Make the New York Rangers Great Again: What I Would Do In My First 100 Days as Owner of the New York Rangers, Ideas on How To Make the Franchise Better and Fan Friendlier, James Dolan & Much More

Move over James Dolan, I want a crack at it!

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. If you’ve been off enjoying your weekend, I posted a blog on Saturday morning about the NHL All Star Game. Check it out here:

NHL All-Star Weekend Blog: Why Cam Talbot Is The Biggest All-Star Snub This Year on a Long List of Talented “Snubs”, The Four Major Sports & Their All-Star Games, John Scott “A Guy Like Me” Book Review, How The NHL Has Their Head In The Sand With This Game & Much More

 

When it comes to owning a sports franchise, only a few financially elite people have the opportunity to do so. You need to be filthy rich to ever have a shot at owning a professional sports team. The only exception is to find a stupid commissioner and pretend you’re rich, as was the case with John Spano in 1996. However, you can only dupe a dumbass commissioner for so long. The bubble will eventually burst.

In my lifetime, the best owners in sports have been the biggest fans of their team. Say what you want to say about guys like George Steinbrenner, Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban, the bottom line is that they all saw their respective teams win championships. Sure, these men aren’t saints either and have had their lumps too, but if you’re a fan of their teams, you appreciate that they care.

Personally, I am a NY Yankee fan. We all know the ups and downs and the controversies of George Steinbrenner. That said, what everyone can agree on is that he cared. Not only did he care, but he CARED a lot! As someone who invests time and money into the Yankees, it was easy to do so, because I know my owner gave a shit and wanted to see the Yankees win as much as I did.

On the flip-side, I am a NY Giants fan and despise the Dallas Cowboys. That said, I can’t deny that Jerry Jones is successful and cares about his football team. In fact, the Yankees & Cowboys are the most profitable franchises in all of American sports. Both teams are #1 in their respective leagues in profits, which is just an added bonus for an owner who wants to win.

When it comes to James Dolan, like many of you, I am disgusted. HANDS DOWN, he is the worst owner in all of professional sports today. I’ve talked about Dolan’s many failures over the course of this blog’s history, so I won’t rehash it all. It’s a shame though – he would rather invest more money on an Isiah Thomas sexual misconduct lawsuit than invest in his ice hockey club.

Where it would drive someone like Steinbrenner, Cuban or Jones nuts that their teams never win, for James Dolan, he can give two shits less. Just keep paying his high prices. If the teams are making money, that’s all he cares about. I would bet that James Dolan not only couldn’t name 5 NY Rangers, but aside from Henrik Lundqvist, I bet he couldn’t even pick the players out of a police line-up.

I mean, look at Chicago. Chicago received a new arena, in the United Center, right around the same time the Dolan family took over the Rangers, Knicks and MSG. In that 22 year time period, the Blackhawks & Bulls (Owned by two different men & ran independently from another, all they do is share the lease) have won 3 championships a piece. For Dolan, he’s seen one Stanley Cup appearance, which was a Cinderella run and saw his Knicks become the laughingstock of the NBA ever since Ewing left.

With this blog, I have conversed with several people that were formerly in the Rangers organization as well as people that are still with the team. While I’m just a fan and not a journalist by any means, I respect the privacy of the conversations I’ve had with those people. I won’t name names, as they never said it was ok to publicize their names, but one former member of the organization and one current member of the organization, have both told me that James Dolan is clueless and is a cancer to the team. They aren’t really shedding any new light here. As a fan, it just makes me happy to know that I’m not the only person who sees this!

James Dolan may sing the blues about the success of his teams, but deep down, all he cares about is money. In fact, I would bet that he’d rather play his guitar in front of a sold out crowd at MSG than see his teams win a championship! Photo Credit: NY Times

If you want to see the true agony of someone invested in sports, just talk to any diehard NY Knick fan. The dramedy of that franchise is better than anything Shakespeare ever wrote. Aside from one season (where they got crushed in the first round by Lebron & the Heat) where the team actually made the playoffs, the Knicks have been the butthole of the NBA. Just mired in shit and dingleberries. The latest fiasco between Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson should surprise no one. The Knicks are just a piece of dog shit, melting away on concrete on a hot and humid summer afternoon.

However, this blog isn’t about the Titanic known as the NY Knicks. It’s about Dolan’s other team, the NY Rangers.

When you look at how Dolan acquired the Rangers, it is pretty depressing. The key jewel of the Cablevision empire was Madison Square Garden and the profitable basketball team that played inside of it. If this was Thanksgiving, MSG was the turkey. The Knicks were all the great fixings rolled up into one. And the Rangers? Well the Rangers were something Dolan bought at the cash register on his way out, like a 25 cent pack of Winterfresh gum.

