It’s long been known by both Knicks and Rangers fans, as well as the media who covers them, that Dolan operates MSG behind an Iron Curtain. Interviews are rarely given, team analysis is supposedly directed to never focus on the negatives, and the message always appears to be very controlled.
Things were so bad a couple of years back that when Dolan hired Donnie Walsh, Donnie had to answer a litany of questions at his first press conference about whether his media policy would be any less stringent than past regimes. Things have improved a little on the Knicks side since then, but the relationship between the Rangers Front Office and the fans/media remains tense.
Glen Sather has been the Rangers GM for over a decade, and Rangers fans still don’t know him any better than they did the day he moved to New York from Edmonton. Whether or not this is because of Dolan’s policy or because Sather is just aloof is unclear. Either way, how many times can you say you have heard the man speak? Now compare them to beloved Capitals owner, Ted Leonsis. Big difference right? Well, Ted blogs, tweets, and does interviews.
Then there is Tortorella, who operates in a Tom Coughlin/Bill Belichick, close-to-the-vest type fashion when it comes to divulging information. He’s quick to tell you what he thinks of your questions (as Larry Brooks can attest to), but not so much about his reasoning behind his decisions.
All of this makes me think of The Joker’s infamous line, why so serious?
And why are they so serious? What could Torts or Glen possibly say that will distract or disrupt this team? A better question, will their inhibitions with the media affect what we see on HBO’s 24/7?
The optimist in me says that Bettman called these guys and explained the positive effect this show had on how people view and understand professional hockey. The pessimist in me says that the Rangers PR department will demand to see the final edit and cut out anything diehard hockey fans might find interesting.
If the Rangers Front Office is smart they will use 24/7 to their advantage, and this includes how we perceive Sather and Tortorella as people. For Torts, by allowing us into his office and into the Rangers locker room unfiltered, we can learn what it truly takes to coach a young and upcoming hockey team in the world’s toughest city. For Sather, I am willing to bet all my silk ties that if he actually opens up to HBO’s cameras, he will change cynical opinions of him FOR THE BETTER.
Remember, people always fear what they can’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer. Maybe it’s time for Rangers fans to understand what really goes on behind close doors. Maybe it will be a start to repairing our relationship.