John Davidson releases statement after New York Rangers dismissal

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Forever Blueshirts 07 May, 2021 - 04:16pm 19 views

Why did the Rangers Fire John Davidson?

The New York Rangers have fired president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton, the team announced on Wednesday. ... After Wilson was fined $5,000, the Rangers released a scathing statement saying NHL Player Safety "failed to take the appropriate action." The AthleticNew York Rangers fire president John Davidson and GM Jeff Gorton

On Wednesday, James Dolan announced the dismissal of both John Davidson and General Manager, Jeff Gorton. He wanted Chris Drury in place for exit meetings this offseason. That’s why he didn’t want to wait to make these moves until the summer. In an interview with Larry Brooks of the NY Post he laid it all out.

“What I’m talking about is not just something that happens in the locker room,” Dolan said. “It’s an entire organization that has to be together as a team. It’s everybody from the president, the general manager, the coach, the players, the assistant coaches, the trainers. … Everybody has to be together as a team, because everyone makes a contribution. Our organization doesn’t have that.”

The ever classy Davidson did not remark on any of these comments. Instead in his statement he continued to show love for New York and especially the fans.

“I first came to New York as a 22 year-old and it has been in my blood ever since,” he said “Most of all I want to thank you, the fans.”

I don’t expect JD to be unemployed long. There are many organizations looking for an executive of his ilk. He may even return to Columbus as some have hinted. Another option is to get back in the broadcasting game for awhile.

Bottom line, John Davidson will always be a Ranger despite how this ended.

Tom Wilson made his first public comments after wreaking havoc in NY. Read them here.

Read full article at Forever Blueshirts

James Dolan is bringing his chaos to the NHL

Yahoo Sports 07 May, 2021 - 07:20pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

The working theory, I suppose, was that the New York Rangers were more of a footnote in the billionaire owner's vast holdings portfolio. His interest, therefore, could lean further to the fair-weather side, while he saved his more self-sabotaging habits for the NBA's New York Knicks.

And you can understand why he would remain fixated on the Knicks, too. This was one of sports' preeminent franchises globally, and under his watch it had devolved into a laughing stock in the league and around the world.

On the flip side, this whole situation had to be considered ideal for those running the Rangers. There was never any concern about budget or blessing under Dolan, and as the Rangers transitioned from the highly competitive seasons of a previous decade, executive management seemed free to lean on logic to build and sustain a winner in a low-pressure environment under the guidance of one of the most respected hockey men on the planet, Hall of Fame executive John Davidson.

But then, something truly unexpected happened this season.

The New York Knicks started to win basketball games — enough to have them comfortably seeded in postseason position in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

It seems with far less angst being fostered by the failures of the most important organization under his control, Dolan may have found himself jonesing for the opportunity to meddle into some affairs.

It felt right, suddenly, to do with the Rangers what he has always done best.

Dolan's announcement that Davidson, the Rangers president, along with general manager Jeff Gorton had been fired as show runners for the franchise rocked the hockey world Wednesday afternoon.

It was shocking because, despite missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a shortened season in the most competitive division in hockey, the Rangers seemed well ahead of schedule in a from-scratch rebuild that has seen management attract and draft loads of high-end talent.

But what is most stunning about this abrupt left turn from Dolan is that many believe the decision to fire the two front-facing members of the managerial team stems from, or is at least highly related to, a single on-ice incident — one which left the Rangers momentarily without answers.

On the surface, it very much seems as though Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson set off an explosive chain reaction inside the Rangers boardroom after manhandling several members of the team in an on-ice melee Monday night, before flexing at the bench from the penalty box.

And doing it essentially without punishment.

Since those WWE-level antics, the Rangers shared an unprecedentedly scathing review of the NHL's department of player safety head, George Parros, after Wilson escaped the incident with a mere fine, words that have since cost the Rangers (or Dolan) $250,000.

Not long after the statement was shared on social media, Davidson and Gorton were axed, and the Rangers took to the ice for the return meeting versus the Capitals, seemingly intent on making a mockery of the game — and the concept of player safety — in a fight-filled first period to kick off a game they would handily lose.

