After a 7-1 start, the Rangers took a nose-dive through November, and with a little over a week left in 2009, find themselves just one game over .500 (17-16-3) and out of a playoff spot.
The blame-game has to start at the top. Glen Sather has worn out his welcome for years now, and must be relieved of his GM position. Many are looking to Mark Messier to right the ship, but don't hold your breath. Messier is a Sather guy. They won five cups together in Edmonton. To see him take over and be given total control of the team from Sather, who would remain team President, just isn't going to happen. They have to look out of house. I'm not really sure who that person is.
Next up is Coach John Tortorella. After starting so hot, it seems he has lost the team. His philosophy has always been play the top guy, and only the top guys. It's all well-and-good in theory, but doesn't build team unity. As an ex-player throughout my childhood and high school, getting your minutes cut takes a toll on you. It's hard for a player like Enver Lisin to reach his full potential getting six minutes a game, playing on a line with Donald Brashear and Brian Boyle.
The coach has to give guys like Lisin and Artem Anisimov more minutes. They're guys who can put pucks in the net, but aren't being given the chance.
Tortorella was also known for making the players on his team accountable. Only after a humiliating, lifeless 2-1 defeat against the rival New York Islanders did he get his point across. The benching of Wade Redden and Ales Kotalik seems to have lit a fire under his 'underachieving veterans.'
Speaking of underachievers, that is the final thing that must change with the calender. Sather and company have to find a way to move either Redden, Michael Rozsival, or Chris Drury. Although Rozsival and Drury have been playing better as of late, there still has to be more talent drained from the wells. If not, something must be done to free cap space for the upcoming offseason.
Those are my 3-4 steps that I believe can turn the Blueshirts around. With a great group of young defensemen, a healthy Marian Gaborik, and arguably the best goaltender in the NHL, this team has the blueprints to be a contender in the coming seasons.