The Rangers have entered the last couple of seasons with high expectations, mostly projected onto them from outside the organization.
This season, however, the only expectations that matter come from inside the organization.
President and general manager Chris Drury, as well as new head coach Peter Laviolette, have made it clear that they expect a precedent to be set on Day 1 of training camp.
The work is set to begin the second the players step on the ice next week, but it’s the standard of that work to which management is paying attention.
“I’ve always felt — even back when I played — there’s no switch that you could just flick,” Drury said Thursday from the head of a boardroom table at MSG Training Center in Tarrytown. “Now it’s a big game. Now it’s playoffs. Let’s play this way. I think your intentions and how you go about your business in training camp, the start of the season, middle of the season, at the end of the season, have to be where you create your identity.
Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette watches Rangers training camp Wednesday.=Robert Sabo for NY Post
“When you get into a big game during the regular season and if we’re fortunate enough to get in the playoffs, you’re ready to go and play the style that’s needed with whoever you’re playing against.”
Laviolette first shared that sentiment during his introductory press conference back in June, when he harped on the levels of competition inside the game and how they directly correlate to a team’s success.
He mentioned how important it will be for the 2023-24 Rangers to generate the right habits early.
Peter Laviolette is getting ready for his first training camp as Rangers head coach.Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
He emphasized accountability.
That is not a new approach for Laviolette, who has brought the same mentality and attitude to each of the five NHL clubs he has coached.
But it’s a different, and assertive, message for the Rangers.
The Rangers want to improve upon last season’s loss to the Devils in the opening round of the playoffs.Bill Kostroun for NY Post
Work ethic will be the ultimate focal point.
The grind of the game will be taught every day.
There has been a lot of talk about team DNA and identity this offseason from Rangers management, and it’ll be on the players to respond to it.
The Rangers who went on a playoff tear to the conference final two seasons ago knew who they were and embraced it.
Rangers left wing Bobby Trivigno (48) and New York Rangers goaltender Dylan Garland (33) when the New York Rangers held their training camp.Robert Sabo for NY Post
The Rangers who fell apart against the Devils in the first round last season lost themselves along the way.
“Guys are disappointed,” Drury said. “They’re frustrated with how the season ended last year. I think they all took it into the offseason with their approach, mentally and physically. We did have some success the year before, but it’s a new year, new challenge and I think everyone’s excited. Not only to be back for training camp, but to get rolling in the regular season trying to reach our first goal of making the playoffs.”
The very first day of training camp this season will be the start of rediscovering how the Rangers want to play each and every day — not just in regular-season games or playoff games, but every time they touch the ice.
That is the expectation Drury and Laviolette are using to challenge the Rangers.
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