Burdened by Scandal, the Rangers Lose the Playoffs Yet Again


Credit: The New York Times

Rangers Artemi Panarin was forced to take a leave of absence after a former coach claimed Panarin violently assaulted a woman over a decade ago.

Carter LaCorte, Freelancer

The Stanley Cup playoffs are here, and — yet again — the New York Rangers are not in it. After four straight years of loss for the blueshirts, no other NHL coach has better odds of dismissal than Rangers Head Coach David Quinn.

The 2020-21 NHL season was a roller coaster for Rangers fans from the very beginning. Offensive defenseman Tony DeAngelo was signed to an expensive two-year deal before the season, despite concerns with his troubled past, including tweets about election fraud and issues with racism. DeAngelo lasted six games before reportedly inciting a fight with goaltender Alex Georgiev following a loss. Although General Manager Jeff Gorton has disavowed DeAngelo, the offensive defenseman has yet to be traded by New York.

The circus continued as star player Artemi Panarin took a leave of absence after a former coach in Russia alleged Panarin violently assaulted a woman over a decade ago. The team quickly fought back, claiming the accusation was a Russian-motivated attack on Panarin for his previous support on Instagram of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 

As the wild season progressed, the scandals grew. With four games remaining, Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson violently attacked Rangers Pavel Buchnevich and Panarin, injuring the latter. NHL fans immediately called for Wilson’s suspension; the Department of Player Safety decided to hand Wilson a fine. Outraged, the Rangers released a statement asserting that Department head George Parros was unfit for his title. 

In the days following, New York played a revenge game against Washington that saw six fights in the first period. Gorton and Rangers President John Davidson were dismissed the same day. While Rangers Owner James Dolan — who also owns the New York Knicks — characterized these dismissals as a tactic designed to promote former Assistant General Manager Chris Drury to a bigger role in the organization, there were also rumors that Gorton and Davidson were attempting to distance themselves from the Dolan-lead statement about Parros. 

All in all, hockey may soon be over for New York; but considering the chaotic season, this may work to the team’s benefit. In fact, the Rangers seem to be on the road to recovery: they cleaned house with the dismissal of Gorton and Davidson, and Quinn’s dismissal seems imminent. On top of this, Drury’s promotion seems long-lasting, as he inked breakout defenseman Ryan Lindgren to a three year extension to the tune of $9 million. 

But it will still be a tough offseason for Rangers’ fans, who will watch their rival Islanders battle it out in the postseason for the third year in a row.