As much as I hate to compare sporting events to historical events, I just couldn't help myself with this one. I have two loves in life: hockey and history. When it comes to hockey, it's the New York Rangers, and when it comes to history, it's the Alamo and American Civil War.
I consider myself an amateur Alamo historian, mainly because I have written a short novel on the subject that will be published sometime after I turn 18, and because I've studied the subject for almost 10 years and have my own online forum dedicated to discussing its history, among other things.
So when I look at the current New York Rangers team, I can't help but think how much more exciting they would be if Jim Bowie were their head coach.
For those of you not Alamo savvy, let me set the stage for you...
1836: San Antonio de Bexar, Texas
Around 250 men within the Alamo fortress are surrounded by a Mexican army that numbers about 5,000. The commander of the Alamo is the young, inexperienced former lawyer turned Lieutenant Colonel William Barrett Travis. His is determined to hold the Alamo at all costs.
As the Mexican army surrounds him, he counts on Texan army commander General Sam Houston to re-enforce him so they can claim victory.
Jim Bowie, a colonel himself, realizes that Houston won't sacrifice Texas' entire army to come to their aid and comes up with an idea. Scholars don't have a specific name for his battle tactic, but I'll refer to it by the phrase used in John Wayne's The Alamo, made in 1960: "Cut, Slash, and Run."
See, Bowie didn't like being pinned inside the adobe walls (Colonel David Crockett felt the same way) so Bowie suggested that they take a few men, sneak outside the walls, and attack the Mexican army little by little, under the cover of darkness.
By doing this, they take the enemy by surprise and weaken their forces little by little, without putting themselves at risk for a huge casualty loss.
Sounds like a great idea, right? An offensive attack without much of a risk to help weaken your opponent until greater forces can arrive.
Unfortunately the commander of the Alamo, Travis, did not like this idea and decided to stay conservative and wait things out.
Well, we all know what finally happened at the Battle of the Alamo. In the early morning hours of March 6, 1836 the Mexican army surprise attacked and stormed the walls of the Alamo, killing all brave defenders inside within a matter of hours.
Mexican casualties were pretty heavy, but had Travis allowed Colonel Bowie his chance at "Cut, Slash, and Run," the men of the Alamo may have had an easier time against such a strong force, and with more time, may have actually met victory.
2008: New York, New York
The New York Rangers sit atop the Atlantic Division, second in the Eastern conference. They win games not because they are better than their opponents, but because their opponents happen to have worse games.
The offense has been unspirited and stagnant yet the coach seems to maintain an air of calmness. No rushing, no worrying, no apparent will to win. No "killer instinct," as I like to call it.
The fans and the media are tired of watching boring hockey yet the coach continues not to play for the win, but to be so cautious that he plays only not to lose.
His team could use a little "umpf" yet he ignores it. He tells the media certain players need to step up but when they don't he does absolutely nothing to back his word.
The team continues to slip and despite the fact that they have played more games in the league than anyone else, the amount of points they lead by is the slimmest of margins.
Fortunately, the season is only almost half over and there is still time to correct things. The sad part is, I look back over the years at some of the coaches the Rangers had and how easily they were fired, even though some never lasted an entire season to prove themselves.
I look at a coach like Ron Low, who had the Rangers offense flowing. He coached his team to play an all-out offensive attack, a "Cut, Slash, and Run" if you will. The only problem is, once Mike Richter and Brian Leetch got injured in December of his first season here, the defense could no longer support the constant offensive attack.
But this Rangers team has better offensive players than that team, and much better defensive players as well. Say what you want about Wade Redden, but I think the majority would take him over Igor Ulanov.
So why can't our team not only win games, but be exciting as well? The solution is very simple.
The Final Solution
You know the old saying, "Can't teach an old dog new tricks"? Well that applies directly to Tom Renney. We as fans not only have the right to demand wins but to also demand exciting ones at that.
Granted two points is two points, but there are only so many 2-1 defense first snooze fests that one can take in a single season.
The answer is simple: fire Renney and hire someone who will get this team to play a more offensively oriented game, and engage the defense a little more in the offense.
Maybe this new coach can even take a page out of Jim Bowie's almanac and cut, slash, and run his way to a Stanley Cup championship.
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