For the Rangers, The Seasons Don't Change

When the Rangers take on the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night, it will be the 82nd game of the John Tortorella regime, meaning he has essentially spent a full season as Rangers head coach.

When a politician runs for President against an incumbent, they love to ask the question, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

Well Ranger fans, are the Rangers any better off than they were a "season" ago?

First let's look at the record: John Tortorella is 38-34-9 in his tenure as Rangers coach, not counting an 0-3 stint as interim coach in 2000. Tom Renney was fired in 2009 with a record of 31-23-7.

Renney was fired because the Rangers were lackluster in every department, were playing lifeless hockey, and not scoring goals. What's changed? I'll ask you again: Are the Rangers any better off than they were a "season" ago?

Check out these two quotes:

"We had lost our zip at some point, we were a fast, puck-possessive hockey club that was determined and worked very hard and moved the puck well. We've gotten away from that and that's why we made the change."

"Torts is certainly a lot more fiery and a lot different in his approach to the game and the players, He's going to bring that fiery attitude, and a lot of the games we seemed to be missing it."

That was Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather, commenting on the firing of Renney, and the reason for hiring Tortorella.

A "season" later, have they regained any of those qualities?

Plenty more after the break...........

They say in sports that a team takes on the personality of its coach. I would argue this team has no personality whatsoever. They aren't a defensive team, they aren't an offensive team, they aren't a "feisty" team, a "fiery" team, and they most certainly are not a hard-working team.

What the Rangers are is an inconsistent team, capable of playing good solid hockey one night, and awful, mistake-ridden hockey the next. Sometimes it is period to period, even shift to frustrating shift.

Mostly what Tortorella has done since taken over is contradict himself. He has benched players for losing their composure (Avery), all while playing the "do as I say, not as I throw" card when getting himself suspended during the playoffs for an altercation with Capitals fans, and tossing a water bottle at them.

He frequently loses his composure on the bench at his players and referees. He loses his composure off the ice as well, with Larry Brooks of the NY Post being his favorite target. Tortorella often talks about not crossing the line, but that line is drawn in invisible ink when it comes to himself.

Despite what we were told heading into this season, underachieving veterans are still being given premium ice time, and the chance to underperform night after night.  We witnessed the "Enver Lesson", when the enigmatic young winger was dressed and benched for an entire game against Pittsburgh in November, we've seen Matt Gilroy shipped to Hartford to correct his game ("three games seems like enough, bring him back"), and Brandon Dubinsky has also spent time on the pine, but veterans don't pay the same price.

After the humiliating loss to the Islanders in December, Chris Drury was dropped to the fourth line for the next game. That lasted all of about three shifts. Michal Rozsival has also sat out a period here and there, and of course we all remember the two Wade Redden-less games where we all dreamed of a world where $6.5M anchors don't exist, and despite Ilkka Heikkinen and Bobby Sanguinetti doing nothing to warrant not playing, Redden was reinstalled in the lineup, where he has resumed playing lifeless, emotionless hockey. The "sense of entitlement" Tortorella complained about still seems to be alive and thriving on Broadway.

Tortorella has often talked about his team not being tough enough, not working hard enough and  yet players who may be able to provide that type of play (Dane Byers) are left to languish in Hartford. The enforcer that was brought in (Donald Brashear) appears to have nothing left in the tank, except money, which he will collect plenty of from the Rangers until the end of the 2010-11 season, unless someone is crazy enough to pluck him off waivers.

Lines are constantly juggled, no chemistry is given any time to develop. Earlier this season, Artem Anisimov was installed on the first line with Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal. After two games, that experiment was scrapped as well. How is a young team supposed to develop this way?

You can make the argument that younger players such as Gilroy, Del Zotto, and Anisimov are getting playing time under Tortorella that they might not have gotten under the previous regime, but it seems that at the very least the young defensemen have regressed somewhat from the beginning of the season, which makes you wonder if this coaching staff is getting through to them.

Actually. When you look back at all the inconsistencies of the John Tortorella regime so far, perhaps this team has indeed taken on the personality of its coach.

So ask yourself, are the Rangers any better a "season" later?

 

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