The New York Rangers have fired general manager Jeff Gorton and president John Davidson, and have promoted Chris Drury to president and GM effective immediately, the team announced Wednesday.
"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," Rangers owner James Dolan said in a statement.
It's a stunning move considering the Rangers are on the tail end of a rebuild, one they completed ahead of schedule.
Drury, 44, a former Rangers player, had received interest from other teams for their general manager positions over the past two years but had turned them down to remain New York's associate GM under Davidson and Gorton.
"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," Dolan said. "We are confident he will effectively guide the team to ensure the long-term success we promised Rangers fans."
Former Rangers GM Glen Sather, now a senior adviser, will work with Drury in his transition and continue in his consulting role.
Rangers legend Mark Messier, during an appearance Wednesday on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York, was asked whether he'd want to be involved with the team.
"I've made it very clear that I've been standing by, ready to help out in any way, for many years, so ... other than that I don't really know what else to say," Messier replied.
New York has three games remaining and was eliminated from playoff contention Monday with a loss. Although many of the team's young players and prospects made big strides this season, it's been a tumultuous season in New York.
On Tuesday, the Rangers released a statement calling for the removal of George Parros, head of the NHL Department of Player Safety, after the league opted not to suspend Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson for a pair of incidents in a game Monday night.
According to sources, Gorton and Davidson were not involved with the issuing of that statement; it came from Dolan's office.
The team also dismissed defenseman Tony DeAngelo in February after a postgame altercation with teammates following a loss. The Rangers had signed DeAngelo to a two-year, $9.6 million contract extension this past October. They were unable to trade the 25-year-old this season and told him not to report to their AHL team, as they didn't want him around the organization, sources said.
Later in February, star winger Artemi Panarin took a leave of absence from the team after allegations surfaced that he had assaulted a woman in Latvia in 2011. The Rangers called the story a fabrication and a way to intimidate Panarin for "being outspoken on recent political events" in his native Russia. Panarin has since rejoined the team, and the claims were never corroborated.
Gorton was in his 14th season with the Rangers and his sixth season as general manager. Davidson, a longtime broadcaster, returned to the organization in 2019 after a stint as the Columbus Blue Jackets' president.
After sending a letter to fans in February 2018 calling for a rebuild, the Rangers landed the No. 2 pick of the 2019 draft (Kaapo Kakko) and No. 1 in 2020 (Alexis Lafrenière). New York also inked Panarin to a seven-year, $81.5 million deal in 2019 free agency. In his first season in New York, Panarin was a top-three Hart Trophy finalist.
The Rangers have almost entirely turned over from the team that made it to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Chris Kreider is the only remaining player on the roster from that team.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.