Monday, February 02, 2004

What goes around, comes around?

What an interesting bit of timing, the Canucks arrival in the Big Apple tonight. As the Rangers, their fans and the media all chew around the idea of Iron Mike Keenan returning to the throne. In come the Canucks, a team that did some time in Keenan purgatory, before finding success without Iron Mike. Perhaps a lesson is there for the taking for those that are clamoring for Mike.

Keenans' time in Vancouver was controversial, some good things did come from his era, hmm, well ok, one good thing I guess Todd Bertuzzi, but even that was steeped in negativity. The horrid treatment and exile of Trevor Linden was a Keenan decision, Linden the heart and soul of Vancouver was sent to the Islanders for Bertuzzi, he then wandered to the Capitals and the Habs, before finally returning home, to the team he never should have left. Many thought that Keenan tried to end Marcus Naslund's career, cutting his ice time and verbally questioning his skills and heart. He got rid of the crowd favourite Gino Odjick and traded the much regarded Kirk McLean. In short his stay shattered the confidences of many of his players, as he waged his reign of terror at GM Place.

He had his favourites though, Mark Messier could do no wrong. On a Keenan team Messier was the leader, there would be no others. With that message the Canucks eventually fell into a number of cliques, all for themselves, none for the team. Hey, you know they looked just like the Rangers do today. And with that came no playoff success, no sense of team, a pathetic output and a palpable aura of fear, both on the bench and in the dressing room.

Brian Burke was brought on board to try and right the listing ship, he co-existed with Keenan for a while, but eventually the long expected explosion happened. Keenan was gone. Burke rebuilt the team from those dark days, and now stands close to the goal of a Stanley Cup. Burke has made some master moves, he brought back Linden, acquired Ed Jovanovski and turned Marcus Naslund into a team leader. He's not there yet, the Canucks are still a bit away from a Stanley Cup. But the team is as entertaining on most nights as you'll find anywhere, a close knit group that seem to enjoy playing with each other and for their fans. The possibility of a Stanley Cup Parade for Robson street is not too far fetched, in fact it's now expected in Vancouver. The same can't be said for New York. Going the route of Keenan, probably won't have the city police and street cleaners making any plans in the near future.

The New York media currently calling for the rise of Iron Mike, should do their homework, he has left turmoil at every stop, and more turmoil is not something that the Rangers need right now. For a blueprint on how to do it right, they should look no further than the visiting team tonight, the post Keenan Canucks are on the cusp now, a spot the Rangers can only dream of.

Oh, here's one final note for the folks counting the dollars and watching that Ranger bottom line. Brian Burke has not signed a new contract yet with the Vancouver Canucks. While a Canuck fan hopes that is just a formality and that he's locked in soon, the Rangers should ponder that. The team they watch tonight as a visitor is the post Keenan product, not sure about them, but for me it's a far sight prettier than anything Iron Mike might have to offer.

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