Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Firings Just Keep On Coming!...And Say A Lot About the Status of the NHL

I guess firing six coaches this year wasn't enough for the NHL GM's. Surely enough, Guy Carbonneau, the now former coach of the recently struggling Habs, was given the heave ho just this Monday. The seventh firing of a head honcho this year, and a nice parting gift for the Canadien's 100th anniversary as a club. Interestingly, the Canadien's GM Bob Gainey took over for the playoff contending squad on Tuesday, as Montreal faced off against Edmonton.

This firing is simply another example of franchises looking for help from their back door instead of the front door. Carbonneau, like Tom Renney, was fired at a time when his team remained a vital force for playoff contention. And don't forget people, the GM's are the easily identified culprits of this stupidity. The Rangers have had to suffer with the Sather policies of player overvaluing and inadequate leadership for far too long, and now, it looks as if some other teams will have to endure similar hardships. Just a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Gainey, with his great understanding of "what's best for the team" told Habs star winger Alexei Kovalev to "sit out" during a road trip. No reasoning, no injuries behind the move, nada. In other sports, such as baseball, the GM's role is based on the acquisitions he can add to his credit, but all else is settled by the owner and coach.

Yet, in the NHL, it seems that teams have deposited their hopes in the laps of a distant, careless bunch who seek pleasure in confusing us with odd transactions and moves. The sport that was well received by a select group for its consistency is now befuddling us with a lack thereof. No team, striving or struggling, is exempt from this plague; there have even been rumors regarding the Phoenix Coyotes changing location. The Islanders are in need of a an architectural renaissance, as the Nassua Colisseum is barely hanging on. Everywhere you look, the NHL is in disarray. Now, there are bright spots, but they are being overshadowed right now by the troubling economy, which has led to ailing franchises all across the hockey universe, not to mention the entire sporting world.

Now, back to stupidity, if the Rangers don't make the playoffs, then.......a Tortorella firing? The only sure solution for a transitionary period? I think not. The move in Montreal poses the same question. I just wonder how much longer fans can tolerate BS. I'll hold out for a while, but I'm not happy about it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rangers Fans.......Here's Your New Coach

Well, as promised on our latest episode of NHL 2K9, here is the newest member of the struggling Blueshirts. And this time, it's a new coach. Check out this clip, and you'll find out really quick why Glen Sather saw Johnny "Torts" Tortorella as his go to guy at the helm. This is Tortorella's response to his then Tampa Bay Lightning falling to the New Jersey Devils during the playoffs. What a guy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why Glen Why?

Ah, what a year does.

10-2-1 to start out. Do I see the shiny glow of the Lord's Cup in the offing? Oh wait, I forgot! Of course not, at least, when Glen Sather and his band of miscreants are at the helm.

Now, don't get me wrong, good old Glenny is the GM of GMs. Because of course, who would overvalue and overpay Scottie Gomez and Chris Drury to come play at the Garden? Only Sather could have foreseen that Wade Redden would be a perfect scoring edition to the lineup.

Disregarding the minor jest and open satire of Mr. Sather, let's now examine the cold hard facts. Under Tom Renney, the Rangers had three straight (that's right, count 'em) playoff appearances, the only Eastern conference team in the post 2004 lockout period to have done so. Under Tom Renney, Brandon Dubinskiy received the best tutelage from a professor of the game. Under Tom Renney, the Rangers were focused and had their "team eye" on the prize. Well, at least for the first half of the season.

The record of 2-7-3 that led to the Renney dismissal and the Tortorella hiring speaks clearly to..........well, what actually? Because when you break down the demise of the first half-season powerhouse Blueshirts, you won't find the reason in one place. But if you take a look at the uniform with a "C" and, oh, that other guy who was supposed to be a big scorer, along with the partial dissolution of the netminders, you'll be on your way to finding your answer.

Question? Why fire a coach when your team is currently in the playoff hunt and remains a strong defensive minded squad. (thanks to Tom Renney, of course) And why demote and thereby render powerless your bench coach Mike Pelino? And why keep players on your roster who care about their now former and uniquely talented coach like dirt? Good old Glen's answer to all the above: "Because I can, and I like putting the city of New York through a scarlet fever it will never get out of."

