Wed 29 May 2013
Somewhere Sean Avery is smiling because he got his wish in the end – the Rangers firing coach John Tortorella. Now is not the time to delve into an in-depth at what happened and why it happened. The news is still fresh and the rumor mill will need time to start churning out potential replacements.
No, today is about asking questions and hearing from Rangers President/GM Glen Sather. Today can be considered a Groundhog’s Day Redux because Sather awoke from his mid-spring slumber in Banff to address the media – a chore that both he and his deposed coach just love to do (he said sarcastically).
I did not get a chance to listen to the conference call Sather had with the media, but it lasted about 20 or so minutes. God forbid Sather actually stumble onto a plane and meet with the media. I guess he is saving that for mid-June or so when he hires Pierre McGuire as the new Rangers coach – talk about a true God forbid moment.
As things stand now, Mike Sullivan is still around. However, that might just be to have someone around to turn the lights on and off. I guess Jim Schoenfeld could have done that, but with the Draft upcoming and the re-launch of the Hartford Wolf Pack, he might be busy – unless he is on the shortlist of candidates … and that might not be bad thing.
One interesting note from the conference call was what Sather said when he was asked about his future.
Sather responded, “I don’t know what you are talking about with all the roles, I don’t sharpen the skates here, I gave that up. I will continue as GM for next season.”
I wonder if he is looking to quietly fade into the sunset? It is interesting how he limited himself to “next season”.
Anyway, here are some Sather snippets from the conference call with my “translation”/response supplied.
Sather: “Every coach has a shelf life.”
Anthony: “So does every General Manager so Torts had to go before they canned me.”
Sather: “There’s a lot of good coaches around with different qualities…”
Anthony: “The wrinkled old man has his eye on someone and is afraid he might be gone. Lindy Ruff has spoken to Dallas and Don Maloney is trying to re-sign Dave Tippett. He better pass on Alain Vigneault.”
As an aside, Bob McKenzie tweeted that Vigneault was on the Rangers shortlist when they hired Bryan Trottier, but the former Canucks boss did not get an interview.
Speaking of Vancouver, one longshot candidate, Dallas Eakins, is interviewing in Vancouver. Could Slats have pulled the trigger on Torts because he couldn’t run the risk of not getting a shot to talk to Eakins?
Sather on Lundqvist comments: “It didn’t have anything to do with it. We plan on signing Henrik to a long-term contract.”
Anthony: “If it looks like a duck and quack likes a duck, it is a duck. If it had NOTHING to do with Hank why wait four days to fire your coach and risk losing one of those ‘good coaches’?”
Sather: “Can’t predict what new coach’s system will be like”
Anthony: “It will be whatever system that gets Hank to put his Johann Hancock on to a contract extension. Besides, we change systems around here as often as I chew on cigars”
Sather: “I think if you are not in the Stanley Cup and not winning it your season hasn’t been a success.”
Anthony: “Hmm, GM since June 2000 and he hasn’t been to a Stanley Cup Final, never mind win one. I guess that makes Sather a ‘non-success’”
Sather: Said that benching Brad Richards was an “organizational decision.”
Anthony: “You guys should have known Torts was a goner back then when I had B-Rich benched.”
Sather: “It was the choice of how we’re going to get better”.
Anthony: “The choice to get better – GM Jeff Gorton.”
Ultimately, there are three questions that need to be answered in the coming days following the firing of Tortorella.
1. Why did Sather decide to fire Torts?
2. Who replaces Tortorella?
3. How many more coaches does Sather get to hire/fire?
We know that the Rangers are a whole different ballgame when it comes to Garden involvement in the day-to-day running of the franchise. James Dolan does not pretend to know anything about hockey, unlike his forays into being the GM behind the GM of the New York Knicks.
As a result, this decision was Sather’s and Sather’s alone. For those who were anti-Tortorella and called for his firing, you got your wish. However, to them I say be careful of what you wish for. Sometimes it is better to keep the devil you know then the devil you don’t know.
Truth be told I would have kept Tortorella as the Rangers coach – with some conditions. He would have needed to hire a coach or consultant, if you wish, to work on the power play. Sometimes a new perspective is needed.
I also would have talked about adjusting the Rangers defensive zone coverage a bit. The Rangers get pinned in their own zone so much, and for so long, because the forwards are collapsing too much in an attempt to choke off the shooting lanes. Putting the forwards at the top of the circle might have provided a happy medium where they could still be in position to block shots and be in position to break up the passes to the points.
I wonder how the anti-Tortorella camp will react if, at the press conference to announce the hiring of a new coach, GM Glen Sather says, “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the newest Head Coach of the New York Rangers – Pierre McGuire.”
Okay, enough analysis for now. I have more to say and will in the coming days as things take shape in the wonderful world of Rangers-Land where there is never a dull moment – in-season or in the off-season.
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