So in no more than 72 hours, a highly respected franchise on the path to building a potential winner in one, if not, the most important market in the league, has been engulfed, it seems, by the turbulence that's defined Dolan's career as a franchise owner.

Left now is former captain Chris Drury to appease Dolan as the club's new acting general manager.

Admittedly, this has been, to this point, an exercise in connecting the few dots at our disposal.

We are without firm information to this point, primarily because Dolan might not be readily available on the rolodex of most respected hockey insiders, while the cone of silence seems to have been placed on Davidson and Gorton, who have every reason to protect the loads of money remaining on contracts that can't simply be torn to pieces by keeping things in the vault.

Silence, therefore, means we must surmise how Dolan arrived at his decision, and there are really only three options — each of which seem rather senseless.

The first theory, and the spin that seems to be coming out of the Rangers' camp, is that Dolan is unhappy with the performance, direction and prospects of winning moving forward. While potentially true, this would be incredibly shortsighted and a clear example of mismanagement on Dolan's behalf.

That's because in just over three years since the Rangers penned a letter to their fans to explain that a rebuild is on the horizon, the team has negotiated a free agent contract with an MVP-calibre forward in Artemi Panarin, acquired and developed a Norris Trophy candidate in Adam Fox, transitioned out of the Henrik Lundqvist era with two exciting goaltending prospects, and drafted Alexis Lafreniere and Kappo Kaako No. 1 overall and No. 2 overall, respectively, without having to scrape the bottom of the barrel for more than one season.

Maybe there is a little disappointment that the Rangers missed the postseason while competing with Washington, Pittsburgh, Long Island and Boston in a tough division further bolstered by realignment, but you simply cannot elevate a team from the depths quicker than the Rangers have done. At least in a manner considered sustainable.

What's also a possibility is that ownership and management butted heads over the criticism of the NHL after Monday's meltdown. It's been reported that Davidson and Gorton were blindsided by the $250,000 statement from the Rangers, and it's not hard to see why something so explosive would cause an issue in the ranks.

Dolan's history would suggest that he's petty enough to fire one of the most respected folks in the game, and his understudy, over a disagreement.

See: Dolan's handling of Knicks great Charles Oakley.

But the last theory might have more to it, as perhaps a mixture of the two ideas already discussed. Perhaps it's possible that Dolan didn't like the type of team Davidson and Gorton were building, and that the Wilson incident thrust that underlying issue under the spotlight.

Legendary former Rangers captain Mark Messier, who may or may not be campaigning for a role with the organization, weighed in, and may have shed some light into Dolan's rationale.

"In my opinion, if you're going to win, you got to be able to win in the street and the alley," he said, via Mollie Walker of the New York Post. "I particularly would not have built the team that didn't have answers in this regard."

What Wilson managed, if anything, was to expose a perceived weakness in the Rangers roster.

There was not a single skater who could police Wilson in the moment, let alone acquire his own pound of flesh after Panarin was dumped onto his head.

Based on the events that preceded the actual game play in the rematch, it seems obvious that this was a discussion inside the Rangers camp, as six players volunteered to fight, while several others made attempts. In the end, it was Brendan Smith tasked with exchanging punches with Wilson, who won yet another confrontation against a player in a weight division below his.

That right there alone could be the reason Davidson and Gorton are without a job today.

It seems insanely foolish — mostly because so much had been accomplished in three short years, but also because the process of building the roster was far from complete.

Winning fights doesn't equate to winning hockey games, but Davidson and Gorton probably could have learned from the Wilson incident themselves, if given a chance.

But Dolan has acted on less, and therefore we shouldn't be surprised.

Even if it's taken him this long.

Wednesday night's vigilante chaos between the Capitals and Rangers was predictable, avoidable, and exactly how the league wanted things to play out.

For openly questioning George Parros's abilities as the NHL's player safety head, the Rangers have been tagged with a $250,000 fine from the NHL.

