As the Rangers went through their end-of-season physicals and met with the coaching staff yesterday at the MSG Training Center, they also gave their take on the 2002-03 Blueshirt campaign.
The resounding theme in the locker room was one of disappointment, but there was also a sense of togetherness and optimism looking ahead at next season.
Nonetheless, the players were left thinking about what what went wrong this season.
MATTHEW BARNABY: We really didn't do enough good things at the right time. Early on, we had some key injuries that really hurt us, but we're not going to use that as an excuse. There are a lot of teams that have injuries and a find a way around it. We didn't find a way around it.
BOBBY HOLIK: I hold myself and the entire team to a high standard. The part of the season that's the most fun to be a part of (the playoffs), we're not participating.
Starting tomorrow, I want to be better. This (not making the playoffs) is something that I can't live with. As a hockey player, I don't have a good feeling right now.
DARIUS KASPARAITIS: Not making the playoffs is a big disappointment for me. When I signed here last summer, I looked at the lineup and was almost certain we'd make the playoffs. It'll just make me and the other guys work even harder this off-season.
We have to forget who we are as individuals and play for the team. We have to play for the logo in front of the jersey instead of the name on the back.
ALEX KOVALEV: I think you would expect to score a lot more goals with a team like we have. But it's not about how many good players you have. It's about chemistry and how hard you're competing and how bad you want it.
BRIAN LEETCH: I'm disappointed, but I liked the way our team is at the end here. With (Alexei) Kovalev and (Anson) Carter coming and Dunham playing so well, those are the people I'm excited to be with next year.
ERIC LINDROS: We won a couple here and there but we never really got on a solid roll. We never really strung together five or seven games in a row or took advantage of home ice. I think that was a big key.
MARK MESSIER: It's disappointing the way we played this year. I felt all along that we were good enough to make the playoffs. Our goal is to do more, though. We want to win the Stanley Cup. We didn't do any of it, so it's not a good feeling right now. We have to be honest with the assessments that we make this summer. It's quite evident that we didn't play to our potential. Now we have to figure out why.
PETR NEDVED: We weren't able to win enough of the games against the teams at the bottom of the league. I think that's one of the biggest reasons as to why we're not in the playoffs. A lot of times with these teams, we'd get behind the eight-ball to start and be down 1-0 or 2-0 early. Then the other team plays the trap and we're forcing things out there. When you're down by a few goals, you have to start taking some chances and we weren't able to win those games.