The New York Rangers finished the 2007-'08 campaign well short of their goal.
Experts picked the Rangers to go deep in the playoffs, but the Blue Shirts fell in the second round to a youthful Pittsburgh Penguins.
Many are calling for a Cup run next year. The league would love to see an Original Six team in America’s biggest sports market to win the Cup, while New Yorkers would like to see a team besides the Giants prosper over the next year.
A big offseason lies ahead for the Rangers. Jaromir Jagr’s contract is up, while Brendan Shanahan may be calling it quits. They were both major components to the Rangers’ playoff berth this year and although their careers are winding down, they can still contribute heavily on and off the ice.
The Rangers will undoubtedly resign the other unrestricted free agents on the roster. Sean Avery, Paul Mara, Michal Rozsival, Jason Strudwick and Stephen Valiquette will surely be back for another year, while Marek Malik may be on the move.
This year’s free agent market is decent. Marian Hossa heads up the class, but the Rangers shouldn’t make an offer to him or any others.
The Rangers have patched their roster with pricey free agents in the past decade. Such short term fixes have brought no Stanley Cups and only a handful of playoff berths. This decade has been coined the Ranger dark age.
Success in the past three seasons has critics reeling. The Rangers came out of the cellar to make the playoffs every year since the lockout. They appear to be out of their decade long slump and ready to roll.
But looks can be deceiving.
The Rangers cannot get past the second right despite their beefy roster. These “contenders” are also inconsistent in the regular season. These flaws are just cracks in the $56 million armor.
The New York mentality will kill the Rangers. New York City fans demand wins.
The Yankees, although having a terrible year, are annual contenders. They consistently make the playoffs and World Series rings are abundant in Manhattan.
The football Giants won the Super Bowl this year and often contend for more championships.
The Jets are, well, the Jets. They have their moments.
The Knicks are down right terrible, but the Globetrotters should be able to resolve any New York City basketball woes.
The Islanders aren’t much, but no pressure exists there as the Rangers have the spotlight.
The Rangers have a lot to live up to. They play a struggling sport in a city of champions. Anything less than a Stanley Cup is unacceptable.
Naturally, they scramble.
July 1 comes every summer and all eyes are on the Rangers. Everyone expects them to sign the man (or men) that will lead them to victory.
This year’s saviors were Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, who both signed long term contracts. The two have lucrative deals, but have fallen short of delivering a Cup thus far.
New York eyes will definitely be on Hossa this year. He has been influential in helping the Pittsburgh Penguins reach the Stanley Cup Finals, but may not be resigned due to potential cap woes stemming from rising young Pens.
Ranger mouths will certainly water for Hossa, who will require at least a $5 million cap hit. Given the need for a championship and quick fix mentality, the Rangers may clear house for Hossa.
This is where the New York mentality kills. The Rangers are pressured to constantly change their formula season after season. Fans are not happy with a winning record, a playoff berth and an early exit.
They want rings. Now.
The Rangers frantically shift through their additions with no avail. The turnover rate is almost as high as Wal-Mart’s.
In order to advance further in the playoffs, the Rangers need to be consistent. Every year does not merit a new free agent. They should also grow more reliant on the Hartford Wolf Pack, their AHL affiliate.
The Blue Shirts need to slow it down. Every summer they do not need to beef up for a Cup run.
The Rangers need confidence in their team. They had a good team this year; a team that was favored to win the Stanley Cup. The franchise won’t move if fans are unhappy. Although the pressure exists, the Rangers need to cool it down and function as a normal team.