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John Davidson?s First Rangers Priority is an AHL Overhaul


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It is taking some time for the Rangers to hire a head coach for the AHL Wolf Pack and there is a reason for that. The organization is not simply seeking to install a new staff in Hartford but rather is reimagining and pouring resources into the entire development structure.


?That job in Hartford as head coach has huge importance to it ? huge,? team president John Davidson told The Post on Wednesday night. ?We want someone there who is a great communicator, not only with the players, but with the other coaches and support personnel we?re going to have there.


?We?re putting more of everything into Hartford, from A to Z. You want to have a winning culture there, that?s to everyone?s advantage, you want to bring in high quality and character vets to establish a template for your kids, but the priority is development and you can never emphasize that enough. That?s where it starts. That?s the focus. That?s where it?s at.?


Davidson said that he, general manager Jeff Gorton and assistant GM/Hartford GM Chris Drury are going through the process of sorting through candidates, the latter two executives conducting preliminary interviews as the organization goes about fixing the decay that developed last season.

?NHL experience is not a requirement for the job,? Davidson said. ?If a guy has it, great, but if not, so be it. We?re looking for someone with great communication skills and embraces the opportunity to develop players ? to develop Rangers.


?You need a mix there, too. It can?t all be kids. It?s vital to have veterans who are there for more than the money, but set examples and take leadership roles. I can point to Mark Letestu who did that for us [Columbus] in Cleveland. That?s the kind of veteran we want in Hartford.


?Like I say, you want to develop a winning attitude, but you also don?t want to necessarily win an AHL championship with a team that has eight 32-year-olds. You want to win with young people, the way we were able to do with Lake Erie.?


That was 2015-16, when current Colorado coach Jared Bednar led the-then Columbus AHL affiliate to the Calder Cup championship with a mix of veterans and young guns featuring Zach Werenski, Josh Anderson and Oliver Bjorkstrand.


?We won a championship, which was great, but that wasn?t necessarily the objective,? Davidson said. ?It was development.?



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“It’s not only Hartford,” said Davidson, on the job for two weeks as the new head of the Rangers. “We’re adding development coaches so that when you’re drafted and become part of the organization, we’re going to be there for you, we’re going to be at your games all over the world, offering our support.


“As we’re planning, we’re going to have three development coaches. One will be based in Europe. Of course we’re going to work with the cooperation of the teams involved, we’re not going rogue as independent contractors. But we’re going to be a constant presence, not just pop in for a game here and there.


We want to build up Ranger bloodlines from the time a player is drafted, through his development, until he gets to New York. We’re putting a lot into this.”


This is actually the most important element to me. The Rangers are not just the 23 players that wear the jersey. I think it's important to develop this "club" mentality for everyone involved.

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