Rangers President John Davidson was a guest on ESPN NY’s Bart and Hahn radio show and said:
- On how the players will handle things in the bubble, “I couldn’t tell you how proud I am of the way our group has reacted just in case we were going to play, now we know we are going to play, how we’ve continued to go through the testing process, proven negative, everyone taking it very seriously. This is a good group, you try to monitor the group itself and who are the leaders, players who may be troublemakers or guys not in shape. We’ve got an A+ group here, I’m very proud of these guys. I think once we get there it will be a new world inside the bubble but the guys are very serious about this, a chance to play and get into the playoffs, we are excited as a group and very professional.
- On the goaltending, “I like our group, all three have had a good camp. Coaches will have to make a serious decision regarding who will start game one. Shesterkin has had the net lately more so than the other two, communication is right on the top, everyone understands where we are, short series best-of-five, that thing can change so fast, you have to be ready. All three have worked their tails off and had exceptional camps and ready to go. If Shesterkin does play it will be a new experience for him. I look at Kakko and the way he came back from Finland, he looks like he aged 1-2 years, more mature looking, quicker stride, much more confidence than what he had before the pause started. We look for things like that. Once we get playing, the value of playing in something like this for young players can’t be duplicated anywhere. I’m thankful we have this opportunity to play Carolina, if we win we go into the playoffs. The experience factor, you can’t pay for it, it’s invaluable, that is a real good sign for us.
- On Kakko and Shesterkin still being rookies but being more comfortable after the pause, “I think that if this was a regular season and we finished up and the players have their four months, it’s astonishing, when you see young players and what they can do with their bodies in the four months before the next season. A lot of times they look like different people. It’s a different situation but same amount of time and looking at them, they look different, it’s not a new experience for them. Not eye-opening that they are in this camp. Once the real games start we will see where it goes. This is going to be interesting, I don’t know if we will see 2-2 games that go to OT, 9-1 games. It’s so new and never been done but fascinating and exciting. Our group is really excited about this, a lot of energy from our head coach, Quinny has done a great job, these coaches have worked for weeks.”
- On Panarin and NY, “he’s tough as nails mentally. He’s the nicest guy, has a smile all day long, will do anything you ask him to do. When it comes to mental toughness…he’s tough and competitive. If there was one guy out there, in our world of hockey, who can handle New York, and what it brings, it was him. He’s as tough as they come. Nothing bugs him, he says what is on his mind if he wants to and plays the game the right way every single night, teammates love the guy and fans, when you watch him play, there is a sparkle to him, a grin on his face. He looks like a guy that was almost born to play hockey for the New York Rangers.”
- On Mika Zibanejad not being nominated for awards, “he will be in the future, he’s a very caring individual who has really worked with his craft, has a great relationship with the coaching staff, especially Quinny. He’s not a one dimensional player by any means, he’s good defensively because of how he works. He’s extremely fast for a big man. he’s got passing skills that are elite, a scoring touch that is super elite and when you start adding all this stuff up, along with how much he has worked to get himself to be a specimen physically, it’s helped everything translate into what could be greatness. He’s really found a home in New York. He’s a player, very much like Panarin, these two guys can score and make their temamates around them a whole lot better, make the PP gel. We are in a good spot when you have two A+ forwards on your squad at one time. That doens’t happen” very often and they are just getting into their prime.”
- On David Quinn and Jeff Gorton and leadership and culture, “If you don’t have culture, I don’t think you have anything, I just don’t think it works. The players should run their own room, when I was in Columbus and we brought in John Tortorella, that was one thing he really worked with the players on. We were very young, had to find the right people and leadership and eventually the room became the players room. I’d through Chris Drury into the mix regarding the management end of things, with Jeff Gorton. They work really well together. Chris is a former player and a great player who has won all sorts of championships, he knows how to go about business and a large part of the development of the organization. There is really good chemistry, which I had to assess when I got here, and I really like it, I really like it. Every aspect of the group, coaches, management, training staff or the players and this is a tight group, it’s really good. It will change as you move along, players come and go and retire but if you have the culture cemented then you hand it off and keep going. That is what we are striving to do. I don’t think, I can sit here right now and say we are a championship team, we are working towards it and we’ve got to prove things but we really have some good pieces in place with this group to move forward.”
- On the Rangers chances, “we are confident, really confident. A lot of times, coaches and players think about today and that is natural, management think about a bigger picture because that is their job. I know that before the pause we were playing very well, especially on the road, really good on the road. With that feeling of knowing that we are a good hockey club, can we become a great club, we will see but I know we have a lot more confidence today going into this thing than we had at the start of last season where there were a lot of unknowns. There wasn’t an Adam Fox or Ryan Lindgren on the blue line, we didn’t know how they were going to play or make the team. We didn’t know about Shesterkin, we knew Lundqvist and Georgiev and then you have players like Panarin pop in and he taeks off, Zibanejad was having the best year of his career. Jesper Fast is so valuable because of his ability to make everything work defensively, Ryan Strome we didn’t know if he would click with Panarin, but the coaching staff went through with it and boy, oh, boy it worked well. Kreider works will with ZIbanejad. Those were all question marks coming into the season and we’ve answered a lot of those, that makes us feel we are a pretty good hockey club. I think we are in a good spot. Carolina is good, they are fast, shoot from everywhere, experience being in the playoffs lately. It’s going to be a good experience for us.”