Where Dolan would muddle Knick affairs with his input and help ruin the team, he mostly left the Rangers alone. He left the hockey team alone because he didn’t know anything about it, nor did he truly care. All Dolan knew was that the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980’s were successful. Acquiring the team after the 1994 Stanley Cup, Dolan saw many ex-Oilers celebrating the Cup win in Ranger jerseys. Dolan would go on to fire General Manager Neil Smith in 2000 and bring on long-time Oiler honcho, Glen Sather. Despite saying in the past, “If I had the Rangers payroll, I would win multiple Stanley Cups”, Sather would never win a Cup during his tenure as GM.

While Senile Sather never won a Cup in NY, he does have the dubious distinction of being the longest tenured general manger in NYC sports history to never win a championship. For 15 years, Sather FAILED. Dolan’s reaction was to just give Sather promotions. To this day, Sather is the team president. Rewarding failure with promotions will never lead to success. However, since Dolan does not care about hockey, he could care less what Sather does, as long as what he does is profitable.

So in the wake of our new President Donald Trump, his “Make America Great Again” slogan and everyone critiquing his first 100 days as President, here is what I would do if I ever hit the lottery and could buy out Dumbass Dolan. However, before doing anything with the Rangers, my first move would be to move out of my building, where only Cablevision is offered, and switch to Verizon!

Sather must go!

MAKE THE NY RANGERS GREAT AGAIN – WHAT I WOULD DO AS THE OWNER OF THE NY RANGERS

Once all the paperwork was signed, sealed and delivered, my first order of business would to be fire team president Glen Sather and have a long talk with General Manager Jeff Gorton. The only negative to me, about Gorton, is that he was Sather’s protege! As far as who replaces Sather, who cares. I just want Sather’s presence removed from the organization!

My first real order of business would be something personal to me. I’ve talked countless times on this blog about my love for history. History should always be taught and never forgotten. Sons should be able to look at the ceiling of the building and ask their father “Who was that player?” Education is always key. I guess this is a perfect time to plug my Frank Boucher blog, which you can read here:

Don’t Let History Be Forgotten! Time for The Rangers to Finally Honor The Greatest Ranger Ever, Frank Boucher

 

I’ve been to five of the Original Six arenas. I’ve been to countless other arenas. For a team with a 90 year history, from looking at the rafters, you would think the Rangers only had a handful of decent players. In fact, you would think the Rangers didn’t even have a good player until 1960! The Rangers have the least amount of numbers retired and players honored than any of the other Original 6 teams. What a joke. Don’t we have pride?

While this 90th year of the Rangers and the 100th year of the NHL would’ve been perfect to do this, this is better done later than never. It’s time to catch up and right some wrongs.

Over the course of a season, I would retire 5 numbers. It’s sickening these numbers haven’t been retired yet. Even as I write these words, I can see Steve McDonald and Henrik Lundqvist getting their spot in the rafters of MSG before any of these Ranger legends:

Frank Boucher #7

Bill Cook #5

Ron Greschner #4

Jean Ratelle #19

Vic Hadfield #11

Yes, I know Gilbert & Messier have their #7 and #11 jerseys retired, respectively, but we also have retired the number 9 twice. A wrong should be righted and these players should all be in the rafters. Shit, Frank Boucher should have the Chase Bridges named after him.

While Boucher and Cook are long dead and it might be hard to find relatives, I would find an ex-Ranger (Adam Graves is usually good at these types of things) to give a speech and get their jerseys up to the rafters. The other three men are all alive and deserve this distinction while they are still with us.

While you can’t go overboard on retiring numbers, another thing I would create is a “Rink of Honor”. Many NFL teams have a “Ring of Honor” for great players who excelled but weren’t great enough to have their jerseys retired.  All you gotta do is paint some names & numbers instead of corporate logos around one section of MSG.

Some names that work here would be Lester Patrick, Nick Fotiu, Ron Duguay, Jaromir Jagr, Jeff Beukeboom, Lorne Chabot, Don Maloney, Phil Esposito, Brad Park, Bun Cook, Ching Johnson, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, James Patrick, Gump Worsley, John Vanbiesbrouck, John Davidson, Neil Smith, Sam Rosen and Steve McDonald.

It’s about time the Rangers honor their past right and this would be at the top of my list.

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James Dolan enjoying supper. Photo credit: Psychology.com

If you missed it, I wrote a blog about the disgusting prices at M$G in September of 2016. You can check it out here:

The Greedy New York Rangers Tell The Families To Go Broke, Think About The Kids, The Stubhub Trick, How The Devils Can Increase Their Fanbase & My Utter Disgust for James Dolan & NYR Ticket Prices

 

I understand that owning a team is a business. Supply and demand rears its head here just like any other business. Unfortunately ticket prices at M$G are only going to go up because people pay them. That said, I would coordinate two games a year with a focus on families. Aside from season ticket holders, I would designate two games a season where you could only buy tickets at the box office at a discounted rate. There would be a limit of four tickets per person. I know you can never eliminate the art of ticket scalping or Stubhub tickets, but I would try to reduce these practices for these two games. I know this would be tough to do, but I would explore only selling tickets to a person that brought a kid with him to the box office for these tickets. I don’t have this 100% worked out, but this is the working idea I have.