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The National Hockey League is an embarrassment. To contend the carnage that went on these past few days between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers is simply a part of game is the sort of Neanderthal thinking that keeps hockey in the dark ages. Will this be the light-bulb moment when the NHL finally exorcises this wretched stain that holds back any chance of it becoming a truly major sport?

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The New York Rangers abruptly fired president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton on Wednesday with three games left in the season, a shocking move in the aftermath of the latest controversy for the storied NHL organization. Chris Drury was named president and GM. ”We want to thank JD and Jeff for their contributions to the organization,” owner James Dolan said in a statement.

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James Dolan: Chris Drury 'the right guy' to lead Rangers culture change

New York Post 07 May, 2021 - 07:20pm

By Larry Brooks

May 6, 2021 | 5:23pm | Updated May 6, 2021 | 6:20pm

“I saw a weakness in the team that was not being addressed and I knew it needed to be,” Dolan told The Post during a telephone interview on Thursday in explaining why he dismissed president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton. “I knew that we were missing a key component to us being a Stanley Cup contender.

“And that is the overall spirit and culture that goes with being a team. I believe that as good of a job as JD and Jeff have done, in speaking with them, it is clear to me that Chris Drury was going to be the right guy to lead the team forward.”

Drury, of course, has been elevated into the twin roles of president and GM after having served as Gorton’s lead aide for the past five years. Dolan preferred not to discuss the substance of his conversations with Davidson and Gorton regarding those missing elements.

The Executive Chairman did not want to engage in hypotheticals about what the ousted regime might have done this upcoming offseason with a heap of available salary-cap space. Instead, this was his take:

“What I’m talking about is not just something that happens in the locker room,” Dolan said. “It’s an entire organization that has to be together as a team. It’s everybody from the president, the general manager, the coach, the players, the assistant coaches, the trainers. … Everybody has to be together as a team, because everyone makes a contribution.

What it does have, in Dolan’s opinion, is talent. Enough talent to … well, let him tell it.

“Honestly, we have enough talent now to compete for a Stanley Cup,” he said. “I’m sure we can always do better and add more, and I will tell you that both JD and Jeff did a good job of putting talent into this organization, and we also got lucky along the way too [with lottery victories the last two years].

“But other owners, other general managers have been telling me for a year that they can’t believe how stocked we are with talent, but talent alone doesn’t do it. We’re missing this piece and we need it. And when I looked at our organization, I felt that we need to change the whole organization and change the culture.

“And then it was a question of who was going to be the best person to lead that change, and I would argue that Chris Drury has the best résumé for that, period. He is a consummate team player, a winner, a man of high character.

“He reminds me somewhat of [Yankees GM] Brian Cashman.”

As if the twin dismissals of popular figures didn’t ignite enough of a firestorm, the timing of the announcement may have seemed odd, coming as it did with just three games remaining in the season that ends Saturday. Why not wait?

Conspiracy theorists concluded that Davidson and Gorton had been fired Wednesday because of their opposition to the statement issued Tuesday night by Dolan under the team’s banner that decried the NHL’s failure to suspend Tom Wilson and called for George Parros’ dismissal as head of the department of player safety.

Why not wait? It turns out there was a pretty good reason for Dolan acting when he did.

“Exit meetings [with the players] are the cornerstone of the entire summer, and it was critical to have Chris in place for those,” said Dolan of the meetings that probably would be scheduled for Sunday or Monday. “The Wilson thing, it is an unfortunate coincidence and it actually gave me a moment of pause, but I had to give this the best chance of being successful.

“I had to get it done so Chris was in place and this was the last opportunity to do this before they went on the road and I wasn’t going to do it on the road. So that’s why.”

The statement made its mark on Tuesday. On Thursday, the NHL made Dolan its mark, fining the Rangers a cool $250,000 for their trouble. Is it necessary to note that was 50 times more than Wilson was fined for Monday’s hysteria? Probably not.

“I feel a little poorer today,” Dolan said lightheartedly “But no, we said what we felt we needed to say and the league did what they felt they needed to do, so it’s fine. Hopefully, we’ll both move on. I don’t think it’s worth enflaming anymore.”

