Atlantic Division Holiday Wishes: New York Rangers

Holiday Hockey Wishes

In this 5 part series, Brian Bock informs you about the letters to Santa he ‘intercepted’ from each of the teams in the Atlantic Division.  Stay tuned to The Checking Line for more stories about what the Islanders players, front office, and fans may be wishing for this holiday season as well. 

For the articles regarding the letters to Santa from divisional rivals of the Islanders, in addition to the wishes of that team, we present them with a gift (with love) from the New York Islanders.

New York Rangers:

The Rangers have been very good boys of late, and are acting on and off the ice like Santa (or HBO) is watching them 24/7.  One of my good friends has the misfortune of being a Rangers fan, and has been truly excited about how well his team has played this year despite missing their top All-Star defenseman, Marc Staal.  Brad Richards is helping the offense contribute on a more consistent level than the past few seasons.  Henrik Lundqvist shook off some “hometown jitters” after opening the season in his native Sweden and is having another season which will keep his name in the Vezina trophy conversation.  Youngsters Michael Del Zotto and Ryan McDonagh have taken their games to a high level very quickly to contribute in Staal’s absence. 

Image courtesy of zimbio.com

Simply put, the Rangers are off to an outstanding start to the season.  In fact, they haven’t had a start this good since 1993-94.  I can’t remember anything good that happened during that hockey season, or I would try to give some more color around that year. 

Despite my friend’s excitement with how well the Rangers are playing now, when he looks ahead to what the Eastern Conference playoff picture is shaping up to be, he has some concerns.  He has asked me often this season what it will take for the Rangers to contend for the Cup.  Luckily, I was able to get a copy of what the Rangers themselves want for the Holidays. 

Dear Santa,

First and foremost, a veteran defenseman.  Take a look back at the last 4 teams to win a Stanley Cup.  Go ahead.  Seriously, I’ll wait.  Did you notice anything that each of their defensive units had in common?  If you said “they all have at least one player over 30 years old,” you’d be correct.  The Rangers’ unit today calls Dan Girardi its elder statesman – at the ripe old age of 27. 

Image courtesy of zimbio.com

“But Marc Staal has been around, and he’s an All Star.  Wouldn’t getting him back be the same thing?”  Not even close, Saint Nick.  Staal is just 24 years old, and as scary as it is to think about, there is no telling when/if he will be back this season.  I know the Rangers needed the cap space to bring Brad Richards aboard, but someone like Bryan McCabe could have been that type of presence for the Blueshirts’ young defensive corps.  If you can’t come through for us, Kris Kringle, you should look for the Rangers to be very active in this area come trade deadline time – and sooner still if another key defenseman gets injured for a few weeks.

To be honest, if the Rangers get a d-man like that, they will be a very tough out from the playoffs come April.  However, if that goal is accomplished sooner rather than later, there is another area of the team that should still be addressed to get them closer to a team that can contend in the East.  Interesting fact: if you asked all non-Rangers fans across the NHL – and Head Coach John Tortorella – what they would like the Rangers to get for the holidays, the answer would be (resoundingly) the same thing.  Get a hard-working, team-first, reliable, hockey-smart bottom six forward so that Sean Avery never has to play in the NHL ever again.  So get all the elves (scouts) together and have them start making (looking for) someone who fits the mold.