Rangers fire GM Jeff Gorton, president John Davidson in stunning move

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The Rangers have decided to fire general manager Jeff Gorton and team president John Davidson.

Chris Drury, who was serving as associate GM, will take over both roles.

Here’s Rangers owner James Dolan’s statement, which says the two are “leaving the organization”:

“We want to thank JD and Jeff for their contributions to the organization. They are both great hockey professionals who worked hard for the Rangers, however, in order for the team to succeed in the manner our fans deserve, there needs to be a change in leadership.

“Chris is a very sought-after executive and a strong leader, who has proven himself to be one of the top young minds in hockey. We are confident he will effectively guide the team to ensure the long-term success we promised Rangers fans.”

It’s a stunning move that comes a day after the team released a statement criticizing the NHL Department of Player Safety for only fining Tom Wilson for his actions during Monday’s game between the teams. There was also a call to remove George Parros from his role as head of the DoPS.

“We view this is a dereliction of duty by NHL head of player safety, George Parros, and believe he is unfit to continue in his current role,” the statement read.

Multiple reports have stated the decision has nothing to do with the statement and everything to do with the team’s performance. Dolan was reportedly not happy with the way they underachieved and was seeking to make a change. The Rangers have three games left after being eliminated from playoff contention Monday night.

If Dolan was indeed unhappy, why make the move now and not after the regular season? And why remove Gorton, who was leading a successful rebuild of the franchise, and Davidson, who was only hired in May 2019? This coming out 24 hours after that statement will only fuel conspiracy theories as to why this happened.

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Gorton took over as GM in July 2015 and has since moved out an aging core and to bring in youth. It was Gorton who signed the famous letter that announced the team’s new direction to fans in Feb. 2018. Since then, through the draft and other transactions, he’s built up a prospect pool that is paying off at the NHL level. There are 10 players 23 and younger who are regulars in the Rangers’ lineup. Between 2020 No. 1 pick Alexis Lafrenière, Vitali Kravtsov, K'Andre Miller, Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko, and Igor Shesterkin, among others, things are heading in the right direction. Factor in the acquisitions of Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba, and it’s a strong turnaround.

What comes next? With Drury now GM and president, where does that leave fellow Boston University alum David Quinn? The head coach’s standing was already on shaky ground. Will the changes continue with the staff behind the bench?

And how does Wednesday’s announcement affect the Rangers in free agency? Will it continue to be a methodical approach with smart moves or is there pressure now to make an impact signing/trade to speed up the process? Has Jack Eichel checked out the New York City real estate market at all?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.