A day after releasing a fiery statement criticizing the NHL for not suspending Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals after his cheap shot hits on Pavel Buchnevich and Artemi Panarin on Monday night, the Blueshirts and James Dolan have decided to let go of general manager Jeff Gorton and team president John Davidson on Wednesday afternoon. This comes as a complete shock to Rangers fans and the hockey world as New York is the youngest team in the league and they were not expected to make the playoffs this season. In addition, this comes only three years after they sent “The Letter” out to the fans saying they were going into a rebuild and to remain patient. This move also came only two years after luring Davidson away from the Columbus Blue Jackets. On top of that, they did a great job by drafting Kappo Kakko in 2019 with the second overall pick in the draft as well as selecting Alexis Lafreniere with the first overall pick in 2020. They also made big trades by signing Artemi Panarin to a seven -year $81.5m contact, who in his first season in New York finished in the top three Hart Trophy finalists. They also made major trades that brought in Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, Ryan Lindgren and K’Andre Miller to Madison Square Garden. However, it has been reported that the reason Dolan pulled the plug was because he was unhappy with the direction of the team as he thought the rebuild was going too slowly. It was also reported that Dolan first went to Davidson to have him fire Gorton but Davidson was not on board so as a result, Dolan fired them both. However, the reason this does not make sense is because the Rangers have had winning records in the past two seasons while also developing young players into the lineups. Another criticism that has come up with the Rangers is their lack of physical players that can stand up for their young players. This was evident against Washington when Tom Wilson roughed up both Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich. While that incident was extremely embarrassing for the Rangers and inappropriate for the league, it should not have resulted in Gorton and Davidson losing their jobs because the team is still young and may have added tougher players in the offseason. In addition, firing Davidson who is a legend by Rangers fans was not the right move or the right way to fire him with only three games left. This also brings up why they made these moves when there only three games left in the season?
One of the big questions that has arisen from these firings is if the statement that was put out by the team on Tuesday in response to not suspending Tom Wilson had anything to do with the firing? However, senior advisor Glen Sather made it clear earlier today in a press conference that it had nothing to do with it. One of the big noteworthy items that came out of the statement about the firing and the press conference was that Sather still has a big voice in the organization and will work with Drury in his transition and continue in his senior advisor role. This would make you think that Sather had a big say in the decision to let go of Gorton and Davidson as Dolan still leans on him for advice. Drury comes in as the new general manager and president after having played for the Rangers from 2007-2011 and also serving as the director of player development in 2015. He was also promoted to assistant general manager in 2016 and then was assigned to be the GM of their AHL team, the Hartford Whalers. By March of 2019, he was signed to a contract extension as the assistant GM and then got promoted to associate GM this past February. He also turned down other general manager interviews from other teams including the Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The question now becomes whether or not head coach David Quinn’s job is safe or not. It would not be surprising if Drury decided to go in a different direction. However, it is worth noting that he was involved in the hiring process of Quinn and has a close relationship with him which could result in him sticking with Quinn going forward.