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Pressure to Play Redden?

Surely by now you have all read coach John Tortorella’s comments on breakup day. For those of you that have not, I’m going to quote what I’m analyzing in this post, with the bolded sections being of more importance:

“I’ve talked to Glen about this. I’d like to see us get younger. I’d like to see us add to our core and grow together. And then we’re not adding 10 pieces this year. I think that’s important. I think Henrik’s at an important time of his career; I think we’ve got Gaborik who’s a legitimate star—I don’t like the way he has played in big games; I think he still needs to cross the line there and play better in big games. But we’ve got some pieces here. I think Rozsival has grown his game to be more competitive. So there’s some good things with the core. But I think we need to add to it with some youth, and grow it together.”

Said he would have liked to have been able to use Weise, and not sure about how Grachev’s year went, would like to see more of Potter. “Again, I’d love to get younger.”

Now, one can read this quote two ways. First, you have the obvious of what he is stating: he would like to get younger, but he feels he has a core of veterans that should be sticking around. He specifically mentions Michal Rozsival by name as a player in that core. He also mentions specific players that would help make the team younger, specifically Dale Weise and Corey Potter. I will analyze more of this a little more in a separate post.

Before I begin, I want to make it well known that this is not about Wade Redden the person. From what I understand, Redden is a very nice, very likable guy. This is about Redden the symbol, the symbol that ownership and management may have really “screwed the pooch” on this one. The symbol that there may be more to the coaching selections for defense than what meets the eye. Again, this is not about Wade Redden the person.

What I notice here is that Wade Redden was not mentioned. Clearly, through other quotes, Tortorella and Redden do not see eye to eye, and it it abundantly clear that Torts does not want Redden on the team next year. I am just speculating here, but reading in between the lines of what Tortorella has said; why would Tortorella continue to play Redden if he wants to see more of Corey Potter? Potter is NHL ready, and Redden was having a horrible year.

Now again, I am just speculating here, but it could be possible that upper management and ownership was pressuring the coaching staff into playing Redden. This scenario would certainly answer a lot of questions that Rangers fans have regarding Redden, his play, and the seventh defenseman. If ownership was indeed pressuring the coaches to play Redden, then the seventh defenseman would have been both unnecessary and a huge risk. Should the seventh defenseman, specifically Potter, play better than Redden, Rangers fans would absolutely mutiny when Redden is inserted back into the lineup.

The Rangers front office and coaching staff are reaching an important juncture in their relationship. If management wants John Tortorella to stick around, then his input on the roster decisions is going to have to be honored. It cannot be any clearer that Torts does not want Redden around. From my speculation, it seems clear that ownership is not ready to call the Wade Redden Experiment a failure just yet. With continued pressure to play the struggling defenseman, is it possible for this Rangers team to be better than mediocre? Can the Rangers improve their situation without dumping Redden’s contract? Unless you can predict the future, the answer to that question is simply unknown. What is know, however, is that ownership and the coaching staff are divided on this issue. The 2010 offseason could be the offseason that defines the Rangers organization for years to come, whichever way this situation is resolved.

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