Rangers Should Only Win in Glasgow

Rangers Union Jack

In my interweb travels to prove that we aren’t the last people on Earth who like to banter wittily about hockey, I came across a well-written and well-received article from the UK Guardian’s sportblog, in which music journalist Ian Winwood reminds us all that there’s more than just Swedish two-way defensemen and capable Russian net minders across the pond.  Winwood knows his puck (although his dislike for Nickelback might make Mark Parrish weep), and it’s clear that he’s probably got a better TV broadcast package than most of us can enjoy here in America. 

But Mr. Winwood, while you seem knowledgeable on all things NHL, I can’t help but disagree in full with the main theme of your article yesterday: “A Run at the Stanley Cup from the New York Rangers could give hockey in the US the exposure it once enjoyed, and so carelessly lost.”

Au contraire, my transatlantic friend.  That’s the LAST thing the NHL needs.

I understand the logic behind the premise: the Rangers play in the NHL’s biggest market, and big market teams attract national coverage more easily than say…Columbus vs. Tampa Bay.  Canadian teams are well-supported, but sending the Cup over the national border is unsafe for league revenues and there’s always the chance that some dumb Canuckistanian accidentally drops the trophy in his ice fishing hole.  It’s the same argument that’s made for the Yankees, the Cowboys, and the Lakers.  Sports are a business, and apparently that means that it would be best for the balance sheet if we could give Sean Avery and Friends rings.

WRONG!

The number one problem with the argument that the Rangers should win the Stanley Cup is that it directly involves the following outcome: the Rangers actually ending up with the STANLEY CUP.  Nobody wants to see New York win more hardware – especially after Eli Manning just won the Super Bowl.  The only ones that truly benefit from this is the sportswriters and TV analysts who don’t feel like doing their homework on the league’s fringes on how Anaheim has quietly retooled for a playoff run, how Evgeni Malkin has stepped into his savior’s shoes, the sick season Pascal Leclaire’s been posting for Columbus, or how the Washington Capitals have turned it around since an extra from Slap Shot became their head coach.  But hey – it’s cool – I’m glad Bob Costas wouldn’t sound like an idiot when he tells us that the Conn Smythe was well-deserved for Jaromir Jagr or Brendan Shanahan come June.

It’s not that people necessarily HATE the Rangers.  They aren’t the goon/villain/bad guy squad that everyone necessarily loves to hate.  They don’t win all the time like Detroit, they don’t take dumb suspension-worthy hacks like Philly, they don’t cheat their way into Stanley Cup wins like Dallas, and they don’t play a mind-numbingly boring style like the Devils.  They’re the Rangers!  When they won in 1994, we were cool with it because they were largely likeable transplants from Edmonton, and the franchise hadn’t won a cup since the signing of the Magna Carta.  After that, they used their interminable resources to sign every big name player that ever existed – Bure, Gretzky, Fleury, some more Kovalev – and missed the playoffs with admirable consistency.  As a fan of a division rival, you hate the teams that have the money, know how to spend it, and never even give you a chance.  (Right, Orioles fans?)  You love the teams that have the money, spend it poorly, and implode in a train wreck of ego, payroll, expectation, and luck.  Face it; the New York Rangers have been downright adorable!

It’s like we handed a baby a set of golf clubs, and insisted he should shoot 3 under par.

And this cuteness only lasts as long as the baby doesn’t hit the driving range and improve his wedge play.  It’s when the team that makes the splashy free agent signings (in this case, Drury and Gomez) starts to win, that small-market teams begin to bitch and moan and every one assumes you can start buying Stanley Cups again.  As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I love nothing more than watching Daniel Snyder try and do this in the NFL each and every off-season, because it always ends with the postscript of “hilarity ensues.” 

They’re just so damn unlikable.  Let’s say the Rangers slide into the playoffs, pull a few upsets, and end up against the best in the West – Detroit – in the Finals.  Is this a team that America would root for?  Jagr has been a me-first player even before he hit Broadway, and has burned bridges elsewhere.  Chris Drury is not the All-American player Brian Leetch, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Modano or Brett Hull once was (even though John Buccigross demands it otherwise.)  Shanahan could fit the “Win a Cup for a Hard-working Veteran” role, you know, if he didn’t already have THREE rings. Sean Avery knocks cocks.  Oh, and Martin Straka’s cat’s breath smells like cat food.

Hell, they got lucky against Russell Crowe and his Eskimo friends 8 years back.

The NHL has problems, Ian, and a team that sells out its home games in NYC winning the Cup isn’t going to solve any of them.  So in the meantime, let’s root for feel-good hockey stories like those in St. Paul, D.C., Columbus, and even Pittsburgh.  In the meantime, here’s to hoping that our little Ranger Baby accidentally swallows a golf tee and gets stuck in another decade-long sand trap.

(Thanks for writing, Ian.  If you want the Ducks and Kings back, you can have’em back anytime.)

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2 Comments

  1. brooks orpik scored tonight, appropriately against carolina

    however because sabourin is the worst goalie in the nhl and noone on the pens roster feels like winning the division anymore, the canes are going to win

  2. Jeff Boukaboom….Esa Tikannen…Stefan Mattaeu…Stefan Matteau….Stefen Matteau….no one is replacing or duplicating that ’94 rangers team….


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