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Posts tagged: Tom Renney

Tom Renney named President of Hockey Canada

Per Darren Dreger, ex-Rangers head coach Tom Renney has been named the President of Hockey Canada. Renney took over head coaching duties for the Rangers at the end of the 2003-2004 season, and coached three full years and parts of two others before being fired in 2009. In 327 games as the head coach, Renney’s Rangers went 164-121-42. Renney’s Rangers also qualified for the playoffs in each of his three full seasons, ending a seven year drought without April hockey in New York.

Facing an Old Friend

Tonight, the Rangers will be looking across at the Oilers bench, and will see a familiar face: Tom Renney, now an associate coach with Edmonton. Renney took over as head coach of the Rangers at the end of the 2003-2004 season, and remained there until being fired in February of the 2008-2009 season. In what totals exactly four seasons (well, one game shy of four seasons) with the Rangers, Renney posted a record of 164-117-0-46. He led the Rangers back to the postseason in 2005-2006 after an absence of nearly a decade, and made the playoffs during each of his full seasons behind the bench.

Many didn’t like his coaching method of five-in-the-picture, but it worked for Jaromir Jagr, Michael Nylander, and Martin Straka, who formed the top line during each of the postseason appearances under Renney. When Nylander was jettisoned to Washington and Straka returned to the Czech Republic, the new players brought in just couldn’t adjust to the stifling system. By the middle of the 2007-2008 season, it appeared that Renney had lost the players, specifically captain Chris Drury and alternate captain Scott Gomez. Renney didn’t last until the trading deadline of that season, and was replaced by current coach John Tortorella, who is essentially the anti-Renney in every way, shape, and form.

Regardless of your feelings towards Renney’s system, you have to admire the man that ended a long standing playoff drought. He had his flaws, specifically in his treatment of some players, but he was almost 50 games over .500 for the Rangers, and again, he gave us a taste for success and the playoffs that we hadn’t enjoyed since 1997.

Renney to Join Quinn in Edmonton

I find it funny how as more important news comes, posts like this one gets pushed back to help spread things out a bit. It was initially slated to be posted around 5pm yesterday, but the Del Zotto news came, so it got pushed to now. There’s another post on Betts’ market value that got pushed back as well. But that’s not the point.

Tom Renney, who was fired by the Rangers this year, is a quality guy and definitely will be remembered by Ranger fans for helping to end the better part of a decade of futility. We figured he would get another coaching gig in the NHL, and he did, joining Pat Quinn behind the bench as an associate coach for the Oilers. Good for him. I, as all of you should, wish him the best.

In other news around the league:

  • Bobby Holik retired. At least he won’t have many money problems.
  • Victor Kozlov and Sergei Federov are headed to the KHL. Federov was probably one of the most fun players to watch while he was on the Wings. It seems a lot of the players “defecting” to the KHL are Russian-born players: Radulov, Kozlov, Federov, Zherdev (?). I’m not saying anything, but it’s just an observation. Update 11:50pm: Zherdev turned down his KHL offer. More to come.
  • Jim Balsille has finally submitted a formal bid to buy the Coyotes. This team needs to get out of Phoenix, it’s obvious no one in the desert cares about hockey (SHOCKER!). Another team in Ontario would be great for the league.
  • Mike Keenan was fired. 1994 was his crowning achievement. I believe he is another who has seen this game pass him by. But you know what, he’s a legend in NY.
  • Last, and sadly, Clint Smith passed away at 95. Smith was the last surviving member of the 1940 Stanley Cup championship team, and won two Lady-Byng’s during his career.

Finals Thoughts and a Recap on a Season on the Brink

I allowed myself to decompress for 24-48 hours after the Rangers season officially ended to talk about what happened.  Much like a legendary player being asked to retire when he’s ousted from the playoffs, you have to sift through your emotions before you give an honest assessment of things.  100% agree with Dave that the better team won this series, but ironically, I thought the Rangers were the better team for the most part in Game 7.  The game itself was a microcosm of the the Blueshirts season and series:  strong to start, treading water in the middle, and plagued by an inability to score and create chances in the end.  This team truly gave their all in the final game though, and that makes the sting a bit more bearable.  Now that the smoke has cleared, it has become obvious to me (and hopefully all of you) that John Tortorella got the most out of a team that has seemingly zero offensive firepower, and the fact that he got them to claw all the way into the playoffs says a lot about the type of coach he can be for this franchise.