But yes, there is still a possibility with the new guy at the helm. And although the first two games under John Tortorella were low scoring, there is still hope. (Tonight's annihilation and season high goal scoring route of Colorado points to that) Because when all is said and done this year, the Rangers will probably make the playoffs with a catchy Gomez smile and an amazing save from King Hendrik. Blueshirts fans will be joyous and ecstatic, and Mike Pelino might just be allowed to sit his ass on the bench once more. And Tom Renney will be sitting in his living room, knowing it was his dirtywork for four and a half seasons that brought the Rangers to their newfound jubilation. It's just too bad that Glen Sather will be sitting in his luxury booth, rejoicing and caring little about the man who would, dare I say, be a better GM than him?

You haven't heard the last of Tom Renney.......and hopefully, neither has the Rangers organization.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tom’s Jerry: What Tom Renney and the Rangers Need to Chase

Nope, Tom, the Cup isn’t up in the stars

“Get him out, get him out!” Well, what a surprise, New York fans are calling for another coach to be fired. Except this time…………’s a hockey coach! Even I didn’t see this day coming.

Following Michel Therrien’s firing last Sunday, it was obvious that another NHL team this year was heading down the road of change. And then, the unexpected occurred, speculation about the security of Tom Renney’s job with the Rangers was all over the place.

Newsday blogger Steve Zipay argued that Renney should be booted if the Rangers fall to the Blues. Well, they did, in a tight 2-1 showing, and Renney still donned the suit on Wednesday, when the Rangers got a much needed victory in the Garden against the somewhat revitalized Islanders. But the Renney bashing goes back before the Blues game. Prior to the Therrien firing, Renney was criticized by Larry Brooks of the Sunday Post for a number of mismatches, including the placement of defenseman Wade Redden on the power play line.

However, Newsday’s Mark Kermann probably sums up the Renney situation most accurately, saying that, “the current group is just not very flammable. It is a low-key bunch that wouldn’t have the bite of terriers if John Tortorella, Mike Keenan or the Wizard of Oz were coaching.”

Unlike, Michel Therrien, Tom Renney is admired and extremely respected by his players. Why they are “tuning him” out at the moment is beyond me, but I do know that Chris Drury’s lack of leadership, Scottie Gomez’s own zone turnovers, and Wade Redden’s lack of scoring activity are problems that Renney cannot handle. My NHL 2K9/BTR Network colleague summed it up perfectly when he said, “If their (the team’s) strategy worked once before, for the first half of the season, then it is bound to work again, it’s not Renney's fault and the only people that could be blamed are really the players. They need to work around this.” But how exactly can the Blueshirts work around this?

I firmly believe that the most important thing to do in this situation is to go back to the fundamentals, as cliché as that sounds. Look, when Islanders coach Scott Gordon was asked during the early Isles’ debacle whether he would change his coaching approach, he answered with a stern “no.” Tom Renney should follow the same approach, and, just like our troublesome economy, the team will eventually come out of this slide. Maybe it’ll get worse before it gets better, but in that case, Rangers’ fans will have to quit complaining and pointing the finger at one man, and start examining the sorry six on the ice. And if naïve Rangers’ fans think that constant firings work for an organization, they should take a close look at the early decade before Renney’s tenure. Maybe then they’ll get off the Kool-Aid they’ve been drinking for far too long.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Whipping In The Lone Star State

Welcome to Hell!

Boy did we get it wrong when we said that Steven Valiquette was the hothand netminder for the Blueshirts!

The New York Rangers, coming off a few tough losses, fell victim to the Dallas Stars last night. Score: 10-2. Yeah, baseball season’s come early this year.

In what has been a horrible past four games for the Rags, who have gone 0-3-1 in those contests, the strong chemistry that was once present has disappeared faster than Sam Rosen’s hair. Okay, disregard the Rosen joke. But, there can be no question that the situation in New York is no joking matter.

