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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Knicks and Rangers: A Deadbeat 1-2 Combo

    Madison Square Garden, ‘the worlds most famous arena,’ sits in the heart of Manhattan. It hosts the biggest shows and events in the world. Unfortunately, it’s also the home of two of the most dysfunctional franchises in professional sports.

    The New York Knickerbockers have been around since 1946. The New York Rangers first skated in an NHL game in 1926. In those combined 144 years the teams have brought home six titles to the Garden.

    Big salaries and bigger disappointments have been the norm for the two tenants of the Garden. According to the USA Today salary database, the Knicks have had the leagues highest payroll in five of the six seasons in which the information is available. In the 2006-07 season the Knicks trailed only the Phoenix Suns by less that one million dollars. For all that spending the Knicks have a 15-36 record to show for it and haven’t won a single playoff game in seven years. The one time they did make it over that stretch they were swept in the first round by the New Jersey Nets.

    As terrible as they have been on the court, the off-court issues have turned the once proud franchise into the laughing stock of the league. After former General Manager Scott Layden was fired, fans were fooled into believing that Isiah Thomas was the answer to replace him.

    Thomas had been known for being a good evaluator of young talent, which was something the Knicks needed to infuse into their lineup. But it’s now been four years into Isiah’s reign, and the franchise has gone through a litany of embarrassing incidents. The most recent was a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against Thomas and Madison Square Garden by former Garden employee Anucha Browne-Sanders. After bumbling testimony by some of the men supposedly in charge of a huge corporation, Sanders was awarded an $11.6 million judgment.

    Thomas has also installed himself as Head Coach of the team. Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown ran the Knicks during the miserable 2005-06 season, and lost his job after leading the team to a 23-59 record. Brown had a track record of turning around every team he coached, but Thomas refused to bend at all and bring in the type of players needed for Browns style of coaching. The saga ended with Brown getting an $18 million check to sit at home.

    The roster is now filled with players that are individually talented, but don’t mesh well together. Thomas has made a habit of trading players who’s contract is soon to expire, thus giving him value, for guys who have talent, but for some reason or other don’t fit in with their current team. Good teams with solid support structures can add one or two of these talented discontents and make it work. But Isiah’s Knicks have no structure, no discipline, and it seems at some points that every man is playing for himself.

    Garden owner and Cablevision CEO James Dolan’s other toy is the New York Rangers. While the team has begun to redeem itself in the last few seasons, the seven year stretch before the NHL canceled the 2004-05 season is a dark one in team history.

    Before the NHL implemented a salary cap to balance out the playing field between big and small market teams, the Rangers ranked either first or second in overall team payroll in each year since 2000-01. The thought process of General Manager Glen Sather was to just add more stars if things weren’t working out correctly. Sather built the 1980s Edmonton Oiler dynasty that was centered around Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. But after being handed a blank check it seemed he forgot what made him so successful in Edmonton.

    The key move in taking the Rangers back to the playoffs the last two seasons was one that seemed rather lucky. In the 2000 NHL Draft, the Rangers selected goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in the seventh round. Four years later, the team used a first round pick, number six overall, to select another goaltender, Al Montoya. When Lundqvist emerged after the lockout to become one of the best goaltenders in the league, it seemed obvious the team was surprised. Why else spend another high pick on a goalie? Part of the reason for the Rangers inconsistent play this year is due to Lundqvist.

    After the first quarter of the season he was arguably the league’s MVP. But as his play faltered, the teams lack of goal scoring was exposed, and the team that many predicted to win the Stanley Cup put themselves in the all to familiar position of having to fight for a playoff spot all the way to the end of the season.

    It’s frustrating to be a fan of these teams and watch all the wasted resources. If Dolan, who undoubtedly is the root of the problem, would hire competent employees to run his million dollar franchises, the potential would be limitless. Well, maybe for the Knicks, he should just worry about hiring people who won’t get multi-million dollar lawsuits brought against the company. That would at least be a start.

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