Tortorella just what the Rangers need
John Tortorella used to love going back to New York when he was coaching the Lightning. Torts had been a New York assistant and interim coach from 1999-2000, and he had a good relationship with what is supposed to be a difficult New York media.
Remember the 2007 playoff series with the Devils during which Torts and New York Post reporter Larry Brooks had a curse-laced yelling match that was broadcast live across Canada? A big deal was made of that. What wasn't shown on TV, though, was the way the pair walked away together, laughing, after it was over.
Lightning general manager Jay Feaster was adamant about how well Tortorella will do with the Rangers.
Feaster was not on any fence. He said Tortorella would be the igniter for a New York team that has lost 10 of its past 12 games and has fallen to sixth in the East, just two points ahead of ninth-place Carolina. Everyone on the Rangers roster has been put on notice, Feaster said. Either get with the program, or you won't play. It is a stark change from what the Rangers have experienced with Tom Renney, who was fired.
"Tom Renney is a hell of a coach and a hell of a good guy," Feaster said. "I'm not putting this all on Tom Renney. Unfortunately, he's such a good guy, there are guys in that locker room that have taken advantage of it. If you're one of those guys, God bless you. God help you. You'd better buy into the team concept."
Also on Tort's side, Feaster said, is how much Tortorella respects New York star Scotty Gomez and that Tortorella probably has a relationship with Chris Drury because of their association with USA Hockey.
"Both of those guys are going to welcome John Tortorella with open arms," Feaster said. "Both respect the idea of accountability. Everybody is accountable and that includes them. I think Torts will do everything he can to get the most of out what Wade Redden is. Whatever player he is, Torts is going to find a way to get the most out of him."
"He's going to challenge the players, there key players," Lightning right wing Marty St. Louis said.
It's been interesting watching Torts get acclimated to being a television analyst on Canada's TSN. When the summer went by and he did not get a coaching job, we would talk in the press box that there would be an underachieving team that will need a kick in the butt, and Torts would be the perfect choice. The Rangers are a good opportunity, too, because if Tortorella gets them into the playoffs, who knows how far they can go with such a good goalie as Henrik Lundqvist.
"I definitely think he's going to help that team," Vinny Lecavalier said. "I'm really happy for him."
The Rangers should be happy. They made the right choice. The Lightning even gets something out of this. Because Torts is now being paid by the Rangers, Tampa Bay no longer has to pay what's left of the $1.3-million Torts was owed this season. That saves the Lightning about $325,000.