On the night before the start 2020-21 season, New York Rangers President John Davidson, GM Jeff Gorton, and Head Coach David Quinn held a virtual town hall to talk about their expectations for the upcoming season.
Among the many topics discussed, much was talked about the many difficulties that the Blueshirts face in this very different kind of season.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest tasks that the Rangers and the NHL will face is dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Davidson addressed that by discussing the many protocols and procedures that the NHL is requiring of teams this season.
Some of the procedures that the NHL have put in place include:
• Home teams must make their home rink or practice rink available to visiting teams. Visiting teams are not permitted to use rinks owned by third parties. Team practices will also not be open to the public.
• Players will be prohibited from carpooling to games, there will be no road trip roommates, and teams must secure an additional two hotel rooms on road trips in the event of a positive COVID-19 test.
• Players will also only be permitted to go to the rink and hotel on road trips. No other destinations, including bars, restaurants, clubs, etc., will be permitted.
• During the regular season, the NHL will announce the names of players that test positive, but will not do so during training camp when it will simply release league-wide numbers.
• Coaches must wear masks while on the bench.
In addition to the protocols, other procedures mandated by state or local governments need to be considered in the day to day operations of the team.
Davidson listed off many questions that the Rangers will have to deal with, including questions such as “How do we get the players who live in Westchester County to the Garden?” “What is the best way to get the team out to play the Islanders and the Devils?” Simple questions to answer in previous years but not so simple during a pandemic.
When it comes to these procedures and the necessity to follow them to make sure that the season runs as smoothly as possible, Davidson’s message to the team was “Don’t let your guard down because if everyone does their part, there is a good chance we finish the season.”
Head Coach David Quinn also addressed what the pandemic has meant to design practices for training camp and the preparation for the start of the season. Quinn talked about the coaches’ meetings and how there have been some things that they have not been able to implement yet. While he is concerned about this, he also mentioned that he feels that the Islanders are in the same situation.
“Our sport is so driven by hard work, especially now since you don’t have the chance to work on the structure and the things that you normally work on in a three-week training camp and six exhibition games,” Quinn said.
ESM's New York Rangers 2020-2021 season preview https://t.co/Wip6LRRUiJ
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Another factor that the Blueshirt’s brass discussed was the 56 game season and the fact that they are going to face some very familiar foes eight times this season. Davidson was reminded that this was customary during the time in which he tended net in the NHL.
“The element of nastiness will come back” Davidson predicted, making a point of mentioning that in April, the Rangers will face their old friends, the New Jersey Devils, in four consecutive contests. “That breeds contempt.”
“Familiarity will bring some more intensity to each game,” Quinn also said of the different schedule. “When you see a team eight times in three-and-a-half months, you will probably see some chippiness.”
Davidson also talked about what he feels the Rangers will need to navigate through this unusual season.
“I think one of the main keys is going to be discipline,” Davidson stated. “not only playing as hard as you can and competing, but discipline can make a difference when you are playing in high energy, highly physical games.”
All of these challenges have led the players to adopt the motto “embrace the grind” as they try to navigate through the intricacies of a very unusual season.
The “grind” begins Thursday night in a season that many will “embrace the effort” as the Rangers face more than just who they play on any given night in order to finish a season faced with so many challenges.