Sports teams everywhere should take notes on how the New York Rangers handled their decision to retool
Ask any athlete who has ever played in The Big Apple how hard it is to play in such an environment. Success is expected and regardless of if you win or lose, you’ll be in the headlines. The New York Rangers can testify to this, as they are arguably the second-most popular sports team in the NY area.
Lately, the blue shirts have hinted at their intention to rebuild. On Thursday, Feb. 8, the Rangers addressed the fans in a letter.
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If you have trouble reading the letter, they later tweeted it out in a thread. This kind of openness and honesty is rarely seen from sports teams. Teams rarely admit to their fans that they need to rebuild. Especially ones who live in huge markets. The New York Yankees did it several years ago. It’s clear the Rangers were taking notes when they did it.
Did Derek Jeter warn fans before trading Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees? Nope. Did the Los Angeles Clippers tell fans they were going to rebuild before trading Blake Griffin? No, though fans probably saw it coming after Chris Paul went to the Houston Rockets.
The Rangers deserve criticism for getting to this point despite having a future Hall of Fame goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist. Those same issues which plague them now have been doing so for the past few seasons, yet very little has been done to address them.
In all honesty, they probably should have done this letter immediately after trading Derek Stepan to the Arizona Coyotes. But the Rangers still had the audacity to be honest with their fans, which should be applauded.
New York has seven players who will be unrestricted free agents after this season. An additional four players will be restricted free agents. On top of that, their free agents after next season include their team leader in points (Mats Zuccarello) and team captain (Ryan McDonagh).
So far, the Rangers have been listening to offers for several of those seven pending UFAs. Rick Nash is the most notable name among those seven. Michael Grabner and Nick Holden are two other names to keep an eye on, as is David Desharnais.
The future is uncertain for the Rangers right now. How they handle the next few weeks will likely determine how quickly the team can get back to being contenders. But the Rangers just won a ton of brownie points for doing what so many teams are afraid to do – be honest with their fans.