It is obvious the Rangers aren’t built like the consistent playoff contenders in the East Division, a glaring fact exposed in games against the Islanders, Capitals and Bruins this season.
Not only did their lack of grit play a major role in preventing the team from qualifying for the playoffs, but it was a factor in why CEO Jim Dolan dismissed president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton Wednesday. It is believed that the now former managerial duo’s collection of skill players at the expense of will players did not sit well with Dolan.
Given what transpired with Capitals instigator Tom Wilson on Monday, when he cheaply punched Pavel Buchnevich and then twice body-slammed star winger Artemi Panarin to knock him out of the season’s final three games, the way the Rangers are built suddenly came to the forefront of conversations.
Wilson was fined a mere $5,000 for his antics with Buchnevich, but not penalized for anything he did to Panarin. The Rangers, who released a scathing statement calling for head of player safety George Parros’ job, felt slighted and took matters into their own hands during Wednesday’s 4-2 loss — in which they dropped the gloves six times through the first 4:14 of the game.
Glen Sather, a senior adviser to Dolan and an alternate governor, confirmed The Post’s reporting during a press conference Thursday that there was no direct correlation between the team’s statement and the firings of Davidson or Gorton. The Post, though, reported that the two did not think the release — which drew the organization a $250,000 fine — was not a good idea.
As far as addressing the need for more toughness, Sather said he was proud of the Rangers’ response, but that, in his experience, every team needs it to compete.
“I think when you look at the lineup that was playing Washington [Wednesday] night, I was particularly proud of the way they reacted, they all stuck together,” he said. “That’s part of the whole team-building process and young guys have to go through. I talked to so many kids after the game [Wednesday] night in the dressing room and so many have never been involved in something like that before. And virtually every one of them just shook their head.
“Particularly from the teams that I’ve been involved with, you need a certain element of being able to defend your players, and it has to come from within the team. The team has to have a feeling for each other to care for each other and support each other. And they certainly did that [Wednesday] night.”
Julien Gauthier, who took one shift in Wednesday’s loss and left the game with a lower-body injury, will not play in the final two games of the season, new president and general manager Chris Drury said.
The 23-year-old winger finished his second Rangers season with two goals and six assists, as well as 14 penalty minutes in 30 games.
Drury also alluded to another player who “aggravated something” in Wednesday’s game and may not be available. He did not disclose whom.
The Rangers recalled forwards Jonny Brodzinski, Tim Gettinger and Justin Richards from AHL Hartford on Thursday.
Brodzinski skated in four games with the Rangers this season, tallying a goal against the Bruins on Feb. 26. He was first recalled when Panarin took his leave of absence to deal with the aftermath of a political hit piece from Russia.
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