2020 Draft, Henrik Lundqvist, John Davidson

What John Davidson said on Tuesday about #1, the Carolina series and Henrik Lundqvist

7:30PM: On MSG, John Davidson said:

  • Is Lafreniere a lock or will you listen to offers, “We just got it yesterday and as Jeff Gorton said, we’ve done a multitude of zooms with kids eligible for the draft, he’s an exceptional hockey player, for a young man he has exceptional leadership value. There is a package there that is pretty complete but it’s our job to look through the whole thing, to keep this in-house and I woke up at 4 this morning thinking about how great it’s going to be to walk out on the stage an announce the number one pick, then….there’s no stage. We will figure this whole thing out, I’m not going to tip the hand now but I can tell you this much, this young man is a future star.”
  • What is your perspective on all of it, “I think it’s going to be great for hockey. New York is an important franchise in the NHL and if we continue doing this right and not get ahead of ourselves, we will be fine down the road. I know how important this is, not only on the ice but it gives everyone a chance to feel good about going to work to sell tickets, the fans to know that they will be able to see a future star grow right before their eyes, this is a young person and the fans will be able to say ‘I remember when he first started and was 19-years old and look at him now.’ This, for me, touches all the boxes you need for a franchise going forward. On top of that, with us, it really helps us with the build process we are in the middle of but we also know that this is still going to take some time to get into place. There is going to be players on this team that are going to be a huge part down the road that aren’t here yet. That is what we go through and for the fans, at least in my mind, to see these young guys come in and grow, it is astonishing, this is a very valuable thing for us, it’s an exciting thing for us. I didn’t know quite how to react to it because it’s a big deal, today we are walking around with smiles on our faces but we also know we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
  • What do you want to hear from Lafreniere when you talk to him, “I think that if he becomes number one we are still going to go through all of our processes to understand. We’ve all seen him play a lot, I’ve never seen him live, but I’ve seen him on tape, what he did at the World Juniors and how he took that over. It’s all good, just want to understand the young man and get to know him. I heard last night that he does love the fact that he’s going to be going to NY. Number 11 is on his jersey and number 11 used to play here in NY, his name is Mark Messier, and I think there is an affinity from Alexis to Mark Messier, watching him play when he was growing up. That is a pretty good leader to try to learn from when you are growing up, to see how Mark carried himself as a Ranger and how he willed his way into being a star with the Rangers. There are a lot of good things in place. Again, we aren’t going to say we are drafting Alexis, we are going to do work on it. This young man is a star player.”
  • On character and how Columbus advanced to the playoffs, “A lot of that has to do with experience, the key players on that team, even though a couple of young ones popped again like Texier and Foudy, but Werenski and Jones and Boone Jenner and Foligno, they’ve been through it a little bit now, they beat Tampa last year and lost to Boston in a tough series. The year before they lost to Washington in six games, when the Blue Jackets hit six goal posts in that game, it was weird but that experience factor means something. Now for us, we didn’t play real well at all in Toronto but we had a lot of players that went through something, so Howden played well, Kakko played well, some of the young players got their eyes open to how hard it is to play in a playoff-type atmosphere. There was some experience that were good for us. I know that in our training camp prior to going to Toronto, K’Andre Miller was outstanding, I mean outstanding and that for me was really something special. Yea, there was negatives, we lost three, had four guys not available, two minutes into game one, to be at their best. DeAngelo had a hamstring, Shesterkin was out with a groin, Jesper Fast get nailed early and put out of the tournament and Lemieux, who played very well in game three, wasn’t available. There was things there and with reality involved, we didn’t have enough players play well, but we did get something out of it and that is the way I like to balance it. When we go north you have to get something good out of these situations. It wasn’t good when we went 0-3 and first team out, but when you really define what went on and the positives of some of the players and experience level, it did have some benefits.”
  • Where is your focus with Henrik Lundqvist, “we are talking, for sure. Hank has gone home, we will be in touch with Hank and his camp in the not too distant future. I have a lot of respect for Hank, I had a real good chat with him once we landed back from Toronto. He’s a pro, a real healthy discussion. We will see where it goes as we move along. Our process right now is going through exit meetings with Quinny and Gorts, in fact, they are in another room talking as we speak, and that is how you start your business with end of season stuff. We will go through every aspect of it, be prepared for the draft, it’s only #1 but we have another pick and there is more work down the road with everybody. It’s a situation here where it’s business as usual, unusual that we get number one but usual with everything that is ahead of us in times that aren’t very normal. The number one pick really stimulates you, it opens up options for a number of different things. We have to analyze all this stuff, deal with a cap that isn’t going to change from a year ago. These are interesting times, they aren’t normal. I think the Rangers are in a real good spot as we continue to build to a championship we are trying to win.”