The team does a lot of good charity during the season, mostly through Adam Graves & the Garden of Dreams. However, there are plenty of other kids who aren’t charity cases who would also love to meet the players and see the team. Many teams, especially in Canada, have open practices and team events. I know you do not want to disrupt the flow of the team, so I would schedule a few open practices (especially in the preseason) where fans can watch the team practice.

I would also schedule a day (again, either right before preseason or the day after the final preseason game) where fans can meet the players & team. The Rangerstown idea during these last few seasons, during the playoffs, has been a great gesture from the team. However, for kids, they don’t know many of these guys nor never seen them play. For many, meeting Henrik Lundqvist or Mats Zuccarello is bigger than meeting Richter and Messier. It’s a generational thing. You could do an open practice, then assign a player throughout MSG at every section, where fans can line up and take pictures & get autographs. For kids, these memories will last a lifetime.

An idea, that I’m ripping off from the Chicago Blackhawks, is to host a fan get together with current & alumni Rangers during the off-season. The Blackhawks hold a weekend long fan convention every year. It has built a great relationship between the team and their fans.

Another way to introduce fans to players would be to air Hartford Wolfpack games on one of the many MSG channels. For fans, this will be a way to watch players grow and help build interest in the minor league club. I’m sure a Hartford Wolfpack game will generate better ratings than a JB Smoove repeat.

While on the MSG Networks, I would also do a show or a segment on “WHERE ARE THEY NOW?” and feature Rangers alumni and what they are up to these days. It’s always a good thing to make sure these players who gave so much to the fans to not be forgotten.

Rangers GM Jeff Gorton. Photo Credit: NY Rangers

As far as the team on ice, as an owner, you don’t want to meddle with every team decision. You need to find capable hockey men to run your hockey team. Plus as an owner, you always want a buffer and want to be the good guy. Let the GM take the heat for firings!

Of course, I would have a nice talk with Jeff Gorton about trading Henrik Lundqvist & his horrible contract off this team! I would want my salary cap budget to focus more on offense and less on the goaltender.  I would also advise to limit long term and no move clause contracts, and put a focus on stockpiling draft picks. You can never “half” rebuild a team. You have to go all in or not at all. I would like my GM’s opinion on how he thinks we can build a winner. If what we have isn’t working, I would explore the option of tanking for the future. 4 Cups in 90 years is just not acceptable!

Under James Dolan, he has invoked a policy where MSG network guys can’t be critical of the teams. Fans do not want that shit. Firing Marv Albert in 2004, for speaking bluntly about the Knicks, was a huge mistake that fans are still pissed about to this day. I want honesty from my guys. Plus, it’s better TV ratings. Face it – negativity does sell. Just open any newspaper or see what any news telecast leads with. If the team sucks or if someone is playing bad, I want my announcers and talking heads to say it. If Joe Micheletti can’t change his tune, then I’ll find someone else who can isn’t scared to speak openly! I’m sure Sean Avery is available!

I would also make the team more media-friendly, something that Dolan is against. Hockey is the least watched sport of the four major sports. It rarely gets the back page in NY. Not only would I make the official website and social media accounts more fan interactive, I would give the media more access to cover the players & their stories. There is no such thing as bad press in this position. In the same vein, I would reach out to WFAN and get a player to do a weekly spot, akin to what the Yankees & Giants have.

Is this the bathroom line at MSG or the crowd for a President Inauguration? Photo Credit: White House

MSG recently had a renovation and quite frankly, it sucks. They now have obstructed view seats at M$G. Save that shit for Barclays. In 2017, there is no excuse for a fan to pay a full price ticket and not see all of the ice. The Rock, in Newark, of all places, is a great venue to see a game. Great sight lines and no obstructed views.  What’s even better about The Rock, is that no matter where you sit, there is a bathroom by every section.

MSG is ran like we are still living in the days of the caste system. As you go higher and higher in the building, the less bathrooms you will find. No one wants to spend 20 minutes to take a piss. Holding a piss too takes the noise out of you too. Who wants to stand up when they got a bladder full of watered down $12 beer? MSG needs to put more bathrooms in the joint.

Something you see in most arenas around the league is a smoking section. MSG needs to provide an area where fans can go outside in between periods, get a smoke or just to get some fresh air.

