New York Rangers: Why Duguay’s absence is a good thing
This week, New York Rangers alum Ron Duguay announced that he will not be returning to the MSG studio analysis team. While it’s normal to mourn, this will be more of a gain than a loss for the hockey community.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Ron Duguay, possibly one of the most well-known New York Rangers in franchise history, would not be returning to his role as a studio analyst.
He thanked multiple fans for their support over the years via Twitter over the past few days as well. Steve Valiquette will return to the team for this upcoming season, though it is unclear whether or not someone will be hired to work alongside him or not.
Though Duguay was once a beloved player, and he even had some support as an analyst, some things were clearly problematic about his 12-year run with MSG. Since he played between 1977 and 1989, his views on both hockey and the world are pretty dated.
His opinions on things like fighting and women’s hockey are straight out of that time period. Even though Ron Duguay had a great playing career and will remain visible in the community his departure from the MSG studio analysis team is more of a blessing in disguise.
History as a player/analyst
Ron Duguay began playing in the NHL in 1977. In his rookie year with the New York Rangers, he recorded 40 points in 71 games, in the form of 20 goals and 20 assists.
He spent eight seasons with the team, six of them between 1977-1978 and 1982-1983, and the other two in 1986-1987 and 1987-1988. His highest point total as a Ranger came in the 1981-1982 season, notching 40 goals and 36 assists for 76 points in 72 games.
During the 1984-1985 season, his second with the Detroit Red Wings after leaving the Rangers, he had his best year points-wise, recording 89 points made up of 38 goals and 51 assists in 80 games. The forward retired after finishing his career with the Los Angeles Kings over the course of the 1988-1989 season.
He completed his playing career with 864 games played, 274 goals scored, 346 assists recorded, and 620 points. During his career, Duguay was known for hanging out with celebrities and indulging in everything the 1980s had to offer to a young person with money.
Duguay then began his job as a studio analyst in 2006. He was well-known for his extravagant suits and outfits, as well as his out-of-date commentary about the teams who were playing. Most of the time, Duguay’s points boiled down to the Rangers were playing soft and needed more snarl in their game.
Often times, co-analyst Steve Valiquette gave more accurate analysis and opinions that made more sense. Valiquette is where the modern tv studio show is trending, a former player that has embraced analytics to explain things in depth.
Though Ron Duguay will forever be a member of the New York Rangers community because of his long, successful career as a player, a large portion of the fanbase was able to recognize that he just doesn’t know the game as well as he used to.
Women’s hockey controversy
Over the past few years, more reasons why Ron Duguay should not be a studio analyst for the New York Rangers have come to light. One of the more recent examples was how he treated a poorly officiated game between the Rangers and Los Angeles Kings this past season.
He stated that the officials “would have been better off doing women’s hockey” because “the way they did the officiating, they were kind of soft.”
He was met with tons of criticism across the board, and rightfully so. Although no checking is allowed in women’s hockey as of right now, the rest of the rules are exactly the same as in the NHL.
Duguay could have chosen to criticize the referees in any other way, but he chose to do so by being sexist and ignorant. He tried to clarify his intentions by saying that he “felt like they didn’t officiate a very rough game”, drawing the comparison because “in women’s hockey, there’s no hitting.”
He was quick to reassure us all that he has “nothing against women’s hockey”, in fact, he loves it, and he doesn’t “want the women angry with what [he] said.” While the effort was there, this just felt like backtracking more than anything else.
The National Woman’s Hockey League (NWHL) didn’t hesitate to respond, calling him out on liking the tweets of those who were defending him, blocking Twitter users who criticized him, and not truly meaning anything in his apology.
Duguay attended the NWHL’s Isobel Cup Final in Newark, New Jersey between the Metropolitan Riveters and Buffalo Beauts this past March, where the Riveters won their first ever Isobel Cup. Although he seemed to get along with the Riveters’ players, it didn’t feel like much more than an attempt to clear his name.
Outdated views on fighting
Another problematic thing about Ron Duguay’s views on hockey is how he feels about physicality and fighting. As mentioned earlier, he criticized referees in for not officiating more physical plays in a game between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings in January of 2018. However, he seems to have changed how he feels about the topic.
In a preseason game between the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens, Max Domi, a new member of the Canadiens’ squad, seemingly randomly punched Panthers’ fan-favorite Aaron Ekblad. The two players were battling for the puck in a corner of the rink when Ekblad pushed Domi to try to get away from him, a perfectly normal play.
The Canadiens’ forward was clearly very unhappy about this, beginning to almost punch Ekblad with both of their gloves still on, grabbing on to the Panther’s jersey and pushing him around. The Panthers’ defenseman showed no signs of wanting to fight, looking ahead at the action on the ice and getting his head back into the game. Domi then dropped one glove and dropped Ekblad to the ground with one punch, getting kicked from the game and suspended for the remainder of the preseason.
Now, how does Ron Duguay tie into all of this?
On Twitter, he quoted a statement denying that the play was a “sucker punch” by Domi and claiming that Ekblad should not have looked away because it seemed like an altercation would have happened. Duguay responded to the tweet with one word; “correct.”
Because of this comment, it would be silly to have Duguay still involved with analyzing in the hockey world. This punch was clearly out of line, and Domi probably should have gotten an even harsher punishment for it.
Thinking that there was nothing wrong with Domi’s retaliation against Ekblad is a dangerous point of view. The NHL has a long sad history of sucker punches altering careers and affecting livelihoods. The darkest moment in modern NHL history, when Todd Bertuzzi sucker punched Steve Moore literally ended Moore’s career.
There is nothing wrong with encouraging some toughness, but violence for the sake of violence is simply not where the NHL is at in this point in time.
Though Ron Duguay did a lot for the New York Rangers in the 70’s and 80’s and was a beloved in-studio analyst for years, his outdated and oblivious opinions make it obvious that it’s time for him to depart from his role with the team.