For one weekend, everything looked good for the New York Rangers. Somewhere in New York City, Scotty Hockey is smiling contently after watching his team take two games from the Lightning in Prague.
Amid some controversy and a poor pre-season showing that had fans tugging on their collars (1-5 record in the States), the team took off for the Czech Republic hoping to avoid further trouble. Ranger fans were probably thinking along the same lines -- let's not make this worse. But were things even that bad to being with? Was it all overblown in the media?
It all started on Friday when there was a minor dust up before the team even took the ice against the Lightning when Prucha-gate went down. With 20+ relatives in attendance in Prague, it was reported that Prucha would not play in front of them, as he was benched by coach Tom Renney. But, hours later, it turned out to be a big misunderstanding, depending on who you believe.
"I didn't change my mind, I made up my mind," said Renney.
Or maybe he just realized that the dumbest thing he could have done was sit Prucha in his home country. Or maybe I'm jumping to conclusions. Either way, there was a dust up that was pretty aggravating inside the locker room.
And then, to pile on, there was Larry Brooks' scathing report about the organization's direction.
It doesn't compute. None of it computes. This entire disjointed training camp does not compute. Jumping from city to city and country to country with split squads in order to jam in three Garden gates and eight preseason games altogether? Ridiculous.
Carrying 15 forwards into the season and against the cap because management can't make a decision on which of the glut of million-dollar fourth-liners to cut? Absurd.
Having Jim Schoenfeld, the assistant GM, on the ice at every practice barking out instructions as if he were a member of the coaching staff? Outrageous.
Then again, it's Larry Brooks. Take that with a grain of salt, I guess. It was also published in the New York Post. They're never above a bit of sensationalism. But you always have to wonder how much of it is right on the money or, worse yet, if it's even half of the problems going on.
Fast forward to tonight, and winning changes everything... Or maybe it just quiets all the naysayers. The Rangers took two-of-two from the Lightning over the weekend, out shooting them 80-40 and outscoring them 4-2 over two games. Total domination more or less, even if it didn't quite show on the scoreboard.
“We used the time well to get to know each other,” [Wade Redden] said. “It was good for everyone to get away and just focus on what we’re going to do and what the team is all about.”
Redden might be on to something. An escape from the New York Media Circus may be all this team needed. Prague provided a nice escape but now it's back to living under the big top. And despite the loss of media feeders Sean Avery and Jaromir Jagr, the clowns are still going to have their fun.