TODAY'S PAPER
58° Good Afternoon
58° Good Afternoon
SportsColumnistsColin Stephenson

Dave Maloney optimistic about Rangers' rebuild

While the current Rangers have been struggling on the ice, Maloney believes the rebuild is progressing well.

The Bruins' Brad Park, left, skates beside the

The Bruins' Brad Park, left, skates beside the Rangers Dave Maloney as the puck flies off the boards at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 14, 1979. Photo Credit: AP/Ron Frehm

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Besides the training staff, there’s one person who’s worked every Ranger game for the last two seasons: Radio colorman Dave Maloney.

Maloney, who usually works alongside play-by-play man Kenny Albert on the radio broadcasts, has missed maybe five games since he became the full-time radio analyst in 2005. The former Rangers defenseman and captain is the only broadcaster that works every game, home and away, preseason, regular season and playoff. MSG, which does the television broadcasts, doesn’t do all 82 regular-season games, and Albert has broadcasting duties for MSG and elsewhere that cause him to miss Rangers games from time to time.

Maloney isn’t always working radio, either. Whenever TV play-by-play man Sam Rosen is off doing NFL games, MSG’s between-the-benches reporter John Giannone fills in for Rosen and Maloney takes Giannone’s spot. Either way, if the Rangers are playing, Maloney is there.

“I like the fact that I’m there for every game,’’ Maloney said recently. “And I like the fact that I get to do different things.’’

Broadcasting is Maloney’s third career. After 11 seasons playing in the NHL, he retired in 1985 and took a job on Wall Street, working for Bear Stearns. He did that for 10 years, then worked for another financial firm in Greenwich, Conn., for 10 more years, before retiring after 20 years in the financial services industry. Now 62, he doesn’t plan on retiring from broadcasting anytime soon.

“As long as I think the people who are hiring me think I can do a decent enough job, I’ll do it forever,’’ he said.

Being around the team every day, Maloney has a valuable perspective of where the team is in its stated rebuilding stage. And while the current Rangers have been struggling on the ice, Maloney believes the rebuild is progressing well. First-year coach David Quinn has been working hard at molding the young players on the team and teaching them to be responsible and do the things that winning teams do, and general manager Jeff Gorton has been aggressive in moving veteran players in exchange for younger players and draft picks – assets that either will turn into important building blocks for the future or be used in deals to acquire those building blocks.

“I think Jeff Gorton and [assistant GM] Chris Drury have an idea you have to build from within,’’ Maloney said. “You can’t be mercenary, and I think this franchise has been mercenary for a particularly long time, and we have one Cup in 79 years.’’

Speaking of that one Cup, in 1994, Maloney said the way that team was built – by trading away good young players to acquire veteran stars and role players (Tony Amonte for Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan, who left after the summer of ’94, is one example) may have worked to get that one Cup, but it damaged any chance for the team to have sustained success. They made the playoffs in ’95, ’96 and ’97 – they even signed Wayne Gretzky along the way – but then missed the postseason for the next seven years before finally returning in 2006, led by a spectacular rookie goalie named Henrik Lundqvist.

“You play the price for that one-time splash,’’ Maloney said.

The current plan seems to be building for the long term, Maloney said. But there’s no telling when it will be finished.

“If you think that Filip Chytil needs 200 games before he’s a legitimate NHL player; if you think Brett Howden needs 200 games — or whatever that benchmark is — well, they’re not yet a third of the way into that,’’ he said. “But I do think if they stay the course, there’s a better chance of being really competitive for a longer time. There’s no guarantee to win, but I really think . . . they’re heading in the right direction. They’re doing the things to give themselves a chance.’’

There are many who believe that the way for a team to give itself the best chance to win is by taking steps to try and win the NHL draft lottery, which would give them a shot to pick first overall – or in the top three, anyway – in the NHL draft.

While Maloney does believe the Rangers will need a superstar offensive player (or more than one) in order to be a contender coming out of the current rebuild, he doesn’t endorse the idea of tanking. Rather, he believes if the organization collects enough talent and molds that talent into a good team, it can then go out and acquire the final pieces it needs to get to the promised land.

“I think you look at the Yankees when they won, they built from within, and then found fillers,’’ he said. “You create the culture by first of all, letting your young guys know they’re not entitled to anything in this league; they have to earn their spot . . . So that creates the culture, long term, that you need to have to begin with.’’

But how do you know when the time is right to go get those final pieces?

“Well, if it was that easy, you’d just draw it up,’’ he said. “It’s a ‘feel’ thing . . . Successful franchises, the success starts at the top: Ownership; management; coach, right on down the line. The most stable franchises, the stability of the franchise is probably directly seen in the results of the franchise, and that’s having the right people making the decisions at the time.’’

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports