2019-20 Rangers, 2020 Return To Play

What John Davidson said about Henrik Lundqvist, returning to play, David Quinn and more

Rangers President John Davidson was a guest on The Micheal Kay Show on Wednesday and said:

  • On if he’s been in touch to the players, “I talk to some players, for example, Strome and his wife just had a little one, had a great conversation with him about that. Talked to Hank the other day in Sweden, David Quinn, our head coach, has been trying to get back on the ice for a month and a half now, he’s talking to guys all the time and they are all over the world. Not just the players, but the training staff, scouting staff, coaches and I try to stay in touch with as many as I can. We’ve had a multitude of Zoom calls with our scouting staff on the pro and amateur side to try to interview kids, young people who are going to be drafted, to try and get a feel for them, that has been very good to do. Our management staff, we’ve had Zoom calls with some management from other sports, just to go through different things and try to get better as an organization. There is a lot of us trying to take advantage of the situation we’ve been afforded because of this situation and do things that can make you better, we’ve all been doing that.”
  • On who will start in goal in the playoffs, “That is the coaches decision, they will make that when we get to it. In talking to Hank the other day, I know he has started skating, Sweden has been more open than most countries, he is planning to get ready. Shesterkin and Georgiev both of them, I know how hard they train and what they do. This is going to be a unique situation, our training center will open in the near future, it’s going to be very strict and in turn, if we open around July 1 for training camp, I want all three guys to be ready. It might not even matter who starts, even though the first round will be shortened to five games to get into the playoffs, you just don’t know who is going to get through camp, who is going to pull a groin muscle. Something could happen somewhere along the line so I want three guys ready and the coaches to make that decision as to who starts.”
  • On what he has learned about Hank and his commitment for the Rangers, “No question, I envision the day, whenever it comes, that he rides into the sunset that he stays and works in NY with the Rangers, that would be a great thing to see. I remember, when I look back at the Rangers and doing TV, the first day that Hank showed up in training camp, I think he was 23 at the time. I leaned against the glass, where the media still to this day watch practice, and go ‘that is a goalie, that guy is ready’ and sure enough he has gone on with his career. It’s hard, guys like myself have gone through this, I had to retire because of injury, I’ve seen Marty Brodeur, a lot of guys, the time comes eventually and I’m not saying the time is now for Hank, but somewhere when you get into your late-30s that decision has to be made. I look at him work every day, it’s A-Plus, first class and he has handled himself very well. I will say this, that the communication with Hank, Benoit Allaire, David Quinn, myself and Jeff Gorton has been very very good. We all have a certain amount of respect that he has earned and we will see where it all goes. We are also in a position, we have to be very forward and honest, we are trying to build a team that will move on and be a championship team, that is the goal, we are working our way through this thing. I have an immense amount of respect for Hank, he has been extremely professional with everything we have done to this point.”
  • On how long it will take for players to get ready, “I think it’s at least 2-3 weeks. You can’t just go in there, gung-ho, and go hard, to get guys ready to play a game. I think it’s important to understand that soft-tissue injuries are going to be very important, groin injuries, pulled muscles, that is something you have to be very aware of so you have to ease yourself in. I think there might be a couple of exhibition games before the play-in tournament starts. Our guys have been doing yoga, virtual classes, having slide boards sent over to wherever they are living in the world, they are working and doing their programs. Various guys have ways to get into gyms, other guys can’t because their country won’t allow it, some have that built into their own garages. It’s all different everywhere you go but our training staff has been very good and in communication all the time so they have a running tab of who is doing what. Our guys are committed about returning to play.”
  • On if the Rangers can make an impact when things start up, “I think that is why our guys are so excited. During the year, for the first 30 games or so, we were a porous hockey club, giving up a lot. After the game against Edmonton where we gave up but came back, we went into Calgary and lost by a goal and then I think everybody said that it was enough and that we had to start keeping the puck out of the net otherwise we have no shot. We go into Vancouver and we lost 2-1 but we were by far the better team and everyone sensed that this is how we need to play. We can score, lets keep the puck out of the net. That combined with surprises and Lindgren comes in, Fox comes in, Panarin was great, Zibanejad kept getting better, Strome had a good season, younger guys, veteran guys, it all seemed to fit. Our guys feel real good about this, there is something special about this group and if we can recapture and get everyone up to speed the way they were at the time of the pause, I like our chances playing against anybody. There is something about the presence of understanding that we are a good club and that you battle for each other, we may not have the depth some organizations have yet, we are working on it, but I think we are going to go in and play our tails off.”
  • On how free agency and the offseason will work, “It’s not been settled, they are working with the players to find a formula that will work. Escrow, it’s a 50/50 business for the players and owners and if you lose a bunch of money it’s 50/50, owners lose, players lose and looking into next year there is the possibility of a huge escrow loss and that isn’t good for anybody. The league is working with the players to try and formulate something that will take the burden off this group of players, it’s not their fault there is a pandemic. Are they supposed to pay the escrow all at one shot just because they were the guys that played at the time of the pandemic? I think the league and players realize this and they are working on trying to formulate something that can work long-term and make everybody want to go back to work with a smile on their face. Hopefully that is the type of thing …there are a lot of details to be ironed out, there is free agency, contracts with players and scouts and coaches, everything from A-Z. They will probably slide it into later and give us some critical dates we can do our business with.”
  • On where the games might be played, “The one thing I do know is, three cities in Canada have offered their services and the Canadian law at the border won’t let anyone do anything – if you go into Canada you have to be quarantined for two weeks. If that doesn’t change we won’t be going to Canada and then we are down to seven cities. If that changes then I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the cities is in Canada and one of the cities is in the US. The one thing, the Canadian dollar is about 35% cheaper than the American dollar, so if you went up there and spent the money that it takes to make it work, that would be a big break, 35%, that would be interesting. If Canada won’t change or make an exception it will be two of the seven cities in the US.
  • On inheriting David Quinn and if he likes him, “I love the guy, I really do. Times change, coaches that are older have to evolve, I saw that with John Tortorella in Columbus. Everyone thought his career was done but he’s changed and moved along, he’s still Torts, but he understands the players. With David Quinn he has a little bit of everything, a great deal of passion, very good with young players, very good with older players. There is a special quality with that man that is neat. He has to retire early as a player because of Christams disease and just watching him work, I watched him with the Rangers when I was not with the Rangers and he pushes, pushes the right way, players respect him, there is a lot to like here. I don’t think he’s going to be a short-term coach, I think he has long-term passion which is really good.”