“I started thinking about it 20 or 25 games ago at a time when the team really needed to show heart and we had key games — I won’t be specific — where we had to show up and had to come out strong, and even if we lost, it had to be our best effort,” Dolan said. “And we clearly had nowhere close to our best effort.”

There was a stretch through the middle of February through the middle of March when the performance was uneven, inconsistent and wanting. Then there was the April 20, 6-1 humbling at the Coliseum that proved the first of three mismatches against the Islanders.

Glen Sather, who has been acting as adviser since stepping down from the presidency two years ago, will help guide Drury. Dolan called Sather, “The Godfather of the Rangers.”

“Glen is one of the best hockey minds out there,” Dolan said. “To have his counsel for me and for Chris is invaluable.”

There will be a decision concerning the fate of head coach David Quinn, who has two years remaining on his contract. Drury, remember, was instrumental in the search and hiring process of the former BU coach.

So the Rangers forge ahead. Unspoken or not, Drury has the mandate to bring the Rangers to the next level, sooner than later. Following Wednesday, there is unease in Rangerstown that Dolan will assume a greater presence in the operation and turn it into someplace like Knicksland.

“No, no, no,” Dolan said. “I don’t delude myself with basketball or hockey to say that I know what to do. But I do have a job and I do have a responsibility, and with the Knicks, I chose Leon Rose.

“Yes, I chose the other guys too, and by the way, every time I did I was hopeful I was getting the right guy. But sports doesn’t always work out that way. But when it comes to the Rangers, I’m turning the reins over to Chris.

“I have complete faith in him. I hope he’s here for 20 years.”

Duhatschek notebook: Why Kevin Weekes is a fit for the Rangers' front office

The Athletic 07 May, 2021 - 06:32pm

Duhatschek notebook: Why Kevin Weekes is a fit for the Rangers’ front office

Michael Arace: Bring back Davidson? Bring Gorton with him? It's time Blue Jackets think about it.

The Columbus Dispatch 07 May, 2021 - 04:35am

If you are a Blue Jackets fan, what was your reaction when you heard the news? Most likely, it went something like this: “JD is a free agent! Bring him back to Columbus!” 

It’s not a bad idea. Roll it around in your head. Perhaps, another thought occurs.

Where Davidson, 68, is a revered figure in the league and an experienced administrator with a steady hand, Gorton, 52, is among the most well-regarded general mangers in the league.

That's not a bad idea, either.

Kekalainen, 54, has been the primary architect of the most successful era in franchise history. That said, there has been a brain drain in the hockey-ops department.

Chris MacFarland left in 2015 to be Joe Sakic's right-hand man in Colorado; they have built a monster. Davidson in 2019 could not resist the call home to New York; a doubling of his salary was probably another factor. Bill Zito left to take a bigger role in Florida last year; although I'm not a huge fan of his, he might just be GM of the year.

An all-star front office may not be a panacea, but it would certainly be an investment with a potentially large upside. Certainly, disgruntled fans would take note. The locker room would get a jolt. Potentially, perception throughout the league would shift.

If there's one thing the Jackets need right now besides an infusion of high-end talent, it is a change in perception, is it not?

The Rangers fired Davidson and Gorton for one of two reasons, or a combination.

It may have been a schism over the issuance of a spicy team statement. The statement was more like a Twitter rant. It may have been written by Dolan. Reportedly, it appalled Davidson and Gorton. 

Dolan promoted Chris Drury to be president and general manger of the Rangers. Drury has been touched by the gods from the time he pitched his Trumbull, Connecticut, team to the Little League World Series title in 1989. He takes over a rebuild that is ahead of schedule. He inherits a pile of talent, upside at every position, a couple of prime prospects in the pipeline and gobs of cap space.

Is there a possible collaboration in Columbus? The thought must be entertained.

Nine years ago, the Blue Jackets were bottoming out — which, given the history of the franchise, is truly saying something. The Jeff Carter experiment had failed horribly, Rick Nash had lost hope and the Jackets had the worst record in the league. And then they lost the draft lottery.

