Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A New Era Begins ...

... But will it be a good one?

Early entries to the poll find you guys split on John Tortorella's impact, at least where this season is concerned. Back before the season I said that the Rangers need "a cult of personality to lead them." Granted I was talking about the captain rather than the coach but either way there is a man in that room willing to step up and act like a leader.

Now can he lead them somewhere good? I'm not so sure but I am willing to wait and see. The team that got him a Cup was a really good team - they had leaders in Old Man Andreychuk and Timmy Taylor, superstar scorers in Vinny 04 and Mini-Marty, power play puck movers in Boyle and Kubina, a true game-breaking goaltender in Twitchy-bulin and a solid cast of background characters (Stillman, Sarich, etc.). That is a whole lotta talent right there and all the coach had to do is point it in the right direction. The Rangers need significantly more than that.

Tortorella made many hockey people believers but still could do nothing to stop his team from slipping through his fingers. Sure the GM took away his top weapons, but he made young players miserable and the Blueshirts need to develop theirs since they are in contract hell thanks to Sather.

Who knows, he may turn over a new leaf here. No one can say right now. The simple fact is that Tortorella's every move will be watched but he will get a free pass for the rest of the season - a pass named Renney. Sorry, but that pass doesn't work here. The way I see it, Torts has three games - Wednesday in Toronto, Thursday against the Panthers and Saturday against the Aves - until he can be called on the carpet. The next game after the Aves is March 5th on the Island. That is four full game-free, travel-free days to work, including trade deadline day. Outside of some miracle deal by Sather that will change three or more players, on March 5th Tortorella will know what he has and what he can do with it before he takes on the Isles. That night, the team can't 'just' show up. They can't fight the good fight and maybe win in a shootout. They have to win outright, and preferably win big against the worst team in the NHL.

Until then, we can just sit back and see how the players play. They are auditioning for their jobs so let's hope that they play well but without a system - offensive or defensive - it is all on them, not on the coach.

It should be interesting.

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