pack protege, Kris Knoblach. He's the very same KK who so successfully worked behind the Blueshirts bench when Quinn and staff were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.
In his first game, Knoblach guided New York to a 9-0 win over Philly at The Garden. With Quinn on a six game sabbatical, Kris totalled four wins and two losses; and impressed up and down the line.
Granted, his NHL experience is limited to a half-dozen games but that doesn't mean he isn't ready. If Drury has any misgivings he's got to at least give Knoblach a crack at the assistant coach opening and opt for a more experienced guy.
But, as one ex-Ranger told me, "It's gotta be a 'players' coach and not a guy who can't handle young, growing players. Unless, someone gets to him first, my guy would be Gerard Gallant.
HEADLINE: THE MASTER OF JOB SURVIVAL; HOW DOES HE DO IT?
THE JIVE: One of the most amazing aspects of the mass rolling-of-the-heads in Rangersville is that one coach actually eluded the Jim Dolan-Glen Sather-Chris Drury firing squad. While the likes of David Quinn, Jacques Martin and the other aides fell through the Blueshirts trap door, one ever-smiling fellow survived. That would be the man the Rangers directory lists as "assistant coach and goaltending coach" Benoit Allaire.
So, how come the affable French-Canadian survived the cuts? For one thing, he made Henrik what he became, a possible -- not necessarily probable -- Hall of Famer. Also, Allaire successfully has worked for the Rangers for a good 17 years. But most importantly he appears to have turned both Russian puck-stoppers, Alex Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin into a legitimate one-two combo. Ergo: A good man got a reprieve.
HEADLINE: A SEASONED RANGERS FAN APPROVES QUINN'S CANNING
THE JIVE: Bob Goodman of Rockland County, New York, is a lifelong Rangers fan who sees things clearly and sees them whole. A longtime season-ticket-holder, he logically tells us here why Quinn had to go, Take it away, Bob:
I don't know of any college coach who came in to coach in the NHL and succeeded without putting time in as an assistant.
I don't believe the accountability he had with his players was acceptable.
His style was not conducive for NHL play.
Their lack of neutral zone coverage and gap coverage was the worst in the NHL
That being said they need a Babcock or even bring back Torts.
I know in this day and age with the money these guys are making and the skill level of what the game has become they need more authoritative leadership than ever.
We will see who they name.
I believe the team has the core players to bring it to the next level and a center and a big body would really help.
HEADLINE: IS TAYLOR HALL HOCKEY'S RIP VAN WINKLE?
THE JIVE: According to Catskill Mountain New York State legend, a chap named Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years before his wife finally awakened him. The National Hockey League version of Rip has to be Taylor Hall, who "slept" for about 20 weeks in Buffalo before waking up in -- of all places -- Beantown-On-The-Charles. Rip -- er, I mean Taylor -- was so happy to be a Bruin that he's been doing Connor McDavid imitations ever since moving on to Causeway Street. In fact he told the rest of the civilized world, "This is the most enjoyable hockey of my career." Who knows, maybe it was the coffee in Sabreland. Maybe he was allergic to spicy Buffalo Wings. We'll never know.
What we do know is that Hall becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent again and that he wants to remain a Bruin. B's boss Cam Neely, believing he can get Taylor and not Rip, says -- contract-wise -- "I'd like to get something done." It's a wonderful tale of how a hockey player can work his way from millionaire-toward-billionaire status by taking a long nap in Western New York.
HEADLINE: THE JONATHAN TOEWS MYSTERY TAKES A GOOD TURN
THE JIVE: Ever since it was revealed -- shockingly, I might add -- that the Blackhawks captain would miss the entire 2020-21 season, the precise reason has remained a mystery. It has been described as "an unspecified medical issue." And that's that. This, as you would imagine, turned out to be a huge blow to the team which missed the playoffs finishing one loss under the .500 mark.
Ah, but there's encouraging news. Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reports that sources close to Toews tell him that there's "a lot of confidence that Jonathan will return" next season. And, if true, wouldn't that be a wonderful thing all around. Meanwhile, on the Blackhawks side, the boss, Stan Bowman, says -- for now, at least -- he has no commitment from Toews that he will play in the next campaign. Hopefully, the Sportsnet info is on target.
Meanwhile, we can only puzzle over what ails this most wonderful hockey player.
HEADLINE: SECRET FORMULA FOR STOPPING CONNOR MCDAVID
THE JIVE: Now that we've heard a bazillion-and-a-half times that Connor McDavid is the greatest thing since the pop-up-toaster, there's no point in arguing the point.
Right? Wrong! His Edmonton Eminence is only the regular-season-greatest, that's all. No more, no less. And, by the way, that's not-too-bad either.
But -- and it is a big BUT -- McDavid's regular season heroics will be as forgotten as burnt toast the minute the real season begins. Or, to put it a more realistic way; when Winnipeg meets Edmonton in the playoffs.
All of the obvious signs point to the McDavid-Draisaitl cartel wrapping up the follies in four games or less. After all, about ten dozen "highlight" Connor goals tell us that this bloke simply can't be stopped.
But maestro Paul Maurice, the Prince of the Peg, must know -- or else I'll tell him -- that, yes, the McDonald's of Hockey can be thwarted, checked, shadowed, legally-harassed and otherwise stopped from scoring.
Here's the simple Fischler Foolproof "Stop The Big Shot" from annexing the series formula in two easy lessons.
1. YOU GOTTA BELIEVE: Yeah, that's the king of the bromides. But it got that distinction by being the real deal. Just believe that it's possible.
2. FIND YOUR BEST HOUND DOG: Coach Maurice must get his best skater and nastiest-thinker to pursue McDavid all over the ice; right to his bench. Legally, he can be checked into frustration and defeated if done right.
Look up "Claude Provost" videos and you'll see how.
Before NHL referees used whistles to call penalties and otherwise stop play, what did they use?
CLASSIC QUOTES FROM YESTERYEAR:
"It's a man's game." This was Mister Hockey -- Gordie Howe's -- answer to those who said hockey was too rough.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Before NHL referees employed whistles to call plays, they used a bell, carried in the right hand.