After the New York Rangers' 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, they now lead the league with 62 points. It can be said that through 44 games this group has outperformed expectations and grown into a top-tier team in the NHL.
Perhaps New York's early success has shocked even its owner enough to show up at at the post-game press conference (next to coach John Tortorella) and address the media for the first time since 2005-06 -- yes, you read that right: For the first time in over six years, New York Rangers owner James Dolan spoke with the media. And he, of course, had to do it in style, saying he thinks the Rangers are close to winning the Stanley Cup. (The following is from ESPN NY's Katie Strang.)
"I'm very proud of the organization," Dolan said. "I'm particularly proud of Mr. [Glen] Sather because all the way back to 2004 when things weren't going so well and we had a lot of free agents here and we decided to basically re-do the strategy, Glen and I made a pact.
"I gave him something, which I won't reveal today, but I gave him something to seal the pact. I said 'You can't give it back to me until we win the Stanley Cup.' And I think we're pretty close to getting that thing back," said Dolan.
Tortorella has cultivated a bunch that has a blue-collar work ethic and is among the hardest working teams in hockey. He also hates discussing future games, let alone Stanley Cup aspirations. Even with their success thus far, the Blueshirts have taken one game at a time and rarely have shown they're entitled anything. After all, the regular season still has three more months remaining!
Expectedly, Tortorella was not happy with his owners comments.
"I have my owner up here talking about a Stanley Cup. That's a bunch of bull----," Tortorella countered good-naturedly. "We need to take one game at a time."
In his brief talk, Dolan also praised Sather's retooled approach -- that includes organic growth through the draft and farm system -- after a disastrous number (and many years) free-agent signings. Strang notes that eight players on Tuesday's roster of 20 were Rangers draft picks.
Suffice to say that neither Tortorella, the Rangers nor their fans would be too upset if they don't hear from Dolan in a the public sphere again until at least April. It's better when people who don't know much about the sport keep their mouths shut, anyway ...