So now that the sting is starting to subside, lets take a look back on the highs and lows of this season, and what’s to come from the 89 games:

HIGHS

-The Blueshirts got off to a fantastic start, going 10-2-1 in the month of October and staking themselves to a huge early lead in the Eastern Conference

-Three players had their numbers retired: Harry Howell (3), Andy Bathgate (9), and Adam Graves (9)

-Tom Renney and his stale style of hockey were finally replaced by John Tortorella’s aggressive attack, making for a much more efficient and relatively exciting Rangers team to watch.

-The Rangers re-acquired Sean Avery off waivers from the Dallas Stars, adding the edge that the team needed down the stretch.

-Henrik Lundqvist gave no doubt to the fact that he is easily one of the top 3 goalies in the world today

-After falling out of the playoff picture in late February/early March, the Rangers made a remarkable turn around, headlined by John Tortorella’s coaching, to finish 7th in the Eastern Conference standings.  The team had several key wins down the stretch to jump into the playoffs.

-Nik Antropov and Derek Morris were acquired via trade at the deadline, and provided some size and stability to their respective positions.

-The combination of Blair Betts and Frederik Sjostrom (throw Hank in there if you’d like) emerged as the best penalty killing unit in the NHL.

-While maybe not necessarily a high, Markus Naslund provided exactly what was expected of him: a 20-25 goal season and consistency up front.

LOWS

-The start of 2009 brough no joy to the Rangers, as they started to collapse under the Tom Renney regime.  The low-point was highlighted by a 10-2 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Stars, and ultimately would signify the end of the Renney era.

-The tragic death of top-tier prospect Alexei Cherapanov cast a shadow over the Rangers future.

-Nikolai Zherdev’s did not provide the 30+ goal output that many believed it would, and the youngster crumbled in his first post-season

-The offseason acquistion of Wade Redden was nothing but a complete disaster.

– Michael Roszival’s absurd contract extension (mainly its length) is beginning to rear its ugly head, and the combination of Redden and Roszival’s salaries and contract length will plague this franchise for years to come.

-The power-play never amounted to anything, under both coaches, and has been the most pressing issue since the lockout ended.

-An inability to provide consistent offense or any offensive threat whatsoever doomed this team as the season progressed

-Leading 3-1 in their opening round playoff series, the Blueshirts fell apart when it mattered most, a series headlined by the suspension of John Tortorella for Game 6

-Versus continues to cover the NHL

WHATS TO COME

-Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Lauri Korpikoski, Sean Avery, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi will be the core of this team under the John Tortorella regime.  The new coach must also find the right players for his style of play, as it became obvious that the current group cannot provide the type of play Tortorella would like to play.

-Blair Betts, Frederik Sjostrom, Colton Orr, and Nik Antropov MUST be re-signed.  Betts and Sjostrom combine to be the best PK tandem and 4th line in the league.  Orr is the best fighter in the NHL, and you still need at least one of them on your team.  Antropov provides much needed size and scoring touch going forward.

-Markus Naslund, with only one-year remaining, should be dealt somewhere.  The aging forward, once considered the best two-way player in the NHL, did not thrive in Tortorella’s system.

-Time for Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to finally step up and take the reigns as the elder statesmen on this team.  The honeymoon is over boys.

-Say goodbye to Paul Mara (regretably), Nik Zherdev, and Derek Morris.  In addition, Sather must find a way to part ways with either Redden or Roszival, either through a buy-out or trade.

-Its time for the Rangers projects and farm system to step-up and become elite players in the league.  This includes players currently on the team (who have now played in enough tight playoff series) and players in their farm system (who up until this point have done nothing but be talked about).  History shows that free-agent/trade acquisitions don’t do it for this team, and the home-grown talent must finally rise to the top.

-If they are going to keep him for the next 3 seasons, the organization must get on the league’s case about the officiating bias towards Sean Avery.  While he is no saint, the abuse this guy takes on a nightly basis is absolutely absurd.  Game 7 was just an example.  Generally speaking, the officiating around the league in general must change, as these ticky-tack calls are making even the most die-hard hockey fan’s head spin.

-While no fault falls on him, Henrik Lundqvist must find a way to be better than spectacular come playoff time.  I’m talking god-like, all the time.  If you want to know what I’m looking for, see Giguere for the Ducks and Khabibulin for the Lightning.

-The power-play can no longer be the Achilles heel of this team.  Either through someone currently on the team stepping up or by acquiring someone via free agency or trade that can FINALLY do it themselves, the Rangers must learn to capitalize on the opportunities provided.

-Whatever the makeup of this team comes to be, they have to find a way to be consistently good all season long.  The continuous ebb and flow of the Rangers the past few seasons has come back to haunt them in the playoffs, as the lack of home-ice advantage has made things very difficult.