4:41PM: John Davidson was a guest on The Michael Kay Show today and said (ESPN 98.7):

  •  What was your reaction to #1, “I was sitting in my media room in my home and went to my good luck chair, when the balls were in the air I couldn’t watch. I covered my eyes, looked away, didn’t know until my wife started screaming that the Rangers got the pick. I was able to look and for one of the few times in my life, I was speechless. I just know how to react other than that something like this is a very special moment in our history and we got lucky and now we have to take advantage and make the best of it.”
  • On the guy who dropped the Ranger ping pong ball, “We both said good omen. When you get into a situation like this, there is nothing normal about anything going on, it’s just crazy, so you expect the unexpected. I was looking up in the sky asking for a couple of favors from my parents who are up there This is stuff you hope happens to you, get lucky, doesn’t happen very often in life, and bang, there we are. When I was in St. Louis the lowest pick we had was 4 and it was Alex Pietrangelo and he has become a great player. In Columbus it was 3 and it was Pierre-Luc Dubois who is having a real good run right now and he’s starting to really pop and bloom. You just know the type of impact these players can have. A special time for Ranger fans and hockey in NY.”
  • Are you definitely making the pick or would you trade it, “I would think, when you look at something like this, you make the pick but you can’t sit here today and say this is what we are doing and who we are taking and that is that. You can’t do that, you never know what happens down the road. There is no real rush. We will have a zoom call coming up with Lafraniere. We’ve zoomed all the top players that are going to be in the draft but we didn’t do him because it was unrealistic that we were going to get him. Now there is realistic thinking to it, we will go through the whole process. I know he was a Ranger fan. When he was younger, he wears 11 for a reason. That is Mark Messier. He’s a young man that has terrific leadership skills, plays the game the right way. It could be him, it could not. It’s up in the air bu things are looking pretty good.”
  • Who does he compare to, “that is a real good question. It’s hard to answer, I know that in talking to our scouts and reading the reports, I’ve never seen him live. I’ve seen him play on tape, plenty. I’ve seen him play in the World Juniors where, for an 18-year old, he was out of this world in a very difficult tournament for a player that young. He doesn’t have blazing speed but he’s fast enough, skills, passing skills, great hockey sense. A shot that is exceptional, he drags players into the game, he’s one of those guys. When the game gets going and game gets tougher he brings his teammates right into the game. Those are the players you like to see. I’ve been getting a lot of texts from people in the league, from different organizations. Guys out west who are chief scouts saying how good he is going to be, if it’s him and glad that if we take him he’s going to be in the east and not the west. Considering that we went 0-3 in our play up in Toronto, this has been some week, from down to up and unexpected in some ways but gratifying.”
  • Would you have rather made the playoffs and lost or the way it happened, “the way it happened is the way it happened. We knew going in that the unknown was there, what to expect, can you find the mojo that you had when we had the pause hit us and then when you try to analyze…. I’m one of those guys, year we disappointed and 0-3, but what good happened. Howden and Kakko were terrific, people may not understand but we had K’Andre Miller, the big young defenseman from Wisconsin come to our training camp, he wasn’t eligible to play in Toronto but he made us walk out of there with a smile. A big man who can really skate. The first day of the camp he was really nervous, almost that if you were taking a pass you needed a lacrosse stick to catch the puck in the air. After that first day he settled right in and he was terrific, we got that out of it. Even though the big picture was not good, when you go 0-3 and are the first team out, but whatever happens happens, here we are a few days later and boom. Just a gigantic surprise, a special shoutout to Officer McDonald, his family, for letting us use his police shield. that was awesome. It sat on my desk most of the day yesterday and Jeff Gorton took it into the room when the process was happening and for that to happen it was special.
