The New York Rangers have fired president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton, as first reported by Larry Brooks of the New York Post on Wednesday.
The shocking move comes a day after the Rangers released a statement condemning the NHL and its department of player safety for the way they handled the discipline of Washington Capitals forward and repeat offender Tom Wilson, who punched Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head while down on his stomach Monday night before slamming a helmet-less Artemi Panarin to the ice in a dangerous move that thankfully did not result in serious injury.
“The New York Rangers are extremely disappointed that Capitals forward Tom Wilson was not suspended for his horrifying act of violence last night at Madison Square Garden,” the statement read. “Wilson is a repeat offender with a long history of these type of acts and we find it shocking that the NHL and their Department of Player Safety failed to take the appropriate action and suspend him indefinitely.
“Wilson’s dangerous and reckless actions caused an injury to Artemi Panarin that will prevent him from playing again this season. We view this as a dereliction of duty by NHL Head of Player Safety, George Parros, and believe he is unfit to continue in his current role.”
According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, Davidson and Gorton “scurried to distance themselves from the team statement… telling other executives that they did not know it was in the works until after it was released.”
However, multiple reports are suggesting that Madison Square Garden Sports CEO and Rangers owner, James Dolan, was unhappy with the lack of progress attained this season.
Gorton replaced Glen Sather as Rangers GM in 2015, overseeing the transition from perennial Eastern Conference contender to a rebuilding team. The Rangers had made the postseason in 11 of 12 seasons from 2005-2017, but after the mass exodus and deterioration of an aging core, they’ve made the playoffs just once in the last four seasons.
What could be seen as unrealistic expectations were saddled on the Rangers this season after they snuck into the Stanley Cup Qualifiers last year following the NHL’s COVID hiatus. They were able to bolster their ranks even further — which sped the rebuild schedule ahead after the acquisition of Panarin two years ago — when they won the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, nabbing the No. 1 pick and taking the highly-touted Alexis Lafreniere.
The Rangers are currently fifth in the loaded eight-team Eastern Division this season where they were officially eliminated from playoff contention following a two-game series with the New York Islanders last week.
Davidson — a former netminder for the Rangers from 1975-1983 — built stints as president of the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets to return to Madison Square Garden in the same capacity in 2019, where he was expected to help put the finishing touches on the rebuild and get the Blueshirts back into regular contention.