New York Rangers Fans: Don’t Drink the MSG Flavored Kool-Aid

As Ilya Kovalchuk is about to maybe, maybe not sign with the New Jersey Devils, the New York Rangers can now officially sit back and say they did absolutely nothing to improve the team this summer as every team around them got better. But believe you me, the Rangers are going to peddle this product like it is pure gold in the coming weeks, trying to sell it to the bandwagon fans who have unknowingly hopped aboard the Cannonball Express, with Glen Sather playing the role of Casey Jones.

The reason why I say they are targeting bandwagon fans is because the real fans have already recognized this team for what it is, and have recognized it for the last few seasons. The real Ranger fans are at their last straw, and there is no persuading them further.

This sentiment was recently heightened when the Rangers tried to get fellow writer and Blueshirt Banter commander-in-chief Jim Schmiedberg banned from attending future NHL drafts as a member of the media. This is because the Rangers would have no control over what he writes, and the fact that they mistakenly linked him to the “Fire Sather” rally this past spring, when all he did was cover the event from an unbiased perspective.

That said, this is what Jim offers in regards to what the Rangers want of their covering media and how he finally realized he is glad to not be a part of it, “After careful consideration, we’ve come to the conclusion we’re better off being on the “outside” when it comes to the Rangers. Being inside just means you get to ask Chris Drury about his Little League days, and what flavor ice cream Michael Del Zotto likes.”

Jim hit the nail right on the head there, because that is exactly how interviews are conducted with members of the Rangers during the season. When was the last time a meaningful question was asked of a player after a win or loss? When was the last time a player’s brain was picked, so we might catch a glimpse of the inner workings of their hockey mind?

Instead, every time the Rangers play the Penguins or Hurricanes, we have to sit back and see graphics about how Marc, Eric, and Jordan Staal all like different movies, or who likes what topping on their pizza.

And after a game, there is always John Giannone in the locker room to ask brain-busting questions like, “Did it feel good to get that win?” or “You must be upset that you lost tonight?”

Originally made in 2008, I have updated this graphic to be more time appropriate.

I cannot think of a more embarrassing waste of media coverage, made even worse by the fact that this is the media and sports capital of the world, New York City. Rather than being unbiased and impartial (what a journalist is supposed to be), the Rangers analysts just sit back and shove down our throats how a certain player is great at this or how a certain player does that.

Marian Gaborik has the most powerful stride in the world, and don’t worry fans, Aaron Voros will be the next Sean Avery. You will love him, we promise!

Every year the Rangers have a different product that they wish to peddle, and this coming after they virtually destroyed all ties to bloggers and any independent journalist not affiliated with the team. You have all seen my struggles with their PR department, over an issue when I spoke to goaltender Chad Johnson, and now you are all witnessing first-hand what Jim and the guys at Blueshirt Banter are going through.

As much as the Rangers like to sequester their players, they still talk to us. Although we cannot publish anything they tell us for fear of having legal action taken against us, we enjoy the fact that no matter how hard they try, we still talk to players, and the general vibe I get is that they like talking to us, but “can’t” for reasons stated above. Some even echo the same mentality present right here in this very article, and that makes me very happy.

These are human beings, just like us, and they can recognize when a team has a chance and when they don’t. They can see animosity in the locker room between players, and they know who is well liked and who is hated. They can see through the phony public relations induced umbrella that covers and protects the Ranger prospects, not allowing them to conduct interviews, even though the interview itself will only serve to glorify them and win their hearts over with the Rangers fan base. But they do not care.

They do not care about the very fan base that supports them miserable season after miserable season. They do not care about the fan base that shells out thousands of dollars to afford season tickets, only to end up seeing a circus 41 times a year. They do not care about the bloggers out there, who as a hobby and of their own free time, try to cover the team they have loved since childhood.

The Rangers will argue that it is the fault of the bloggers who caused this riff, but how can it be our fault if we were never recognized to begin with?

As bloggers, we are not asking for special privileges. We are not asking for inside information. We are not even asking for press credentials. All we want is a chance to cover the team with a little help from the inside. Would an interview every now and then kill the franchise? The questions would surely be filtered by PR before they even got to the subject, so how can it be that bad? And how awesome would it look to outsiders if a big corporation like the Rangers was working side-by-side with an internet blogger?

