I received word yesterday when I was in a meeting and Mrs. Suit texted me asking if the story of Tortorella’s firing was true. Seconds later my phone buzzed again and it was Dave with the same news. Within minutes my phone would blow up and it wouldn’t stop all afternoon. Whatever else happened in that meeting I was in I couldn’t tell you. Needless to say, I was stunned and I wasn’t in a setting where I could get answers.
Torts was my guy and I thought he deserved another year. It’s no secret I have been a staunch supporter of his over the past 4+ seasons, probably more so than anyone else who covers this team. I’ve never admitted it on this blog, but I have met Torts away from the pressures of the season on several occasions. Every time I came away with the same impression. That’s a guy I’d go to hell and back with. He takes over a room like few others I have encountered in this business.
And these experiences played a part in why I even contribute to this site. A few years ago I was reading a lot of irrational, knee jerk reaction type stuff about Torts and the coaching discipline in general. That inspired me to dig in on the inner workings of the game and seek out experienced hockey people who would help me shed light on the x’s and o’s.
With that said, my allegiance will always be with the Rangers. Not Tortorella, not Glen Sather, not even Henrik Lundqvist. They are all just disposable heroes in the end. My one true allegiance is to the crest, the blue, red and white. I hope all of you, even those of you who frequently disagree with me remember that.
And that’s what has me concerned about his firing. It’s really not about my personal interactions with the man, or even all of the hours I spent analyzing his every move. It’s about the direction of this team. Right now, I can’t say with any certainty that I truly understand what direction this ship is headed in. If Torts was fired because he refused to hire a power play coach or get behind a Brad Richards buyout, I can live with that. I’d even admire it, even though I disagree with both points.
There are rumors flyings around though about a small group of players turning on Tortorella and going to Sather asking for his dismissal. We’ll never know if that’s true, but if it is, that shouldn’t make anyone sleep easy. The minute you make a player bigger than the coach or the team is the minute your team unity dies. That kind of culture never breeds championships. It’s how organizations become dysfunctional, and it leaves me with more questions than answers.
Was Cally one of those players, or did others go over the Captains head? Was it Richie because he got benched? That would be a joke. Was it Boyle? Because that man should call Torts and thank him for giving him a career. Even Hank shouldn’t have that kind of power. He’s a goalie. He should be worried about stopping the puck, nothing else. I love Hank, but Torts left him alone after bad playoff performances. You think Vigneault or Bylsma would do the same? Careful what you wish for boys.
What worries me even more are the potential replacements. The candidates that have been mentioned so far would all be lateral moves IMO. Ruff and Ron Wilson are even tougher versions of Torts, minus the hardware. Guy Boucher and Tippett have implemented passive 1-2-2 or 1-3-1 neutral zone forechecks everywhere they’ve been. Hags and Kreider being forced to stand around in the neutral zone sure doesn’t sound like an exciting brand of hockey to me. Vigneault probably had one of the best teams on paper the last several years, but he couldn’t get it done either.
Personally, I’d rather see Glen hire an NHL assistant or maybe even an AHL coach. Maybe Gernander deserves a shot, or someone young who can work with our youth. Of course, I don’t know how hiring a coach who is more patient with rookie defensive mistakes translates to a Cup next year. Seems counter to what Hank apparently wants.
Look, I don’t know what the hell Sather is looking for from his 6th coach. Nor did I expect him to come out and tell us what happened behind the scenes. However, I would have appreciated an explanation of what he’s looking for moving forward. At least that is what he did with Renney. Instead, Sather is hitting the reset button — again.
You may not have liked what Torts had to say, but at least he was honest. Now it’s back to Sather treating the fans like mushrooms. Feeding us crap and keeping us in the dark. Whoever he hires, I promise to break down his every move just like I did with Torts.