Fans were frustrated to the point of severing their emotional attachment. Recognizing this, majority owner John P. McConnell and his operations chief, Mike Priest, made an intelligent move. They swooped in and hired Davidson to be POHOP on Oct. 24, 2012, mere weeks after he had parted with St. Louis.

Davidson was, and remains, one of the most-recognized and respected figures in the game, and a champion of Columbus.

Nine years ago, he gave the Jackets cachet as he helped usher in the most successful era the franchise had ever known. Nine years later, he is once again a free agent, at a time when the Jackets are back in the draft lottery, straining to attract and retain all of their talent and facing an agitated fan base.

Davidson and Gorton have vast and varied experience and estimable track records. Can one or both of them be combined with Kekalainen? Can the Jackets hockey operations department be super-powered overnight? Is there a way to make it work?

I don't know what McConnell, Priest or Kekalainen think about any of this. I don’t know if it’s in the budget, but if it isn't, it should be. At this time and in this place, it's a discussion to have.

A depleted Rangers team takes on the Bruins

Blue Line Station 06 May, 2021 - 01:11pm

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MARCH 11: Filip Chytil #72 of the New York Rangers shields the puck from Zach Senyshyn #19 of the Boston Bruins during the second period at TD Garden on March 11, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The last thing the New York Rangers needed after their tough two game series with the Capitals was to travel to Boston to play their second game in two night.  It’s a bruised and battered squad minus a number of regulars. Missing for this game will be Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Jacob Trouba, Ryan Lindgren, Julien Gauthier, Brett Howden and now, Pavel Buchnevich who was suspended for one game for his cross check into Anthony Mantha’s face last night.

That’s seven missing players and the Rangers called up three reinforcements from Hartford, Jonny Brodzinski, Tim Gettinger and Justin Richards.   Will all three play?  They need to replace Buchnevich and Gauthier who played last night so one will probably sit unless someone else is ailing.

The hope has to be that Justin Richards will get a chance to show what he can do.  He was signed as an undrafted free agent last year and played this season in Hartford.  He had four goals and 11 points in 20 games for the Wolf Pack. The 23-year-old won two national championships for Minnesota Duluth and in his last two seasons he was named best defensive forward in his conference.  The word is that he can win faceoffs.   It would be good to see if the center is an option as a defensive forward in the future.

Tim Gettinger has had several opportunities with the Rangers and he is a Restricted Free Agent after this season and it’s a question of whether he will be offered another contract.

Chris Drury spoke to reporters along with Glen Sather.  Drury didn’t have much to say other than that it has been a “whirlwind 24 hours” and that he felt that the rebuild was going according to plan.  He was complimentary about Jeff Gorton and John Davidson, but wisely gave no hints of what he will be doing with any personnel other than to say that he will be needing to find someone to run the Wolf Pack and an Assistant General Manager.

Sather didn’t say much except that in his role as an advisor, he has offered his opinions when asked to all Rangers management including Jim Dolan.   He said that he was proud of the way the players reacted to the Capitals last game.

One thing that Drury definitively stated was that this was not a promotion that was in the works  and that there had been no promises made. He basically admitted that he was as surprised as everyone by yesterday’s bloodbath.

Drury concluded his remarks by thanking Jim Dolan for the opportunity. “I grew up as a Ranger fan in Connecticut. It was a lifelong dream to be able to play for the Rangers and to be back in player development and assistant general manager and now to have these roles. It’s a huge honor, a huge thrill.  To all the Ranger fans out there, Obviously I take this very, very, very seriously. My goal is to bring the Cup to MSG. Period. ”

Nice to hear.  Now, he has a job to do.

It will be Igor Shesterkin versus Jeremy Swayman in a battle of rookie netminders.  Though the Bruins are four points out of first place they till have four games left, most of any East team and hoping to get home ice advantage so they have something to play for.

The game starts at 7pm EST and it will be It will be televised on the MSG Network with the radio call on ESPN 98.7 FM.

Be sure and join the live conversation here on Blue Line Station.  The live thread can be found in the conversations section (below).    Let’s talk about the kids and what we can look forward to in the future.

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