After the Rangers honored Howell and Bathgate at MSG this past Sunday, they ended the night by losing in overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team that has given up the most goals in the NHL. Glen Sather then made the decision to fire coach Tom Renney and would replace him with John Tortorella the next day.
This brought up the question, was this the correct move for the Rangers to make? Yes, it absolutely is. The Rangers play of late has been awful at best, losing eight of their last ten and one of those wins coming from the NHL worst Islanders.
Renney can and cant be blamed for this recent slump. Keep in mind that this is the team that Renney wanted. He pushed Sather to get players like Redden and Naslund so go along with Renney's puck possession style of play.
When Renney tried to be like Tortorella by making the team skate suicides before the Dallas game, it backfired and the players did not respond well. The Rangers lost in Dallas 10-2 the next game right at the heart of the current losing streak.
This just reinforced the fact that Renney was too much of a players coach and when he tried to be tough the players didn't buy into it.
Tortorella will without a doubt put the enthusiasm into a Rangers squad that looks like it has no heart, grit, or will to win. Watch any one of his press conferences from the 2004 Stanley Cup finals and you will see he is the perfect person to restore the play of players like Redden.
Some players on the Rangers will love what Tortorella will bring to the team. Players like Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Petr Prucha, and Nikolai Zherdev will excel in the fast pace and higher scoring game that Tortorella will implement.
Renney's game didn't allow these players to use their full potential because he used more of a puck possession game opposed to more pucks toward the nets and more shots.
One player that will excel in this new system is Petr Prucha, a player that constantly gives 110 percent but never got to player under Renney. His hustle and effort will impress Tortorella and he will begin to be in the lineup much more.
A huge problem the Rangers may face is that Scott Gomez may not fully approve of Tortorella being coach. Tortorella is one of the prospected coaches for the upcoming Winter Olympics and he said he would not have Scott Gomez in his lineup. This could affect the relationship that these two have both on and off the ice.
While there are players on this team that will love the new coach, other players wont buy into it as much. This may lead Tortorella to ask Sather to make some moves at the deadline that will turn the team into a Tortorella team.
Players like Wade Redden, Dmitri Kalinin, and Aaron Voros do not fit Tortorella's style and may be shopped at the deadline. It is very unlikely that any team will take on Redden's contract, but if the right deal comes along it would be wise for the Rangers to make that move.
AAron Voros will definitely see a decrease in playing time if Petr Prucha is in the lineup more frequently. Voros has had a dramatic decrease in production since the beginning of the season where he scored five goals and four assists in the first eight games.
He has only put up three goals and three assists since. To Tortorella, production is everything, and if Voros doesn't find a way to put the puck in the net he will not be playing.
The final aspect to this new coach is Sean Avery. If the Rangers are able to pick him up off waivers then he will be playing under a man that criticized his actions and believes he shouldn't be playing in the NHL.
These two conflicting personalities can either be a massive distraction or the spark this team needs.
In the overall outlook of this Rangers squad, the point of blame needs to be put on Sather. The season after the lockout Sather did the right thing by investing in the younger core of players. Since, Sather has begun to invest in the older players who are being paid for what they did in the past, not what they can do for the future.
Tortorella is the perfect person to be the coach of this lost team. Renney is a fantastic coach but he just is not what this team needs right now. They need a spark and Renney's personality doesn't include that. It was not all Renney's fault, but he certainly did not help his own cause.