A New Day Dawning for the Rangers?

Hot Stove New YorkSenior Writer IDecember 23, 2009

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 17: Marian Gaborik #10 (L) and Vinny Prospal #20 (R) of the New York Rangers celebrate Gaboriks third period goal against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on December 17, 2009 in Uniondale, New York. The Rangers defeated the Islanders 5-2.(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After John Tortorella’s tirade heard round the world last Wednesday night, the Rangers have won three straight games. “No entitlement” is the new philosophy in Ranger Land.

The first step was to scratch Wade Redden for two games. He took it like a man. Well, actually he didn’t. He took it like a four-year-old. “Why am I being singled out?” was his response. The answer is: You’re not being singled out; you stink. Ales Kotalik was also scratched, and Chris Drury was demoted to the fourth line. It’s a brand new world for the Blueshirts. Maybe Madison Square Garden won’t be a graveyard for the rich and lazy anymore.

On the surface, all the moves seemed to work, with the Rangers not having lost since the coach’s outburst. But the first two games were won thanks to the brilliance of Henrik Lundqvist. The team played solidly all-around in Monday’s game against Carolina, though. And all three games were against subpar opponents, so it’s hard to get too excited yet.

But a fresh attitude around the Rangers is needed. Hold veterans accountable? Let the youth play, even if that means some bumps in the road and losing some games because of it? Sign me up. But how long will Tortorella and Glen Sather stick to it?

Supposedly, Sather is on board, even though the coach’s outburst in an indictment of his boss’s regime. For all of Tortorella’s tough talk and bluster, the benching of Redden was the first big stand he’s made. The team needed more than a kick in the butt, and that’s what Tortorella gave them. Finally.

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Maybe from here on out it will be easier to scratch a Michal Rozsival or even Drury if need be. Redden was a little better against the Hurricanes, but will Sather and Tortorella have the guts to send him down to Hartford if he keeps up his slovenly, passionless play?

The Rangers have plenty of youth to build around—Michael Del Zotto (19), Marc Staal (22), Matt Gilroy (25), Bobby Sanguinetti (21), Artem Ainismov (21), Ryan Callahan (24), Brandon Dubinsky (23), and even Marian Gaborik (27) and Lundqvist (27) are still young. Let Anisimov play quality minutes on one of the top three lines every game, mistakes or not. Put Enver Lisin on one of the top lines also and see what they have with him.

I’d rather have them lose while building up experience with the kids, than go through the motions with guys like Drury playing 23 minutes a game and losing that way. And have we all had enough of Donald Brashear? Remind me why he’s on the team again? But maybe, just maybe the Rangers will start to win consistently if the guys who’ve earned the ice time are actually on the ice the most.

Besides the few years of the Czech-mates era, Sather comes up with a new wacky plan seemingly every year—Theo Fleury! Eric Lindros! Scott Gomez! Nikolai Zherdev! The Rangers finally have a nucleus that can be around for years to come, but do you trust the GM to say, not trade Anisimov, Dubinsky and Gilroy for some 33-year-old if another GM dangles a shiny set of keys in front of him?

The new era of accountability is almost a week old. Will it even make it past Christmas, though? That’s the question.

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