Tuesday night was a big win for the Rangers. But it reminds us that this offseason has started with questionable decisions.
On Tuesday night, the National Hockey League announced their annual awards, all-NHL teams and All-Rookie teams.
The New York Rangers had a pretty good night.
Adam Fox won his first Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman. Fox was also voted one of the defensemen on the 2020-21 NHL First All-Star Team.
Fox, 23, just completed his second NHL season.
He won the award despite Colorado’s Cale Makar or Tampa’s Victor Hedman, the other two finalists, being better bets. Fox finished the 2021 season second among defensemen with 47 points (five goals, 42 assists), one behind Tyson Barrie of the Edmonton Oilers.
Fox is the fourth Rangers player to win the Norris and first since Brian Leetch in 1996-97. Doug Harvey (1961-62), Harry Howell (1966-67) and Leetch (1991-92) are the others.
Defenseman K’Andre Miller was also named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team.
Why is this bad?
Two solid individual awards, including the league’s top blue line honor, speaks to the quality the Rangers have in the organization. The future is bright at Madison Square Garden.
And yet there’s a shadow hanging over these announcements.
James Dolan’s shadow.
In the NHL.com story about Fox winning the Norris, Fox acknowledged he received a congratulatory call from former coach David Quinn, who was fired by the Rangers on May 12.
“Of course, coaching staff, management, everyone involved is helpful in where I’m at and obviously giving me the opportunity to play and showcase what I can do,” Fox told NHL.com. “It’s important for any player. I think coach Quinn trusted me and I’m grateful for that.”
Let’s emphasize the former ahead of Quinn’s title.
Another former who should get a lot of credit is Jeff Gorton, the former general manager of the Rangers. Gorton and president John Davidson were fired on May 7 because Dolan wanted more from the Rangers.
Gorton traded two second-round draft picks for Fox in 2019. Now the 23-year-old has been named the league’s top defenseman.
Gorton also selected Miller with the 22nd overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Miller, 21, also has an incredibly bright future ahead of him for the Rangers.
The firings of Gorton and Davidson were questionable when they happened. Now, they feel worse.
Most around the game see a big arrow pointing up at MSG because of the work Gorton did building the organization back up. These individual awards confirm he knew what he was doing as the general manager.
Chris Drury is now the general manager and Gerard Gallant has come on board as the new head coach of the Rangers. Both is in an enviable position, taking over a talented roster that is climbing.
There is potential all over the Rangers’ roster and they have more assets coming, which affords them the ability to replenish the NHL roster and/or make a big trade this summer to take the next step forward.
With all due respect to Drury, Gorton never should have been replaced. He did a marvelous job identifying talent and beginning the process of putting a winner together.