After ignoring this, and moving towards the season, the Rangers will now look and see this team ahead of them. Just like last season, it has a chance that if everything goes right, they could make the playoffs and do well. But unlike if everything goes right, if just one or two things falter, the Rangers will collapse and miss the playoffs yet again.

Watching the Rangers sell their new acquisitions and philosophy before every season is like going to a yard sale and seeing an interesting looking antique on a person’s table that they have for sale. After picking it up, the seller tells you that it is a rare and valuable antique but he only wants $100 for it because he has no room and wants to get rid of it. So you buy it and take it home, and it looks nice in your room. Then a month passes and you grow tired of looking at the antique, and after hearing Antiques Roadshow is coming to town, you decide to get it appraised and sell it. You then go to the appraisal only to have them tell you that it is a reproduction made ten years ago and it is worth a nickel. What do you do? You can’t sell it and you don’t want it in your house anymore, so you throw it in the garbage.

This is what they do every year, promise gold, then watch it turn to trash.

Rangers fans must be weary yet again, because we have such a strong desire to believe in this team, but our intelligence tells us otherwise. I can’t wait to see the new season previews, showing how this Rangers team is going to go far because of X, Y, and Z having career years, or because Alex Frolov is going to turn into a 40-goal scorer overnight. They will tell us that Lundqvist will get rest this season, and Biron will play 15 games. They will tell us that Sean Avery will be back with an edge. They will tell us how Gilroy will come into his own and be the best offensive defenseman this team has had since Leetch. They will tell us how John Tortorella is the only coach in the league who could undertake this team, and through passion, fire, and determination, will whip these players into the best shape they have ever been in.

They will tell us many things, but how many will come true? It is up to you to decide. It is time to stop drinking the Kool-Aid and hope for some real change in this Rangers organization.


4 thoughts on “New York Rangers Fans: Don’t Drink the MSG Flavored Kool-Aid

  1. Jumbo


    This is not surprising at all to me.

    Circa 1979, a friend of mine who I had season tickets with started compiling a small handout with the active rosters of the Rangers and their opponents. He would call the offices of the visiting teams a day or two in advance and they were happy to tell him who was on their rosters. After a while he and I and several other contributors starting writing honest, insightful articles. This was no small feat for that pre-email period; we had to write articles in advance and give them to my friend before each home game in anticipation of the next game. He then had to type them on a typewriter, reproduce and collate them. It was a labor of love for him, and most of the time his rosters were more accurate than the ones published in the game programs.

    As the handout expanded into several pages, my friend titled it “From the Blue Seats” and started to ask for a small donation, 25 or 50 cents, to help defray his expenses. Real Ranger fans were more than happy to comply, some would even give him a dollar. Overall his publication was much superior to the program that at the time was selling for $2 and contained only advertising and fluff articles.

    After a few weeks, Ranger management called him and told him he could not collect money. So people started to hide handing him money or would give it to him between periods out by the escalators. With the help of John Halligan he was able to get some access to the locker room at practice to interview players but he talked to them man to man instead of just lobbing them fluff questions. He also did not disrespect them and I never heard of any negative incident involving him and any player.

    The first game of the 1981-82 season, he and my wife (who was a fellow season ticket holder but whom I had not yet met at the time) were hauled downstairs by Garden security. They told my friend to cease publication or he would be arrested and prosecuted. They claimed his publication cut into program sales, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The people who read his publication were other season ticket holders who never bought the program because it was not worth the paper it was printed on.

    At least we can’t blame Dimwit Dolan for this because it happened when Gulf & Western owned the Garden and the Rangers.

    In defense of the Rangers and MSG, I think most pro sports teams operate the same way–the info their PR departments put out is always spun positively and they look down on any information source they are not in a position to control. That’s why it is great that we have the mainstream media and sites where we can post our opinions freely, but as long as we stay at a safe distance.

  2. Jumbo, that is a very interesting story and a small piece of Rangers history. I knew once I saw John Halligan’s name it would be with something positive, and sure enough, it was.

    Whatever shred of class the Rangers organization had unfortunately died along with Mr. Halligan.

    1. This mess we have down the street will contunue because the blame starts at the very top, The Dolans. Until they either sell the MSG empire, or get a president/GM who knows what he is doing AND leave him alone!!
      I have been a fan since 1948, yes, 1948, when I was in high school, admission was .50 cents with high school ID.
      I still look forward to every season with enthusiasm!!
      Tom D and crew

  3. Pingback: My Letter to Jim Schmiedberg of Blueshirt Banter « From New York to San Francisco

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