Last week John Tortorella spoke to NHL.com and reiterated the feelings towards the team that he has expressed since the loss to the Caps:
"I worry about our mental toughness. And I don't want to insult anybody, but I think the whole dynamic there, I think we're a soft team as far as thinking. The organization treats the players very well, they have a great practice facility, it's New York City ... I think we need to stiffen up a little bit. That's the biggest thing - we need to be a stiffer team in our thinking as we play games."Well, right there is one big way to thicken the skin of the team and make them tougher: take them out of that great practice facility and put them before the toughest critics of them all ... us.
If you haven't seen it, the facility is amazing. But, unlike Rye Playland, it has no room for viewing (aside from a small press area). It is not meant for the fans; it is purely for the players. And, as Torts has inferred, it has helped spoil them. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the place (thank you season ticket rep) and the place is fantastic and is truly first class - from the Mike Richter silver goal in the lobby (if that's still there) to the cushy carpeting of the locker room to the perfect sheet of ice.
According to MSG.com the only events scheduled between September 5th and 28th are two Liberty games and the three pre-season games. Players report to camp for physicals on Saturday the 12th, get on the ice the 13th (while the Liberty have a game at the Garden) and then play their first preseason game on the 15th against the Bruins.
Aerosmith cancelled their show on the 14th so that's perfect. Bring the boys down from their Palisades palace and put them on the Penn Plaza ice. Think Wade Redden will do half-assed suicides when there are thousands of folks waiting to pounce? It would give the prospects a glimpse of the Garden Faithful. It would give Tortorella a chance to prove he is as tough as he claims to be.
It would also - one would hope - give the team an opportunity to interact with the fans. No flights to catch, no hung heads from a disappointing loss, no late night ahead. Sign some autographs, take pictures, shake hands, renew our faith heading into a season where we really don't know what to expect. We know Hank is back but will be defending his Olympic gold in February, we know ticket prices went up, we know our rivals all got better. Making the team train on the Garden ice for a day won't kill them, it will only make them stronger. This is a win-win situation. Let's go Rangers, make it happen.