  • On the loss to Carolina, “the injury to Shesterkin and Hank played pretty good, but the injury to Shesterkin, he had a groin injury and couldn’t play in the first two. Fast gets nailed early and he’s out of the tournament within a couple of minutes. Lemieux was suspended, lesson learned, when he played in game three he played very well. DeAngelo had a hamstring injury and couldn’t play near what he was able to play. You start adding this up, it tells you a) we didn’t have the depth that a really good team would have, but we are building that, it’s part of what we are going through. You know that as you try to get better and climb up that mountain, depth means a lot when you get into games like this. That told us something. Also, we’ve had some zoom calls with players and one thing they’ve talked a lot about, they felt better in game three than the first two game. We have to figure out why, what was it that could have been done differently to make them feel better starting in Game 1. One thing is experience. When the puck was dropped, Carolina was hungry and ready to go. Remember, they had 14 players on that team that had been in the final four, last year. They were experienced more than we were, we had a number of players it was there first playoff-like experience. I get that out of it too,  when we get into it next year and we get into a playoff run or into the playoffs, if it happens, we will have a lot more experience of what to expect as a team. The only way to get that is to go through it. Hopefully we can build on too.”
  • Does the rebuild accelerate now, “you always try to make moves that will help you win long term. You don’t want to make moves that will make you better for this one season and then you’ve given up something to do that and then it disappears. We as management totally understand that this number one pick is a big boon, it’s unbelievable for us but we are still in this process and only a couple of years into it. I know that you take step forwards and then you step into a pot hole, it’s just what happens, and then you need to get out of the pot hole and keep going, keep driving north. I used to say in Columbus that you build one brick at a time but we got an unbelievable brick yesterday, as we try to build this franchise. But I know, with myself in charge, our decisions will be made on trying to win a championship and it’s a long-term decision as opposed to ‘let’s just be competitive and see what happens. It takes a certain amount of patience and time. When we win, when we get to it, there are players on our team who aren’t even here yet, maybe they’ve been drafted but we have to go through that getting these players ready to go. That is what it is and that is what it’s going to be. Some people might get impatient, but I am not. Good things are ahead of us.”
  • On Henrik Lundqvist’s future, “I had a good chat with him when we got off the plane out of Toronto. It was a discussion we had, we will continue the dialogue. He’s gone home, back to Sweden. His representative Donnie Meehan is a good man. We will talk and see where we go. We made it clear that we aren’t carrying three goalies next year. We gotta figure out what we are going to do, figure it out with all of our goalies, keep the communication open. Just started getting into the process now so this will take some time and we will be respectful of everyone.”
  • How much does heart play into it or is it just business, “Whenever you make decisions you can make decisions the right way. The one thing, we have two very young goalies and one goalie that is a future Hall of Famer. You have to have reality, honesty, compassion, do things the right way and we will get to it and get to it the right way. Regarding all of our guys, we have as management…..I had to retire at 27 because my body decided it was time. Father time or injuries or whatever it is catch up to people along the way. Is Hank’s time now, is it not, we have to get to that point and discuss it and figure it out the right way and do things that are appropriate and right for the players involved and also the franchise itself. It’s a balancing act but we will make sure that whatever happens we will do it the right way.”
  • Have decisions been made or is it still a fluid situation, “it’s still a discussion. Ongoing, we will have discussion down the road, probably sooner than later, and discuss all options. Hank is a player, he’s been a healthy player his whole career, which is a good thing. We will discuss and see what his thoughts are and try to make some decisions as it becomes very clear for us.”