When John Tortorella took up his post as Head Coach of the New York Rangers, he promised to bring changes to the scene. He promised us a more up-tempo and offensive system while demanding a harder working attitude by his players on the ice. But most importantly he promised to hold players accountable for their actions; no matter how long they have been in the league or how many "zeros" are on the end of their checks.
Thus far we have seen very little of what we have been promised. Tortorella has implemented a go-go offensive system, but it can't produce shots, let alone quality scoring chances, or even goals on a nightly basis. Blame seems to fall on everyone, yet no one seems to actually be held accountable for their actions. The old Tortorella who would bench Vincent Lacavalier for not back checking on a goal seems unwilling to do the same with anyone on the Rangers. Instead Tortorella turns his fury to the media, where he has had various blow-ups and blow-offs, fire we would have expected to see behind the bench.
Blame can fall in a ton of places, and it does. The defense is too weak in front of Henrik Lundqvist, giving opposing players clear and clean lanes to deflect shots or bowl him over. They are soft in the corners, can't seem to keep pucks out of the slot, and they never punish anyone for skating in the zone with their heads down. The offense can't score goals, not too much more to say here. You all know the problems, you don't need me to highlight them.
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But what I haven't seen is Tortorella taking it upon himself to make some real changes. A famous quote from Tom Renney when he was here was: "if they are doing things right I'll stand behind them, if they are doing things wrong I'll stand in front of them." For all the flak that I gave Renney I do miss him. I like a coach who steps up and says "what's happening is my fault right now, and I'm going to fix it."
What I'm trying to get at is that the finger of blame is slowly rotating onto Tortorella. His systems, ideologies, and demands are not being met, nor are they being executed on the ice. The team is a game away from .500, and is one or two losses away from freefalling out of a playoff spot. The exciting and optimistic team we saw through first eight games of the season are so far gone that you couldn't reach them if you were traveling on the Concord.
Let's get one thing clear here; Tortorella isn't going anywhere, at least not this season. Not only is it bad business to fire a coach after just a year and some change at the helm, it also sends a horrible message to future free agents and potential replacements that this is a team in disarray. Even though the team is in disarray, they probably don't want it so noticeable to the public. The other issue we see with Tortorella is that if he were fired it would be the 5thcoach that Sather has had the privilege of removing (counting himself). Any other General Manager would have been fired for much less, but not here in New York.
If Tortorella truly believes that is this a playoff team, and by his comments to the press he does, then he needs to step up and make some real changes. Maybe Artem Anisimov and Sean Averyshould see more than 12 minutes a game. Maybe Anisimov should see more than 48 seconds of power play time a game, since you aren't just developing him for this year, but the future as well. Perhaps Matt Gilroy should see more power play time than Michal Rozsival, since you are also developing him for the future. Maybe Tortorella should loses the leash on Sean Avery, so he can continue to be as effective as he has been the past two games. And what about giving Enver Lisin the shot he was never offered, since he brought just as much heart and soul to this team as anyone else night in and night out.
There are tons of moves that can be made, tons of changes we might be able to see. But the only way this team is going to go anywhere, is if Tortorella looks in the mirror and realizes that he is part of the problem, and he doesn't appear to be fixing it.