In this edition of Throwback Thursday, THN senior writer Mike Brophy accurately predicts, against all odds, the New York Rangers will go from last in their division to a Stanley Cup. NHL disciplinarian Brian Burke, meantime, starts suspending players for actual games, while the NHL ranks 32 among American pastimes, according to one survey.
The New York Rangers finished dead last in the Patrick Division in 1992-93, out of the playoffs and searching for answers. Yet, remarkably, entering the subsequent season, THN senior writer Mike Brophy predicted they’d
win the Stanley Cup when most figured Pittsburgh was a shoo-in for their third in four years. He explains why in the Oct. 15, 1993 issue of The Hockey News, and this edition of Throwback Thursday.
Brophy wrote that, in light of the eyebrow-raising prognostication, he’d received several letters from readers to inquire about his mental well-being. “What I can’t understand is how anybody in their right mind would not pick the Rangers,” Brophy opined. He said
Mike Keenan would kick butt in Manhattan. Check. That
Mark Messier would rejuvenate his career. Check. That
Brian Leetch would be in Norris Trophy would be a difference-maker. Yup. And that
Mike Richter, now out of John Vanbiesbrouck’s shadow, would blossom. Bang-on. “Secret weapon?
Alexei Kovalev. “Case closed.” Genius born. In other tidbits from the Oct. 15, 1993 issue: • Our cover boy,
Jaromir Jagr, sported his trademark mullet, two Stanley Cup rings, with the notion No. 3 would be coming soon.
• Brian Burke took the radical step of suspending players…for actual games. The NHL’s vice-president of hockey operations, Burke eschewed Gil Stein’s non-game day suspension policy in favor of real punishment. Of course, the length of suspensions remained (as it still does) a sore point. • The NHL ranked 32nd among the most popular pastimes in the United States, according to a survey conducted by a Dallas-based sports marketing company. It sat behind pairs ice dancing, Little League baseball and airplane stunts. • The NHL tinkered with the two-referee system, but wasn’t prepared to adopt it just yet. League executives wanted to experiment with it at the minor league level first. It was a controversial issue, but so, too, was the one-ref setup. “If it were to be put into place tomorrow, I’d say, ‘Great, let’s give it a chance,” said Sabres coach-GM John Muckler. “Because what we have now isn’t proper.” • Gary Bettman, entering his first full season as commissioner, wasn’t ready to take a public stand on fighting in the game. He said his focus was on making supplemental discipline and on-ice officiating as good as possible. “Once we get to that point, I think we can look at the great debate about fighting.” Some might argue we’re still waiting. • Cartoonist Dave Elston satirizes the growth in player salaries.