"He will make everybody accountable. It's brutally ugly at times, but it's also the right cause."
That was the reaction from Dave Andreychuk, the former NHL star who was part of the 2004 Stanley Cup team in Tampa Bay, upon hearing that the Rangers hired John Tortorella to replace Tom Renney in 2009. Tortorella is a polarizing figure and most people have strong opinions of him one way or another. I think Andreychuk's statement is as close to an objective observation of Tortorella's coaching style as you can get. He makes players accountable. He can be mean, vicious, loud, arrogant, condescending, and harsh. But ultimately, his intentions are just and often and his impact is tangible.
When John Tortorella took over the Rangers in February of 2009 the team was a dysfunctional, directionless group. Nine players on the roster developed, at least in part, in the Rangers' system, and a number of them were fringe players at best. The leading skaters in ice-time were Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, and Markus Naslund at forward and Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival at defense. Five older guys, all of whom were being paid to bring success. none of whom were delivering.
Though Tom Renney had his own positive impact on the Rangers overall, John Tortorella brought a radically different mindset to the table. He immediately made his intentions clear. Under him, the Rangers were going to transition out of the mindset of trying to buy success through free agency and would start developing its own core. The leader in ice-time during the Rangers' final playoff game of the season against the Capitals was not Redden or Rozsival, but instead homegrown Dan Girardi. The leading forward in ice-time was none of the big name, high-paid veterans, but instead 22-year-old Brandon Dubinsky.
Tortorella returns to New York today as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. Ironically, a Rangers team that has his enormous fingerprints all over it will be trying to beat him. The leading defensemen in ice-time are homegrown players in Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal. Whereas in 2009 the Rangers used three defensemen in their 30s, the oldest defenseman on the entire roster right now is 29-year-old Dan Girardi. Five of the top seven forwards in ice-time developed through the Rangers' system. The Rangers will go into today's game with eleven guys on the roster who were developed from within, and that's not even including guys like Brian Boyle, Derick Brassard, John Moore, and Anton Stralman, who were all brought in with the focus on getting younger.
The Rangers' transcendence under Tortorella is found in his failure. Tortorella was fired in 2013 after the Rangers finished 6th in the conference and exited the playoffs in the second round. From 1998 to 2008 the highest the Rangers would finish was in 5th and the farthest they'd go in the playoffs was the second round. Essentially, what was pinnacle of Rangers' hockey for the decade prior to Tortorella's tenure was, by the end of his reign, seen as underachieving; not good enough. We can argue all the specifics of how Tortorella coached. How he did things tactically. How he handled the media. How he handled players. No matter what, though, the previous observation holds true. The standard by which we measure success of this team is dramatically raised from where it was when Tortorella first took over as head coach. No matter what you think of him, this is inarguable. Tortorella parted ways with a Rangers organization that was much stronger and healthier than the one he was first brought into. The good he did far outweighs any of the drama that occured during his four-and-a-half years in New York. I hope the arena acknowledges this much, and I hope the team gives Tortorella the tribute, even if minor, that he deserves.
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Jaromir Jagr, Henrik Lundqvist and Tom Renney brought us out of the Dark Ages. The years of Hugh Jessiman, Jamie Lundmark, Peter Prucha and Dan Blackburn (such a shame) were dark times, indeed. But Jagr was a fucking animal and set Rangers single season records. Also don't forget to give a bunch of credit to Gordie Clark and Jim Schoenfeld.
I'd agreed that Torts is 100% a continuation of the progress and the next step in development. I think you're right that Torts left things off better than Renney did, but he didn't do it all by himself. Renney set the table.
We can only hope AV takes their lead and keeps it moving.
This team better toughen up. They are the laughing stock of the league. They can't play with the more physical teams. It's pretty pathetic when the biggest guy on the team gets mugged in two games and doesn't throw one punch. It was an embarrassment. You don't have to be a fighter to get into a fight, but for Goodness sake if you don't have the heart to fight back and protect yourself you are just a coward. Hats off to Derek Dorsett for standing up answering the challenge.
He's the primary reason why they didn't win the Cup in 2012. Most of what you do is praising Torts. That's the majority of your tweets. The day he was fired was a bright day for the organization. Tortorella goes beyond accountability. He holds petty grudges and puts players in position to fail. Kreider's ascent under AV is no coincidence, no matter how much you'll try to paint it as such.
Ridiculous article giving Torts credit that is undue - he had nothing to do with the 'homegrown' philosophy, that was Sather under orders from Dolan with the impending renovation, coming off the forced burial of Redden.
Tortorella is my favorite Rangers coach in the las 15 or so seasons. Who is more memorable, barring Mike Keenan? John Muckler? Colin Campbell? Tom Renney? AV has inherited the mess Sather created...the team that unfortunately got Tortorella fired. So far, AV seems pissed at the lack of effort and talent on this team...and rightfully so. The question is, can he squeeze as much blood from this stone as Torts did? I'm not so sure, but one thing is certain... AV will be on the hot seat long before Sather ever looks in the goddam mirror at the real problem here.
I don't think Torts did nearly as much to change the team as Renney did. Renney completely turned around the mindset. Torts was pretty much just an extension of Renney with a more brash demeanor, and PP worse then the one that got Renney fired.
Not sure it's entirely accurate to say he turned the Rangers organization around. Prior to him, Renney had the Rangers in the playoffs for 3 straight years. Only once did he make it deeper into the playoffs than Renney. Renney's pt/pct was .573, Torts was .587. I loved him when he was here, but let's not make it seem like he worked a miracle with a bad team.
I never was a big fan of the guy, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate what he's done for this club. Thanks, Torts.
Now lets kick his ass.
Loved it when the Rangers hired him in 2009. I honestly thought he would of had another year to right the ship after the lockout shorten season
Really? Was Renney the one who got us a Stanley cup? No. He got us to the second round of the playoffs. Torts got us to the ECF and almost to the finals. Please keep the ignorance to yourself