What Else Will the New York Rangers Borrow from the New Jersey Devils?

Jack thetravellerCorrespondent IMay 10, 2009

I was on youtube this past week, when I came across the single most ridiculous comment I think I have ever read in my entire life. 

I was looking for an HQ version of Jason Arnott’s Game 6, 2000 Stanley Cup Final game winning OT goal, when I stumbled across an argument between Devils and Rangers fans, on a blog supposed to be celebrating the New Jersey Devils 2000 Stanley Cup Finals victory over the Dallas Stars

Imagine an argument between Devil and Ranger fans on a blog site meant to celebrate a cup victory!   

Although I certainly do not want to tar all Ranger fans with the same ludicrous brush, there was one comment in particular that I felt was representative of not only the New York Ranger’s lowest level fans, but Neil Smith, and Ranger organization’s excuse making during this same period. 

To make my point I feel its best I reprint the comment in its entirety.

“I’d rather lose and play exciting hockey than win and play this $%$^&*^ trap.  The Devils bored the league to death and were a nobody team.  At least our games were fun to watch. Gretz, Bure, Lindros and co. played some serious barn burning hockey.” 

My claim that I’d found the single stupidest comment every placed on a NHL message board or blog sound hyperbolic now?   

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When I first read the comment I did a double take, as I was certain I hadn’t read, what I’d in fact just read.  But there it was, staring at me, begging for my attention. This fan, calling himself something along the lines of the Ranger Menace, claimed that he’d preferred failure while playing quote exciting hockey, than success while playing, quote boring hockey. 

He obviously also preferred his team finishing behind the Devils each of the past 13 seasons; preferred his team’s failure to make the playoffs seven straight seasons during the period immediately preceding the lockout, and their inability on even one occasion to make it past the Eastern Conference semis, since their 1994 Cup win.  

But I suppose making the playoffs 12 straight seasons, 14 of 15, advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals on four occasions out of a possible 9, taking 3 Cups during that period, and being considered the second most successful NHL franchise of the past 20 years or so, also pales in comparison to playing exciting hockey, or should I say barn burning hockey the 90’s blue shirts played. 

Devils fans have lots to be jealous about! We were certainly bored to death winning all those cups. If the definition of a nobody team, is one that wins championships, then I suppose we were just that.  

I’d have dismissed this comment, till I saw how many fellow Ranger fans agreed with the post.     
After reading the comments made by a half a dozen or so Devil detractors, I sat down to dinner with my wife, where she, a budding hockey fan in her own right pointed out something quite interesting. 

Not only have the Rangers borrowed a half dozen or so of the Devs home-grown talent over the past decade and a half, they are now playing the same brand of hockey Devils’ management have been preaching for the past two decades.  

This past year the blue shirts scored fewer goals in the Eastern Conference than everyone except the Islanders, scoring a paltry 210 goals in 82 regular season games, while only giving up a respectable 218 goals against. 

This was the third stingiest, behind the Bruins and Devils; who gave up 196 and 209 respectively. 

This with players who are as defensively responsible and lacklustre as any other squad in the league, and a style that resembles something I’ve seen coming out of the swamp for quite some time now. And as much as I dislike admitting it, I think its truly working for them. 

Based on their recent successes, one can honestly say the defensive style the revamped blue shirts employ using as much home-grown talent a possible, seems to be working for them.  With the salary cap restrictions in place, the Rangers have adapted nicely, enjoying slightly more post lockout success than their rivals, the Devils.       

But I also find it quite ironic that when the Rangers were vastly unsuccessful, they found it necessary to defend their old style of hockey by claims that it was exciting, and the bringing in of big ticket players; all the while bashing the Devils and their style of play. 

The wanton disrespect Neil Smith and his management showed the Devils’ organization, and their style of play still makes me chuckle to this day.

The argument Smith often made, that the style the Rangers employed during the mid to late nineties, and early noughties was good for the NHL when interviewed by Stan Fischler during Ranger-Devil telecasts is fresh in my memory banks, and it still brings a smile to my face.  Thanks Neil, for all the laughs!     

But isn’t it ironic, the barn burning blue shirts are now trapping it up with the best of them. And no matter how you look at it, the Rangers are playing what can best be described as a post lockout version of the trap; at a minimum, a defensive style reliant on work ethic and world-class goaltending. 

A style, like a healthy chunk of their signings over the past decade or so, they’ve picked up on their seasonal travels across the Hudson.

Note-After wiriting this I feel I should have titled it; what havent the blue shirts borrowed from the Devils?  To my original question. 

What else will the Rangers try and borrow from the Devils? Let's hope it's not going to be Gionta, and later Parise, as I've read on so many gossip forums. Thanks to the cap  think we might just be safe.   

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