For a sports team, as in any organization, success starts from the top and works its way down.
While the general trail from the top to the bottom includes the owner, the general manager, the head coach, and ultimately the players on the ice, there are other parts of an organization that are vital to a team's success.
For the New York Rangers, two parts of the organization that don't get as much recognition as they should are the scouting department and the minor league staff for their AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale.
After the lockout, the Rangers changed their organizational philosophy and decided that instead of making the same mistakes they made previously through free agency, they should build a team through the draft. However, if the draft picks don't pan out, then the organization is set back.
Fortunately for the Rangers, Gordie Clark, director of player personnel, has done an outstanding job since he joined the organization.
In advising general manager Glen Sather, Clark has been instrumental in the selection of current Rangers players such as Michael Del Zotto, Artem Anisimov, and Derek Stepan, as well as future Rangers such as Chris Kreider and Dylan McIlrath.
And while the scouting department is responsible for bringing talent into the organization, the minor league staff has a huge impact in the development of many of those players.
In Connecticut, Ken Gernander has done an outstanding job since becoming head coach in 2007-08. Along with assistant coaches J.J. Daigneault and Pot Boller, Gernander has done an outstanding job in developing players and getting them NHL-ready.
An example of Gernander's impact was during the Rangers' recent winning streak.
With the defense depleted by injuries, the Rangers had to rely on two defenseman with limited NHL experience—Tim Erixon and Stu Bickel.
In the three games since their recall, Erixon and Bickel haven't looked out of place, and both contributed in the Rangers' three wins. However, it isn't the first time that a player coming out of the Rangers' minor league system has been called up and has contributed.
Last season, Ryan McDonagh was a mid-season call up, and he hasn't looked back. Michael Sauer played three years under Gernander in the NHL, and has been a steady and reliable defenseman for the Rangers in his first two seasons.
Once again, the Rangers have plenty of depth, from top to bottom.
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