So the Rangers, an organization that declared itself in a rebuild in 2018, have undergone a front-office shift after missing the postseason for a fourth consecutive year. President John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton were charged with guiding the franchise through this phase of reconstruction, but were axed on Wednesday before they could get a chance to see it through.
There was a discrepancy between the managerial duo and Jim Dolan on where the team should go from here, which led to the CEO handing the baton to associate GM Chris Drury.
Drury is now tasked with finishing what was started in a timeline that lives up to the standards of ownership.
It is a lofty assignment, one that forces Drury to reconsider the team’s timetable for becoming legitimate playoff contenders while also evaluating the young squad’s development thus far.
In his introductory press conference as the franchise’s 12th president and 12th general manager on Thursday, Drury was asked about where he thought the direction of the rebuild was going under Davidson and Gorton, and then where it will be headed now.
“I don’t think it’s anything too drastic,” he said. “I really believe in what we have accomplished since The Letter. What we were able to do and not only adding young assets and making some key trades and signing obviously a marquee free agent in [Artemi Panarin]. I think we do have a lot of good pieces.
“I think it’s an exciting time for the organization, just like every organization does when the season ends, we’re going to take a look at everything to take the next step and make ourselves a playoff team.”
Davidson and Gorton made it clear that the Rangers ultimate goal for the truncated 2020-21 season would be to qualify for the playoffs. While that obviously didn’t happen with the team getting eliminated Monday, Drury said playing in the postseason wasn’t necessarily the expectation.
The former Rangers captain did make a point to say he wouldn’t set a timeline on the team becoming playoff contenders, but that the intention going forward is to take the next step.
“I don’t think that was a mandate,” Drury said of making the playoffs this season. “With all the ups and downs throughout this shortened season, with the coaches getting COVID, players in and out of the lineup, injuries, our youth. Overall, we had some very good, positive growing moments. Now, it’s definitely time to take the next step and turn those moments and turn our collective group of players into a team.”
One of the first things on Drury’s to-do list will be evaluating head coach David Quinn, who was brought in to spearhead the development of one of the league’s most inexperienced teams and now has two years remaining on his contract.
“I’m certainly not going to sit here and talk about anybody’s job status in the organization, publicly,” Drury said. “I know it’s been a wild year since we started. It’s been well-documented, everything the team has gone through, on and off the ice.
“We’re going to take a look at every aspect of the organization when things end and we’ll start that process next week.”