2006-2007. Let’s never, ever talk about that season again. This story begins the summer following that season. The Flyers needed to change, very, very quickly. They dumped aging veterans and their salaries, made a few trades, and entered the free agent market with some salary cap space. Meanwhile, the Rangers were also in the hunt for some more help after getting knocked out in the second round by the Sabres.
The top prizes of course were Danny Briere, Scott Gomez, and Chris Drury. The Flyers got Briere, and NYR signed the other two. With the teams being in the same division, and having some pretty good hatred, debate began right away as to who did better for themsleves. We got one guy, they got two. They signed a pair of guys who had won the Cup before. We got a guy with a bit more offensive talent. Still, only time would tell which teams GM was more savvy.
And here we are, only 4 years later, and it’s pretty damn obvious that the Flyers ended up much better off. Ultimately, neither team won the Cup. But we sure as hell came a lot closer than they did. After signing Briere, we got back to the conference finals the next year, while their season ended in round 2 again. The next three years saw them get bounced in the first round, miss the playoffs, and get bounced in round one again. Meanwhile, we managed to get to the Cup Finals, in between a pair of disappointing , early playoff exits. Let’s not forget that the season they missed the playoffs was when we knocked them out in the shootout in the final game of the regular season. Briere scored one of the shootout goals.
We can attribute a lot of our playoff success to Briere. He’s been an absolute monster. The year we went to the finals, he came close to setting the record for points in a playoff year. Meanwhile, the Rangers are about to buy out Drury’s final season. Gomez lasted only two years, where he did pretty much nothing, before getting traded to Montreal with 5 years left on his contract. Neither one came anywhere to close to what was expected of them. Meanwhile, Briere isn’t scoring as much in the regular season as he did in Buffalo. But he’s still living up to his contract based on what he does in the playoffs.
Now we can look back at the magazine cover, proclaiming the Rangers as a Cup favorite and just laugh. Hey New York, how you like them apples?
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