Whew.  I’m sure there are plenty of things here that plenty of you agree/disagree with.  I’m pretty sure there are plenty of things that I missed and will think about later.  It was a crazy season for so many reasons, and to try to cover it all would take weeks and months.  I’d like to hear about what you all have to say about the Rangers season, and what you think should/shouldn’t happen as the organization moves forward.  Either way, this has been a very enjoyable experience, and I’m looking forward to adding thoughts and insight to a team I love so much.

I saw this going bad when….

I saw Colton Orr was not in the lineup and Donald Brashear was.  Don’t laugh.  Think back to a time when Tom Renney failed to have the big enforcer in the lineup for a game against the Flyers, and they proceeded to run rampant all over the Blueshirts.  After that game, Renney vowed to never sit Orr again and #28 has been a staple ever since.  Especially after watching Brashear challenge Orr during pre-game warmups, you had to believe he was going to be in there right?  Right???

Well apparently not, and the injury sustained by Blair Betts is a direct result of not dressing Orr.  Brashear knew he could perform that act without fear of having to face the reprecutions of Colton Orr.  I applaud Paul Mara for standing up to him, and we can argue until we’re blue in the face about how many minutes Brashear should have gotten for it.  As a player, when you see that happen to a teammate of yours, it does something that’s hard to explain.  Whatever it is, it takes a lot out of you and its hard to recover from.  Brashear didn’t get much ice time after that, and you can speculate as to whether or not this was premeditated, but the Rangers staff allowed it to happen by not having Colton Orr ready to go at a moment’s notice.

I’m in no way pinning the Rangers loss solely on this decision and subsequent event, but it definitely was a factor.  Now the Rangers are likely down their best faceoff man and penalty killer.  I’ll bet Colton Orr will be dressed for Game 7.

Either way, its time to find out what these Rangers are really made of on Tuesday night….

At risk of overstating the obvious….

That was a big win.  A huge win.  I sometimes laugh at sports reporters and anchors who ask questions that they know the answers to (i.e. “is this a big game tonight?”) and make statements to players that are so obvious its disgusting, but you can’t deny the magnitude of tonight’s W.  Sure, every game this time of year is the biggest game of the season and is a must-win, but when you consider the history and drama between these two teams, it doesn’t get much sweeter than this.  And it speaks volumes to the dynamic change undergone in the Rangers locker room from their last meeting, even though many parallels existed between now and then….

Remember way back in the Tom Renney era, circa February 2009?  The Rangers were coming off three straight losses: a blowout @ the Igloo, a blanking at the hands of the #1 seeded Bruins, and a lackluster effort against lowly Atlanta on Adam Graves Night (salvaged only by Markus Naslund’s miraculous goal with 11 seconds remaining to force OT).  Renney did his best Herb Brooks impression and chose to skate the team until their blades wore thin prior to heading out for a road game in Dallas.  The result (if you need refreshing): a 10-2 drubbing by the Stars.  The Blueshirts had the rest of the weekend to think about how shameful they played, and a shot at redemption was provided in front of a national TV audience against their archrivals across the Hudson.  Back then, I tabbed it as the most important game in Tom Renney’s tenure.  The team responded with an effortless, almost pathetic 3-0 shutout loss.  In the end, it was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back, with Renney getting fired several weeks later, a decision Sather claimed was in the works for about as long.

Tonight was the most important game in John Tortorella’s short tenure.  A blown shootout loss to lowly Atlanta and another failed attempt @ the Igloo, not to mention a pressing Florida Panthers team only 2 points away, and the Rangers again found themselves with their backs against the wall against their archrivals on national TV.  The result was a complete 180-degree reversal of fortune, all due to reasons that have been discussed ad nauseum to this point.  And a certain diminutive player wearing #16 in blue giving everyone grey hairs in red and black (Brendan Shannahan doesn’t count) didn’t hurt too much.

When you put these two periods together side by side, its easy to see how far this team has come in a relatively short amount of time.  Its great to see how everyone on the team has responded.  More importantly, we weren’t all taking crazy pills when we were screaming about how much potential this team had.

Renney fired

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.

Game 59: Rangers vs. Islanders

With the loss on Monday in St. Louis, we could be looking at Tom Renney’s last game as the Ranger head coach. If the Rangers lose and Renney does not get fired, then we are stuck with him until the end of the season.

The Rangers are 1-6-2 in their last 9.

The Korpedo is out with an injury, so Dawes is back in. Mara is still out indefinitely.

