Longtime readers of the blog may already know about my boyhood fascination with Wayne Gretzky since “it’s something I’ve written about in the past”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2006/10/28/wayne-and-me/.
And yet even while acknowledging the extra charge in the building because of the Great One’s presence downstairs—decked in a fairly sharp gray blazer, he was sipping coffee and chatting with a throng of well-wishers—the return of the game’s greatest player to the Garden is only a sidebar in Rangerland. More important to most fans I presume is seeing some sign of life from your wayward team.
Again, no one should pin too much on the return of Scott Gomez. But there is something to be said for the fact that Gomez not only gives the Rangers a jolt on his own, but also takes some of the burden off of the players who were forced to pick up the slack in his absence (i.e. Drury, Naslund, even Dubinsky). But that’s just a working theory. Let’s see if it holds up.
Like I said above, there was a lot of familiar faces milling around downstairs. Not only is Gretzky back, but so is Don Maloney, as well as Doug Sulliman, the former Ranger first round draft pick who is in his first season as one of Gretzky’s assistant coaches.
I’ve written before about “Sulliman’s unique journey”:http://www.lohud.com/article/20081007/SPORTS01/810070412, going from a career in the NHL, to Wall Street, and now back into coaching under Gretzky. Let’s just say his timing in leaving the financial industry was pretty good, although he claimed it was luck more than anything else.
Let’s remember that the Coyotes last trip to the Garden was not a pleasant one for the Rangers. In a similar state as they are now, the Rangers were lifeless in a 5-1 loss. I asked Tom Renney if that game had any relevance tonight.
“I’d say no, but I do recall how they played and we watched,” Renney said. “We don’t need that.”
On this many would agree.