Archive for Coaching Moves

This past week John Tortorella was interviewed on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN NY radio. During the interview Torts was pretty candid about what went down after the season had ended. He discussed his great relationship with Henrik Lundqvist, his frequent disagreements with Glen Sather and how none of the players complained to him about his systems or philosophies during their exit interviews. Torts also discussed what he thought he could have done better as head coach of the Rangers, particularly against the Bruins who he admitted had better depth and an ability to roll four lines.

Although John’s post-game press conferences often left much to be desired, I always found his interviews on The Michael Kay Show to be quite the opposite and often counter to his persona. If anything, it’s an interesting interview and I think it may offer a little bit of closure to those of us who supported Torts during his tenure here.

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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.

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Ranger Tidbits: Sullivan and Cherepanov

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As expected, but definitely taking longer than initially planned, Mike Sullivan will be the new Rangers assistant coach for next season. The announcement will be coming today. This should actually qualify as old news, but since the announcement is coming today, it’s worth mentioning.

Also, Blueshirt Banter is reporting that the Avengard Omsk doctors have been cleared in the death of Ranger prospect Alexei Cherepanov, and are not to blame for his tragic death.

The committee said medical experts suspect Cherepanov felt unwell because of his condition but hid the fact from team doctors for fear of being pulled from games.

“Avangard team doctors not only could not have diagnosed Cherepanov with chronic myocarditis while he was living, but could not have even suspected it,” the statement said. It said detailed annual checkups since 2002 revealed no heart or circulation problems.

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What Could Have Been….

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“It has been said something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.” – Chaos Theory

The Time: Spring, 2004

The Place: MSG Front Offices

The Crossroad: After missing the playoffs for the 7th consecutive season and a long string of unsuccessful big name acquistions, Glen Sather decides to clean house, beginning with household names such as Brian Leetch and Alexei Kovalev.  Meanwhile, somewhere in the Midwest, Joel Quenneville had just been fired as head coach of the St. Louis Blues, despite having 7 consecutive winning seasons and consistently being ranked among the league’s top teams.  In the midst of these moves Sather decides to hire Tom Renney, the Director of Player Personnel, to groom and develop the youth movement.  With the lockout imminent, the Rangers are taking a new approach towards building a team.

The Impact: Tom Renney enjoys relatively good success developing a predominantly young Rangers unit, but never gets passed the 2nd Round of the East Playoffs.  As the team begins to falter in his 4th season, Renney is subsequently fired and replaced with the firy John Tortorella, and everyone is happy (for now).  As this is going on, Quenneville has caught on with the Colorado Avalanche and leads them to three-consecutive 95 point seasons in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, missing the playoffs in just one of those seasons.  At the end of his 3rd season, Quenneville decides to leave the Colorado organization, catching on as a pro Scout with the Chicago Blackhawks.  Just one month into the job, Quenneville is promoted to head coach, and leads a young, talented group with the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Brent Seabrook to the Western Conference finals (possibly further).

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TB Allows Sullivan to Talk to Other Teams (UPDATED)

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Remember way back when to the John Tortorella signing? Jim Schoenfeld was named as interim Assistant Coach, but the Rangers were really targeting Mike Sullivan. Well, as per Damian Cristodero and his Lightning Strikes blog:

GM Brian Lawton said he has given associate coach Mike Sullivan permission to speak to other teams. It is well known Sullivan wants to be a head coach, and the Oilers and Wild jobs are open. As for remaining an associate, Lawton said he also gave Sullivan permission “for family reasons” to talk to teams closer to his Massachusetts hometown. It is not far-fetched to think Sullivan will get interest from the Rangers and former Lightning coach John Tortorella.

This was an expected move, as the Rangers, and Torts, will be targeting Sullivan as Schoenfeld’s replacement.

Update 1:45pm: For those of you who follow the the Lohud Rangers Blog, Jane held a contest, basically you guess which three Rangers fit into the stories she told. For those of you who care, that was me who won the contest. Sweet.

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Mike Sullivan Targeted As Assistant

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Before Jim Schoenfeld was named assistant coach for the remainder of the season, the Rangers attempted to get Mike Sullivan from the Tampa Bay Lightning, Andrew Gross reports.

A little bit on the Rangers’ pursuit of Lightning associate coach Mike Sullivan, who Tortorella initially targeted to be his top assistant. When a deal couldn’t be struck with Tampa Bay, Tortorella turned to Jim Schoenfeld, who was the Coyotes coach when Tortorella was a Phoenix assistant.

Sullivan has a clause in his contract that allows him to pursue any NHL job if he can “better” his situation and the Lightning will not file tampering charges regarding Sullivan. Look for Tortorella and the Rangers to re-visit the Sullivan situation over the summer with a deal that will be better for Sullivan than what he has in Tampa Bay.

This should fill in the questions that people have about the interim title that Jim Schoenfled has. Torts has been very vocal that Schoenfeld is doing him a favor. I woudl expect Sullivan behind the bench with Torts next season.

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Pelino Reassigned, Torts Speaks

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Those of us wondering why Pelino was sticking around on the bench got our answer today: he’s not. Pelino was reassigned to tape work and scouting, as Torts wanted a clean break from the old coaching staff (minus Allaire). This includes tearing down the standings and the stats that Renney had posted in the locker room.

Zipay has a lot of quotes from Torts, so you should check them out. The basic gist of it was that they will be shifting to an attacking defensive style, much like the one you saw in Tampa in 2004. They will be getting away from the trap system, and playing more of a transitional game, causing turnovers and capitalizing.

The only thing that irked me was that Torts said he is going to take over the penalty kill. I don’t know what that means, but I hope he doesn’t tamper with it. You don’t fix something that is 2nd best in the league.

One last thing, that I found to be quite telling of the type of coach Torts is, and who he reminds me of. Players and reporters are now forbidden to walk on the Rangers logo in the locker room. Torts said that the logo is not something you should walk on, anywhere.

Doesn’t that remind you a little of the Messier story when he found a Ranger jersey on the floor?

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Official: Tortorella, Schoenfeld In

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It’s official, John Tortorella is the new Rangers head coach. According to Rick Carpiniello, Jim Schoenfeld was the first choice, but did not want the job. He will serve as interim assistant coach, replacing Perry Pearn. Mike Pelino remains as an assistant coach, and Benoit Allaire remains as the goalie coach.

Sather got this move right. When changing coaches, especially on a team that appears to have trouble getting motivated, you have to hire a coach that is the polar opposite of the coach you just let go. Tortorella is an in your face guy, and I’m looking forward to him interact with the media.

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Renney fired

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According to Jane McManus, the Rangers have fired head coach Tom Renney and assistant coach Perry Pearn. No word on their replacements yet, but the John Tortorella rumblings can’t be far away.

The move comes on the heels of a stretch in which the Blueshirts went 2-7-3, picking up just seven of a possible twenty-four points. The team was outscored 43-21 during that stretch, and have dropped to sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just two points out of ninth.

Well, we certainly can’t say it was a surprise move, this has been anticipated for weeks. The next head on the chopping block is likely GM Glen Sather’s, who’s built a team with little roster flexibility and serious cap issues down the road. With the trade deadline just over a week away, we’ll see how Sather reacts to the heat.

Update 1:00pm (Dave): New coach will be John Tortorella. Sather got this one right. Let’s hope Tortorella lights a fire under this team’s ass.

Update 3:50pm (Dave): As per Steve Zipay, the Tortorella deal is all but done. The league is helping broker a deal with the Lightning, who want compensation because he still has time left on his deal with Tampa.

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