It’s a 7pm start on MSG tonight. More later.

Update 7:03pm: Drury on the point on the PP tonight. Think it would have come to this if Sather went after Streit and not Redden?

Update 7:15pm: Wow. They can’t but a goal. Two posts in one shift.

Update 7:16pm: That was a hell of a shift that led to the goal. Nice shot by Dawes, assists from Dru and Pru. 1-0 Rangers.

Update 7:21pm: This Dawes/Drury/Prucha line is looking real good. For all you Prucha doubters out there, let’s see you get a shot off when you get a slash to the wrist. That should have been a penalty.

Update 7:22pm And they give it right back. Someone missed their man. Streit from Comeau and Okposo. I wish Streit was a Ranger. What is it with this team and giving up leads within 2 minutes. It’s absurd.

Update 7:40pm: Joe Micheletti is talking about how the Islanders have no pressure and play easier because they aren’t worried about being benched. I don’t see how this is any different from the Rangers. If your name isn’t Petr Prucha (or Nigel Dawes), you aren’t getting benched.

Update 8:00pm: Good to know the buzzer works.

Update 8:03pm: Can someone please put Staal on the PP? Please?

Update 8:08pm: You ever notice that when Hank makes a glove save, he never closes his glove? He just curves it a little bit. Between that and the heading of the puck, he’s a strange character in net. Awesome goalie, but strange.

Update 8:10pm: Is it against the rules to just say no to the PP?

Update 8:13pm: What the hell just happened? A PP goal? That’s a flukey goal, Gomez surprised him a little bit. I’ll take it, anyone will take it. Danis should have had that though. Gomez from Dru and Hank. 2-1 Rangers.

Update 8:14pm: Another header by Hank. Think Richter cringes when he does that?

Update 8:17pm: Someone lit a fire under Gomez’s ass tonight. He’s playing like the Gomez we expected.

As I wrote that update, all hell broke loose. Everyone got involved. And Prucha is taking on Bergenheim. I would call it a draw. The fans are raining down with Pru chants.

Update 8:31pm: This is old school Rangers/Islanders. Lots of scrums, some fights, good edge to this game so far.

Update 8:37pm: That was a solid period for the Rangers.

Update 9:00pm: Hank just made the save of the game on Bailey, who was left wide open in the slot.

Update 9:22pm: A PPG here would seal the game.

Update 9:27pm: Sjostrom takes the flip out of the zone from Drury to seal the game in the empty net.

Good win for the Rangers tonight. They played very well. Let’s hope this isn’t the exception to the rule. Big game against Buffalo this weekend. That is another must win. Rangers win 3-1.

SEAN SEAN….GET IN THERE SEAN!!!!

So today is the day Sean Avery presumably clears waivers and will be assigned to an AHL affiliate of some sort.  As you all know, the Wolfpack seem to be the front (and only) runners to pick-up the agitator, which will begin the chain of events that may ultimately end in #16 returning to the Big Club.  While my colleague David is mainly opposed to this, I could not be more in favor of this move.  My man-crush for Sean Avery and his legend aside, it is a necessary move for THIS team THIS season.  Here’s how it could work, and here’s why it has to work:

1. There have been few cold-hard undeniable facts for these Rangers in the post-lockout era.  These include (but are not limited to): a) Henrik Lundqvist being a top-5 goaltender in the league b) Tom Renney sacrificing offense for defense 99% of the time c) the Rangers are a better team with Sean Avery in their lineup.  The statistics do not lie: with Avery in the lineup, the Rangers are 51-23-16.  Without him, they are 8-10-3, not to mention the Rangers missing that extra “something.”  Just watch a game this season and you will know what I’m talking about.

2.  The Rangers do not have to resign all those players previously mentioned.  If this season has proved anything, its that the majority of Rangers are expendable (Scott Gomez and Chris Drury trade rumors anyone).  The only members of the group previously mentioned that must be re-signed are Big Z, Dubie, Staal, and Girardi.  While I like Dawes, Korpo, and Cally, you can find another other young player in the farm-system to come in and play their role.

3.  The Rangers would only be on the take for half of Avery’s salary, roughly $2 million per year.  When you consider this is only a minor raise from what he was initially getting with the Rangers and a cut from what they wanted to give him in the offseason, its an acceptable number.  If the Rangers choose to re-negotiate his contract, either for less years or less money, they have a distinct negotiating advantage.  Not many teams will take Avery at this point, and he probably realizes that and history shows this can be a productive marriage.  Put whatever clauses and incentives you want into the contract.  They will have the upper-hand in any contract talk they engage in.  So saving money against the cap won’t necessarily be that difficult.  They can also unload either Redden or Roszival in this deal.  While their contracts are long and fat, that’s the price you must pay for giving top-tier money for 2 players that are obviously not top-tier and bring very little to the team.  Those contracts are going to haunt the Rangers one way or another; better haunt them in an effort to make the team genuinely better.  Also, the salary cap will predictably go up, so the value of Avery’s cap hit will be decreased.