With own zone turnovers from Scottie Gomez (who was benched by Tom Renney in the third period), nonsense unruly penalties from Colton Orr and Brandon Dubinsky, and a lackadaisical defensive effort, it’s no question that the Rangers have hit their rock bottom for the season. However, can they bounce back and possibly make a run for the Atlantic Division?

First things first, the Rangers need new life. Scott Gomez has not been the “go to guy” as expected, and Captain Chris Drury has lost his X factor. Steven Valiquette, or “Vali,” as his teammates like to call him, does not deserve full blame for the Dallas debacle, but needs to step it up if he wants to get the nod from Coach Renney. Our silver lining, Nikolai Zherdev, scored the only two goals for his team, now desperate for a win. But one player can’t bail out an entire squad.

Bottom line: If the Rangers want the division, they’re going to have to earn it the hard way. With the division leading Devils playing solid behind Clemenson and Weekes, the fighting Flyers, and those nasty Pens, the Rangers are in line for demise if they don’t take order soon. Tom Renney, who responded to the loss by saying "You can't be more disappointed than what happened tonight," is a top notch coach, and will definitely make some harsh adjustment in terms of his approach in the games to come.

When asked if the Rangers had hit rock-bottom, New York's Scott Gomez said, "No one's giving up and no one's saying it's rock bottom. Embarrassed is a strong word but that's where we are." Oh yeah, Mr. Gomez, you better be embarrassed, almost single handedly giving the Rangers their worst loss since 1993. So, what has the Rangers world learned from this bad horror film? Humiliation is unacceptable; don’t assume that your beloved team is exempt from near annihilation. No excuses, just get back to the drawing board and see if we can’t right this ship!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Solid As A Rock: Reeling In the Years With Renney

Ok, so he hasn’t brought us the cup just yet. But Tom Renney has certainly become a top notch coach with the New York Rangers in a matter of four and a half seasons of no bull, no losers, and without a doubt, no mercy. So just how has the Blueshirts’ head honcho been relatively successful in the hellhole of NYC sports? We break it down with the three C’s.

  1. Consistency

It’s pretty obvious that in order to establish yourself as a no-nonsense NHL head coach, you’ve got to be in the business for more than one faceoff. Yet, it seems that in a sport of inconsistencies, changes, and trades, it’s become tough not to fold ‘em every now and then. However, this is not the case with the Rangers organization. Unlike many struggling NHL teams, the Rags have a stable franchise all across the board. Having the chemistry on and off the ice, whether it’s between front office people or individual players, has helped Tom Renney remain a mainstay at the Garden, and, more importantly, one who isn’t planning to go home just yet.

  1. Confidence

As an NHL coach, you have to stand behind your convictions and your gut, and not take any BS from anybody. And, so far, the Renney tenure has shown us just that. The NY media can be (well, they choose to be) a bothersome bunch. So, what’s the solution? Tom Renney’s got the perfect answer to that question: Don’t give in. Watching a Renney post game press conference, you can find out pretty quickly who’s in charge. The coach of the playoff contending Rangers is exceptional at giving concise, clear answers, and looking in his eyes puts to bed any concerns about his judgment. Case in point: Petr Prucha. Without question, Petr the Great is a formidable talent, and Rangers fans should expect some picture perfect moments out of him in the near future. But, earlier in the season, Tom Renney had to address doubts with his not playing Prucha that often. As usual, the rock solid Renney responded with gusto, letting everybody know that Nigel Dawes was the hot hand at the moment.

  1. Control

Finally, regardless of the situation, opponent, or issue, Tom Renney has everything in the palm of his hands. He is the ideal harmony of a coach: aggressive but respectful, passionate but calm. Yes, we all know that he’s had his fits of rage. (The Blackhawks incident when Renney mouthed off at the refs who were making abysmal calls, among a few others) But no matter what’s driving the Blueshirts coach batty at the moment, he is always the authoritative man who backs up his players and the organization that he so nobly represents.

So maybe he won’t be holding up the coveted chalice this year. Who cares? At the end of the day, Rangers fans should value a stand up guy not as the victor of the trophy on the table, but for the trophy the man brings to the table,

Not Hockey Related

Personally, I find these to be some of the best commercials during the Super Bowl. I will make sure to have a post up soon that is about hockey.