Rangers mailbag: How Jacob Trouba can live up to the hype

You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Rangers.

I’ve been watching the Rangers for nearly 50 years and am very impressed with the job David Quinn is doing. How would you rate him against Mike Keenan and Emile Francis? — Steve Collins

Though I too respect the job done by David Quinn in developing a young team in his two years on the job, it is wildly premature to compare him to, A) the only coach to win a Stanley Cup for the Rangers over the last 80 years; and, B) the coach who holds the franchise record for victories.

Quinn does have 17 more regular-season victories behind the Blueshirts bench than Keenan (69-52), so there is that.

In your opinion, could the Rangers have won the Cup in ’94 by keeping Mike Gartner instead of trading him for Glenn Anderson? — Bill Martin

Unless there was something specifically off-putting or destructive in the way Gartner interacted with his teammates, I don’t see why not. I do know that Keenan felt that Gartner did not have the necessities to succeed in Stanley Cup competition and all but insisted that GM Neil Smith move the sniper at the deadline. Hence, the deal in which Gartner went to the Maple Leafs in exchange for Anderson, a fourth-rounder and the rights to defenseman Scott Malone.

Anderson, then 33, had won five Cups with the Oilers and played with a mean-edged physical element that Gartner lacked.

The fact is, though, that Gartner recorded 14 goals and 12 assists in 29 playoff games with the Rangers, going 8-8-16 in 13 games in the 1992 tournament. Anderson scored three goals in ’94 for the Blueshirts, one in the conference finals against New Jersey and a pair (one apiece in Games 2 and 3) in the final against Vancouver.

It seems Jacob Trouba has taken a lot of undeserved criticism for his play this season. I think trading him prior to his NMC kicking in would be a mistake. How has his season played out in your opinion? — Sam Mishaan

I thought Trouba brought an important physical presence to the back line and displayed an admirable work ethic. But I also believe that he was erratic, not only from game to game but from shift to shift, in his adjustment from moving from Winnipeg to New York. The Rangers will need more consistency in Trouba’s game in order for him to fill the role as first-unit, matchup right D.

Which team lost its most important player before or during the playoffs yet still managed to win the Cup without him? — Richard

A 21-year-old Gordie Howe had finished his fourth NHL season with 35 goals and 68 points, good for second and third, respectively, in the league, before sustaining a fractured skull in the first game of the first round of the playoffs against Toronto. The Red Wings persevered to take the Stanley Cup in a seven-game final against the Rangers, taking the final two matches including the Game 7 double-overtime victory. The final four games, and five overall, were played at the Olympia in Detroit. Two games were played in Toronto as the Garden was unavailable due to the circus commandeering the arena.

More recently, the Avalanche were able to win the 2001 Cup by defeating the cavalier, defending champion Devils in a seven-game final despite the absence of Peter Forsberg, who had his spleen removed after the second round.

James Dolan is vilified and criticized as the Knicks owner, but is doing a great job as the Rangers owner. Why the difference? — Joey Price

I cannot speak to the dynamics on the Knicks side, but Dolan has been an exemplary owner presiding over the Rangers while leaving the hockey business to the hockey people.

I’m interested if the NHL considered allowing a man-advantage penalty to be enforced after a failed penalty shot. Seems it might allow for some games to not go to the skills/shootout as a result. — Lawrence R. Adair

I don’t believe this has ever been on the agenda. I doubt it would fly. But how about changing the rule so that any player, rather than the individual fouled on the play, could take the shot? That’s the way it is done, for instance, when a player closes his hand on the puck in the crease.

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