Photo: Seth Wenig/AP
Wednesday night was supposed to focus on the Rangers going after Tom Wilson and the Washington Capitals. This came after Wilson punched Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head before then throwing star forward Artemi Panarin to the ground and punching him in the wall on Monday night’s Rangers’ 6-3 loss to the Capitals.
Leave it to James Dolan to change the narrative and make this about him. Instead of talking about the six fights between the Rangers and Capitals or a line brawl breaking out with three different fights to start the game, everything centered on Dolan’s bizarre decision to fire John Davidson as the Rangers president and Jeff Gorton as the Rangers general manager on Wednesday.
To say it was shocking is an understatement. Dolan does not get involved with the Rangers much like he does with the Knicks. Plus, everyone assumed Dolan trusted Davidson the way he trusted Glen Sather and Isiah Thomas.
If someone took the fall for the Rangers missing the playoffs, it would have been Rangers coach David Quinn. He has shown that he hasn’t been the head coach that can take them from Point A to Point B as in going from a rebuilding team to a playoff team. He probably will be fired after the season.
The firings showed once again Dolan gets involved when he shouldn’t be. It also should provide a reminder to Knicks fans that he will get involved when he feels like it despite his promise not to, so enjoy this success. It could be short-lived since I have a hard time believing Leon Rose, William Wesley and Tom Thibodeau can coexist with Dolan.
Apparently, Dolan did not like the lack of progress the Rangers made. He felt they were stagnant and easy to play against. He did not think no one was scared to play them. Like most Rangers fans, he apparently was delusional to think his hockey club was a playoff team this year despite participating in the hockey bubble last season.
In a tough Metropolitan Division that features heavyweight coaches such as Barry Trotz, Peter Laviolette, Mike Sullivan, Alain Vigneault and Bruce Cassidy, the Rangers would have been hard-pressed to make the playoffs with a team that is still building with young players such as Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, Mika Zibanejad, Igor Shesterkin, Alexandar Georgiev and Buchnevich. They need an upgrade in coach for the team to the next step.
Maybe next year or the season after that would be a better gauge in determining whether the Rangers are making progress.
Firing Davidson and Gorton comes off as another impulsive move by Dolan. It conjured up a painful reminder of Dolan being done with Donnie Walsh because the Knicks did not get LeBron James. Of course, Dolan never wanted to hire Walsh in the first place. Walsh got the job because the late NBA commissioner David Stern ordered Dolan to hire Walsh to clean up the Knicks’ mess after Thomas embarrassed the Knicks and the NBA for being involved in a sexual harassment suit with Anucha Browne Sanders. Despite Walsh building an up-and-coming team, it was never going to be good enough for Dolan.
Here’s another layer to why Dolan fired Davidson and Gorton: Apparently, he wasn’t happy that his hockey executives did not sound off on Wilson’s dirty hit. According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, he wasn’t pleased that these two did not sign off on the written statement that the team made about Tom Wilson and George Parros’ incompetent ruling of not even suspending him for that hit that had Panarin out for the season
This is what we call being impulsive. Yes, Dolan has every right to be upset that his executives did not share the same outrage as him. But he has to be smart about this, too. It’s hard to find great executives like Gorton and Davidson. If he fires them, why would anyone else want to work for him? There won’t be suckers like Sather around that want to deal with Dolan. It takes a special person to work for him. Also, who wants to work for Dolan when Sather apparently is in his ear?
Dolan will never get it. No matter how much he tries to convince others he has changed, he really hasn’t. He proved he is still an impulsive fool that can make a change on a whim. If he does not get his way, he will use his power to get his way by either throwing fans out of his arena or banning people or firing people like Dave Checketts, Walsh, Gorton and Davidson.
Let this serve as a lesson and warning to Thibodeau, Wesley and Rose about not being comfortable with Dolan at any time.
For New York sports fans, Wednesday served as another painful reminder that as long as Dolan is around, it will never end well for the Rangers and Knicks when they are on the cusp of success.