Rangers can switch things up by hiring youthful Marc Savard

It is important for an NHL head coach to have assistants in whom he has utmost trust, both personally and professionally. Peter Laviolette deserves to have a staff largely of his choosing when he steps behind the bench for the Rangers.

But I also believe the Blueshirts are in need of a young presence and voice on the staff even if not necessarily a member of the head coach’s retinue. This is a veteran team with a veteran head coach, but there is a critical youthful component to the mix, too. Staff diversity is required. There is no reason for same-old, same-old. This is not a time for cronyism.

In addition, the Rangers’ power play became stagnant last season, and no, that was not because of Patrick Kane. The unit underachieved all season. Pass, pass, pass, one-timer by Mika. Pass, pass, pass, one-timer by Mika. Pass, pass, pass, the first unit staying on for 1:25 regardless.

The OHL Windsor Spitfires have had a dynamic power play the last two seasons. They are coached by the dynamic offensive former player, Marc Savard, originally a Ranger before he was unfortunately sent away to Calgary at age 21 in the deal that yielded Jamie Lundmark and Jan Hlavac in June 1999.

Nearly a quarter of a century later, it is time to explore bringing Savard back to New York as an assistant coach to preside over the power play and work with the forwards. In two years a head coach in the OHL, in which he had Will Cuylle for a spell, Savard’s team won the West both seasons while finishing second overall in the league.

Marc Savard heads for the locker room after practice for the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
Marc Savard heads for the locker room after practice for the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
Getty Images

Savard, who became an elite producer with Calgary and Boston before his career was blown to smithereens by Matt Cooke’s dastardly headshot from the blind side, served an assistant coach for the Blues in 2019-20 before moving to Windsor. He is on record as saying he has interest only in being an NHL head coach, and not reprising his role as an assistant, but let’s be realistic here.

It seems to me that Savard’s path to achieving his objective would be accelerated by a successful stint as an assistant in New York as opposed to continuing as a successful head guy in Windsor. When is the last time an NHL team reached into junior hockey to pluck a head coach? No, seriously. When? Help me out here.

Marc Savard in action against The New York Islanders during their game at the Nassau Coliseum.
Marc Savard in action against The New York Islanders during their game at the Nassau Coliseum.
Getty Images

So the Rangers should to take the opportunity to invite Savard, who will turn 46 on July 17, in for an interview with Laviolette and general manager Chris Drury. There is no reason for same-old, same-old. The power play should be more dynamic and more productive than it was last season. It needs to be reimagined.

If there’s one thing Savard has always had, it is imagination.

Henrik Lundqvist, who walked the Red Carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival this past Thursday at the premiere of the documentary, “Open Heart,” that provided an intimate look at the King’s journey through the heart condition that ended his career, should be notified this coming Wednesday that he will be walking another Red Carpet next November — the Red Carpet leading to induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, that is.

The selection committee meeting in Toronto will announce the newest members on June 21. Lundqvist, who returned to Sweden for the summer on Saturday, is an automatic to become just the fifth goaltender of the modern era to gain election without having won the Stanley Cup.

He will become the third such honoree to have played either his entire career or nearly all of his career with the Rangers, following Chuck Rayner and Eddie Giacomin to the Great Hall. Roy Worters, who played for the old New York Americans, and Roberto Luongo, inducted last year, are the others.

This is the year the heretofore mysteriously snubbed Alex Mogilny should gain induction from the 18-member selection committee that operates under strict confidentiality and never explains a thing.

Stanley Cup Champion Patrik Elias of the New Jersey Devils during the 2003 Championship 20th Anniversary Celebration.
Stanley Cup Champion Patrik Elias of the New Jersey Devils during the 2003 Championship 20th Anniversary Celebration.
NHLI via Getty Images

Good thing, too, because the ongoing omission of Mogilny is inexplicable.

This also is the year that Patrik Elias merits induction. His career statistics of 408 goals, 617 assists and 1,025 points in 1,240 games should speak for themselves, but they do not do justice to Elias, who sacrificed points in bushels to become one of the elite defensive and two-way forwards in the NHL for two Stanley Cup winners.

Elias was magical on the left side of the Devils’ omnipotent “A Line,” the perfect complement to Jason Arnott in the middle and Petr Sykora on the right. He was as creative and lethal as there was. But he then moved to the middle and became a center for the final half-dozen or so seasons of his career because that’s what the team needed of him. Who knows how many points he left on the table because of that move?

The bedrock of the Devils’ success was defense and goaltending. Four of the franchise’s five retired numbers belong to a goalie and three defensemen — Martin Brodeur’s 30, Scott Stevens’ 4, Scott Niedermayer’s 27 and Ken Daneyko’s 3.

But No. 26 also hangs from the rafters at the Rock. That is Elias’ number. And it should be called this week by the HHOF selection committee.

Just imagine what Jesper Bratt would have been able to command on his contract extension if the Devils winger had, you know, done anything at all against the Rangers and ’Canes in the playoffs.

Never mind, though, because the 24-year-old Swedish winger just signed an eight-year extension worth an annual average value of $7.875 million. That is apparently the price of disappointment in the NHL.

The Devils have one of the most team-friendly superstar contracts in the NHL with Jack Hughes in at an AAV of $8M per for the next seven years.

This Bratt deal is not that.

Finally, I’d like to see Steve Larmer be elected to the HHOF, I’d like to see Butch Goring gain induction, I’d be happy if Claude Provost were recognized. And I wonder if Matthew Tkachuk’s dramatic rise to prominence will invite another look at the candidacy of his dad, Keith “Big Walt” Tkachuk.

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁

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