Another thing you see around the league, that you don’t see in MSG, are beer vendors. The only vendors you see in MSG are cotton candy vendors. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone buy cotton candy off these guys, EVER. However, at every other NHL arena I’ve been to, I’ve seen people buy beer! No one wants to wait 20 minutes to get a belt. The worst is getting in line for a beer after a period and being stuck on that same line, as the next period starts. FUCK THE COTTON CANDY and replace those vendors with “BEER HERE” guys.

And while on the topic of beer – can we have more than one place that serves Molson? Shit, can we get Labatt Blue in the building?

Dancin Larry may be the most famous fan at every NYR home game

There are three fan traditions at MSG. Two of them need to go the way of the dodo.

I would put out something, make a statement and explain why screaming and chanting during the National Anthem is disrespectful. No other fanbase does this. New singers, not accustomed to Ranger fans, are even thrown off by this. You can chant “Let’s Go Rangers” all night long, but how about letting the singer do their thing and showing some respect? I know many love doing this, but it really bothers me. Maybe I’m in the minority on this, but I feel the National Anthem should be treated as something sacred and every time I hear people chanting through it, it comes off as sacrilege to me.

Something I hate as much as people screaming during the National Anthem are the “POTVIN SUCKS” chants. I would say 99% of the people at MSG don’t even know who Potvin is, nor know why or how that chant started. Potvin won 4 Cups in 4 years. The Rangers won 4 Cups in 90 years. Maybe Potvin doesn’t suck. Listen, the Ulf Nilsson hit sucked for the Rangers. Who knows if they win the Cup with him in 1979. That said, it’s time to move on. The worst is this whistle taking place during key points of the game. Let it go maaaaaaaan.

The one thing I do like, that many Ranger fans will disagree with me on, is Dancin Larry. The people who bury him usually sound jealous. Look, I’m one of the most bitter and jaded Ranger fans there is, but even I appreciate this guy and his non-stop positivity. The guy is more positive than Magic Johnson and Charlie Sheen combined. Anyone calling him a jinx is silly. The guy pays for his tickets like anyone else and if MSG wants to showcase him, then why not? The Rangers don’t have a mascot, so I don’t mind Larry doing his thing for Ranger fans.

Every Original 6 team has statues of ex-players except for the Rangers. If anyone deserves one, it’s Adam Graves.

One day, I would love to do a blog on Adam Graves and “expose” all the great work he does. The fact is – he does so much but doesn’t look for publicity. The guy could be sitting on a bar stool in Toronto telling war stories, but instead, he dedicates his life to philanthropy and helping others. If you were to cover all the work Graves does, you would never be able to get it all down because he’s constantly helping people and he never airs what he’s doing.

I love what Graves and the Garden of Dreams does. Between military nights, kid nights and helping the less fortunate, the Rangers do a great job of being involved.  I would encourage more ex-players to follow his lead. I would also try to push more “drives” such as donating hockey gear, food drives, helping the families of fallen officers, etc. Even if the Rangers gave away a signed puck or signed card with a $20 donation or something, it would help increase revenue for a good cause. It’s important for a team to do a lot for a community. Graves goes above and beyond. I would just try to push more people to help the community that supports/supported them.

One thing that I’d like to bring back that the Rangers used to do to generate money for charity is the Celebrity game. I remember going to one game, maybe 18 years ago, where even Chris Jericho (son of Ted Irvine) played. Fans love that shit and it creates a good media buzz for the team.

And finally, on my 100th day as the owner of the New York Rangers, I would reach out to the fans to see what improvements they would like to see. The paying fans is what keeps the team in business, so their opinion should always be considered. In fact, as a fan today, I would love to hear your ideas on what you would do to “Make the Rangers Great Again!” Feel free to comment below or drop a line.

Thanks for reading and see you Tuesday night.

Until then, as always…

LET’S GO RANGERS

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the twittah

Comments

  1. Good morning sean. Definitely move corporate out of the 100s and put true fans there. I bought one seat for myself section 108 I think after a goal not one high five. I picked my ass up and stood by my friends (season tickets holders sec 221 and true fans for 40 years) . Put corporate in obstructed view they don’t watch and leave early anyway.

    1. Maybe they should move all the sushi bars to the bridges! I get the supply and demand and living in NYC and all that, but it’s just tough for real fans. Many of my friends (especially the ones with kids) won’t go anymore because of the pricing.

  2. I agree with everything you said. I did see someone buy the cotton candy. It cost them $7.50! The Garden definitely needs more bathrooms. I also wish that the fans didn’t have to be rushed out of the building immediately after the game. We were even told to hurry up and leave the bathroom.

    1. Wow that’s the first time I ever heard of someone buying cotton candy and M$G monitoring the bathroom. MSG really does nothing to cater to the fan experience. I gotta give the Devils props on this, they are great at it.

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