Picture, if you will, a toothbrush in your mind. Do you see it? The bristles, the handle, the sleek, ergonomic grip that convinces you that our present reality is all but Jetsonian in nature?
If the 2015-16 Rangers were a toothbrush the handle would be an uncooked hot dog. And instead of bristles there would be a patch of shag carpet that was haphazardly staple-gunned to the floppity tube of mixed meat. That droopy cylinder of glistening protein would have roughly the same chances of facilitating oral hygiene that the 2015-16 Rangers had at winning the Cup.
There's no escaping the fact that the best chance that this Rangers team had to win the Cup is now in the rear view mirror and out of reach. Just like that gas station bathroom that you talked yourself out of using because you were certain that it was going to look like a preschool classroom in November when kids assault walls, desks, and clothing with brown paint while making hand turkeys. But now that you're in a cold sweat and about 30 seconds away from frantically digging a hole just off the side of the road with your bare hands, that gas station bathroom is starting to look like heaven on earth.
Henrik Lundqvist is now 34 years old. Let that sentence sink in. It doesn't feel very good, does it? Lundqvist has carried the burden of the team's success or failure for years while spearheading the Rangers' post-lockout success. But he has likely taken this group of men as far as they can go.
Alexander the Great conquered a big chunk of the known world and was dead at 32. Before his death Alexander started to lose the confidence of his men because of his boundless lust to civilize and conquer the world... but he did pretty good with the time he had. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that Hank has had more lasting power than Alexander the Great, but nothing gold can stay, my friends
If I learned anything from the 2004 film Alexander, I learned that one man cannot carry the weight of the world on his shoulders for too long. That was true in antiquity, and it's true now. Alexander couldn't and Hank can't. Watching him give his all on a team doomed to failure was almost as painful to see as Oliver Stone's acid trip of a historical drama.
"Of course you have fears. We all have fears. Because no one has ever gone this far before."
Oh Colin, your constant stubble, furrowed brow, and dark Irish eyes cut right through me when you wore that blonde wig in that 12 year old movie that I'm for some reason referencing in this calamity of prose. Like the extras that portrayed Alexander's army before Gaugamela, we have fears. And we are right to be afraid.
Tomorrow is a scary word for Rangers fans. Larry Brooks apparently thinks that everyone not named Hank, Brady Skjei, or Pavel Buchnevich is on the trading block and that the Rangers can't or won't buy out Girardi. They can't afford to keep Keith Yandle, Rick Nash is looking more likely to be traded with each passing day, and Hank is a billion years old. Yes, tomorrow is terrifying. Like waking up just in time to see a spider tap dance its way beneath your undies.
The NHL Draft, or as Rangers fans know it "the day we watch everyone else pick in the first round", begins on June 24th. The next big day on the calendar after that for the Rangers is July 1st when the free agency period begins and money gets tossed around like snowballs on an unexpected snow day.
The Rangers, with their projected cap space of not-enough-to-do-anything, will be the kid that can't join the fun because his or her parents wouldn't allow it. All because, god forbid, they might catch a cold. Or worse the Rangers could make a horrible trade or signing and be the rosy-cheeked rebel that squeaks out a downstairs window, defying their parents' will, giggling their way into the fray only to immediately catch a snowball pregnant with a clump of ice in the eye. With a quivering bottom lip and a tear-soaked eye patch they'll spend the night in the emergency room and flinch when a nurse hopes to cheer them up with the offer of ice cream.
This offseason is going to be rough, my friends.
So, how can you pass the time this summer? There's always work, school, family, a social life, and baseball (for those of you who watch the sport that causes more naps than televised golf does in nursing homes) to keep you occupied before next season, but I have a few other suggestions to help tide you over in the coming months. Here's your 2016 Summer Survival Guide.
This Summer You Can...
Convince Yourself that Buchnevich Will Fix Everything
If you get swept up in this idea over the summer, I won't blame you. When was the last time the Rangers had a sensationally good offensive prospect like Buchnevich? Never mind, don't answer that question. This team almost never drafts and develops its own offensive talent. They get it bused in much like Ohio gets its day-old crab meat.
Buch had solid numbers in the KHL, but Rangers fans already talk about him as though he dominated Russia like Genghis Khan. To be fair he just turned 21 and has shown signs of being just stupid good with the puck. Here's a big goal of his against a goaltender named Ustinsky... which I'm positive must be a fake name. How can you be a Russian athlete one letter away from being named U-stink-sky? Never mind, roll the clip!
He probably won't fix everything what with the contracts that are slowly killing this team like a malevolent boa constrictor and everything, but he will probably help. Maybe. Or not. But he could. The head coach is really patient with young players and everything so I'm sure it will all work out. Fuck.
Become the Next John Chayka
The Arizona Coyotes made a big splash in early May when they took a break from making trades with the Rang-DUCLAAAAAAAAAAAAAIR-ers and signed a 26 year old analytics wiz as their next general manager. Twenty-friggin-six.
It's too late for me and others like me who remember the original Batman animated series and Bill Nye the Science Guy, but you younglings... there is still hope for you and therefore hope for all of us.
Chayka got on the radar because of his company Stathletes Incorporated which tracked analytics. I had better names for my Lego creations when I was still in my Pull-Ups phase. If Chayka could do it, so can you. Well, some of you may be able to. Have you seen the comments we get on the Banter's Facebook page? They give me stomach pains and have eroded my faith in humanity down to a dull graphite nub in a world without pencil sharpeners.
