Memo to John Tortorella: You have enough to be concerned about coaching the New York Rangers, you don’t need to be chastising Ranger fans because they are booing Donald Brashear.

Here is what Tortorella said following the Rangers 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals.

“I don’t know what’s going on there,” Tortorella said to Michael Obernauer of the Daily News. “Donald Brashear’s gonna be a big part of the hockey club. I just don’t think he needs to be disrespected. I think you (media) guys disrespected him when we brought him in here, I think that started the ball rolling.”

Okay, it is one thing to attack the fans, but once you start calling out the media then you are really in trouble in New York.

Let’s face it; you are never going to win when you start a verbal war with the fans or the media. All Torts has to do is take a look at his boss’s relationship with the fans and the media.

Glen Sather has been the frequent target for the fans and media for years. Sather’s relationship with the New York media is frosty at best given he is accessible to them as Punxatawny Phil is on the other 364 days of the year. It gets even worse because Sather seems more amenable to speaking with the Canadian media as opposed to those in his own backyard.

As for Slats’ relationship with the fans, his results speak for themselves. However, the Rangers President/GM took it to new heights when he blamed the fans and their less than enthusiastic demeanor for the Rangers missing the playoffs in 2003.

“Well, that’s the way it works in sports. You cheer and help the team get better. You boo them, they get worse,” Bob Raissman of the Daily News quoted Sather as saying in an MSG SportsDesk interview. “It’s the same as your children. If you have a child who is having trouble in school and you berate him every day he’s never going to get any better. You encourage him. . . . he’ll get better.”

The Rangers coach really needs to spend a day reviewing Rangers history to see how long and far Ranger fans are willing to carry a grudge. The fans still enjoy a good “Potvin Sucks” chant every now and then over 30 years after Potvin’s clean hot that broke Ulf Nilsson’s ankle in February 1979. Yes, the check was clean and the broken ankle probably had more to do with the Garden’s lousy ice than anything else.

If Ranger fans are still willing to tweak Potvin and New York Islander fans after all of these years, why would they be so willing to bury the hatchet with Brashear a few months after his heinous hit on Blair Betts? Even Brashear realizes that Rome wasn’t built in a day and his acceptance by Ranger fans will take time.

“I know it seems like a tough crowd, (but) I will find a way to win their hearts,” Brashear said to Steve Zipay of Newsday. “I got a feel for what they like, that is for sure.”

If Brashear wants to win the Garden’s heart, he might want to lay the smackdown on a couple of Devils, Islanders and Flyers along the way.


• If last night’s lines hold true, then Tortorella will be doing Artem Anisimov a big disfavor. Putting the youngster on the fourth line is not going to do much in the way of helping his development. While spending another year in Hartford isn’t the best alternative either, it beats getting limited ice time given that Torts likes to roll three lines. If he isn’t going to crack the top three lines, then Anisimov should be assigned to Hartford where he can center the first line with Evgeny Grachev on his wing. It could be a case of one step backwards in order to take two steps forward – especially if they name Anisimov captain or one of the alternates. Use his time in the AHL as a way for Anisimov to flex some leadership skills and help pave the way for Grachev’s, and his own, future in the NHL. Anisimov would be the first recall when the inevitable injury bug hits or when Aaron Voros’ bubble bursts again.
• While most people talk about the excitement Marian Gaborik is going to bring, I am looking forward to what Matt Gilroy will bring to the table. The winner of the Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award as the best rookie in training camp is the player I most want to watch. It has been a long time since we have seen a Rangers blueliner so ready, willing and able to join the play or take the puck deep. A lot of that has to do with Gilroy playing forward for most of his life before being converted to defense as a walk-on at Boston University. He is an easy player to root for given the reason why he wears #97. It is a tribute to his late brother Timmy who died after a bicycle accident at the age of seven. Matt decided that he would honor his brother by always wearing his #97. If you want to read a great story on Gilroy, check out George Vecsey’s NY Times article

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