4.  The Rangers are vanilla.  As evidenced on Friday night, nobody respects this team.  You can do whatever you wish to them, and will pay virtually no consequences.  Say what you want about Avery in the locker room, but he always came to his teammate’s defense on the ice, and as an opponent, you probably always thought twice about engaging in something with one of the Rangers for plain-old fear of what Avery might say or do to you.  And if he has made the progress in his rehab everybody says he’s making, he will learn to channel his tactics in a productive manner.  He has also hopefully learn from the past mistakes he made in NY.

5.  Avery has skills.  He has better than average speed, a quick release, is tough and gritty, and can throw off a opposing team’s star player on any given night (see Brodeur, Martin; Kovalchuk, Ilya).  Enough of this Aaron Voros “poor-man’s Sean Avery” garbage and just go get the real thing.  He also puts it on the line every single night, evidenced by playing the majority of a playoff game with a lacerated spleen.  I work in medicine, and that is something that can kill you.

6. Fans (myself immensely included) love this guy.  Since the lockout, you can count on one hand the number of players that get their name chanted during a game at the Garden: Henrik, Shanny, whoever is getting their jersey retired that year, and Avery.  Maybe I’m missing a name here or there, but you get my drift.

Tom Renney is no Herb Brooks…

For reasons unbeknownst to myself and others, I have not been able to access this blog for quite sometime.  And after last night’s 10-2 debacle, it seems that divine intervention has allowed me to return, to talk about the hideousness that occurred in the Lone Star State.

The honest to god’s truth is that over the course of an 82 game season, you are going to have a collapse such as this at some point.  Around this time last season, it was the blown 5-goal lead in Montreal.  The year prior, a 7-game losing streak plagued the Rangers during the winter months.  But the context in which this atrocity to hockey occurred sets the new standard for the Blueshirt collapse.  If you go back to the third period of the Rangers-Pens game on January 28th, the Blueshirts have been outscored a total of 18-4 (insert expletive here).  This includes a lackluster effort against the conference’s top team, the Boston Bruins.  If you cannot get hyped up enough to play the top team in the conference, what can ya get hyped up for?  That was followed by an essential no-show for almost a whole 60-minutes against one of the conference’s worst teams, the Atlanta Thrashers, on Adam Graves night no less.  And if it wasn’t for Markus Naslund’s miraculous goal with 11 seconds left, the Rangers would have had their 2nd 1-0 shutout in a row.  If you cannot get hyped up enough to play one of the worst teams in the conference on the night one of the most honorable players in your franchise’s history has his jersey retired, what can ya get hyped up for?

To make issues more alarming, Tom Renney does his best Herb Brooks impression by skating the Rangers into the ice in the practice that follows the Atlanta.  Now I am all for corporal punishment in the world of sports.  I think coaches must send those types of messages to their mostly overpaid, under-achieving, prima donna athletes (does not apply to everyone).  But for the Rangers to respond to that message in a way they did last night tells me one thing….

Tom Renney has lost this team.  These guys can say whatever they want in front of the camera, but to not just come out flat, but to be embarassed in front of the entire NHL speaks volumes to the trust and faith these players have in their coach.  If he cannot turn this thing around in the following week, some drastic measures must be taken to ensure the Blueshirts do not become the laughing stock of the league.  Call that previous statement a little dramatic, but I’m pretty sure opposing teams do not see the Rangers as a legitimate threat and in turn, do not respect them (a Sean Avery post is coming soon).  That to me is inexcusable in itself.

Monday’s game against the Devils has become the most important game in Tom Renney’s tenure as a coach.  When you consider that it is a game against their biggest rival, on their home-ice (a place they have dominated since it opened), who is in first place, on national television (Versus is national right?), in the midst of an imminent implosion, there is no game bigger than this.  Rumblings have begun in regards to Renney keeping his job, and if the Rangers do not respond as a team, it will become obvious that they have lost faith Renney.  When you know your coach might on the cusp of losing his job and you want him to stay, you play your heart out for him (see Week 17: Jets vs. Dolphins).  We will know Monday night how the Rangers truly feel about Tom Renney.