You could be our future. Yes, you. Grab a calculator, print out some shot charts, bookmark all the analytics sites and generalfanager.com, and get to work. You'll spend your summer hotboxed by your own musk in your room pouring over numbers, trends, and other data to understand the science behind the game and whatever else Jonah Hill's character said in Moneyball. Did you know a human being can live off of a small patch of sweet potatoes? Plant 'em and start researching.
Your sacrifice could bring the Rangers closer to a championship and maybe put an end to the pitiful clips and references during MSG broadcasts to the 1994 Cup victory that just won't die. What were you thinking of doing with your life that would be better than being the analytics messiah for the Rangers? Getting into law? Carpentry? Opening an erotic cake shop? Whatever it is, it won't feel half as good as saving the team that you loved in your misguided youth. Save us. Save us all. Please.
Play the "It's All Dan Girardi's Fault" Game. Again.
I've already taken an in-depth look at why a Segway with a broom attached to it would be more effective than Girardi, but we never seem to tire of talking about our favorite scapegoat. We do love our scapegoats. We should do something crazy like make a monkey ride a goat balancing on a tightrope in an annual scapegoat celebrati-
Oh. There really aren't any more original ideas, are there?
There's plenty of people that want Girardi's contract to be bought out, but according to Brooksie that isn't going to happen. So, what is the best thing to do with him? Dump as much of his cap hit as possible in a trade? Play him on the third pair? Realize that no matter what desperate or logical solutions we may or may not have it will have absolutely no influence on what Gorton and Vigneault do? I'm sure we'll keep discussing this. Forever. Someone peg me with an iceball, please.
Turn Your Back On It All
Like a coffee tin filled with human teeth and dead batteries being placed in the hands of an excitable, caffeinated monkey that may or may not be riding a goat, there will be a lot of noise this offseason. Perhaps too much noise.
The most merciful and logical thing you could do for yourself is to push your thoughts, fantasies, and woes about the Rangers into that old shed out back and cover it with a large tarp for the summer. Imagine how much free time you'd have if you didn't spend time every week prowling for news about the team that frequently disappoints you and leaves your heart bruised like a peach that fell down a spiral staircase made of corrugated metal.
You could watch Tom Hardy's complete filmography and finish sometime in October still troubled by that nude scene he did while slathered in black paint when the puck drops on the 2016-17 season (it haunts my dreams). You could grow the game and teach some young scamps how to play hockey. You could read a bunch of books while sitting out in the sun and perhaps gain a better understanding of post WW2 Germany, the mercurial labyrinth that is human psychology, or the Krampus mythos.
Never mind. Don't read anything about the Krampus.
Where was I going with this? Oh, right. Maybe you can enjoy the summer swaying to the anodyne creaks of Granny Maude's old rocking chair out on the front porch with hockey and the Rangers excommunicated from your thoughts. Just you, a pair of hoary overalls, a sarsaparilla in one hand and a harmonica in the other, watching the fireflies dance in jitters creating living constellations in the friscalating sunlight.
Or you can be honest with yourself and continue to prowl Blueshirt Banter and the rest of the internet for anything that even resembles news or a Rangers-related rumor. That way you can jackhammer your fingers across your keyboard or smart phone and share your opinion in the communal ululating of all Rangers fans as we desperately wait for the next mistake or small victory made by the front office that will point the bow of our emotions towards a merciless gale of misery or a thunderclap of happiness that disappears like dust in the wind.
If everyone reading this article studies one topic, I call dibs on cetaceans by the way, and then we all meet up back in this article in September and share what we know about that topic we will know so many fucking things, you guys.
I called dibs on cetaceans because I like marine life, as the 16 of you who listened to the "Rink Around the Rosies" podcast know. Did you know that SeaWorld is going to phase out orcas in their shows over the next nobody-knows-how-many years? Did you know that the southern right whale has the largest balls in the animal kingdom? Did you know that no one knows how long bowhead whales live, but some leading whaleogists believe it is over 200 years?
Astrophysics, curing meat, swordplay, hurling, programming. We could learn it all. All it would take is a dedicated community that excels at expressing their own perceived wisdom through the written word... kay, well maybe it's not for us. But we could still try. Fun social experiment. Why the hell not?
In any event it will likely be more impactful and effective than most American universities. Take that deeply flawed American education system.
Okay, that's more than enough of that. I have no idea why Joe encourages me to do this and enable my unhinged nonsense every year, but he does. He also talked me into doing the podcast which I never thought would happen. By the way, you guys should give it a listen. I promise to give Joe as much shit as possible and make spelling mistakes made by Beth known to as many people as possible. It is deeply satisfying. Like a q-tip swiveling carefully just inside of your ear. You know it's wrong, but it feels so right. So, so right.
Thank you all for reading us, for following us on twitter, for telling your friends about this place and our articles, for being in our game threads, and for being the lifeblood of Blueshirt Banter. This place doesn't exist without you reading, clicking links, and commenting. You invite us onto your monitors and phone screens and conversations and we appreciate it more than you will ever know. Or I do, anyway. Can't speak for the rest of the writers and editors and contributors. But I promise I love you.
We'll keep you covered with all of the Rangers news, rumors, and analysis you can handle and then some. Please have a happy, safe, and wonderful summer.
Let's go hockey. Let's go Rangers.